We. Love. Oysters.
Fresh Oysters from Hog Island Oysters
Steamed oysters. Deep fried oysters. Grilled oysters. Oyster Po-Boys…there are many ways to eat oysters. (Have you had the Hokkien-style Or Chien – Fried Oyster Omelette? So good!)
But I think my favorite way to eat oysters is to eat them raw. That combination of smooth, silky texture, sweet oyster meat, and briny oyster liquor is irresistible. There is nothing like it.
Still, we don’t get to eat raw oysters that often. Yes, I know there are places around here in the South Bay that sell raw oysters. We’ve even tried the vendor at the Sunnyvale farmer’s market. (Never again – Annie and I both got sick from a bad batch.) The place we prefer to get our fresh oysters from is Hog Island Oysters at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
A couple of the books that the kids like me to read to them at bedtime involve apple picking: Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-picking Time by Jody Fickes, and A Day at the Apple Orchard by Megan Faulkner. It sparked their imaginations. So for a whole year now, Daniel has been bugging me to take him apple picking. Today, we visited the Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville for their annual Apple Butter Festival.
Gizdich Ranch Apple Butter Festival
Chez Panisse, the Legendary Restaurant in Berkeley
I knew about Chez Panisse even before I heard of the French Laundry. Chez Panisse is a legendary restaurant, known as one of the innovators of "California Cuisine" which took French techniques and applied them to local, seasonal ingredients found in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has earned countless awards, including being named among the top 50 restaurants in the world and being given a prestigious star rating in the Michelin Guide. It even has it’s own Wikipedia article.
Chez Panisse’s owner, Alice Waters, is a high priestess in the Slow Food Movement. Its alumni include some of the most celebrated chefs on the West Coast. Jeremiah Tower of Stars, Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe, and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery all worked the venerated kitchens of Chez Panisse.
The Open Kitchen at Chez Panisse
Heads of state dine at Chez Panisse. But in all our time in the Bay Area, we’ve not gone. Until now. Tonight, Annie and I visited this restaurant for the first time, in celebration of our wedding anniversary. Is Chez Panisse really worth it?
Last week, we visited the newly reopened California Academy of Sciences, located inside Golden Gate Park in the beautiful City by the Bay, San Francisco. The museum had been closed for years while they rebuilt it from the ground up to be one of the most amazing facilities in the world. We had taken the kids to the Steinhart Aquarium when it was temporarily located in downtown San Francisco, and I was looking forward to its grand reopening to experience it more fully. So when I saw FoodGal Carolyn Jung’s post about her sneak-peak into the Academy before the doors opened, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we went as well.
Once inside, we immediately went down to the under-water level of the Steinhart Aquarium. There, you are greeted with an expansive viewing room of the deepest live coral exhibit in the world, the Philippine Reef Tank. Diver Dave Chan was in the water, answering questions from the audience.
Diver Dave Chan in the Philippine Reef Tank at the California Academy of Sciences