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Tomales Bay Oysters Rockefeller

Tomales Bay Oysters Rockefeller

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For this oysters Rockefeller recipe, make the filling ahead of time and you'll need only a few minutes to go from shucking to eating.


  • 1 small leek (white and pale-green parts only), coarsely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large bunch watercress, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups packed)
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated Gruyère
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 24 large oysters, freshly shucked, on the half shell, with juices

Recipe Preparation

  • Pulse leek, shallot, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Pulse watercress in processor until finely chopped but not a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.

  • Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add leek mixture; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until translucent, 7–8 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Add watercress; cook, stirring often, until watercress is wilted and tender, 8–10 minutes. Stir in cheese, cream, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a medium bowl; chill until cold.

  • Preheat broiler. Arrange oysters on half shells on a rimmed baking sheet. Dividing equally, spoon watercress mixture over oysters, spreading to cover completely.

  • Broil until cheese is melted, top of watercress mixture begins to brown in spots, and oysters are just cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Content

One serving (one oyster) contains: Calories (kcal) 90 Fat (g) 6 Saturated Fat (g) 3 Cholesterol (mg) 40 Carbohydrates (g) 4 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 0 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 85Reviews Section

    • 2 (2 pound) porterhouse steaks (2.5-inches thick) Find at To-Table. (Freeze one for round 2!)
    • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely crushed (see Cooks' Notes)
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces, divided
    • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
    • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1/2 cup medium-bodied dry red wine (such as Chianti, Rioja, or merlot)
    • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    1. Let steak sit at room temperature 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F.
    2. Pat steak dry and season both sides with peppercorns and kosher salt. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet over medium heat until butter melts. Add rosemary, thyme, and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until herbs and garlic are fragrant, about 1 minute.
    3. Add steak and cook until nicely browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°F for medium-rare, about 5 minutes (or 120°F for medium, about 10 minutes).
    4. Transfer steak with tongs to a small platter, reserving skillet, and let rest 10 minutes.
    5. While steak rests, pour off oil from skillet, leaving garlic and herbs in skillet. Add wine and boil over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and any meat juices from platter and boil until reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until incorporated, then season with salt and keep warm.
    6. To carve: Transfer the steak to a cutting board and cut meat off both sides of the bone (you should have two solid pieces of steak). Thinly slice each piece, then rearrange the slices around the bone on a platter. Drizzle with the jus.

    The Best Spots for Oysters in San Francisco

    With the news last week that Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which produces 40 percent of the oysters grown in California, will have to cease operations at its farm in Point Reyes within 90 days, many are wondering how Bay Area restaurants will be affected. The stakes are huge, since an afternoon spent sipping wine and downing local oysters on the half shell is the quintessential San Francisco experience. As a tribute, here are eight local oyster spots that Chowhounds love, listed here in alphabetical order.

    1. BAR CRUDO
    655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

    This Western Addition restaurant has an oyster happy hour that’s always popular. The current happy hour menu includes $1 Washington state Pickering Passage oysters, as well as a dear-sweet-lord-delicious smoky seafood chowder. Fans crow about the extensive beer list, too.

    2. BIX
    56 Gold Street, San Francisco

    If your must-haves also include martinis, bartenders in jackets, and a classy vibe, slide into Bix in Jackson Square and order six oysters on the half shell with mignonette. On offer recently were the Walker Creek variety, from the mouth of Tomales Bay.

    450 Post Street, San Francisco

    The happy hour menu includes a half-dozen oysters for $6, which makes Farallon an essential stop on any bivalve crawl.

    4. HOG & ROCKS
    3431 19th Street, San Francisco

    When in the Mission, do as the hipsters do: Go to Hog & Rocks (the name refers to the section of the menu that features various types of ham as well as oysters).

    The Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco

    Amid the hubbub of the Ferry Building, Hog Island serves bivalves from both its Tomales Bay home and other purveyors.

    545 Mission Street, San Francisco

    With a location that makes it easy to dip in from Union Square or the Financial District, Salt House is a good choice for a lunchtime bacchanal. The menu changes each day a recent sampling included Pearl Point oysters from Oregon, St. Simons from New Brunswick, and Fanny Bays from British Columbia.

    1517 Polk Street, San Francisco

    This San Francisco classic lands in many a tourist guide, so expect lines out the door. Chowhounds like it for the old-school ambiance.

    399 The Embarcadero South, San Francisco

    For an extensive shellfish menu that pulls from growers in Alaska, Rhode Island, and everywhere in between, try Waterbar, which also features a full bar and a view over the San Francisco Bay—the perfect accessory for downing oysters.

    Photo from Swan Oyster Depot by Flickr member cchen under Creative Commons

    Champagne and Oysters: A Party for Your Mouth

    On a sunny, fall day in the Napa Valley, I drove by Domaine Carneros, known for its premium sparkling and still wines. As I watched visitors, flutes in hand, mingle on the chateau’s expansive terrace, it brought to mind a Gatsby-like scene of men and women in elegant attire sipping Champagne and slurping oysters on Long Island’s North Shore. For me, the words Champagne and oysters convey a sense of occasion.

    Sparkling wine cannot be called Champagne unless it comes from the exalted Champagne AOC (appellation of controlled origin) in the Champagne province in northeast France.

    But whether it’s called Champagne or sparkling wine, a taste for bubbly is more easily acquired than for oysters. As Coco Chanel once said, “I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love, and when I am not.” On the other hand, Woody Allen said of oysters, “…I want my food dead. Not sick. Not wounded. Dead.”

    If the thought of eating raw oysters is off-putting, they can be cooked and enjoyed in tasty dishes such as the famous Oysters Rockefeller or Oyster Stew. These recipes and others can be found in the Hog Island Oyster Lover’s Cookbook: A Guide to Choosing & Savoring Oysters, with 40 Recipes. Aside from its oyster bars on the San Francisco waterfront and in Napa, Hog Island’s Oyster Farm in Marshall is well worth visiting. Seated at picnic tables, visitors can admire the view overlooking Tomales Bay and be served an unlimited number of oysters, or they can reserve a table, bring a picnic, and buy and shuck oysters themselves.

    For everything you wanted to know about Champagne, I recommend a beautiful book by Peter Liem called Champagne: The Essential Guide To The Wines, Producers, And Terroirs Of The Iconic Region. The other drawer of this boxed set contains seven maps of Champagne’s vineyards suitable for framing — a perfect gift for your favorite wine lover.

    Just like a wine’s terroir, an oyster’s taste derives from its environment, and the flavor of each variety depends on where it grows. My mother likened eating oysters to inhaling a sea breeze, but a true ostreaphile won’t let an oyster slip down the throat without chewing it slowly to fully appreciate the different flavors such as sweet, briny, creamy, smoky, minerally, melon, and cucumber.

