If you have never been to Taylor Shellfish Farm on a beautiful day, you MUST go! I admit, I was a little wary as I pulled off Chuckanut Drive at mile 10 and saw the wooden bridge I would have to cross in order to proceed on the one-lane driveway. But my passenger was up for the challenge, so I took a deep breath and hit the accelerator. The road winds down the hill, crosses the railroad tracks and ends at a working shellfish farm with rustic picnic tables and barbeques at the water’s edge.
The view is spectacular, overlooking the islands to the west. The 1,700 acres of tidelands in front of us are where Taylor Shellfish grows oysters, clams and geoducks, which can be purchased in the farm’s retail store, along with fresh crab (live or cooked), and eaten right here (or taken home of course). Just bring your tableware with you.
For me, this was a life-changing experience. I had never before even considered eating an oyster, especially a raw one. But the Taylor staff was not the least bit pretentious. They gently showed me the hinge method for opening the shell with an oyster knife and disconnecting the meat. Then it’s simply time to slurp, chew and swallow. I wasn’t going to do it, but the native Olympia oysters are so small, I thought I’d better save face with my hosts and at least try one. How bad could it be, right? I shocked myself. It wasn’t bad at all. Actually quite delicious! So I had another, and another. A Kumamoto, then a European Flat.
A little secret to oyster eating it turns out is the wine you drink with it. Each year, Taylor Shellfish Farms sponsors a Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, judged by chefs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, to find the best wine matches for oysters. The competition’s organizer, Jon Rowley, explained to me that when you sip the correct wine after eating an oyster it will enhance the flavor and cleanse the palate. I tried that too, and it works! Dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris, the 2009 Top 10 list of Oyster Award winning wines is at www.oysterwine.com.
Taylor Shellfish Farm on Samish Bay is located at 2182 Chuckanut Drive, Bow, WA 98232. It opens at 9 a.m., 7 days a week, year-round, and closes at 5 p.m. in the winter months, 6 p.m. in summer. Phone 360-766-6002. www.taylorshellfishfarms.com.