Small Town/Big Flavor ~ Point Reyes Station, CA

It was love at first sight when we discovered this small town with such big flavors, Point Reyes Station. We have wondered how we missed this little jewel when we visited Point Reyes many years ago but are now making up for lost time, having been here three times since we arrived in San Francisco.  I doubt there are many other towns with ~850 residents (signs show 350 but they have grown) that offer so much.

I could write several posts on Toby’s Feed Barn alone. Oozing ambiance, it is difficult to pull yourself away from this general store and working feed barn.  Family owned and operated since 1942, this is just a sampling of what it has to offer:  local organic produce, working feed barn,  pet food for your smaller 4-legged friends, gifts and gourmet foods, organic coffee bar, yoga studio, community garden, small gallery displaying local artisans’ work, host for concerts, author talks, weddings and fundraisers, and a world-famous farmers’ market – all local, all organic.  I’m sure I have missed something but you get the idea.  This place is pretty sweet!

The story goes that in 1942 Toby Giacomini traded in the family car for a pickup truck and embarked on an amazing adventure.  Announcing that he was “going into trucking” set the wheels in motion for a family business that spans three generations and is still going strong 70 years later.  Tony’s tiny family business began with the delivery of milk and cream from West Marin to the East San Francisco Bay.  Thirty years later his drivers were picking up milk from 50 dairies and he was supplying feed and grain to many of those farmers.

His sons all came into the business with him but it was son Chris who wanted to open a general store (Toby’s), “to create a space where the community could come together and share information and celebrate with each other”.  Toby’s was an instant success, so much so that monthly the Marin farmers gathered here to discuss ways to grow organic.  It wasn’t long before the Marin Organic came to be and two years later Toby’s was hosting the first Point Reyes organic farmers’ market.  In 2001 Chris’s son Nick and wife (3rd generation) came on board and opened the yoga studio Yoga Toes.  The family also collaborates with Point Reyes Books to host some well-known authors.

As their website says, “where else can you go listen to a Pulitzer Prize winning author and go home with fresh strawberries, summer bedding plants, the perfect gift for a friend and a bale of hay?”  Where else indeed?!

Toby passed away in July 2007 at the age of 88 and man, what a legacy he has left!  Although I believe most would agree that Toby’s Feed Barn is the anchor of this charming little town, there are many other stores and boutique shops that call for further investigation.

Station House Cafe is a great choice for a wonderful lunch.

Bovine Bakery is the place to go for organic coffee, great-looking pastries and yummy vegetable focaccia.

For organic linens and jammies, head to Coyuchi.

The Cowgirl Creamery Cantina, where everything looks fabulous (and they make their own cheese), has everything you could want for a superb picnic lunch.  We treated ourselves to a lunch of smoked salmon crostini with fromage blanc.  I am still dreaming about it!

The farmers’ market, although not one of the largest we had been to, was certainly one of the finest.  Just shop here and it wouldn’t be difficult to eat a balanced color palette of vegetables to get all the nutrients and antioxidants you would ever need for a healthy diet.

Time to leave this little gem of a town as we had planned to travel a bit up Coast Highway 1.  Terry had scouted out a place for some barbecued oysters and if you blink, you are likely to miss the Marshall Store on the northeast shore of Tomales Bay.    Their garlic and barbecue oysters are lip-smackin’ good!

The coastline along Highway 1 is like no other, with jaw-dropping views from just about every little turn in the road, and there are many.

Mussel Point at Bodega Bay
Near Gleason Beach further north

Maybe small, but big on flavor, the town of Point Reyes Station will not soon be forgotten by us.

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