    This holiday season, have yourself a merry little Champagne and oyster party. Here are a few suggestions:

    Oysters Rockefeller Italiana

    Oysters Rockefeller is an American classic, but this Italian riff of it is molto bene! This recipe combines cream cheese with arugula, rosemary, sambuca, crispy bits of pancetta and is finished with parmesan breadcrumbs to create a richer and heartier bite than your traditional Rockefeller. The oysters are also grilled instead of broiled which adds a coastal California twist to bring it all back home. A nice crisp sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and of course, champagne will cut through the richness of the cream cheese and pancetta while also complimenting the delicate brininess of the oyster. And while it may sound cheesy (pun intended), any time you’re craving a little taste of the coast, these Oysters Italiana will do the job… and then some!

    Recipe prepares 6 large or 12 medium grilled oysters
    Time: 1 hour total active time 30 minutes.

    Parmesan Breadcrumbs:
    2 tbsp Italian bread crumbs (store-bought is fine)
    1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
    1 tsp chopped parsley

    6 Large or 12 medium oysters, top shell removed (Tomales Bay large were used here)
    4 oz cream cheese (softened to room temp for about an hour)
    2 oz (1/3 cup) small diced pancetta
    1/4 tsp Fennel Seed
    1/4 tsp Rosemary, chopped
    1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 tbsp chopped leeks
    1 tsp garlic, minced
    4 oz (about 2 cups) tightly packed baby arugula
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/8 tsp ground black pepper
    2 tsp Tabasco
    1 tbsp sambuca


    Preheat oven/toaster to 350 degrees preheat grill to high.

    Place cream cheese in a medium bowl in a warm spot of the kitchen to soften for about an hour.

    Spread breadcrumbs on a cookie sheet and toast in oven for 10-15 minutes, mixing halfway through, until the breadcrumbs are browned. When finished, place crumbs in a small bowl and mix with parsley and parmesan and set aside.

    In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, render pancetta (aka cook out the fat), stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Do not wash out the pan.

    Then turn the heat to medium and place fennel seeds and chopped rosemary in the pan with the rendered pancetta fat and cook, stirring the contents of the pan with a rubber spatula until the seeds and rosemary are fragrant. Be careful not to burn the seeds.

    Add the EVOO, chopped leeks, and garlic to the pan and continue to cook, stirring often. You want to sweat the aromatics without caramelizing them. Once they are softened, about 3-4 minutes, add the arugula and continue to stir until the arugula is wilted, another 4-5 minute. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes on a cutting board and then chop it all up.

    Combine the arugula mixture in the same bowl as the cream cheese, add the salt, pepper, Tabasco, and sambuca and using your hands, mix everything together until combined well.

    Place the oysters on the hottest part of the grill and then top each oyster with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture and some crispy pancetta. Allow them to cook for 5-10 minutes depending on the size. You want the oysters to be very hot so make sure they are bubbling before you remove them from the grill.

    Now you’re ready to enjoy them, but make sure they aren’t super hot so you don’t burn your mouth!

    Spencer Hochman is a Private Chef in Sonoma County, CA who recently moved to wine country after growing up and spending the formative years of his culinary career in various well-known kitchens in NYC. He developed his market drive Italian style during his four years at L’Artusi in the West Village. With a desire to be closer to what he feels is the gastronomic heartbeat of America, Spencer’s west coast move has allowed him to be an arm’s length from some of the best farmers, fishmongers, vintners, and artisan food purveyors in the world!


    I read someplace that there are more oyster places on Tomales Bay than there are gas stations. I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I didn’t come to Tomales Bay to count gas stations. I came for grilled oysters, so (to be safe) I filled the tank in Petaluma. I even peed in Petaluma so I wouldn’t have to be on the lookout for a gas station for its other great purpose. I came for oysters straight from the cool clean waters of Tomales Bay. I knew I didn’t want to be distracted by any superfluous activities.

    When it comes to oysters, I’ve always considered myself a purist. I like raw and flawless. If I’m lucky enough to get them straight out of the water (as you do in Tomales Bay) then I don’t even bother with mignonette sauce. Raw oysters served that fresh, have always been the height of my oyster obsession. I’ve certainly enjoyed fried oysters in my po’ boys and the creamy oyster stew from Antoine’s in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Both are classic preparations that I’ve even tried to recreate at home. But to me “cooked” oysters– like barbecued, grilled or even baked– were always a second choice. Something inlanders had to settle for because they couldn’t always get quality oysters.

    In other words, for most of my life, I’ve been an oyster snob. Then some years ago I read a quote from James Beard: “Many gourmets, or so-called gourmets, tell you that to eat an oyster in any fashion except directly from the shell is to show ignorance of gastronomic tradition and the rules of good taste. This is nonsense.”

    Grilled Oysters

    Yes really. In Tomales Bay, grilled oysters are a local specialty. A specialty they take seriously. All of the oyster shacks that line the bay do some version of grilled oysters – and they always have. I bet even the gas stations might be able to serve up a pretty good version. Because the oysters in Tomales Bay are that good.

    You’ll find grilled oysters in Tomales Bay at a lot of places. Some are well-known like Hog Island Oysters and Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Others are smaller and perched less conspicuously at the end of rickety looking piers such as Boat Shack at Nick’s Cove. My particular favorite is The Marshall Store. They have several choices of grilled oysters to try including BBQ , Bacon and Worcestershire, Rockefeller, and Chorizo Butter.

    It’s hard to choose a favorite, so I won’t, but I do like the Grilled Oysters with Chorizo Butter. The spiced butter smooths out the oysters’ sharp brininess and the chorizo offers a hint of sweet smoke.

    Since I can’t always make the 8‑hour drive to Tomales Bay, I’ve attempted my own version of Grilled Oysters with Chorizo Butter. Let me stress that this is not the same recipe as you’ll get at The Marshall Store. I suspect they use Mexican chorizo. Spanish-style, cured chorizo works too and I find it easier to work with– so that’s where I started with this recipe.

    My version of Grilled Oysters with Chorizo Butter is delicious, but there’s nothing quite like an oyster roadtrip. Going to the source reminds us to appreciate our oceans and to take care of them so that they can continue to provide the tasty tidbits I love so much. Of course, going to the source also means you’ll be enjoying the freshest, most delicious oysters imaginable.

    Ken and I recently set out for the Mendocino coast. A stop at The Marshall Store was a high priority of our roadtrip. Whether you’re coming from the north or the south, the only way to get to Tomales Bay is along California’s iconic coastal drive – curvy Highway 1. It’s easy to work up an appetite while navigating the white-knuckle, hairpin turns and taking in the ocean vistas, lush meadows, pungent eucalyptus groves, and awe-inspiring redwood forests. GREG

    I received compensation in order to bring information to this blog about visiting the California coast. All opinions are my own.

