"It hit 103 degrees in Central Park in today!" my husband exclaimed. My skin started to curl as I let out a deep groan, just thinking about the sweltering heat was giving me hot flashes. I am so grateful to be shrouded in San Francisco's gray fog, where it has been a cool and breezy 65 F. It's the type of weather when you can stay comfortably snuggled in bed and sip on hot chocolate all day long.
It humors me whenever I return to San Francisco because no matter what time of year, the view of the bay looks the same: foggy. If it wasn't for a calendar, I'd never be able to tell summer from winter.
As you can imagine in this cold weather what always hits the spot is a steaming bowl of soup. After a long day at work, I stopped by at the Ferry Building to visit an old favorite, Hog Island Oyster Bar, thinking that I would enjoy a relaxing ice cold pilsner with a half dozen of the bay area's finest Sweet water oysters and a bowl of San Francisco clam chowder.
If you've not had Hog Island's clam chowder, it is slightly different from the traditional creamy and rich New England chowder. The broth is lighter and flavored by chunks of smoky pancetta. A generous amount of sweet, plump and juicy manila clams in-shell fill the bowl with only a sparse hand full of tender buttery yukon potatoes accompanying the medley. The chowder is finished with fresh parsley finely chopped. It is at once sophisticated, satisfying and comforting. $14
If clam chowder is not your thing, perhaps a big bowl of steamers will do. Manila clams cooked in a light broth with fresh green herbs and oyster mushrooms is simple and good. This is a dish for those who enjoy the purity of flavors. $14
If I had to choose between the two clam dishes, I preferred the clam chowder for the complexity and richness of flavors.
Hog Island sweetwater oysters, among its other fabulous raw offerings, always takes the starring role on the menu. Each of the oysters has a deep briny flavor of the cold Pacific Ocean with a firm sweetness of flesh and a long creamy finish. These strong contrasting flavors are brought together beautifully with a vinergary mignonette sauce. Although, these oysters are so good own their own that you may not want to interfere with perfection.
Hog Island Oyster Bar is a great venue for raw seafood lovers. Visit on Mondays and Thursdays between 5-7pm when there is a great happy hour special of $1 Hog Island sweet water oysters and discount on select beers.
1 Ferry BuildingSan Francisco, CA 94111