Hog Island is one of those in-their-parents' garage stories, only in this case, it was a $500 loan that John Finger and Michael Watchorn took out from their parents, and a five-acre lease on northern Tomales Bay on which they used the French rack and bag method for cultivating oysters in 1983. Their first bushels were delivered to Zuni Café, Pacific Heights Bar and Grill, and Chez Panisse — not bad.
Now they seem to be everywhere. But the most fun place to eat them may be right on the water along Highway 1 in Marshall, where if you make picnic reservations (or you just drive up and get lucky) you can go up to the boat half-buried in the ground, and order some barbecued oysters. Dressed with garlic, butter, beer, chipotle, and honey, they're hot and plump, briny and sweet. You could easily put away two dozen before even realizing you've forgotten to share. And for these reasons this dish made my list of most memorable meals of 2011.