    Grilled Oysters with Chorizo Butter

    Print This Recipe Total time 20 minutes Yield 18 Source Inspired by The Marshall Store, Tomales Bay, CA Published May 29, 2015


    • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperature)
    • 3 ounce dry cured Spanish chorizo (casings removed and chopped in ½‑inch pieces)
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 2 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional depending on the flavor of the chorizo)
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional depending on the flavor of the chorizo)
    • 18 large oysters (scrubbed clean)
    • rock salt (for serving plate, optional)
    • lime wedges (for serving)


    Place room-temperature butter in a small bowl and set aside.

    Place chopped chorizo in the bowl of a blender or mini food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse, scraping down the sides as needed, until it resembles coarse, wet sand.

    Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet set over over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook in as close to a single layer as possible, stirring occasionally, until slightly crisp about 4 minutes. Add minced garlic, paprika (if using) and cayenne (if using). Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is fragrant and the garlic softened about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, then transfer chorizo to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Allow mixture to come to room temperature. Place cooled chorizo in bowl with room-temperature butter, whip together with a small fork until well combined set aside. You can make make the chorizo butter up to 3 days ahead. Keep wrapped and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

    Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-high heat. If you’re using charcoal, don’t wait until the coals are white and ashen, you’ll want a little live fire. Using an oyster knife and a heavy glove or towel carefully shuck the oysters, keeping the shell horizontal to retain as much liquid as possible. Wipe the oyster knife clean, discard top shell, then carefully slide the oyster knife under the oyster flesh to cut through the muscle holding it to the shell. Leave the oyster in place. Repeat with remaining oysters setting them carefully on a rock salt covered serving plate as you work (if using). Once all the oysters are shucked, spoon a generous teaspoon-sized dollop of room temperature chorizo butter onto each of the raw oysters.

    When ready to grill place the oysters, face up, directly on the grates over lightly flaming live fire. Wait for the butter to melt and begin to sizzle, about 2 to 3 minutes. Depending on the heat of the fire, you may need to cover the grill during cooking so they cook quickly. Using tongs, carefully move the grilled oysters, retaining the liquid, to the rock salt covered serving plate (if using). Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

    Raw obsession / Pearly white local oysters can be the object of your affection on Valentine's Day

    1 of 3 Oyster story illustration that coincides with Valentine's Day. Photo was taken at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. The model in the photo is Brooke Foster. Food styled by Noel Advincula. Event on 1/26/04 in San Luis Obispo. CRAIG LEE / The Chronicle CRAIG LEE Show More Show Less

    2 of 3 Shucking an Oyster. Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard Show More Show Less

    Valentine's Day is a traditional time for Champagne, caviar and chocolate, all foods of indulgence and romance. But oysters fit that category, too. In fact, they were considered an aphrodisiac as early as the days of the Roman Empire. Casanova, the world-renowned lover, is said to have downed 50 oysters prior to amorous engagements. Fifty does sound like a lot, but if that's how many you'd like, no problem.

    Oysters are home grown, right off the coast of Marin County in Drakes Estuary and Tomales Bay. Whether you want a half dozen or a bagful of 50, you can buy them directly from the source. Now, that is romantic. You can even stay right there and slurp them down or have a Valentine's Day oyster picnic at the oyster growers, several of whom provide picnic tables and barbecue grills.

    The Bay Area's coastal waters are considered some of the finest oyster growing areas of the country because they are the right combination of fresh and saline water. They also contain ample nutrients for the oyster's growth.

    But which oysters, exactly, are we buying? Oyster nomenclature can be a tricky business. Go to an oyster bar and you're liable to see a dozen names, from Fanny Bay to French Hogs, Sookum Bay to Sunset Beach. Although there are only five major species of edible oysters, there are dozens of names.

    Oysters for the most part are not sold according to species but by where they come from. This is significant, because an oyster's flavor, regardless of species, can vary depending on its origin. In order to add to the name confusion, oysters grown in a variety of places may be called by the same name, such as the generic "Pacific" oyster.

    All five species of oysters can be grown in the oyster beds of Marin County. The Olympia oyster, Ostrea conchaphilia (Ostrea lurida), the only one native to the West Coast, is currently not being commercially produced here, but the others are.

    The ideal way to serve oysters is plain, on the half shell, and very cold. Arrange the shucked oysters (see directions) on a platter of shaved ice. Accompany them with a squeeze of lemon. That's it. But they're also wonderful in a variety of other ways (see recipes).

    The oyster industry is not new to the Bay Area. In fact, in the 1850s the swelling hordes coming west for gold brought with them an appetite for oysters, and San Francisco Bay had them. The indigenous native oyster, the Olympia, growing wild in San Francisco Bay, was quickly over-harvested and depleted. Still, the market for fresh oysters remained strong, so native oysters from the Pacific Northwest, especially Shoalwater Bay (Willapa Bay), were imported and kept in storage beds in the bay off Sausalito and then later off the coast of San Mateo County. Disease wiped out most of the Olympia beds in the late 1860s, but the industry was far from dead.

    By 1875, the seed of the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) was being shipped on the newly completed transcontinental railroad and transplanted into San Francisco Bay, becoming the basis of the booming Bay Area oyster industry. By the end of the 19th century almost 3 million pounds of oyster meat was being produced in San Mateo County alone.

    However, by 1917 the quality of the bay's water had deteriorated to such an extent that the once-thriving industry rapidly declined, along with the quality of the oysters. In the 1930s the industry was revived by using the seeds of yet other species, the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and the Kumamoto (Cassostrea sikamea) both initially imported from Japan. This time the seeds were planted in Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero, which have become the center of the Bay Area oyster industry.

    Today, the oyster-producing waters are heavily monitored by the California Department of Health Services, not only to ensure that all oysters harvested are healthy and free of toxins, but also to provide a continual assessment of the waters' quality for human health and safety. We may have lost the original San Francisco Bay oyster industry through contaminated waters, but let's hope that vigilance will prevent that happening to Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero. Let's keep romance alive and thriving, close to home.


    Four of the five primary species of edible oysters are raised locally. However, because oysters are sold not according to their species name but under generic names such as Pacific or Kumamoto, it's difficult to tell which ones are local. The only sure way is to ask your purveyor.

    One exception: Locally grown Hog Island oysters are marketed by place name, and no other oysters would be labeled Hog Island except those grown by Hog Island.

    The flavor of oysters varies depending upon the waters in which they are raised, the weather and the time of year they are harvested. Most of our locally grown oysters tend toward mild rather than strongly briny flavors.

