An Epic Birthday Week – Episode III

I awoke on Day 3 still feeling pretty good; surprisingly not hung over. I was staying at cousin Nancy’s place and Mat came over to pick us up and take us out to Tomales Bay for the day. The goal was to check out Hog Island Oyster company right at the bay (last year we just had the oysters at their restaurant in the Ferry Building). We relied on Mat’s Garmin GPS to get us there and unfortunately for us it seemed to think we were riding a bike instead of a car because it took us on a journey through narrow winding roads zig-zagging up and down hills infested with Lance Armstrong wannabes. I’m talking hundreds of bikers adorned in lycra complete with racing numbers on their backs. I was wondering if anybody was gonna chuck their water bottle into the woods like in the Tour de France.

When we finally arrived at Hog Island I was actually queasy from all of those turns on those windy roads but I was not going to let that stop me from enjoying some oysters dammit! The setup at Hog Island Oysters is pretty cool with picnic tables and grills set up for all to use:

Hog Island Picnic Area

You order your oysters and they serve them to you on a plastic lunch tray covered with ice and provide you with a shucking knife and glove. You take them to the picnic tables and practice your shucking technique, or if you are all thumbs at it, they can send a shucker over to help you. We all got the hang of it pretty quickly and enjoyed 11 dozen oysters between four of us for a mere $150. And the view of the bay wasn’t too bad either:

Tomales Bay

After an afternoon of eating shellfish, what better way to round out the day than with a nice dinner of… shellfish! The one place I had targeted as a must-try for this trip was The Boiling Crab, a chain with locations in Texas and Southern CA before recently opening a branch in San Jose. They serve all types of shellfish which they boil and serve in clear plastic bags containing the sauce of your choice- cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter, or a blend of all three which they call “the whole shebang”. Each sauce can be prepared to the heat level you choose. I’m guessing The Boiling Crab is Vietnamese-owned because you also get a little thing of salt and pepper and lime wedges to mix your own muoi tieu chanh, a sauce that Vietnamese use for seafood.

We were told the wait would be an hour and a half so we ordered some beers from the back and waited. Fortunately for us it seemed many of the people on the waiting list had wandered off and since we were friendly to the hostesses we managed to get seated within 20 minutes. There were four of us and not being very good judges of poundage, we completely over-ordered. We went with 4 lbs. of shrimp and 4 lbs. of crawfish to share, and a Dungeness crab for each of us, all with the whole shebang, medium hot.

Boiling Crab shrimp
Boiling Crab crawfish
Boiling Crab Dungeness

What we didn’t know was the crab would be a mammoth 2.5 lbs! Incredibly huge and incredibly sweet and delicious. The crab “brains”, all the guts inside which are my favorite part of the crab, was unbelievably plentiful and I was able to drink it out of the crab shell like a bowl of the richest most unctuous soup you can imagine. All of the food we had was just awesome. Medium was the right amount of heat to make me happy (Vietnamese medium hot is probably hot hot for most people) but seemed to be a bit much for the others, especially Tony whose nose was particularly athletic, running all over the place. Next time mild would probably be a better choice for everyone. In the end, after all the messy carnage of eating this type of food and going through a roll of paper towels, we found we had over-ordered by about 3 lbs. of food between the shrimp and crawfish. Amazingly, all that food and a couple beers each, plus a good tip, only came to $65 a person! Unequivocally, The Boiling Crab is an absolute MUST for any foodie visiting the bay area.

2 thoughts on “An Epic Birthday Week – Episode III

  1. the Boiling Crab looks like something right up my alley. OMG- crawfish and dungeness crab- i want to crawl into that bag- looks soooo delicious. I LOVE CRAB

  2. I know, you would totally love it Kat! I wish they had a branch in NY. They would do so well!

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