In Honor of Coronado’s OysterFest: Top 12 Things You Didn’t Know about Oysters

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got oysters on the mind! Lucky for me, Maretalia is hosting its first-ever OYSTERFEST this Saturday from 12-3pm. Think: bottomless oysters, small bites, endless Prosecco and Lillet spritzes. (Link to buy tickets and promo code at end of article.) But it got me thinking…what is it about oysters that makes them so darn delicious? (I know they aren’t for everyone, but they are definitely in my top five food groups.) To me, it’s like taking a taste of the ocean. And what’s not to love about the ocean?

So I did a little research, and compiled these fun and jaunty facts…

  1. Oysters change their gender. What?! It’s true. All oysters start off as male, but most change permanently to female by the time they are a year old. Their reproductive organs produce both sperm and eggs, and they can change gender at their will.  It is technically possible, therefore, for an oyster to fertilize its own eggs.
  2. Humans have been eating and cultivating oysters for thousands of years. Oysters have been eaten by humans since prehistoric times, and cultivated at least since the times of the Roman Empire. The Roman Sergius Orata was the first person known to cultivate oysters by building a system that could control water levels.
  3. Manhattan’s oldest street, Pearl Street, is named so because it was covered with crushed oyster shells. In the 17th century, the shore of New York City was covered in oyster beds, much to the delight of the native Lenape Indians. 
  4. Move over, Brita! Oysters are amazingly powerful little water filters. In fact, each day one oyster filters 50 gallons of water. A healthy one-acre oyster reef filters 24 million gallons…that’s enough to fill 36 Olympic size swimming pools!
  5. Oysters are super good for you. Hooray! Oysters are high in zinc, which is good for your immune system, and also provide calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. Oysters are also low in cholesterol.
  6. Most American oysters are of the same species. Oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and off the coast of Virginia are all the same oyster, Crassotrea virginica. This oyster species is native to the Gulf Coast and the East Coast. However, this does NOT mean they all taste the same.
  7. Oysters get their flavors from their environments. Although most American oysters are the same species, they have different flavors. Because oysters filter so much water, they develop a flavor profile from their environment. Different bodies of water have varying levels of salt and different kinds of nutrients.
  8. Like wines, oysters have a variety of flavor profiles.  The flavor of oysters can be categorized mainly by the following flavor characteristics: briny, buttery, sweet, metallic and mild. Experts can break down these flavors even further, picking out flavors like melon, cucumber, mushroom and more. 
  9. Oyster reefs are really strong—so strong that they can hold back fierce waves. Oyster reefs provide an effective natural barrier to storm waves and sea level rise. They absorb as much as 93 percent of wave energy, which reduces erosion, flooding, and property damage from coastal storms.
  10. In captivity, an oyster can live up to 20 years. Oysters are capable of spawning within their first year of life, and they reach prime spawning size by the time they are three years old.
  11. Pearls don’t only come from oysters. All oysters are capable of producing pearls, but not the shiny, pretty pearls of value. In fact, most pearls are harvested from an inedible type of oyster as well as from freshwater mussels.
  12. Oyster reefs are endangered world-wide. But reef restoration efforts have been successful!  Oyster reefs are the single most imperiled marine habitat on Earth, with up to 90 percent of wild reefs lost. The main culprit is destructive fishing practices, including over-harvesting, along with habitat loss and declining water quality. Fortunately, oyster reef restoration efforts are very successful. Some 80 restoration projects are currently underway around the U.S., including Nature Conservancy projects in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.  Monitoring of these projects has shown as much as 212 percent increases in oyster growth and 850 percent increases in other marine life on the reefs.

Bonus Fact: 

And the fact you’ve been waiting for…is it true that oysters are good for your sex life? After all, Casanova supposedly ate 50 of them for breakfast each day. But the experts say…sorry, you’re going to have to rely on your charm. There is little–if any–truth to the idea that oysters are an aphrodisiac. They do contain phosphorus and iodine, which may increase human stamina, and zinc is known to aid in production of testosterone. In addition, American and Italian researchers found that a type of mussel related to oysters contains two rare amino acids: D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, which have been shown to increase sperm motility and stimulate testosterone in mice. But no studies have looked at whether that translates to increased libido. 

I hope you found these oyster facts useful! I’m excited to down a bunch of oysters this Saturday at Maretalia. You can buy tickets online here.  Don’t forget the ISLANDGIRL1300 discount code for $5 off.

And remember, Blue Bridge offers a FREE CAR SERVICE to the Village and Cays, so you can enjoy those bottomless mimosas and Lillet spritzes responsibly! See you on Saturday, and let the irresponsible consumption of oysters commence!