    Here is a list of current locally grown species and the names under which they are sold. At other times of the year, others may be available. With some exceptions, oysters from elsewhere in the Pacific or the Atlantic may be called by the same or similar names. To be sure you are buying local oysters, you will need to ask if buying shucked oysters in a jar, read the label. However, half of the fun is driving over to the coast to buy your own. The following images are about 60 percent of actual size. .

    Names: Hog Island Sweetwater (Hog Island Oyster Co.) Pacific (Johnson's Oyster Co., Pt. Reyes Oyster Co., Tomales Bay Oyster Co.)

    Size: Typically 4-6 inches long when mature

    Taste and uses: Mild tasting medium to large sizes are good for barbecuing and cooking smaller sizes are good eaten raw on the half shell..

    Name: Atlantic (Pt. Reyes Oyster Co.)

    Size: Typically 2-6 inches long when mature

    Taste and uses: Slightly sharp in flavor popular eaten raw on the half shell larger ones are good for barbecuing.

    Names: French Hogs (Hog Island Oyster Co.) French Flats (Pt. Reyes Oyster Co.)

    Size: Typically 3-4 inches long when mature

    Taste and uses: Slightly briny this is the classic French Belon or European flat oyster, popular on the half shell.

    Name: Kumamoto (Pt. Reyes Oyster Co.)

    Size: Typically 3-4 inches long when mature rounded

    Taste and uses: Mild tasting popular eaten raw on the half shell

    Hog Island Oyster Co. 20215 Hwy. 1, Marshall (415) 663-9218. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oysters are also available at the Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Plaza Market and at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. Best to call ahead. Oyster knife, glove, shucking lesson, picnic table and barbecue available: $5 per person.

    Oysters currently available: Hog Island Sweetwater (Crassostrea gigas), French Hogs (Ostrea edulis) and Kumamoto (Crassostrea sikamea)

    Johnson's Oyster Co., 17171 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness (415) 669- 1149

    Oysters currently available: Pacific (Crassostrea gigas)

    Pt. Reyes Oyster Co., (707) 878-2654. No retail outlet. Oysters available at San Francisco Saturday Alemany Farmers' Market and Vallejo Saturday Farmers' Market.

    Oysters currently available: Pacific (Crassostrea gigas), Kumamoto (Crassostrea sikamea), Atlantic or Eastern (Ostrea virginica) and sometimes French Belon (Ostrea edulis).

    Tomales Bay Oyster Co., 15479 Hwy. 1, Marshall (415) 663-1242. Open 8 a. m.-6 p.m. daily. Best to call ahead.

    Picnic tables and barbecues available at no charge

    Oysters currently available: Pacific (Crassostrea gigas)

    Adapted from the "Joy of Cooking" (1997, Scribner).


    12 small or medium oysters, or 8 large oysters

    2 slices of bacon, fried and drained

    5 tablespoons freshly made breadcrumbs

    2 teaspoons minced Italian parsley

    1/2 teaspoon hot chile sauce

    3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


    Preheat oven to 450°. Shuck oysters. The liquor is not used in this recipe, but you may want to reserve it for another use. Place each oyster in a rounded half shell.

    Put spinach in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons water. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cook until spinach is just limp, about 4 minutes. Rinse under cold water, drain and squeeze dry. Coarsely chop.

    Combine spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs, shallots, parsley, salt and chile sauce in a blender or food processor, and process until just blended, about 30 seconds.

    Add the butter and process a few seconds just to blend. Alternatively, finely chop all the above together, and mix with the butter. Cover each oyster with the spinach mixture.

    Make a 1/2-inch-thick bed of rock salt on a baking tray, and tuck each oyster in the salt to keep it from tipping over. Alternatively, make crumpled rings of aluminum foil to hold the oysters upright.

    Bake until the oysters are plumped, about 10 minutes, then put them under the broiler to brown the topping slightly, about 2 minutes.

    PER SERVING: 250 calories, 18 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (7 g saturated), 101 mg cholesterol, 683 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.


    1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    12 small or medium, or 6 large shucked oysters

    8 slices of bread, or 4 soft rolls, toasted

    4 tablespoons tartar sauce, homemade or purchased

    INSTRUCTIONS: Mix together the flour, salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl.

    Put the butter and olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold all the oysters and melt over medium-high heat. When hot, dredge the oysters one by one in the flour mixture and carefully slip into the hot oil. Don't try to do them ahead of time, as they will get soggy.

    Cook the oysters until the edges begin to curl, about 2 minutes, then turn and cook the other side, just until opaque, about 1 minute.

    Remove and set aside on paper towels to drain.

    Spread the toast or rolls with tartar sauce, add the oysters, top with another slice of toast, or close the roll and serve immediately.

    PER SERVING: 400 calories, 19 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 20 g fat (5 g saturated), 90 mg cholesterol, 1,129 mg sodium, 1 g fiber..

    Oysters Gratin With Chard, Pancetta & Capers

    This is a take on the classic Oysters Rockefeller, where the oysters gently steam beneath a savory topping. Using olive bread for breadcrumbs, along with capers and pancetta, gives the dish a slightly Mediterranean twist. I like to serve it accompanied by a wild rice pilaf or fried polenta, and a winter salad of citrus and escarole.


    2 cups stale, dry chunks of olive or country-style bread, enough to make 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    12 small or medium oysters, or 6 large oysters, shucked

    2 1/2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, fried, and drained


    Put the bread in a blender or food processor and process to coarse crumbs. Alternatively, put the bread in a paper bag and crush it into crumbs by rolling over and over it with a rolling pin. Set aside.

    Remove the large white ribs from the chard and chop them. Coarsely chop the green leaves and set aside. Put the ribs in a saucepan along with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the ribs are nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped greens and cook until tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Squeeze to eliminate excess water.

    Put the chard, chard ribs, capers, olive oil, all but 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs and the cream in a blender and process until blended, but not pureed. Leave a little texture. Taste, and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, if needed.

    Melt half of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved breadcrumbs, tossing them in the butter until golden, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

    With the remaining butter, grease a baking dish just large enough to hold the oysters in a single layer. Put in the oysters, crumble the pancetta over them, then spread the chard mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the buttered crumbs and bake until the oysters are plumped and the crumbs are browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

    PER SERVING: 345 calories, 21 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 19 g fat (5 g saturated), 95 mg cholesterol, 1,492 mg sodium, 3 g fiber..

    Cream of Oyster Soup With Celery & Red Potatoes

    This soup is rich and hearty, perfect for a cold winter night. If the oysters are small, leave them whole, otherwise cut them in half, or if you prefer, chop them into bite-size pieces.

    INGREDIENTS: 3 tablespoons butter

    1 small red potato, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon minced shallot

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

    10 ounces shucked oysters, with their liquor

    1 cup oyster crackers (optional)


    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add the potato, celery, garlic and shallot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, but not browned, and the potato is nearly tender, about 7 minutes.

