Dungeness crab

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EAT – Crab, crab and more crab

Last week I was a judge at the Mendocino Crab & Wine Days. For the past 11 years, local chefs have entered their crab cakes in a cook-off to be chosen best of the best. In a separate contest, local wineries enter the bottling they think pairs best with pure crab meat (look for this in a later post).  It’s all Dungeness crab, caught locally off the coast of Mendocino. We blind tasted our way (chef, restaurant and ingredients not identified) through 15 crab cakes and awarded scores for taste, presentation and originality.  The best cakes really honored the crab — nice chunks of crab meat, simple preparation with no one ingredient overpowering the crab. The judges for the most part were in agreement on which crab cakes worked and which ones didn’t.  We preferred the less fussy presentations, and the cakes that had more crab than filler. The winners…

EAT DRINK – Dungeness crab

Mmmm – Dungeness crab, fresh and local.  Does it get any better than that?  Well yes it does, especially with a spot-on wine pairing.  In this case you’ve got the crab with its clean flavors and just a little bit of sweetness.  A regular Chardonnay esp w/ any oak will overpower the crab.  While a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling are more reliable choices, why not try this? An unoaked Chardonnay.  Look for Chards that are fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  My choice for this evening –  Sarah’s Vineyard “Steel Blue” Chardonnay.  It’s zippy and bright, and really helps enhance the tasty crab.