Thanks for reading.

Top Ten Reasons to Attend OysterFest at Maretalia

I’m a bonafide oyster freak, so I was delighted to learn that Maretalia is hosting its first ever OysterFest next weekend. Maretalia is celebrating the end-of-summer in style with ENDLESS OYSTERS (as in all you can eat!) as well as bottomless Prosecco! I mean, what’s not to love? 

It’s all happening at Maretalia Saturday, September 14th from 12pm-3pm. The price is $50 a ticket for everything—(must be 21 and up) AND, I’ve got a DISCOUNT CODE!  (Keep reading for code.) 

“OysterFest has been a labor of love that we have been talking about for months,” said Lauren Lemus, General Manager at Maretalia. “It gets so busy on Coronado over the summer and this event gives everyone an opportunity to wind down, relax and enjoy themselves.”

Not like you need a reason to sip champs and suck down oysters, but in case you aren’t convinced, read on for my Top Ten Reasons to Attend OysterFest.

  1. You can test your oyster-eating prowess. How many can you eat in one sitting? I’m sure I can handle at least two dozen. Maybe I’ll go for three.
  2. Pop that Prosecco….as many bottles as you like! Enjoy bottomless Campo Viejo Prosecco.
  3. …Or, indulge in a refreshing Lillet Spritzer. Beat the heat with a cool spritzer, (as many as you want.)
  4. Listen to live music. Guests will be treated to the music of Jenny O’Henny (think an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, and R&B.)
  5. Get a free ride. Um, isn’t it amazing that Blue Bridge does this? Maretalia offers complimentary round-trip car service for residents and visitors in the 92118 ZIP code, including the Cays and surrounding Coronado hotels. Yes, please!
  6. Savor and sample limitless “small bites.” If you need to take a break in between servings of endless oysters, enjoy some small bites like meatball sliders. Also, included in the ticket fee!
  7. Beat the heat and enjoy the A.C. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have air conditioning in my home, so anywhere I can relax in doors in the cool air is pretty fab.
  8. Celebrate the glamorous life. There’s just something so luxurious and classy about Maretalia. It just oozes opulence.
  9. Toast the end of summer with all your friends! Is there a better way to send-off-summer?
  10. Save $5 with the Island Girl discount code! Buy your tickets here before they sell out, and on the first page enter ISLANDGIRL1300 as your discount code.

See you at OysterFest! (Bet I can eat more than you can.)


Savory Eats, Sangria on Tap and Snappy Service: How the Henry is Winning Over the Neighborhood

When the much-buzzed about Henry Restaurant officially opened for lunch on Tuesday, I made sure I had a reservation. After all, my social media feeds were BLOWING UP with pictures and rave reviews from diners who attended the soft opening over the weekend.

I had to find out for myself…is the Henry worth the hype?

After all, this is the fourth of three wildly-successful Henry restaurants run by Sam Fox—the others are in Phoenix, West Hollywood and Dallas. An eleven-time James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur, Fox is the founder of True Food Kitchen, and has launched several other eateries in the San Diego area including North Italia, Blanco  Tacos + Tequila, and one of my favs…Flower Child in Del Mar.

Besides, people have been FREAKING OUT over this place. I mean, has there ever been so much controversy over a new restaurant in town?

First, everyone’s mad at the developer for kicking out Costa Azul. Then people are upset that Fox is from Arizona. (To be fair, he reportedly owns a home on the island.) Next, we find out that Fox Restaurant Concepts has been bought out by the Cheesecake Factory, and we worry we will have to carry around buzzers, downgrade our wardrobes and pack on pounds from deep-fried avocado rolls. Now, we’re worried about Luis and Jason at the coffee cart next door (a legit concern, as the sign touting the Henry’s coffee offerings is right next to Cafe Madrid.)

Photo Credit: Troy Roberts

“Corporate capitalism at its worst!” “Coronado will never be the same.” “What happened to our quaint little town?”

Don’t you know? We live in Coronado. We like things to stay the same. We fear change.

We don’t do chains. We don’t do upside-down Christmas trees. And we don’t like it when an outside developer comes in and kicks out our mom and pop shops. (Whether or not we actually shopped them.)

Then a bunch of locals attend the soft opening, and the tide turns faster than you can say, “avocado toast.”

“Exquisite!” “Sam Fox does it again!” “Can’t wait to go back!”

Guess what? Everyone loves the Henry. And you know what? So do I. (How fickle we are!)

