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Aug 29, 2006 11:40 PM

Salt Point/Bodega Bay > any good food finds or farmer's markets?

Heading up to Salt Point SP this weekend for some camping. Have no idea of what else is nearby, except for Bodega Bay. Might try to buy some seafood down by the docks. I called the docks and they said there's a place called Pacific West Seafood that buys directly from the boats. Other than that, not sure what we'll do. Would love to find a farmer's market nearby for Sat or Sun morning. And any sort of food recos would be most appreciated.

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  1. Brian,

    Salt Point is a fairly long drive from Bodega Bay, maybe 30-45 minutes if I'm remembering correctly. Once you get north of Jenner Hwy 1 is very twisty and it's slow going. The Labor Day weekend traffic is usually pretty fierce. We live in Santa Rosa and occasionally go to Gualala for the weekend. I'm always surprised by how long it takes.

    That said, if you do venture into Bodega Bay, there is one (and only one) restaurant worth going to, the Seaweed Cafe.

    I'm not sure if either Bodega Bay or Jenner has a Farmer's Market. I'm sure you can google for the answer.

    Slim pickin's on the coast from Jenner to Gualala IMHO.

    3 Replies
    1. re: snarkygirl

      Yes, Salt Point is about an hour from Bodega Bay on a winding coast road. Best to stick around Gualala, which is in Mendocino County --- posts can be found by searching the California board. I believe that it has a Saturday farmers market. Or here's a post from Amata on her recent vacation at nearby Sea Ranch.

      Amata's post on Sea Ranch -

      Duncan Mills has a farmers market on Saturdays, but again, it's not that close.

      Duncan Mills post -

      Salt Point is great for foraging mussels and mushrooms, but this is the wrong season. You might try your hand at sea vegetables.

      Old post on mushrooms, barnacles and mussels at Salt Point -

      Pacific West was selling whole wild salmon last weekend for $7 per pound. I'm sure you're aware that you can only buy whole fish when buying directly from the boats due to their licensure restrictions. We got a 12 pound fish (relatively small sized), and served only half of it for our party of 10.

      Thread on buying from Bodega Bay boats -

      Brian, I'm happy to provide more information about Bodega Bay, but feel it may not be practical for you. Maybe you could let us know what your route will be to get to Salt Point and we can advise where to shop along the way. You'll be passing through some of the best produce and food stuffs available in the Bay Area. I've posted quite a bit about what you can find in Sonoma County this summer. A search should turn up the reports.

      P.S. The Bodega Bay Grange is having a wild salmon bbq on Sept. 3., 11-6, $20/adult.

      1. re: snarkygirl

        Do I need to make a reservation for Seaweed Cafe?

        1. re: brian j

          Yes, I'd advise making a reservation for Seaweed Cafe if you choose to eat there. Here's a link to Emily Hope's great report back on Seaweed and her visit to Bodega Bay and the west Sonoma County area.

      2. Thanks so much, Melanie for such an in-depth response. I'll have dig in and read all these later today. I wanted to reply quickly though to let you know what our proposed route will be. We're going to be driving up from Sausalito (where I work) on Friday evening around 5pm. The directions I pulled from Google have us taking 101 North to Petaluma. Then taking the E Washington St exit to Central Petaluma. Right at Bodega Ave. Right at Valley Ford Rd. Then onto CA-1 for the remainder of the journey up the coast.

        Not sure what we'll be able to pick up along the drive up, however, since we're not leaving until 5pm. But any suggestions would be lovely.

        I'm sure we'll make at least one day trip down to Bodega Bay, probably on Saturday morning, to pick up some additional provisions for the weekend. 35-40 minutes doesn't sound so bad. I would love to cook up a whole salmon, but probably not too big of one since it's only two of us going.

        Also any recommendations of where to pick up some great produce would be wonderful. We usually leave for camping on Saturdays after hitting the Ferry Bldg farmer's market, but this time we won't have that luxury, so we won't be as stocked as we usually are. Although I did make sure to pick up some trusty Fatted Calf provisions last weekend because what's camping with some fine chacuterie?

        I would definitely love to hear any other interesting food spots within an hours drive of Salt Point.

        1. I can't answer your question exactly, since I get confused with any town north of San Rafael ... I'm just starting to get comfortable with Sonoma & Napa ... however, here's a good link for farmers markets and days, they have most of them.

          If you use the dropdown for North Coast (I think) it will let you know what is going on farmer market-wise.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            looks like the closest farmer's market are all more an hour and a half away. a bit too far especially considering could be major holiday traffic. looks like we'll likely just have to bring as much as we can from san francisco.

            anyone know of any good farmstands on the drive up?

            1. re: brian j

              As I mentioned above, Gualala is nearby and has a Saturday market, but I don't know how large it is. You might inquire about it on the California board.

              No need to schlep food from San Francisco. For your routing, I would suggest getting up to Petaluma as fast as you can on Friday and get the part of your trip on 101 out of the way. You might just hit a good window and make it through the Novato "narrows" (when the route drops to 2 lanes from 3) in good time. Then you can do your shopping in Petaluma and purchase more local food stuffs. Most farmstands close by 6pm so you'll probably miss them.

