San Francisco

oysterfest 2016

Oh hi, how are you? It’s been a while. We’ve been grooving hardcore in our Northern California lifestyle. Answering those emails, building those websites, grading those exams, running those participants, and then 7:30pm/the weekend hits and it’s pure San Francisco magic. Making dumplings and sausages and paintings, doing yoga, relaxing in the park, strolling the neighborhood with a hound who’s miraculously back to her peppy 2011 self after surgery to remove glass from her paw, eating lots of foods with lots of friends. It’s a damn good life.

Now if you happen to find yourself in Northern California on sunny weekend not unlike the ones we’ve been having lately, and want to feel those good vibes that make California the greatest state in the nation, I’ve got a perfect plan for you. Go buy yourself 200 oysters for $200, drive a few miles down the road, sit on a beach and eat all of them. Works best if you have some good friends to go along with you, but I imagine you’d still have a decent time if it was just you and your shucker.

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Things you’ll need: 
– Oysters (get them fresh from the source at Tomales Bay Oyster Company)
– Ice (the boys at TBOC have got you covered)
A shucker
– Lemons and/or hot sauce and/or mignonette
– Beer and/or wine
– Bread
– Plaid shirt
– Bocce set (optional)

The next part is easy. Sit on the beach, bask in the sunshine and eat oysters until the fog rolls in. You’ve never had a better Saturday, at least not one you can remember. That oyster-high, it’s unbeatable.

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Be back soon with dumpling recipes. We’ve been experimenting and it’s starting to get real good.

Recipes San Francisco


This past Sunday we partook in the immense gustatory pleasure that is Oysterfest. Our fourth annual, Oysterfest is a celebration of shellfish, overeating and friendship. We get together with some of our dearest friends to shuck and share upwards of 160 oysters. Throw in a cheese plate, fresh focaccia, cole slaw, pigs in a blanket, homebrew IPA on tap, several well-timed “shuck it” jokes and a view of Sutro Tower perched over the Mission, and it really feels like you’ve made it.


Now if I was on top of my blogger game, I would have a recipe for homemade pigs in a blanket—I am marrying an aspiring sausage artisan after all. But instead of dutifully obsessing over brioche dough on Saturday, I went sailing. I ate cheese and salami on a boat in the San Francisco Bay while drinking champagne out of a pink dixie cup with a penis-shaped straw. I performed terribly in a series of questions about my betrothed, took the helm for all of 5 minutes before my nerves got the best of me, and basked in the glow of nine beautiful, hilarious ladies. Back-to-back days of great food in picturesque settings with tremendous company, I am a fortunate woman.

And so without further ado, I give you the culinary crowd-pleaser, pigs in a blanket. All of the ingredients are happily waiting at your favorite grocery store, and you can throw these babies together in minutes. Not wanting to be known for a dearth of useful information, there are also directions to purchase raw oysters, if and only if you’re located in the Bay Area.


Pigs in a Blanket
1 package all beef hot dogs, cut in half
2 packages crescent rolls

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Open your package of hot dogs and cut them in half. Open your crescent rolls. Wrap the rolls around the dogs and place them on a cookie sheet with about an inch between each one. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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If you happen to have a group of friends similarly dedicated to the celebration of oysters and live in the Bay Area, it is easy (and surprisingly affordable) to secure a few bushels of oysters for your enjoyment at the Alemany Farmer’s Market from Point Reyes Oyster Company. Throw your bushels of oysters in a cooler, pour a few bags of ice on top, and get ready to shuck.


Ps. Oysterfest 2014Oysterfest 2013, and how to shuck an oyster (it’s all about that hinge).


Recipes San Francisco

consider the oyster

We’re fortunate enough to live very close to very delicious oysters. We’re also lucky enough to have friends to whom eating upwards of 25 oysters a person seems like the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If it’s a Saturday in San Francisco, it is easy (and surprisingly affordable) to secure a few bushels of oysters for your enjoyment at the Alemany Farmer’s Market from Point Reyes Oyster Company.

Throw your bushels of oysters in a cooler, pour a few bags of ice on top, and get ready to shuck. Though oysters are divine on their own, you’ll probably want some fixin’s to go with them. We’d recommend lemon wedges, mango shallot mignonette, hot sauce, and maybe some bread and cheese. Don’t forget a healthy supply of beer, wine and whisky. Pertinent recipes to follow.