First of all, there’s nothing like it in Coronado. You don’t even feel like you’re in Coronado. (And this, my friends, is not a bad thing.)

We were greeted with a smile by a friendly, pretty hostess in trendy dreadlocks, who assured us our table would be ready at our designated time. (It was.)

The place was absolutely packed. Everyone was there. Ladies who lunch, hospitality execs, lawyers on lunch break, PTO moms, working dads, grandmas, Cross Fit moms, even my mom (she was my date.)

I saw no less than 20 people that I knew. And everyone was smiling!

“Smell my sangria, it’s delicious!” “Get the tuna rice dish.” “This place is amazing!”

The space feels sophisticated, spry, energetic and urban, more like something you’d see in La Jolla or downtown. The decor has been described as everything from “Gatsby-era elegance” to “stylish and inviting.” Fox has said, “We are striving for an elevated design with attention to every detail.”

Although the space was probably close to capacity, it didn’t seem crowded, thanks to the genius layout. There are just so many places to wine and dine! There’s the tranquil outdoor seating area with a fireplace, the inviting indoor/outdoor bar with barstools, some cool high tops, and some really spacious (yet somehow cozy-feeling) booths. There’s also a big private room with a fireplace in the back.

A stylish surfer-mural is splashed against the back, while another wall is adorned with (charmingly) mis-matched framed artwork. A huge exhibition window lines the entire rear of the restaurant, giving guests a big view of the bustling kitchen. (Lots of hustle in there.)

First off, our waitress. She was amazing! Professional, kind, and plucky.  In fact every human we encountered was in top form. (I later read that Fox prides his restaurants on “great hospitality, every time.”)

And then there’s the cocktail menu. Hello! Everyone was a-buzz about the pink sangria on tap.

Sadly, I’m trying not drink alcohol during the week (lame, I know)  so I settled for a house-made soda…the one with English cucumber, mint and lime. 

I wasn’t sad at all! It was refreshing and delicious! I didn’t even care that I wasn’t drinking wine. Look at me, all healthy!

To start, my mom and I opted for the much-touted spicy tuna with crispy rice. Yes, please! My mom doesn’t even like raw fish and she loved it.

For our entrees, I ordered the Harvest Bowl with melted sweet potato, ancient grains, grilled portobello, caramelized cauliflower, avocado and other assorted goodness. My mom got the Korean Steak and Avocado Bowl, with double egg fried rice, bok choy, snow peas, pickled shiitake, and spicy ginger butter.

Yes and yes! Seriously though, what’s not to love? The menu has something for everyone. We’re talking handmade ricotta cavatelli, house made pretzels in cheese fondue, short rib potstickers, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. And lots of healthy options too, as well as gluten-free and vegan. The Henry serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a pretty awesome happy hour ($6 for a glass of Petite Syrah? Yes, please.)

We were too stuffed for dessert, but I noted the menu, and yes–the warm croissant bread pudding is in my future.

I opted instead for another house-made soda (so good!) This time I ordered the strawberry & mandarin, in a to-go cup, in case I didn’t finish it. (I did…yum!)

So is the Henry everything it’s cracked up to be? Absolutely. I loved it so much, I made reservations for my family this weekend. My girlfriends came for lunch and stayed for seven solid hours!

I know some people are worried.

Is the Henry just the beginning of a widespread transformation that will turn Coronado into a bourgeois cosmopolitan spectacle like Del Mar or La Jolla? I hope not. Maybe.

But if it is, and change is inevitable, then the Henry is a major silver lining.

Besides. What makes our little island so special is the people. Not the businesses or the buildings that go up (or down) around us.

We will always be a small town at heart. We love each other. (Sure, sometimes we hate each other.) But we always bring over soup when you’re sick, and we will pick up your kid from school if you’re running late.

We’ll loan you a watermelon scooper, a paddle board, or a sequin dress. We’ll find your lost kid at concert in the park, or your lost tortoise when he escapes yet again. (Seriously? How many tortoises can this town lose in a week?)

So why not be nice to each other over an Acai bowl at the Henry?

Will I ever buy coffee at the walk-up window at the Henry? I doubt it. I’m sure I’ll keep going to Luis and Jason at Cafe Madrid. They’re always fun to talk to, and they make my nonfat chai just the way I like it.

But I am excited to see many of my small-town friends at the Henry, next time with my fork in a bread pudding, a smile on my face, and a glass of wine on in my hand.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

For more info, visit the Henry Coronado at


How a Little Girl Who Tried to Quit Kindergarten Became a Legendary Supporter of Coronado Schools

Well, Donna Salof didn’t exactly drop out of kindergarten, but she sure tried! She got up and walked out of class on her very first day of school.

