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Oysters received so much press and attention in 2014 that they even got a shout out on the home page of the New York Times. This was accompanied with a video appropriately titled "Oysters Make a Comeback” describing how connoisseurs across the country are “binging” on oysters, increasing demand. Well, as that trend continues today, it’s no wonder that there is a National Oyster Day every year on August 5. But, is that really enough time to indulge? With all the gushing love for delectable oysters these days, Morro Bay Tourism Bureau has decided to celebrate oysters throughout the year. Even though the growth in oyster farming is part of the recent oyster “binging” trend, farming and savoring the nectar of the Gods in Morro Bay has been part of this quaint seaside village’s rich history for over 100 years.
“We have such a fantastic oyster culture here. You can buy them fresh and local in restaurants, wine bars, our farmers’ markets and on the Morro Bay Oyster Companies barge in the bay,” says Brent Haugen, Executive Director of the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau. “With our amazing weather, we produce oysters all year long, so there are a lot of reasons to celebrate in Morro Bay. Why not revel in them the entire year, instead of just one day.”
Often equated with luxurious brunches where the bubbles flow freely, oysters are in fact quite a simple food. However you like to eat them – raw, barbequed, with lemon and vodka, or with spinach and bacon in a nice Rockefeller, oysters are an excellent source of zinc, Iron, calcium and selenium as well as vitamin A and vitamin B12. Plus, no pesticides are needed for oysters. No weird antibiotics. No forest destruction to grow them. No need to feed them corn. When it comes down to it: oysters are simply delicious.
“The key to a good oyster is freshness,” explains Neil Malone, owner of the Morro Bay Oyster Company. “It should smell of the seashore as the tide recedes over seaweedcovered rocks. It should be full in the shell, firm in texture, and brimming with the natural juice that is its life blood, not just sea water. Visitors of the Morro Bay Oyster Company can rest assured, our oysters are fresh and delicious.”
Oysters of the Bay Oyster farming in Morro Bay began in the early 1900's and has been a part of its rich culture ever since, and the cold, clean waters of Morro Bay produce two specific kinds, Pacific Gold and Grassy Bar.
Pacific Gold Oysters are farmed by the Morro Bay Oyster Company, and are a beautiful, hardy species that thrives in the cold, rich waters of the Bay, where the strong wind and waves meet the peaceful streams that flow from age-old volcanic aquifers. This convergence of elements brings with it constant changes in salinity, temperature, nutrients, and tides. The Pacific Gold Oyster adapts to these changes over the course of its life and develops a robust flavor with a hint of melon. The strong tides bring this water into the farm twice a day allowing our oysters to explode with growth and take on the fresh salty brine that surrounds them. This impressive 130-acre Morro By Oyster Company’s marine farm can be seen by paddleboard, kayak or from a guided tour with Lost Isle Adventure Tours.
Grassy Bar Oysters are becoming a popular oyster grown and harvested in Morro Bay today. Exclusively and carefully raised by a family-run operation called the Grassy Bar Oyster Company, owned by the Trevelyan family, with more than 20 years experience in the shellfish business, these oysters are medium size and have plump and juicy meats with rich, briny watermelon flavor. Grassy Bar oysters start as "seed" about the size of a red pepper flake and are carefully raised in the southern reaches of Morro Bay where salt waters of the pacific meet the estuary.
Aside from these two sustainable oyster farms on the bay, Morro Bay was written up in the New York Times and National Geographic in 2014 for successfully leading the way in sustainable small fleet fishing practices nationwide, helping support the local economy in this thriving fishing community.
Fresh Oysters on the Menu Looking for a romantic oyster dining experience on the bay? Book an evening sunset or Sunday brunch cruise with one of the many tour operators along the bustling Embarcadero. The Grassy Bar Oyster Company offers online delivery from Giovanni's Fish Market as well as locally from their store on the Embarcadero. Windows on the Water is a well-known local favorite for its seasonal farm to table menus, Oyster Tuesdays, and romantic views of the bay, not to mention an incredible wine list. Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe on Market Street above the Embarcadero has been a Morro Bay favorite since 1942, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with an outdoor patio overlooking the Embarcadero and the bay. They offer fresh seafood including oysters on the half shell, a great Sunday brunch, and they make a mean bloody Mary. Locals and tourists alike enjoy fresh or barbequed oysters at Tognazzini’s Dockside, offering a full service restaurant, a fish market and a smokehouse as well as take-out with dining on the patio with live music. Staxx Wine Bar and Bistro located on Morro Bay’s scenic and historic Embarcadero features more than 100 local wines and champagnes to sip while enjoying fresh oysters.