On a quiet October afternoon, Hog Island Farm chef Mariko Wilkinson kneels near the edge of the property, stoking a bed of coals and keeping a watchful eye on the juicy suckling pig, slowly caramelizing inside La Caja China. The last of Hog Island’s afternoon picnickers pack up their wares, serenely looking out over Tomales Bay. As the day’s business winds down, a buzz of activity and excitement builds. Tonight is Hog Island Oyster Co.’s first Marshall Farm Dinner.
The vision for these dinners has been a long time coming. They grew from a simple idea of sharing the Hog Island story with oyster and food lovers in the very spot where it all began – The Farm. Oysters are one of the purest tastes of place, to enhance this, Hog Island turned to local family farms in Tomales, Pt. Reyes and Petaluma to create a menu that is the true essence of California’s northern coast.
Guests arriving for the dinner are greeted with cava, oysters on the half shell, and an array of cheeses selected from local dairies paired with charcuterie and house-brined olives. Oysters are slurped, bubbles are sipped and lively conversation ensues. As the crowd warms up, Hog Island co-founder Terry Sawyer raises his glass and invites all to sit along the water’s edge for a hands-on ‘Oyster-101’ tour. He passionately shares the history, lore, and practice of sustainable oyster farming. Then passes around a Hog Island ‘Cowboy’ – a 15(+/-)-year old oyster, just for effect.
As the sun leisurely sets over Tomales Bay, the smell of suckling pig roasting over hot coals, drifts, tantalizingly through the air and summons everyone to dinner. Guests move to Hog Island’s historic storefront, the old Marshall General Store & Post Office where Chef Mariko has created a 3-course menu with wine pairings that reflect the seasonal bounty of Marin and Sonoma counties.
The first course starts with a beautiful little gem salad with cornmeal and seaweed crusted Kumamoto ‘croutons’. The salad course is followed by platters of grilled Hog Island Sweetwaters bubbling under a silky mushroom and sherry cream sauce topped with spicy, candied bacon. With more to share, Terry Sawyer gets up from his table and the guests quiet, all with happy satisfied faces, one even calling out for the recipe for the irresistible grilled oysters. He delves deeper into the storied history of the space, circa 1850’s, then introduces Chef Mariko and the owners of Clark Summit Farms, whose pig is the star of the show. As he wraps up introductions, Hog Island staff carrying in ample platters of succulent, suckling pork served atop grilled delicata squash and soft corn polenta.
The night closes under the stars with a cozy, outdoor campfire and s’mores, with homemade marshmallows and graham crackers. A guest picks up a guitar they brought and gently starts to pluck away. The joy of dining in this natural setting, enjoying the quiet beauty and the immense stars is evident on the faces around the fire. The night closes in a peaceful harmony of full belly and mind. Those who came as guests now leave as friends.
To receive more information about our Marshall Farm Dinners and to add your name to our waitlist, please click here!