Tucked along the Central Coast, Morro Bay is home to one of the areas best oyster farms, Morro Bay Oyster Company, which we were fortunate and grateful to experience thanks to the creative and generous plans set for us by Sunset Magazine for our delightful weekend at Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast. The farms are situated on the pristine bay area, which can be seen on guided Adventure Tour; paddle boarding or kayaking tours. Setting out on the sapphire marble looking waters and paddling towards the scenic mountains, bay seals can be seen jumping out of the water, and even pop their heads up close to you to get a better look.
Cool crisp air refreshes your face and all that is heard is the relaxing sound of paddled water. As we made way to the barge where the oysters are farmed, our tour guide and also Morro Bay hotel owner John Flaherty, educated us about the 130 acres of marine property that comprise the farm, areas which are used by the company, and areas that the only other oyster company in the area utilizes.
Oyster farmers informed us about the process of growing the oysters, starting with baby oysters, called “oyster seeds”, that are placed in bags and tied to lines in the water. The farm is set up in an area that allows for the tide to go out and the bags to be above water part of the time, a strategic technique that forces the oysters to hold their breath by contracting their muscle to keep their shell shut, and thus making the muscle stronger which results in a crunchier texture. Oysters are usually taken out of the water around 9 months to 1 year, which is when they are at optimal size. We also learned that larger, older oysters are not served raw in restaurants however can be used for dishes such as barbequed oysters, in which case they would be barbeque with shell on and cracked open when done.
“Morro Bay Oyster Company takes great pride in growing fresh oysters of the highest quality. The cold, nutrient rich waters of Morro Bay breathe life into our pristine farm, allowing us to produce the finest oysters.” Neal Maloney states about his company.
The oyster farm along with a plethora of other wildlife and picturesque scenes could be seen while standing up on a paddleboard. For those who have never tried or perhaps heard of this recreation, stand up paddling originated in Hawaii and is one of the fastest growing water sports world wide. All ages and athletic abilities are capable of paddling, and in exchange will find it a great work out, adventure, and fun! Morro Bay is the ideal location to learn stand up paddling, with the calm and beautiful bay waters, and lack of waves to test your balance! Stand up paddling experts from Central Coast SUP give you a brief lesson on balance and paddling before setting out with you for the bay and estuary tour. Lessons are offered privately for $60 a person of as a group for $45 a person, and guided stand up tours that include 2 hours with an instructor run for $80 for a private tour and $55 for a group tour. For more information visit www.centralcoastsup.com or email [email protected] .
After our adventure, we headed to the second part of our adventure day to Miss Lola’s South Side Grille where Sunset Magazine had arranged for a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon of wine and food pairings, specializing in the areas specialty, oysters! Clayhouse Winery representatives Laura and Happy poured us tastings while Chef Kirk Sowell explained the intricate way that the flavors of wine compliment the distinct flavors of foods we were sampling. We were served first a fresh salad of baby spinach, pears, candied walnuts, and goat cheese paired with Clayhouse’s Estate Cuvee Blanc which complimented the salad with a beginning grapefruit flush. Next we tried a variety of oysters prepared several different ways, a corresponding wine would compliment each with a different flavor topping that.
Neal Maloney, owner of Morro Bay Oyster Company, also treated us to a special oyster shucking demonstration. He showed us how to use the shucking tool to crack open the hinge of the shell at a 45-degree angle, and then how to cut the oyster from the shell, and clean out any shell debris that may have been dropped in the meat. According to Neal, it is imperative to remember the three C’s of shucking; crack, cut, and clean.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend, or exciting adventure, Morro Bay offers a plethora of things to do and sights to see for everyone. With breathtaking views, exciting culture, and savory foods, this quaint little area has something to offer for everyone.