    Increase the heat to high and add the wine. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol. Add the milk, salt, pepper and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potato is tender and the mixture is steaming hot, but not boiling, about 15 minutes.

    Add the oysters and their liquor and cook, stirring,

    oysters curl and they are opaque, about 3 minutes.

    Stir in the creme fraiche

    and cook just long enough

    Ladle into warmed soup bowls. Serve with the optional oyster crackers.

    PER SERVING: 315 calories, 14 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 21 g fat (12 g saturated), 96 mg cholesterol, 561 mg sodium, 0 fiber.

    Shucking an oyster calls for finesse rather then force. Use a folded towel or heavy-duty glove to protect your hand.

    Two ways to pierce the hinge

    1 Place oyster flat side up and locate the hinge.

    2 Place the knife tip under the hinge and work it side to side until the hinge loosens.

    3 Continue loosening with the knife to separate shells.

    4 Go back to the hinge and give your knife a twist to pop the shell open.

    5 Before separating the two shells, release the oyster from the top shell.

    6 Discard the top shell. With the knife, loosen the oyster from the bottom shell.

    Great Oyster Bars from Coast to Coast

    From the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound to the California coast, here are a few spots where you can grab a seat and slurp wonderful oysters.

    Related To:

    Photo By: Morgan Ione Photography

    Photo By: Christine Domino

    Photo By: Douglas Lyle Thompson

    From Seafood Shacks to High-Class Bars

    From the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound to the California coast, great oysters thrive in America's waters. Oyster farmers take great care to bring these top-quality bivalves to seafood shacks, bars and restaurants around the nation. Here are a few spots where you can grab a stool (or a picnic bench) and slurp these wonderful oysters from the U.S. of A. &mdash meaty, plump, buttery and oh-so-briny.

    Portland, Maine: The Shop

    Mystic, Connecticut: Oyster Club

    For a fine-dining experience in a low-key, convivial atmosphere, Mystic's award-winning Oyster Club is the place to go. Despite the rotating menu, you can be sure to find at least one of what the restaurant deems the "holy trinity" of New England oysters: Ningret Nectars, Noanks and, if you&rsquore lucky, Fishers Island. All are grown and harvested less than 20 miles from the restaurant. Ninety-five percent of the other ingredients on the seafood-driven menu hail from within 50 miles, with all of the fish sourced exclusively from the coasts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

    Austin: Clark's

    At this sunny West Austin spot, martinis and champagne flow at high-top tables with classic seafood dishes, caviar and plenty of oysters, served oven-roasted and raw. Those served on the half shell are dressed with a cucumber-honey vinaigrette, crispy shallots and bright mint, or presented simply. For more diversity, there's also the tiered Plateau de Fruits de Mer, stacked high with lobster, clams, prawns, crab, mussels and oysters.

    Boston: Row 34

    From the same team that brought us Island Creek Oysters, this spinoff is set inside a 100-year-old former steel factory in South Boston's newest waterfront development, Fort Point. Dominating the menu are the plump, meaty oysters with a provenance of New England &mdash from Maine to Martha's Vineyard and, of course, their own farm in Duxbury, Mass. Oysters are just the top of the raw-bar menu, which includes smoked and cured seafood such as uni, shrimp and salmon pastrami ceviche and crudos like the gorgeous fluke adorned with basil, Calabrian chile and olive.

    Portland, Maine: Eventide Oyster Co.

    Those used to the West Coast or Gulf variety are usually blown away by the brininess of oysters from the deep, cold waters of Maine. But that's how they like them up there &mdash salty. At Eventide they are served traditional style with mignonette sauce (vinegar, shallots and black or white pepper) or with their unique spin: ices. Chef-owner Andrew Taylor offers a horseradish, Tabasco or pickled red onion ice that can be likened to a savory Italian granita and marries well with these bivalves. Another menu fave is the platter of plump, fried Maine oysters with zesty Thai apple slaw and turmeric.

    Portland, Oregon: Olympia Oyster Bar

    Los Angeles: L & E Oyster Bar

    Executive chef, oyster-commander-in-chief and Oregon native Dom Crisp sees to it that L & E offers Angelenos a real raw bar experience. That means every oyster that lands on the menu is sourced from sustainable farms primarily from states bordering the Pacific Ocean, including Alaska. The Last Frontier provides excellent oysters known for what Crisps finds to be an ideal balance of brine, meatiness and cucumber essence. They occasionally even sport an unusual amber hue. Those that like their oysters hot should dive into the Casino, which features oysters sautéed with shallots, butter, paprika, parsley and smoky bacon.

    Charleston: The Ordinary

    Chicago: GT Fish & Oyster

    Chicago: The Kennison

    Washington, D.C.: Old Ebbitt Grill

    Now in its third location, the Old Ebbitt Grill is hailed as the city's oldest bar, founded in 1856. Today, it's well known for its oyster happy hour, where each day local politicos enjoy half-price raw-bar items from 3 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. until closing. Apropos of being in the epicenter of democracy, the restaurant abides by an "oyster-eater bill of rights," which ensures that every half shell that lands on those icy platters has passed through stringent laboratory testing. Oysters also go through tough trials to earn a spot at the restaurant's annual event, the Oyster Riot, whose past judges include celebrity chef José Andrés and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Topping and Richmond, Virginia: Rappahannock Oyster Co.

    Rappahannock Oyster Co.'s signature oyster tastes a little less briny and a little sweeter, with a mild minerality due to its "merroir" &mdash a maritime term for terroir. These oysters are raised and farmed in the Rappahannock River with freshwater coming directly off the Blue Ridge Mountains, meeting at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which results in a low level of salinity. All of ROC's eateries showcase the Rappahannock oyster along with their Stingray, Olde Salt and Barcat. They're either served raw on the half shell or grilled and paired with unique toppers like smoked jalapeno butter. Get closer to the action at their headquarters in Topping, Va., where you can watch the seeding process and end your visit with a cold beer and a freshly shucked shell.

    New York: Zadie's Oyster Room

    After years of preparing Italian-accented American dishes at Hearth, Chef Marco Canora extended his restaurant empire to a snug little bar a few steps away, which he’s recently revamped as Zadie's Oyster Room. This tribute to the forgotten oyster houses of the early 20th century celebrates classic recipes like oysters Rockefeller and meaty oyster boils. There's a clearly marked section labeled Not Oysters, for the oyster-averse. All of the fare is best enjoyed with beer, wine or bubbly from the white marble bar.

    San Francisco: Hog Island Oyster Co.

