Celebrate National Oyster Day with Two Types of Morro Bay Oysters!

Morro Bay, CA, July 24, 2019 – #Oysterfarming in the cool waters of Morro Bay began in the early 1900’s and has been a part of its rich aquaculture ever since. Today Morro Bay is known for cultivating two types of local oysters in the bay: Pacific Gold and Grassy Bar. So, wanted to share where you can find local oysters prepared every-which-way imaginable at Morro Bay restaurants, and some fantastic oyster recipes from local players so you can buy your own bag and eat them anywhere!

Morro Bay Oysters are a big part of this #sustainablefishing focused small commercial fishing community.  Flavored by the water in which they grow, oysters are filter feeders. They clarify the bay and in this way are environmentally friendly seafood. The flavor profiles of Pacific Golds and Grassy Bars are distinct, and locals and tourists just can’t get enough. Their shell colors make it even easier to tell them apart: Grassy Bars commonly have a green swirl whereas Pacific Golds display a touch of purple.  Morro Bay oysters often have a cucumber-melon flavor from the volcanic, nutrient-rich, soil’s minerality, and a sweetness due to the fresh water flowing into the bay.  These conditions create a combination of tastes you cannot find anywhere but Morro Bay, California. 

  • Grassy Bar Oyster Company – A family-owned farm conceived in 2009, Grassy Bar is proud to deliver carefully-produced oysters to Morro Bay locals and restaurants as well as other nearby coastal cities. Additionally, they are also available nationwide with overnight shipping directly from the farm. The oysters grow on the mudflats of the bay’s intertidal zone, creating a strong briny taste with an unmistakable hint of garden cucumber. Best served with a fresh-squeezed lemon, the flavor is uncopiable.
  • Morro Bay Oyster Company –  Since 2004, founder Neal Maloney has worked relentlessly to produce the freshest oysters possible for Morro Bay. Harvested by hand, the Pacific Gold Oysters spend 6 to 8 months in a highly-monitored nursery to prepare them for the harsher waters of the bay. Once of age, the oysters are then transferred to the bay in large mesh bags to allow plankton to freely swim through the farm. After 12-18 months, the oysters are then harvested and allocated to some of the best seafood restaurants in town as well as local farmers markets.  The oyster company has recently added Pacific Reserves to their oyster beds.  Reserves are tide tumbled, increasing the stress on the oysters and resulting in a sweeter flavor.

A popular treat in Morro Bay, there are several Morro Bay restaurants that serve up oysters just the way you like them.  Here are some of the best spots to enjoy –

  • Windows on the Water Oyster Tuesdays:
    Windows on the Water hosts $0.94 oysters every Tuesdays from 5pm until closing exclusively at their oyster bar. Eat them raw off the shell, fried, or shooter-style to tie-over your oyster craving.
  • Tognazzini’s Dockside, Too:
    Find oysters prepared a half dozen different ways at this bayside favorite – including oyster chowder! Home of the barbecued oyster, Tognazzini’s Dockside, Too is a fresh fish market with outdoor dining on the waterfront. Taste fresh Morro Bay Pacific Gold Oysters on the half-shell, or enjoy a giant barbecued oyster the size of your fist slathered with drawn butter, garlic and lemon! So delicious, you’ll want more than one.
  • Dutchman’s Family-Style Oysters:
    Straight from the bay, Dutchman’s serves up a family-style tray of a half-dozen oysters on the shell. Paired with your favorite sauces and fresh lemon, this is the perfect appetizer for a family of seafood-lovers.
  • Giovanni’s Oysters and Chips:
    Looking for something more than traditional Fish and Chips?  Giovanni’s Fish Market & Galley had deep fried oysters & chips on the menu along with four preparations of BBQ’d oysters. Their outdoor patio, with views of Morro Rock, is a great place to spend a tasty afternoon.  And if you can’t get enough of their oysters, ask about their annual oyster eating contest in October. 
  • Great American Fish Company Oyster Shooters:
    Great American Fish Company serves up their oyster shooters the traditional way, with spicy cocktail sauce, as well as, a version with vodka.  Their menu also includes the more common on the half shell and BBQ’d preparations. 
  • Dorn’s Breakfast Oysters:
    You may think you’ve had oysters in every way possible, but have you had oysters for breakfast?  Stop in at Dorn’s and order the Hangtown Omlette stuffed with sautéed pacific oysters, garlic, onions, mushrooms and white wine.  Served from 7 am – 1 pm every day. 
  • STAX Oysters and Wine:
    Enjoy a dollar off all raw oysters at STAX Wine Bar with your glass of local vino during weekday happy hour between 3pm and 6 pm, and every Sunday during Bubbles Tasting. 

