I've never posted on youtube, but my coworker does. She uploaded a brief video on how to open an Oyster at Tomales Bay Oyster Company on Memorial Day Weekend 2011. Apologies for not making it clearer to the camera (I wasn't aware I was on film til the end). Even greater apologies for the lame smile at the end. Whatever, I was pretty lubricated (not the best idea when shucking Oysters) and enjoying life .
Basically, in short, place the flat side of the Oyster up and the cup in your palm (with protection, unlike me in the video). Make sure the bill (mouth) of the Oyster is pointing away from you and the butt/hinge toward you. Insert your knife, which is comfortable and firmly in your dominate hand, into the hinge and push lightly. You should push to the point where the knife is stuck in the hinge and can support the Oyster, if picked up, on its own. Then, simply wiggle like turning a door knob. You will feel a pop. Take the knife out and clean it of excess shell. Slide it back in, sideways, following along the "roof" of the Oyster in a very slow sort of motor bike clutch revving motion. Cut the adductor muscle located at 2 o'clock on the Oyster. Pop off the top and cut the bottom adductor muscle by sliding the knife in below the Oyster at the 2 o'clock spot. Now all there is left is slurping it back and savoring. It should be a necessary requirement of manhood (and womanhood) to open your own Oyster at some point. And yes, there were all sorts of opportunities to throw sexual jokes in this brief explanation. I was tempted quite a few times at "with protection" and "slide it back in," but, like a gentleman, I refrained for posterity's sake. I'm an uncle now.
The Oyster in the video is a Tod Friend made TBOC Golden Nugget. TBOC is known for their incredibly delicious and briny Preston Points which are difficult to find in the Bay Area outside of a few select restaurants and, of course, the company itself.
This new, even more elusive Golden Nugget Oyster was the fruit of three years of TBOC labor, and the Oyster in the video is one from the company's first ever commercial harvest of this style of growing. It is ultra manicured from being "tide-tumbled." Tumbling Oysters is a relatively new style of growing Oysters. It started with Kusshis in British Columbia, where the farmer would pull the Oysters up and throw them in giant rock tumbling barrels every so often. This toughens up the Oyster, making it shed brittle shell, strengthen its adductor muscle, and form a deep cup with rich, plump flesh (it basically makes Pacific Gigas Oysters more like Kumamotos in size and shape).
The style of tumbling TBOC does is much less time and effort consuming, however. They put the Golden Nuggets into giant bags attached to floats and let the tides do all the work. After a few years of being thrown around by the tides, the resulting Oyster is rich, buttery, full bodied and plump. There are only a few tumbled Oysters out there. Shigoku from Taylor Shellfish in Washington, Pacific Rims and Kusshis from British Columbia, and now Tomales Bay Golden Nuggets (I'm sure I'm missing some other tumbled Oysters out there). Naturally, you end up comparing these oysters. Where Pac Rims and Kusshis have that sweet lettuce and subtle melon flavor and Shigoku have that familiar deep sweet-grass and earthy finish, Golden Nuggets really hit me with a smooth buttery brine upfront and a woody artichoke finish. They were a little spawny at the time, but didn't detract from the flavor or palatability. I hope TBOC is still producing them this fall, because I imagine they are going to be perfect in the next few months.
However, I know you won't be seeing them in stores any time soon. Mr. Friend has made it clear that they won't be sold outside of the TBOC location itself for quite some time. Believe me, our purchaser has tried over and over. Soon, hopefully. But hey, it's now another excuse to take an excursion up to beautiful Tomales Bay, do some hiking, taste some wines, and of course, eat some Golden Nugget Oysters.
The SF Oysternerd