    Seafood fanatics flock to Tomales Bay to eat Hog Island's oysters right at the source. Those in the know reserve picnic tables in advance and arrive ready to shuck their own oysters and grill food brought from home. On weekends, the cafe offers those same oysters along with local cheeses and charcuterie. But you don't have to travel to the farm to get a taste. Hog Island's first oyster bar inside the Ferry Building serves its oysters alongside chowders, daily fish specials and San Francisco's indigenous fisherman's stew, cioppino. And no foodie visit to Northern California would be complete without a trip to Napa Valley's Oxbow Public Market, where Hog Island oysters are available in a setting as spectacular as the oysters themselves.

    New Orleans: Pêche

    New York City: Grand Banks

    If you are looking for an easy escape from the concrete jungle, head to Lower Manhattan's Pier 25 and hop aboard the Sherman Zwicker. While the 73-year-old schooner (the largest wooden vessel in Manhattan) doesn't set sail, the oyster bar aboard it, Grand Banks, offers killer oysters and incomparable views of the sun setting over the Hudson River. Grab a seat by the aged zinc bar encircling the forward mast and watch the shuckers in action. Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan, a serious fisherman, makes it a point to highlight local and sustainable seafood with oysters harvested from the bays, sound and ocean that surround the eastern end of Long Island. In Brooklyn, the team floats another refurbished vessel, Pilot, serving an oyster-forward menu and views of Manhattan&rsquos skyline across the East River.

    Seattle: Westward

    South Kingstown, Rhode Island: Matunuck

    Up in Rhode Island near Point Judith lies Matunuck, where Perry Raso has been farming oysters from Potter Pond since 2002. In 2009, he launched the restaurant whose concept he refers to as "Pond to Plate." Grown on its seven-and-a-half-acre farm, these babies are harvested right off the restaurant's waterfront and are sweet, crisp, firm and petite. While the Matunuck oysters are best in the raw, you'll also find them in a creamy stew, grilled with garlic, parsley and lemon butter or a la Rockefeller &mdash baked with Pernod, spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. You really can't go wrong.

    Manhattan Beach, California: Fishing with Dynamite

    Greenport, New York: Bait & Switch

    Ian Wile, owner of Little Creek Oyster Farm, transformed this former bait-and-tackle shop, scallop-shucking house and sports-fisherman outfitter into the coziest oyster bar on Greenport's harbor. Diners get down and dirty with buckets full of bivalves from within a 20-mile radius and are encouraged to shuck 'em themselves. Also on the menu: littleneck clams, ceviche, artisan pickles and whatever fish is brought in through the doors from friendly locals. Come winter, expect to find a soul-soothing oyster pan roast and scallop chowder.

    2012 La Festa dei Sette Pesci

    prima alla cena

    nutty reindeer ginger prosecco cocktail

    tomales bay ostriche rockefeller

    (tomales bay oysters rockefeller)

    sperlani fritti con limone fresco e sale marino

    (crispy fried smelts with fresh lemon and sea salt)

    ceviche capesante con avocado

    (scallop ceviche with avocado)

    gamberetti dolci al limone aioli

    (shrimp cakes with lemon aioli)

    paccheri ripieni di polpa di granchio e mascarpone in brodetto di aragosta

    Nick’s Cove owner’s new cookbook serves up a side of history

    Here are some of the upcoming events celebrating the release of Dena Grunt’s “Table with a View” cookbook. For links to register, go to and click on the cookbook.

    Cookbook brunches: COVID-19 permitting, there will be intimate cookbook brunches held in The Croft garden at Nick’s Cove at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 2, May 23, June 2, July 25 and Aug. 22. Ticket are $75 and limited to 20 guests.

    Point Reyes Bookstore: A virtual event with the author and the staff of the bookstore will be streamed at 7 p.m. May 11 through Zoom.

    Book Passage: An online conversation between the author and Avram Kosasky of Book Passage will be held at 6 p.m. May 13.

    Copperfield’s Books: A virtual event with the author will be held at 7 p.m. May 19.

    Napa Bookmine: An online event with the author will be held at 7 p.m. May 27.

    Omnivore Books: Omnivore Books and Nick’s Cove will partner for an in-person signing of “Table with a View” at 5 p.m. June 4, with books available for purchase along with a special treat for buyers. The restaurant menu will feature recipes from the cookbook. No tickets required. Come for the cookbook, stay for the sunset.

    Nick’s Cove, located along the salt-licked shores of Tomales Bay, is a destination that has gone from a hunting and fishing lodge to a modern retreat in the past 90 years, all while staying true to its rustic roots.

    For owner Dena Grunt, the landmark restaurant and bar, 400-foot-long pier, quaint fishing shack, 12 cottages and terraced garden have an aura of magic about them. Although not quite stuck in time, the little haven has stayed in people’s minds through memories passed down through generations.

    “Unlike so many other places, it’s basically in its same form of use from the time Nick (Kojich) created a bar, restaurant and an inn in 1931,” Grunt said. “That’s exactly what it is now.”

    As soon as she started working at Nick’s Cove in 2010, Grunt wanted to pay homage to the spot nestled between the craggy coastline of the Point Reyes National Seashore and the rolling hills of West Marin. Her dream was to write a cookbook and give it a dash of local flavor.

    “This is so much more than a place where people come to eat,” she said. “People would come and say, ‘My mom and dad would take me here when I was little.’ People had such nostalgic and happy memories.”

    During the past year, Grunt finally made her dream come true by finishing a 192-page cookbook sprinkled liberally with local lore and historic photos plus enticing landscapes and food shots by well-known photographer Frankie Frankeny.

    “Table with a View: The History and Recipes of Nick’s Cove” (Cameron + Company, 2021) will be available to buy at Nick’s Cove starting April 1 and at local bookstores on May 11. To celebrate, the restaurant will host a series of Cookbook Brunches in its Croft garden, COVID-19 permitting, starting May 2 and continuing on the fourth Sunday of each month, May through August.

    The hardback book includes nearly 60 recipes from a trio of talented chefs who have cooked in the Nick’s Cove kitchen over the past 15 years, including Kua Speer, the executive chef since 2017. Speer served as sous chef under Austin Perkins, who worked alongside Grunt as executive chef from 2011 to 2016.

    “He had never been an executive chef, and I had never been a (general manager) of a restaurant,” Grunt recalled. “We were probably not totally prepared to it, but we figured it out together. To this day, we’re very good friends.”

    Well-known Bay Area Chef Mark Franz bought the property in 1999 with restaurateur Pat Kuleto, and Franz served as the opening chef in 2007 after the Nick’s Cove resort underwent a massive redevelopment that took seven long years.

    “It’s really just three chefs in the book — Mark Franz, Austin Perkins and Kua Speer,” Grunt said.