The best way to shuck an oyster (and minimize the amount of shell shrapnel you ingest) is to insert the tip of the oyster knife in the hinge of the oyster, apply firm pressure downwards at a 45 degree angle until the knife goes into the oyster and the oyster releases. The two halves of its shell will loosen and you can more easily run your knife around the edges to free the oyster from the shell. Detach the oyster foot from the shell, apply your condiments and enjoy!




Mango Shallot Mignonette
1/2 cup Ponzu marinade
5 tablespoons shallots, minced
1/4 cup mango, finely diced ripe
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and dilute with a little water if necessary. Refrigerate 1 – 2 hours, or overnight to allow the flavors to combine.




Friendly Fire Hot Sauce
For those who can’t handle the heat.
10 poblano peppers
4 carrots
1 large yellow onion
3/4 head of garlic
3 roma tomatoes
450 ml white balsamic vinegar (find it at Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cumin

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Roast peppers, onion and garlic until brown and slightly charred, about 40 minutes.  Transfer peppers, onion and garlic to a saucepan. Add tomatoes, vinegar, lime and seasonings. Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Cool and blend.




Satan’s Sister Hot Sauce
For those who like it hot.
23 habanero peppers
23 serrano peppers
1 passilla bajo pepper
1 large yellow onion
3 roma tomatoes
1/2 lime
250 ml white balsamic vinegar (Trader Joe’s has it)
200 ml balsamic vinegar
1 tsp paprika
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cumin
pinch of turmeric
salt, to taste

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Roast peppers, onion and garlic until brown and slightly charred, about 40 minutes.  Transfer peppers, onion and garlic to a saucepan. Add tomatoes, vinegar, lime and seasonings. Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Cool and blend.

Special thanks to our friends Sonny and Russell for sharing their recipes in this post.



consider the oyster

Oysters: the weird things that look like rocks in the seafood section of the grocery store.  Nobody actually buys those, right?  Wrong.  If you’ve never had a raw oyster, the first thing you must do is go to Swan Oyster Depot, which is located on Polk, between California and Sacramento.  It’s a great place to have your first bite of briny goodness.  This place is terrific; all the shellfish is awesome, but the oysters are the reason to go.  Swan’s only has seating for about 15 along the bar, so the line is usually out the door (fortunately, the employees tend to offer those waiting a beer or glass of wine so they have something other than the oddities of Polk St. to take in).  Swan’s tends to have about 6 types of oysters at any given time; most are local, but some are from Canada, the East Coast, etc.  I recommend getting a variety because you can really taste the difference when you have them side by side.  The service is great and it’s a really fun place to grab some seafood.  Unfortunately, the wait is usually pretty long and it’s a little pricey, about $12 for 6 oysters (note that Swan’s is a great deal compared to other seafood restaurants), and they only take cash.

So, now that you’ve followed my advice, gone to Swan’s a couple times, and fallen totally in love with oysters, what do you do?  Clearly, it’s a bit unreasonable to pay $2+ for an oyster and the novelty of Swan’s is wearing off.  Here’s my advice: buy an oyster knife.  They’re easy to find and pretty cheap too (I got mine at Whole Foods for $8).  There are plenty of reputable seafood mongers in san Francisco (Sun Fat Seafood, Whole Foods, Bi-Rite, etc.), so buy some oysters and get shucking.  So far, Emily and I have only bought from Whole Foods, but that’s just because the prices are actually very reasonable and they’re convenient.  On our last trip, we got a few Kumamoto for $1.3 each, some Blue Points for $1, and some Tomales Bays that were on special for $0.9 each.

Now that you’ve got your quality oysters (which are definitely alive, right?) and your oyster knife, you’re ready to shuck.  First, rinse the bivalves in some cold running water, and be sure to keep them cold during this whole process, i.e. shucking, sitting around prior to eating, and eating itself.  For safety’s sake, hold the oyster in a towel and use your dominant hand to gently insert the knife into the oyster.  I’ve found that finesse is better than force when shucking oysters; if you’re too aggressive, you’ll likely break the shell which will leave shrapnel in your pristine oyster.

This is probably a bit too aggressive.

After you’ve separated the shells, carefully scrape the oyster from its shell leaving as much of the briny liquor as possible.  Place the halved oysters on a chilled plate and eat plain, with some lemon, or with mignonette (recipe follows).  Some crusty bread with Emily’s homemade butter and you don’t need anything else.

Mignonette (Makes about 1/2 Cup)

One Small Shallot, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

About 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients and let sit until ready to use (a couple hours ahead of time is best for flavors to meld).