              But you have 2 very good grocery stores to choose from. Petaluma Market is just a block off your designated route --- it usually has a grill set outside on weekends and you might be able to pick up tritip or such for dinner in the car, as well as your provisions.
              Or you could go across the street and through the pedestrian walkway to get a quick dinner at Aram's (search for Mick's posts on it). If you feel more comfortable with Whole Foods (which has fewer local products), then you can stop at the one on Washington --- you'll go right by it. If Della Fattoria is still open, pick up some bread and pastries there. Perhaps you recognize them from Ferry Plaza. The home store has so much more.
              On the way out to the coast, call ahead to see if Spring Hill is still open and get some fresh quark. You can buy their hard cheeses in most local grocers.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Ended up getting a late start on Friday afternoon so we didn't have time to stop anyway on the way up, except for Small Shed Flatbreads in Mill Valley. Stopped in there quickly to pick up 4 flatbread doughs ($2.50/each). I used these to cook up flatbread pizzas and naan while we were camping. Took a flat rock and built a fire atop it. After an hour or so cleared the fire to the side and brushed off the rock. Placed the flatbread on the hot rock along with some fire roasted tomatoes and poblanos, along with some fresh buffalo mozerella. Turned it a few times to make sure it cooked evenly. Viola! Campfire flatbread. Amazing.

              We drove down to Pacific West Seafood in Bodega Bay on Saturday. The smallest salmons they had were 7 lbs, which was way too big for just the two of us, so I settled on a small salmon filet ($10/lb).

              On our way down from Salt Point we made an unanticipated stop. Just south of the park we came across a guy named Mike selling Oysters from Tomales Bay, on the side of the road. I had never shucked an oyster before, but he said if I bought a shucker from the store across the street he would gladly show me how. He demoed one oyster for me. Looked easy enough. I gave it my best shot and low and behold, I opened the oyster with little trouble. Bought two dozen beautiful medium sized oysters for $20, along with homemade some mango-haberno extremely hot sauce for $5. I ate a lot of the oysters raw, but also fried a few up, and BBQed a few. They were superb. Some of the best I've ever had. But I supposed that shucking them myself certainly made for a more enjoyable experience.

              Also purchased some delicious salmon jerky from another crazy kook on the side of the road on CA-1, just sound of where it intersects with 116. His sign of a cartoon salmon smoking a pipe was hard to miss. He had regular smoked salmon, and tail pieces which he was selling for a bit cheaper, and which were more jerkified due to them being thinner. He gave me a taste of the jerky and I was instantly sold. Didn't even try the other type. Bought about a quarter pound for $5. It also looked like he had a partner up the road just past 116 set up at a gas station.

              On our way home on Monday midday we decided to stop at the Sizzling Tandoori, along located on CA-1 just south of 116 (just up the road from the Salmon dude). We were the first ones in the door, but a few couples filed in after us. Ordered a lamb dish (like korma, but called something else), along with a regular naan, onion kulcha, mulligatawny soup and some masala tea. The lamb was quite tender and very gamey/lamby in flavor. Our server had asked if we wanted it "medium spicy" or "extra spicy". We ordered it extra spicy, of course. And to our surprise they actually delivered. Both of us breaking a healthy sweat. The mulligatawny soup was also very nicely flavored. The plain naan was average, but the onion kulcha was wonderful, filled with lots of sweet onion in the middle. The masala tea was also a treat on such a cold morning.

              Salt Point SP itself was quite beautiful. We arrived around 8pm on Friday night right as the sun was setting, although it was already rather dark being that it was pretty cloudy. We camped at the Woodside site which was about a mile away from the rocky coast. The tidepools were absolutely gorgeous and filled with tiny crabs, multi-colored sea weed, mussels, coral, seals and anenomes. Managed to pick some mussels from the rocks as the waves crash around and onto me. Some of the mussels were delicious, and others not so much. But just being able to pick my own mussels was unreal.

              Indian food was probably the last type of cuisine we expected to encounter on a holiday weekend on the Sonoma Coast, but it was the perfect remedy for the cold. Although we did cook up some amazing baingan bharta at our campsite by roasting a giant eggplant right in the fire, along with some heirloom tomatoes, poblanos, jalapenos, corn, ginger, garlic and onions atop the fire.

              1. re: brian j

                Brian, I'm so impressed by your campfire/hot rock cooking skills! Also that you made a few finds. Oyster shucking is a skill that will serve you well in the years to come around here. I did shiver a bit this weekend thinking about your camping on the cool coast.

                Knowing how much you enjoy Indian food, I'm glad to have a positive report from you on Sizzling Tandoor in Jenner. The Santa Rosa branch has a new owner now and I'd wondered how the original was doing.

                Sizzling Tandoor Restaurant
                9960 Highway 1
                Jenner, CA 95450

                I'm also glad that you didn't get sick or arrested. Mussels are off-limits until after October 31 at the earliest due to possible paralytic toxins. You can check on quarantine status by calling the shellfish hotline, 800-553-4133. And, when it is the right season, you're not allowed to harvest them in the state park's preserves, though there are areas just on the other side of the line that are easy to reach from the preserve's parking lots. I've found that the small to medium size ones taste best to me, but some like the big ones for roasting over a fire.

            2. whoa, paralytic toxins! that sounds serious. now you tell me ;)

              i was definitely very nervous looking over my shoulder the entire time i was harvesting the mussels... small to medium ones definitely seem like they would be better. i was just grabbing any ones that i could pull off the rocks.

              quick question about this upcoming chowhound picnic. is that open to everyone? i saw a post about it from you buried in another thread. i still haven't managed to attend any chowhound events, and this sounds like one that would definitely be worthwhile. my parents will be visiting, too, so it seems like something that would be very cool to bring them to.

              4 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Yes, open to any chowhound who signs up before registration closes. And, please note that the picnic date is Oct. 7.

                2. re: brian j

                  There are usually signs posted as to the dates of the quarantine status. They might be on fences or gates. They aren't usually posted inside the park, because you can't take them there, but I usually see them in the areas around there.

                  1. re: wally

                    Just checked my earlier post and I mention that this is not the season for mussels. Also, a fishing license is required to collect them.