For certain people, no fruit of the sea is better than a fresh oyster. And in California, there's no better place to eat them than at Tomales Bay, about 40 miles northwest of San Francisco. The bay, an index finger of water that separates the Point Reyes Peninsula from mainland Marin County, is a protected ecosystem where oysters are farmed. In Marshall are two standouts for those who love to slurp the succulent mollusks: the Tomales Bay Oyster and the Hog Island Oyster companies. But you don't have to drop a fortune to sample some. At their stores in Marshall, you'll find bushels of small, medium and large oysters and other shellfish. Bring work gloves, because you'll have to shuck the oysters yourself.
Info: Tomales Bay State Park, Tomales Bay Oyster Co., 15479 Highway 1, Marshall, CA 94940; (415) 663-1242. Hog Island Oyster Co., 20215 Highway 1, Marshall, CA 94940; (415) 663-9218. Reservations are required for the picnic area.
-- Kathy M.Y. Pyon