Crab + Bacon = Yum
December 30, 2010
‘Tis the season. For crabs.
Last week insider sources tipped me off to a cracking deal on fresh crab. So I promptly appeared on Wharf Two Friday afternoon to pick up 11 from a lady fisherman named DeLay.
Jane DeLay ain’t your average crabber. A performer and former executive director of the Forest Theater Guild, she normally spends her time studying to be a nurse at MPC, working at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and serving Greek grub at Epsilon (658-8108) in Monterey. But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t give it all up, as she did in taking a month off.
“I’d fish full-time,” she says, “but with shortened seasons, that’s not the reality.”
She grabs her crabs in Half Moon Bay – the nearby San Francisco Bay nursery grounds and sandy bottoms tend to yield the biggest and most mature crabs early in the season, she says – aboard her captain-friend Mike Ricketts’ (no relation to Doc) Sea Hauk.
They throw traps with fave crab snacks like mackerel or squid or sardines, pull them up snapping with crab, and steam back to the commercial wharf, where Royal Seafood’s Gino Pennisi kindly lets her use a tank and a workspace to sling her crustaceans.
Market price at the moment was $6 per big fatty – DeLay says they are averaging between 1.9 pounds and 2.25 – and an extra buck for her to cook them.
Her recipe is nice, easy and tasty in that way that lets the crab speak for its own fresh self: Once the water in your pot boils, throw the suckers in with lemon juice and salt, bring it back to a boil and cook them for 12 minutes even.
She bagged my babies and I took to secretly delivering to fridges around the Peninsula. Crab Santa struck twice.
Later we spread newspaper everywhere as four friends and I had a supreme messy fest of chilled crustacean in hot garlic butter, garlic bread, salad, Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay. Fresh and sweet, simple and sublime.
DeLay says she’ll be back on the high seas once the weather eases off the 10-foot-swell stress. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 383-9681.
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I was attacking bacon-wrapped dogs from L.A. food carts before Tonya Harding’s goons were attacking Nancy Kerrigan’s leg. I’ve believed a breakfast joint is only as good as its bacon since I could say “over easy.” I once named a kitten after a Baja California dish that wrapped prawns and jack cheese in you know what (Shrimp Papagayo).
In a culture obsessed with bacon, I’m not just a member, I’m an early adopter and enthusiastic card-carrier. Just the other day I discovered NorCal’s own Bacon Hot Sauce, ordered some at www.baconhotsauce.com and blew through two bottles.
But as cooks began chicken-frying bacon, bakers started stuffing it in scones, Whole Foods slang chocolate-bacon candy bars, and YouTube greased us with videos on “candy bacon” and weaving bacon into whole sizzling meat blankets, I figured we were approaching a saturation point.
Now you can give your baby My First Bacon. This piece of pork has more going for it than a slick personal statement (“You’ve got a friend in meat!”). The little guy’s three feet long, nice and squooshy like a stuffed animal, with cartoony eyeballs.
And this is a gift that speaks for itself. Truly. Press the button and the masculine-sounding meat says, “I’m Bacon,” in a low baritone that sticks in your head like turkey bacon to the pan.
ThinkGeek is the brains behind the bacon. Check out their “stuff for smart masses” – and the blog for bacon videos.
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Put crab and bacon together and you’ve got the unbeatable crab club ($14.95) at Sand Bar & Grill (373-2818). Had one Friday (and some sand dabs). Oh yes… There’s a soft and chewy reason to love the delectable Red House Cafe (643-1060) even more. Chef Chris D’Amelio, determined to create the perfect cookie for his little daughter Sophia, has come darn close. I tried the oatmeal-apricot-pecan number the other day and it’s a combo as delicious as it is unconventional. Check out www.redhousecookies.com… One of the coolest tools to teach kids young and old about wack factory farm conditions: The Meatrix. Google it or check it out on the food blog… Sardine Factory’s doing a new calamari puff, Cafe Fina and Domenico’s are executing fresh crab with the best of them and The Preserve is perfecting candy cap mushroom blondies. Learn how they do it at mcweekly.com/edible… Sources tell me Carmel Valley linchpin The Running Iron (659-4633) is closed while the family figures out how to right the ship. Say a Christmas prayer… LallaGrill’s (324-4632) got a good New Year’s value: $25 for a three-course meal (filet medallions or pork chop or brando steak or chicken piccata as the main event), a glass of sparkling wine and party favors… The so-called Food Safety Bill finally passed Congress and is heading for Obama’s desk. Can I get an amen from the lunch line… “Mmmm,” Homer Simpson once said, “unexplained bacon.”