Now that your mouth is watering and your stomach is growling, it’s time to buy your own bag of Morro Bay oysters online or in local fish markets and focus on some interesting oyster recipes. We’ve shucked out the most delectable ways to prepare fresh oysters from Morro Bay chefs, fishermen and food writers. #Yum!

1.       First up, a simple recipe from Terri Bayus, local entrepreneur, food writer, and host of Taste Buds, a travel/food show featuring the finest chefs and restaurants from all over the world. She and her husband keep a picnic basket handy just for oyster consumption.  They dine on them al fresco, sitting at one of the many benches on the Embarcadero, where they can watch local Sea Otters play in the bay while slurping up the bivalve mollusks.

Champagne Drunk Oysters
By Teri Bayus – Local Food Columnist and Author
Pick up a dozen or two live oysters up from one of Morro Bay’s fish markets and take them to the pier.  Sit on the side and watch the otters.  Shuck the oysters and immediately rinse them with champagne to wash away shell pieces, which of course gets them drunk. Then add one dab of horseradish, a squeeze of lime, and one drop of hot sauce. Slurp an oyster and take a sip of champagne. Then break off a piece of French bread.  Repeat. 

2.       While raw oysters are delicious, these recipes from Morro Bay locals show how good they can be cooked. How about cooking up some Oysters & Caviar with Melted Leeks & Chervil? This recipe comes from chef Carole Truesdale, former host of the local radio show Let’s Talk Food and Wine.

Caviar Oysters with Melted Leeks & Chervil
Submitted by Local Chef Carole Truesdale from a recipe by Craig Deihl
The Distinctive contrast of salty caviar and creamy oysters makes this a truly special dish.  Buttery, "melted" leeks add richness and makes for a lovely presentation nestled in the bottom of the oyster shell.  Click here for the full recipe. 

3.       Maybe you’d rather cook up some Oyster Stew? If yes, just follow the easy recipe from Giovanni's Fish Market. You can also order Morro Bay Oysters from the popular fish market’s website that features online delivery anywhere in the U.S., packed fresh and ready for consumption.

Oyster Stew
By Giovanni’s Fish Market in Morro Bay
In a 4-quart stock pot, over low heat, melt butter, and add onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Sautee until glazed. Add clam juice, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Bring back up to temperature, and add carrots, potatoes and oysters with juices.  Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Wisk together flower and half and half and then add mixture to the pot and cook on med-low for 5-10 minutes until soup thickens slightly. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with dash of paprika.  

4.       Both the owners of the local oyster farms, the Morro Bay Oyster Company and the Grassy Bar Oyster Company have great recipes to share.

Barbequed Grassy Bar Oysters
By Grassy Bar Oyster Company in Morro Bay
BBQ Grassy Bar Oysters with garlic butter, panko, parmesan, cayenne pepper and parsley. Serve with a sliced baguette and cucumber salad for a complete meal.

Pacific Gold Oysters with finger lime and Crème Fraiche
By Morro Bay Oyster Company
Put a small dollop of crème fraiche on, squeeze a small sized finger lime on top and finish with 1-2 sprigs of micro cilantro. 

BBQ OYSTER COOKING TIP: Morro Bay Oyster Company says when cooking oysters, think of them like a great steak. You want to be sure not to overcook them and lose the oyster’s delicious, bright ocean flavor. Cook medium rare to medium, making sure the oyster is still plump and juicy. “A great indicator is to watch the liquid in the shell,” explains Morro Bay Oyster Company owner Neal Maloney. “When you see it bubbling on the edges, the oysters are ready. Simply remove them from the fire and enjoy. Be careful, allow them to cool briefly as the shell will be HOT!” 

Whether you enjoy your oysters here at Morro Bay oyster restaurants or when cooking your own oyster recipes at home, imagine these oysters thriving in the bay’s cold, nutrient-rich waters. Picture the strong wind and currents of the Pacific Ocean routinely greeting the peaceful streams that empty into the bay. Then serenely smile, as down the hatch they go. Visitors can celebrate Morro Bay Oysters all year long at local restaurants and bars. For a full listing of dining options in Morro Bay, please visit www.morrobay.org/restaurants/.