“I didn’t want any part of this ‘kindergarten’ business,” says Donna, laughing as she recalls her first school-age memory from her hometown in St. Louis, Missouri. “I didn’t like it, so as soon as I was dropped off, I just got up and left.”

Donna walked the two blocks home all by herself, and to this day, no one knows how she managed to slip past her mom and housekeeper, who were themselves walking home.

“They couldn’t figure out how I didn’t pass them on the sidewalk,” says Donna, laughing, as she relaxes on her front porch on Ocean Blvd. “I must have been running through all the yards!”

It’s a conspicuous start for the woman who would later champion children’s education throughout her life, play an instrumental role in numerous non-profits, and become a huge supporter of CSF (Coronado Schools Foundation.) 

In fact, Donna has been the presenting sponsor of the annual CSF Auction and Gala for the last three years running.

Donna (in red) with Patty Cowan, Karl Mueller, and Dolly and Tom Catlin at the CSF Gala & Auction last year, “Havana Nights.”

In case you aren’t familiar, CSF is a community-driven fundraising organization that supplements (reduced) state-funding for STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—as well as the Arts. Read more at

CSF helps fund hand-on robotics projects.

Described as down-to-earth, low-key and practical, Donna is beloved by all who work with her. But despite her generous involvement in the Coronado community, Donna is still a bit of a mystery. And that’s just how she likes it.

“I like to fly under the radar,” she explains, preferring to quietly support projects she’s passionate about, whether that’s here in Coronado where she owns her vacation home, or back at her home base in San Antonio, Texas.

Lucky for us, Donna was introduced to CSF about five years ago, just a few weeks after she and her husband bought their Coronado home.

“My house was still full of boxes, and I didn’t know anyone,” says Donna. “I was getting my hair done at Coronado Bliss, and someone asked me if I wanted to go and ‘do something.’ I said, ‘when, where!’ That ‘something’ ended up being that year’s CSF gala.” 

And the rest is the stuff of every non-profit’s dream: a rising supporter and benefactor who’s tireless dedication and devotion puts an organization on the fast-track to success.

But why Coronado Schools Foundation—and why here, why now? After all, her daughter is grown, and she has no kids or grandkids in the Coronado school system. Why be so generous with our school-age children, when she has virtually no stake in the game?

“People ask me that, and the answer is this: I’m passionate about a child’s education. Period. It doesn’t matter who the child is, or where,” says Donna.

CSF helps funds art projects at Coronado schools.

And Donna loves working with the Coronado community at large. “It’s a very generous community,” she says. “People are very willing to give and support. All you have to do is ask.”

Her passion for education all started when her daughter began preschool.

“I was lucky be a stay-at-home mom, so I had some time. I was always that extra mom on the bus. Then I was ‘room mom’ forever,” says Donna.  “That was back in the day when we could bake cookies and cupcakes, and do all the fun party favors.  I’ve always helped out with each stage of my daughters education. I even worked in the library!” 

Finally in high school, there wasn’t much left to do…but she managed to help sell poinsettias for the school’s fundraiser, her picture making it onto the pages of her daughter’s senior yearbook.

Her daughter went on to attend San Diego State, and when her husband sold part of their business, they decided to buy a second home. They considered Florida and New Orleans, but eventually settled on San Diego…and ultimately, Coronado. 

“There is something about Coronado that I’ve always liked…the small-town feel, the beach and the ocean,” explains Donna. “We always liked to stay at the Del when we visited my daughter, so we were familiar with the island.”

Donna and her family enjoyed staying at the Hotel Del when they visited her daughter at SDSU.

Donna didn’t hesitate. She knew she wanted a beach house, so she went straight to Ocean Blvd.

“I thought, if you’re going to live by the beach, you might as well live right on the ocean,” she says. 

Walking up to Donna’s home on Ocean.

But these days, Donna doesn’t have much time to relax and enjoy her view. She’s not only the presenting sponsor of this year’s gala, “Day at the Races,” but she’s also doing much of the work and planning. (She was the mastermind of this year’s theme, and last year’s too, “Havana Nights.”)

“It just comes to me in the night,” says Donna, explaining how she comes up with the ideas. “I messaged Patty Cowan in the middle of the night from London with the idea! I guess they liked it.”

The 35th CSF Gala & Auction “Day at the Races” trots over to the Hotel Del Coronado on Saturday, October 19th. The Kentucky Derby-style event is set to sell out, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket, do it now: And, stay tuned for my blog post next week with all the winning details!

