Chef Roger Mooking recently traveled to the United States and Jamaica, and returned with tons of photos and stories about the incredible food culture. We hope you’ll be inspired to explore different cuisines and exotic ingredients this summer. We’ll be publishing a new post every Thursday over the summer, so stay tuned and enjoy Roger’s second post below!
Becoming a food reviewer is not on my bucket list. I’m more of a food adventurer trapped in a perpetual storyteller’s body, so I am telling you: go to Mission Chinese when you go to San Francisco. It’s in the transitioning Mission District and the neighbourhood is as colourful and flavourful as the food.
We landed early afternoon on a beautifully sunny day and had to drive a couple hours north to our location. On the way to the highway, we realized we took a wrong turn and were passing Mission Street. It was fate, or at least a reason to pretend it was fate and devour a great lunch.
The neighborhood is my kind of dreamland with specialty grocers from various parts of the globe and the people to match. The people and the food here are authentic and raw (more like Eddie Murphy “raw” than uncooked “raw”).
Well, here’s what we ate, all of which I would highly recommend (unless you don’t like flavor that takes off in your mouth, deliciousness and overall greatness).
Hog Island Oyster Farm
Roughly an hour and a half drive outside of San Francisco is area on a windy waterside road called Tomales Bay. Surrounded by monstrous trees and rolling hills, is an expansive bay, where you will find the home of Hog Island Oyster Company. They’ve been supplying shellfish for 30 years using the French “rack and bag” method. Although tedious and costly, this time-honoured method makes for a great slurping oyster on the half shell. I slurped about 2 dozen in one sitting right on a bench by the bay.
Once cultivated and harvested in the mesh bags, they are brought to the shop for processing. They are first offloaded onto a conveyor belt to easily sift out any oysters that need to either go back to the bay or be discarded. They slowly make their way up the ramp and into the washing chamber, which is a long, rotating, stainless tube with perforations, that is continuously flooding with water. The agitation from the rotating, along with the multi-spray water, gets rid of any hanging weeds, debris, mud and stray shells. The cargo moves out of the tumbler and onto an escalated ramp for final inspection before falling into the transfer baskets. From there they are portioned, packaged and sold to fill the many tons of orders they fill each year.
The farm also cultivates and harvests clams that make it to your favorite pasta dish.
The work is grueling but the pay-off is worthwhile. The oysters are dense, creamy, and have a slight sweetness that is distinct to the region. Honestly, I could have easily eaten another 2 dozen oysters on the spot.
- Roger Mooking’s Food Adventures: The Grocery in Charleston
- Roger Mooking’s Food Adventures: Boti and Fire in Bangladesh
- Roger Mooking’s Food Adventures: Samosas in Bangladesh