Before you ask, the antipasti class went swimmingly yesterday. Nobody cut themselves, nor did the kitchen burn down - to me, this is the mark of a good class.
Tonight - risotto!
The day before yesterday - Swan Oyster Depot!
We landed at San Jose and grabbed our car, then merged very slowly onto the extremely backed up 101. I called Auntie in Fremont to see how she was doing and found out that we should actually be on 280. We don't know anything about all these crazy numbers.
Plus, I think I woke her up with my yammering.
Anyway, we made it into town and started searching for the Swan Oyster Depot, whose address we'd thankfully gotten from Auntie. Husbear drove,and I navigated, continually thwarted by one way streets not marked on our map and those dang hills everywhere.
It is a delightfully unique town, though.
Occasionally, you couldn't actually see over a hill you were cresting. Signs everywhere warned trucks away from particular streets.
We did eventually find the place, on the ground floor of a large building on a busy street, and we lucked out with street parking just down the block from the storefront. Sweet! Plus, there was no line and we had our choice of seats.
We were encouraged to sit by the fish bar, because there's apparently more leg room.
All the folks who work there seem to be incredibly friendly; a man who turned out to be one of the owners (the place has been in the hands of the same family since 1946, and open since 1912) took us under his wing and asked us what we'd like.
No idea - it's hard to narrow down the list from the enormous amount of seafood on display! Wah!
So he gave us some bread, a mild sourdough, to nibble on while we thought.
Seeing repeated orders of oysters being shucked gave us an idea. Maybe at the Swan Oyster Depot, we should eat oysters?
"What kind?" asked our kind, patient helper dude.
"How about I just bring you a mix of what we have today?"
So here are 7 different kinds of oysters. Sheez. Kumamoto, Miyagi, Drakes Bay, Bluepoint, Olympia... don't ask which is which. Please. The Olympias are the only oyster indigenous to the west coast, and they're not only a different species, but a different genus than the other oysters we had.
This information was all relayed to us, as we nodded enthusiastically and tried to look knowledgeable about oyster breeding.
They were all screamingly fresh, but my favorites were the Olympias with their slightly stronger taste. I've never gotten to try that many oysters in a sitting before! Fun.
Well, how about some clams?
I've had raw cherrystone clams (wow our blogging has come a long way), which I didn't care for too much, but not littlenecks, so we gave them a try.
These were also freshily fresh, but I'm still more of an oyster fan when we're talking raw bivalves. Clams are chewier and stronger in flavor. Husbear liked them lots and lots, especially their meatlike look.
We were still a little peckish, plus we wanted to give the boston-style clam chowder a try. And I'm a huge fan of cured salmon of all stripes and wanted to rate theirs.
A half-order of salmon arrived at the table, laid out on more of that tasty bread. I was asked if I wanted capers (duh! of course!) and was presented with a big ol' jar and a spoon.
The salmon was delicious, very lightly smoked and still with its delicious salmon texture and flavor. It beat the pants off that mass-produced crap you get at Einstein Brothers. Really, I know you're shocked.
The clam chowder was unspectacular. I like it pretty thick, and this was thin. I wouldn't say watery, exactly, but more milky than I prefer. Husbear adds that it had good clam flavor, but not a lot of actual clam pieces, and additionally he was a little thrown by the curdled appearance.
It was tasty, though, we're just picky.
You know what washed this meal down perfectly? A locally brewed Anchor Steam. Yum. I'm normally not the biggest fan of this beer, but just miles from the source, everything tastes better.
By this time, the lunch rush was on, and if we weren't exactly being rushed, we were certainly being edged out the door. We settled up our bill (cash only, please!)
Here's the inside of the place as we were leaving. Nineteen stools only, folks!
The line at this point was out the door. Apparently it sometimes stretches down the block.
Bottom line, the Swan Oyster Depot was great. It wasn't cheap, but we were paying for great quality. There are also a number of seafood salads and cocktails on the menu, for people who like their seafood in cocktail sauce.
If we lived in San Fran or environs, we'd be back for lunch.
As it is, we had to leave to go to Sonoma County. We're a little concerned about the state of the Golden Gate Bridge as we saw it from our car - does this seem lopsided to you?
Don't worry - I took the picture while Husbear drove.
Now, it's time for me to watch Husbear impart the risotto knowledge!
Swan Oyster Depot, 1517 Polk Street. 415.673.1101. Monday-Saturday 8-5:30; no reservations, no credit cards.