This year’s gala theme is “Day at the Races.”
You can’t lose with a Kentucky Derby theme!
Hats and fascinators galore!

Despite her flair for fun party themes, Donna is—beyond all things—practical. She’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get down to work. In fact she is folding 400 red napkins herself to look like roses for the party!

“The girls always want to help, but I say, ‘by the time y’all decide who’s going to come, how long you can stay, who’s coming after you, who’s going to take care of your kids, and who’s going to bring a pan of brownies, I could have a 100 of them done,’” she laughs.

As you may have guessed, when it comes to nonprofit work, this isn’t Donna’s first rodeo (or, horse race, rather.) She’s worked with the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Young Matrons, and the Kansas City Ballet.

When her family moved to San Antonio, Texas, she found her next big project–Eva’s Heroes, which is Eva Longoria’s non-profit. Eva’s Heroes helps teens and young adults 14 years and older with intellectual special needs, by providing them with enriching after-school programs and summer camps, learn more at

“Eva and I have been friends now for about ten years,” says Donna. “Eva has a sister with special needs, and her mom was a special ed teacher. So she started this organization for young adults who need a place to hang out after school, or summer programs. I fell into this because I have a cousin who has special needs, and I can remember my aunt and uncle really struggling to find after-school care, or a program or activity.”

Donna was honored with a trophy for her work with Eva’s Heroes.

Although Donna is clearly in a fortunate place where she can donate time and money to such programs, this wasn’t always the case. 

“We’ve had some really lean years,” said Donna. “When my husband started his own business, next thing you know, I got pregnant. We had no insurance. And my parents had to loan us one of their cars. We really had some tough times.”

Donna admits it’s been a long road to Ocean Blvd. So what advice would she give to our school-age children?

“Just try your best, at whatever you do,” she says. “ Whether it’s a dream, a fascination, or whatever you’re doing right now, just give it your best.”

Anything else?

“Life is wonderful,” she says. 

And indeed, life is that much more wonderful for our Coronado students who are benefiting from the programs enriching their education because of her work. 

So if you see Donna around town, be sure to say hello… and thank you.

Thanks for reading! And stay tuned for my next post for details on “Day at the Races!”

Playing with Flavor at Feast and Fareway

Open wide! There’s a party in your mouth, and it’s all going down at Feast and Fareway.

The newly opened hotspot at the Coronado Golf Course started dinner service in its main dining room last week. The space is serene, peaceful, and quiet, and you can’t beat the pano views of the golf course, Glorietta Bay, and the iconic San Diego Bay Bridge.
The booths are cozy and wide, and the decor—complete with hanging golf clubs—pays homage to its surroundings. There’s also a chill outdoor seating area overlooking the golf course with fire pits.

For the time being, according to our waiter, they are just serving dinner in the main dining room, and will continue to serve brunch and happy hour in the other part of the restaurant. But let’s get down to the good stuff…the food! The dinner menu is creative and enticing, not the usual fare here!
I was thrilled to see grilled Spanish octopus on the menu, with adobo, spicey tomato sauce, shoshito peppers and flava beans. It was right up my alley…not shy with the spice, perfectly cooked and delicious down to the last bite.
We also ordered the burrata with grilled focaccia, blackberry jalapeno jam, toasted pistachio greens and extra virgin olive oil. It was as good as it sounds…insanely tasty, creamy and both sweet and savory.
Next up was the arugula crispy goat salad with SWEET GOAT CHEESE CROQUETTES (yeah, I said it) and sungold tomato, apple, and fig vinegarette. Again, perfection. The goat cheese croquettes melt in your mouth and pair perfectly with the arugula.
Last was the bone-in rib with pinot noir reduction, potatoes au gratin and roasted veggies. The meat was cooked perfectly and flaked off with the gentlest nudge of a fork. Next time I order this, I will ask for more of the wine sauce, it was delicious.
Speaking of sauce, we ordered a bottle of Chilean Cabernet.  It was only $23 and it was quite tasty! They didn’t have a kids menu yet (the waiter said it’s coming soon) and so they jimmy-rigged the duck mac and cheese into a smaller kid friendly version for each of my daughters. They only charged us $6 each, and it was also yummy! We even had kid leftovers for the next night.
The best part? The bill. With all this food, and a bottle of wine, the total was $103. (Insert happy dance.) I can’t wait to return, and it will be very hard for me not to order the exact same thing!
Feast and Fairway is located at 2000 Visalia Row at the Coronado Municipal Golf Course. You can find it online at