Hog Island Oysters with Chipotle Horseradish Barbecue Sauce

A plate full of shell-packed goodness.
A plate full of shell-packed goodness.

I’ve spent a lot of time head down along the north coast searching for the ever delicious red abalone. Whether or not I pried one off the bottom, I still had to eat dinner. Lucky for all of us is that Nor Coast is also home to some of the the finest aquaculture products you’ll ever enjoy. So if you don’t score a few big red’s you can always enjoy some locally  raised oysters to fill the gap. Hog Island is the central place for aquaculture up north and they’ve provided us with a great way to enjoy their product.  This recipe is a perfect for an afternoon get together or even a formal fiesta. So get a grill, pop a beer, and enjoy a north coast treat.

So here is how you do it…

What you need for about 24 oysters:

  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clover honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground horseradish
  •  Sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 24 large oysters
  • A nice loaf of bread for dipping


1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Let the sauce cool and add in the horseradish. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside to let the flavors really meld.

3. Shuck your oysters and flip them in the bottom shell being careful not to lose the brine. it helps to put them on a flat try when your done for transport to the grill.

4. Fire up your grill to high and get ready to lay your shucked oysters.

5. Lay out your oysters with 1 tbsp of the sauce on top and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid down.

Some would say it’s a a little spicy, just like the author. I however would say I’m tall and really tasty, just like this recipe. So get to it. You can get great farmed oysters everywhere so make a batch for Memorial Day. You’ll be glad you did. Serve hot with bread and a nice white wine or IPA and make any day a special one.



Deco Stop – The Marlin Club in Avalon

Looking for a beer after a long day of diving and trying to find the kind of place where you can stand around in your boxers, enjoying one in a non-judgmental temple of apathy? Or are you looking for the type of place where you can randomly ask Mary Stuart-Masterson about that movie she did back in the 80’s with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson? (the delightful “Some Kind of Wonderful” FYI).  If you can answer yes to both those questions, then you might be ready for the adventure that is The Marlin Club.

image001Located just off the main drag on Catalina Ave in Avalon, TMC is the oldest bar on the island and is what we here at CFD refer to as a character bar. Not that it has character but rather that it is filled with characters. You never know who is going to be in there. Yachties, divers, rugby players and Hollywood-types are just a few of the diverse clientele you’re likely to run into on a given Saturday night. Heck, the bartenders even live upstairs. That being said,  it’s really a very non-intimidating place the lacks the feeling of desperation you’re likely to find in some of the other night spots on the island.

As for decor, it’s a non-descript theme that revolves around the boat-shaped bar with stools that always seem to be filled,  no matter the time of day. Standard selection of beer, wine and spirits will keep you going including one of the few beer taps on the island. (It’s Michelob for some inexplicable reason.) There are your standard pool, darts and pinball to entertain as well as a couple of tv’s but the main attraction is the crowd. Usually loud but almost always friendly, it’s the type of place you’ll end up talking to the most random people but it will be entertaining I promise.

Anyone for fancy mer-people restrooms?

The sheriffs usually make last call around 1:30. At least it seems that way. That being said, once you experience The Marlin Club, it’ll leave a mark. That mark will sometimes be spiritual while other times being an actual mark.  It’s the spiritual one however,  that I’m sure will have you  following the interesting looking crowd back, time and time again, to The Marlin Club.






A link to one of the most impressive websites I’ve seen in 1997.

Bug Season Heats up with Lobster Thermidor

Two for dinner?

Okay “Lob-stars,” you’re almost 6 full days into the season and we here at CFD hope that you’ve been having a safe and productive start out there. There is almost nothing tastier than fresh lobster, hot out of the pot or off the grill, especially when you’ve caught it yourself. A beautifully cooked bug, some melted butter, and a cold beer can be one of the most satisfying meals you’ll ever eat. That’s not to say that it’s only way to go about enjoying our spiny friends however. So it is in the spirit of going the extra step to enhance your diving experience that we offer you Lobster Thermidor, a French treatment that you won’t be turning your nose up to.

Now as the name thermidor suggests, this epicurean treat is finished in a hot oven but it’s a delicious path your dinner guests of honor will circumnavigate before they enter those hallowed heated halls. Along the way, your meat will be treated to a hot bath before joining a delicious herbed-bechamel sauce in it’s own shell on the road to golden brown deliciousness. I’m talking cheesy, herbal, vineity goodness  with a little crunch. Once you have it, you’ll want it over and over again.

So join us know as we travel to lobster nirvana with these easy to follow directions.

First off, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Then it’s lobster time. You’ll need the following:

  1. 2 legal lobsters giving you 2-2 1/2 pounds of meat.(Only 1 If you use a Maine bug, market size with claw meat).
  2. 2 lemons, halved

Bring a pot of salted water containing the lobsters to a boil. Add the lobsters, head first, and cook for 8-12 minutes. Remove them from the pot and place in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Chef-tested in the CFD kitchens

Once the lobster is done you move onto the bechamel sauce.  It looks a little complicated but it’s not. Remember to take your time. Have all your ingredients pre-measured and ready to go. They are as follows:

  1. 1/4 cup butter
  2. 1/4 cup flour
  3. 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  4. 1/4 cup white wine
  5. 2 cups milk
  6. 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped terragon
  8. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mix for 2-3 minutes to develop a sauce base called a roux. It will be slightly golden and look a little like paste. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and milk. bringing the liquid to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Then add a little salt and pepper. At this point, remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the mustard and tarragon. It will smell amazing.

Finally, you want to put it all together and into the oven.  You’re going to split the whole lobster in half and remove the tail meat. Retain the shell halves. Dice the tail meat and fold into the bechamel sauce. Stir in the 1/2 cup of cheese and check your seasoning.

Divide the mixture and spoon into the 4 lobster tail shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place them on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Lay the lobster halves face up on a plate and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley. Enjoy with a nicely chilled white wine until you are face down. Dive, rinse, and repeat as necessary over the course of the season.

This is how a good lobster shows its love

We hope that you enjoy this recipe and well as the rest of the bug season. It’s a big ocean out there so remember to dive safe and take responsibly.

Underwater Wine Tasting?

Come on in. The Pinot’s fine

Considering all the wrecks that have been found over the years, it’s not surprising that more than one bottle of old wine has been brought up and sampled by the conquering explorer. In most cases, this sampling was followed by the wretching that often accompanies the consumption of vinegar and/or seawater. It’s okay because it’s all for science. In a few cases however, the wines were found to be remarkably well aged and highly drinkable. Thus an idea was born. In the Los Angeles Times today, it was reported that Mira Winery of Napa now intends to age 4 cases of 2009 Cabernet at the bottom of Charleston Harbor to see how the constant pressure, temperature, and light exposure will affect the taste. Speaking as a Californian, I’m guessing it might come out tasting a little crackery but then again I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to sink the wine in Humboldt Bay. Regardless, it’s an interesting read so enjoy when you click below.

Link to LA Times Article by Ricardo Lopez