This is part 1 of a series of posts about my vacation to San Francisco and the Napa Valley.
The first day of our vacation was ironically our most hectic. Our six hour flight from JFK to San Francisco was seamless and had me wishing my experience with the rental car counter was half as smooth. After finally getting our rental car we headed to Napa with empty stomachs, resisting the temptation to settle for airport food. Needing sustenance, MW and I decided to grab a light lunch before checking into our bed and breakfast and chose to visit Hog Island Oyster Company's Napa location in the Oxbow Public Market.
The Oxbow Public Market was pretty sleepy on a Tuesday afternoon and although MW and I wanted to peruse the rest of the market in greater detail we were on a tight schedule and headed straight to Hog Island. Started in 1983, Hog Island Oyster is a celebrated company practicing sustainable oyster farming in Tomales Bay, located 40 miles north of San Francisco and works closely with with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Known for their impeccably fresh farm-raised oysters, Hog Island has been featured on Avec Eric.
MW and I chose to eat outside for the first meal of our vacation as our waiter immediately greeted us with water and fresh Sourdough Bread and Butter. Keeping in mind our early dinner later at The French Laundry we did our best not to spoil our appetite and started by ordering two Lemonades. Refreshing and not at all too sweet, the lemonade perked us up after our hour long drive from the airport.
We started off with a variety of six different oysters: two Hog Island Sweetwater Oysters (Pacific) from Tomales Bay (CA), two Kusshi (Pacific) from Deep Bay (British Columbia), an Island Creek (Atlantic) from Duxbury (MA) and a Naked Cowboy (Atlantic) from Long Island (NY). The oysters were all served with Hog Wash, their house-made mignonette made from: rice vinegar, shallot, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and lime juice giving the briny oysters the right of amount of acidity and a bit of a kick on the finish. We joked with our waiter that we had our own naked cowboy in New York; but all joking aside the oysters were very good with the Hog Island Sweetwaters being our favorite.
MW ordered the Oyster Po'Boy that included Beer Battered Sweetwaters on an ABC Potato Bun with a Lemon Aioli Slaw and House Pickles. The bun was nicely grilled but unfortunately the great flavor of the Sweetwaters were masked with their breading and the slaw.
On the other hand, my Grilled Cheese was nothing short of fantastic. A combination of Cowgirl Creamery's Cave-Aged Gruyere, Mezzo Secco and Fromage Blanc combined to create one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever tasted. The bread was toasted perfectly and had a great crunch but the cheese that oozed out of the bread and became caramelized was the stuff of what dreams are made of.
We also decided to split a bowl of the Hog Island's Chowder which contained Manila Clams, Mirepoix, Bacon, Potatoes and some Cream. Unlike some chowders, Hog Island's version was much thinner and contained clams in their shells. Regardless of its watery consistency, the chowder certainly didn't lack any seafood flavor and MW and I both enjoyed the fresh clams still in their shells. Overall, Hog Island is a great place to visit for a causal snack or meal while visiting northern California. They have locations in both Napa and San Francisco in the Ferry Terminal Building and have a great happy hour special with $1 Sweetwater Oyster and $3.50 Anchor Steam Beer specials!
Each Saturday morning the Oxbow Public Market holds a farmer's market in their parking lot. Local vendors proudly display their goods to the public. Though we had an early tasting and tour early that afternoon I stopped by and took a few pictures.
Hog Island Oyster Company
Oxbow Public Market
610 1st Street
Napa, CA 94559
To see all our pics please click the flickr link.