Celebrating Crab Season from Farmhouse Inn
Winter in Sonoma Wine Country is synonymous with crab feeds, fisherman's festivals, and whale watching along the coast, and we love every minute of it. Opening day of Dungeness Crab season in Sonoma County gets front page coverage in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper and sends every resident without a shellfish allergy flocking to G & G market and fish markets for their share of the fresh-caught delicacy. The wonderful crab even shows up at the Sonoma Farmer's Markets this time of year.
The East Coast of the United States has Blue crab, Alaska has it's King crab, but around here, Dungeness is king. I have eaten blue crab sitting at a counter on a beach in Virginia, spiny lobster and king crab legs at a swanky restaurant in Sydney, Australia; but none compared to the sweet, fresh-as-fresh-gets Dungeness crab, just-plucked from the frigid Pacific Ocean that edges Sonoma County. It's such a big deal around here, Sonoma County's Farm Bureau hosts the Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Festival which last year raised over $50,000 for Agriculture Scholarships to help educate the next generation of Sonoma County farmers, winegrowers, and vintners. Talk about raising a glass to sustainability!
Local restaurants boast Dungeness specials, and our own Farmhouse Restaurant has strummed up the perfect representation of California's winter bounty: Dungeness Crab Hash: Maitake mushroom, chard, Asian pear 24 hour braised Snake River pork belly, saffron aioli. Aren't you overdue for a visit?
Our tastebuds just can't get enough, and one trip out to Nick's Cove for a pot of their absolutely sinful Dungeness Crab Mac 'N' Cheese will explain why. Ooey, gooey mac made with local Point Reyes Toma and Spring Hill Organic Jersey Cheddar cheeses, and local dungeness crab. If you can't make it out to the coast, you can take the DIY approach and make it at home!
Or perhaps you're craving fresh clam chowder and one of Spud Point Crab Company's famous crab sandwiches from their tiny take-out shop located at Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay, CA. One bite of the simply delicious crusty sourdough roll stuffed full with Dungeness crab meat, and you'll see why it has become the best-kept secret spot you can't wait to share. While you're down at the marina, keep your eye out for the Annabelle and Cape Ommaney that are moored at Spud Point Marina and bring the fresh caught crab straight to the back door of the restaurant. Don't forget to say hello to Spud Point Crab Co. owner's Carol & Tony and tell them Farmhouse Inn sent you. Tony's family started fishing in Bodega Bay around the turn of the 19th century, and he and his brother have been fishing dungeness crab and king salmon here for over 40 years.
At Rowan Farm, my family's home, Dungeness crab makes it's debut on the eve of Thanksgiving, and is served with drawn butter, lemon wedges, San Francisco Sourdough Bread, a homemade caeser salad and a light, aromatic white wine that showcases the flavors of citrus and seafood. Another farm favorite Dungeness recipe is to take all the leftover crab legs (what leftovers?), pick the meat out, and make a salad that showcases California's winter harvest with sweet, juicy orange sections & fat, delicous Haas avocado. Toss it in a light citrus dressing (Meyer lemon is my favorite) with California Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Dry Creek Olive Company and zest from the peels- yum!
So whether you're a local or just eating like one, we can all agree that Dungeness crab is one of the great winter bounties of Sonoma County. Until next time, let's raise a glass of Sonoma County wine and celebrate life with friends and family. Cheers!