    In 2010, Grunt started working for Kuleto, then was asked to stay on as general manager when Nick’s Cove was sold in 2011 to one of its original investors, Prescott Ashe. Grunt and Ashe, who died suddenly last year, also joined forces to launch Highway One Hospitality, a company for which Grunt still serves as CEO.

    “From Day One, Nick’s Cove was the darling of our hospitality management company,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “The property is delicate, refined, temperamental, fiercely strong, exquisite and difficult, but when you are here, you experience such joy that all of the challenges fade.”

    The cookbook includes recipes for starters and cocktails, soups and salads, seafood and meat or vegetable entrees, plus desserts. Many of the recipes reflect the restaurant’s fresh take on classics such as the Oysters Nickerfeller (a play on Oysters Rockefeller) and the Nick’s It oatmeal cookie sandwich (a play on the iconic It’s It frozen treat from San Francisco).

    Seafood dishes range from perennial favorites like Tomales Bay Clam Chowder and Shrimp Louie Salad to hearty comfort food such as Dungeness Crab Mac & Cheese and Tuna Melts with Roasted Tomatoes and Thyme.

    Both Nick’s Cove and its new cookbook celebrate the culinary bounty of the coastal region, home to organic creameries such as Straus Dairy, grass-fed beef ranches like Stemple Creek Ranch and tomato growers such as the legendary Larry Wagner. Of course, local oystermen and fishermen are also part of the Nick’s Cove story they provided fresh ocean-to-table seafood to the restaurant from the very beginning.

    Many Nick’s Cove neighbors get a nod in the book in a nostalgic, hand-drawn map that highlights producers of the restaurant’s farm-to-table cuisine, from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station to Tomales Bay Oyster Co. in Marshall and Liberty Duck Farm in Petaluma.

    “There’s so much more that we could have talked about — the dairies and the cheeses,” Grunt said. “And there’s so much history to go into. We only had so many pages.”

    “Table with a View” events

    Here are some of the upcoming events celebrating the release of Dena Grunt’s “Table with a View” cookbook. For links to register, go to and click on the cookbook.

    Cookbook brunches: COVID-19 permitting, there will be intimate cookbook brunches held in The Croft garden at Nick’s Cove at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 2, May 23, June 2, July 25 and Aug. 22. Ticket are $75 and limited to 20 guests.

    Point Reyes Bookstore: A virtual event with the author and the staff of the bookstore will be streamed at 7 p.m. May 11 through Zoom.

    Book Passage: An online conversation between the author and Avram Kosasky of Book Passage will be held at 6 p.m. May 13.

    Copperfield’s Books: A virtual event with the author will be held at 7 p.m. May 19.

    Napa Bookmine: An online event with the author will be held at 7 p.m. May 27.

    Omnivore Books: Omnivore Books and Nick’s Cove will partner for an in-person signing of “Table with a View” at 5 p.m. June 4, with books available for purchase along with a special treat for buyers. The restaurant menu will feature recipes from the cookbook. No tickets required. Come for the cookbook, stay for the sunset.

    The following is an interview with the author, who has been proprietor of Nick’s Cove since August 2011 and lives in Petaluma with her husband and son.

    Q: Where did you grow up?

    A: I grew up in Lake County, and then I moved to Santa Rosa and went to the SRJC and worked part-time. I finished my AA and moved to Petaluma for a summer. . I was transferring to SF State, but I met a boy who I later married, so I’ve been here since 1992.

    Q: When did you get the idea to write a cookbook about Nick’s Cove?

    A: Honestly, the first time I started working there in 2010, I started talking about a cookbook. There’s so much history, and it all needed to get written down. At the time, Ruth Gibson (the owner before Pat Kuleto and Mark Franz) was still alive, and I was worried we would miss the opportunity to get her story. She would come to lunch, and I would sit down and take notes.

    Q: Were there any big surprises along the way? Did you always know the original owner Nick Kojich, who immigrated from Croatia, was also a bootlegger?

    I knew Nick and his wife Frances’s niece and nephew, Dorothy and Andy Matkovich (the second owners of Nick’s Cove) had a daughter Judy Matkovich. . I was telling a friend of mine who was born and raised in Petaluma that I know this lady Judy lives here in Petaluma, and I can’t find her. She said, “That’s one of my mom’s best friends.“ It turns out I could walk to her house. She and her husband Ron sat down with me and gave me details about who everybody was in the pictures. The one thing she said was that Nick was ”absolutely a bootlegger.”

    Judy was wonderful, and I had her look over parts of the history (in the cookbook) for accuracy. . I’m a stranger writing about her family’s history, and it made me feel really good that what was written honored all the people who came before me.

    Q: It’s interesting that even your publisher, Cameron + Company of Petaluma, is local. How did you find them?

    A: Chris Gruener (the publisher) and I have a lot of mutual friends. They were an absolute delight to work with. Everyone was so helpful and encouraging and supportive. Kim Laidlaw was the project manager. . She would make adjustments and help with the copy if I was stuck on something. She really tried her best to not lose my voice. I wanted the readers and the cooks to see Nick’s through my eyes . of someone who fell in love with the location first.

    Q: What kind of changes did you make when you bought the property in 2011?

    A: I had beautiful wooden tables made from a recycled water tower and removed all the white tablecloths. I really wanted people to feel comfortable coming in after a day of kayaking or hiking.

    I decluttered some of the knickknacks that Kuleto was fond of. He had a lot of texture, like fishing nets hanging from the ceiling. You can’t clean that stuff, and it collects dust. So I decluttered without stripping away the essence of the design and the aesthetic.

    I got the garden (The Croft) started in 2012. It was 10 feet of weeds all the way around. The terracing had been done by Kuleto . so I took it back to see the terracing and the irrigation. We started harvesting in 2013 in the summer and fall, and it’s been getting better and better ever since. In the pandemic, we pivoted and offered a CSA box of vegetables because we had all this produce that we couldn’t turn into food in the kitchen. … The boxes sold out.

    Q: You’ve also made the property kid-friendly with a kids’ menu. Why?

    A: We didn’t have a kids’ menu, and I had a 7-year-old. When we went out to dinner, I didn’t appreciate a menu with fried chicken fingers and a corn dog. It was a big deal for me to have a healthy children’s menu.

    The Nick’s It was my baby. … We were thinking about a dessert, and I said we should make an ice cream sandwich, like an It’s It. And I jokingly said, “We can call it a Nick’s It.”

    Q: What kind of pivots did you have to make at the restaurant during the pandemic?

    A: When it was spring heading into summer, we did takeout. We laid everybody off, furloughed the ones we could and kept those who could handle takeout. Then, with outdoor dining, we pivoted to a counter-service model so we could cut down on the table interactions with our staff and the public.

    Then in December when it closed down again, we just shut down completely. . When they opened outside dining again, we went into full gear of being able to serve our guests with counter service.

    Now we’re open 25% indoors, but it will still be a window where you order and the pickup is inside and you get your drinks and food as they come up.

    More and more, people care less about how they get their food versus the kind of food. Millennials and Gen-Xers want the beautiful location, wonderful experience and amazing food.

    Q: Is there anything you feel you left out of the cookbook?

    A: I really feel like I said everything I wanted to say that I knew personally. It’s not a history book — that’s for somebody else to go into the details. But I feel like I achieved what I set out to do, by giving the reader not only a glimpse of the beautiful location and these recipes but also a look at an entire location, Nick’s Cove. It’s not just the restaurant and the cottages. It’s all the things that it was before.

    The following recipes are from Dena Grunt’s “Table with a View: The History & Recipes of Nick’s Cove” (Cameron + Company, 2021). This poke recipe is a starter from Executive Chef Kua Speer, who grew up in Hawaii.

    Be sure to use a non-vinegar-based hot sauce and make the pickled vegetables a day in advance so they have time to pickle. Remove the blood line from the tuna by cutting it off with a sharp knife, if it has not been removed already.

    Ahi Tuna Poke with Pickled Vegetables

    For the pickled vegetables:

    1½ cups unseasoned rice wine vinegar

    1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

    2 tablespoons kosher salt

    ½ cup ice (about 4 large ice cubes)

    3 small radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

    1 small Japanese or English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1/16 inch thick)

    1 cup low-sodium soy sauce

    ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

    2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

    2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

    2 teaspoons non-vinegar-based hot sauce, such as Sriracha or wasabi paste (optional)

    2 pounds sashimi-grade ahi tuna, cut into ½-inch cubes

    2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

    2 green onions, thinly sliced, green tops only, about 2 tablespoons

    To make the pickled vegetables: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the rice wine vinegar, ginger, salt and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Place the ice in a small heatproof bowl. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the pickling liquid over the bowl of ice. Divide the cold pickling liquid between two bowls, then add the radishes to one bowl and the cucumber to the second bowl. Cover the bowls tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to five days in advance.

    In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, red onion, ginger, garlic and hot sauce until well combined. Cover and set aside for 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate for up to one day.

    Place the tuna in a mixing bowl. Strain the soy sauce mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over the tuna, then toss to coat evenly.

    In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring often, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly, then add to the tuna along with the green onion. Stir to combine.

    Pile the tuna poke mixture onto a serving plate. Remove the radishes and cucumber from the pickling liquid and arrange around the poke mixture. Serve immediately.

    Chef Mark Franz created this delicious salad for the opening menu of Nick’s Cove in 2007, after seven years of renovations.

    Grilled Romaine Salad with Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette

    For the lemon anchovy vinaigrette:

    ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

    4 olive oil-packed anchovy filets

    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

    1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

    ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    To make the vinaigrette: In a blender, combine the lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, mustard, Parmesan, salt and pepper and blend on medium-high speed until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil, blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside. (The vinaigrette will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.)

    In a dry small skillet, warm 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Brush the grill grate clean.

    While the grill heats, halve the romaine hearts lengthwise, carefully cutting away most of the core and leaving enough stem to keep the leaves attached to each other. Brush the cut sides of the romaine lightly with the oil, then season with salt.

    Arrange the romaine halves, cut sides down, on the grate and grill until the leaves are nicely charred, about 1½ minutes. You do not want to cook the romaine. You just want to create nice char marks.

    Transfer two romaine halves, grilled side up, onto each individual plate, arranging them into an X. Drizzle each serving with about ¼ cup vinaigrette, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

    This recipe has gone through variations but originated with former Nick’s Cove Chef Austin Perkins.

    Nick’s Cove Dungeness Crab Mac & Cheese

    2 leeks, white part only, sliced

    2 cups shredded aged Gruyere cheese, such as Grand Cru

    2 cups shredded Point Reyes Toma or medium white cheddar

    ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Tabasco), for seasoning

    1 pound dried fusilli pasta

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    1 pound fresh-cooked Dungeness crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments

    2 tablespoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

    In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the flour, whisk until smooth, then cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles and starts to smell like shortbread, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream. Continue to simmer, stirring, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the cheeses, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition until melted before adding more. Season to taste with salt, hot sauce and lemon juice.

    About 15 minutes before the cheese sauce is ready, begin cooking the pasta and toast the breadcrumbs. Fill a large pot two-thirds full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes or according to package directions. Drain into a colander, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

    In a small dry skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Add the crabmeat and gently stir to distribute evenly. Divide the pasta between individual bowls or plates. Top each serving with the toasted breadcrumbs and parsley. Serve right away.

    In 2011, Nick’s Cove launched a kids’ menu that included the Nick’s It, a chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwich of vanilla ice cream between two big oatmeal cookies.

    Makes 12 cookies, or 6 ice cream sandwiches

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

    1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

    1 cup packed light brown sugar

    1 ½ pints of vanilla ice cream

    1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped

    To make the cookies: In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla until blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon.

    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy and smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the egg mixture in three additions, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Continue to mix until the dough is fully combined, about 1 minute longer.

    Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a log that is 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or up to 1 day in advance.

    When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and cut into 12 equal slices. Using your hands, roll each slice into a ball. Arrange on the prepared sheet pan, spacing the dough balls about 4 inches apart. Using your palm, gently flatten each dough portion into a disk about 3 inches in diameter.

    Bake the cookies for 4 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and bake 5 more minutes, until golden brown but still soft. Transfer to a wire rack and let cookies cool completely.

    To assemble the sandwiches: Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly. While the ice cream softens, line a small sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange half the cookies, bottom side up, on the prepared pan. Fill a small bowl with warm water and place it next to the ice cream.

    For each sandwich, dip a large ice cream scoop in the water and scoop out ½ cup ice cream and place it on a cookie base. Place another cookie, bottom side down, on top and press gently to spread the ice cream as evenly as possible between the cookies the ice cream should be about an inch thick. Immediately move the pan to the freezer and let ice cream freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Rest a heatproof medium bowl on top of the saucepan over, but not touching, the water and put the chocolate and oil into the bowl. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is mostly melted with only a few pieces remaining. Remove the bowl from the heat and wipe the outside of the bowl dry. The chocolate should be warm but not hot.

    Dip each ice cream sandwich vertically halfway into the chocolate, then return it to the sheet pan. When all of the sandwiches are dipped, return the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until chocolate hardens, then serve. If you are not going to eat them right away, wrap each one in plastic wrap, slip them into a zippered plastic bag or two and store flat in the freezer for up to 5 days.

    Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

    Diane Peterson

    Features, The Press Democrat

    I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.

    Watch the video: Oysters Rockefeller Recipe. Amazing Easy to Make Appetizer!


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