DELICIOUS DEBATE: Introducing a few tender topics over a seafood feast shared among friends is best done at your own peril, if you don't want to find yourself gently refereeing a long-standing culinary feud. Like... Should shrimp be butterflied when fried? If you go lobster roll, do you go hot, where the meat is drenched in butter, or cold, which is all about the mayo, herbs, and chopped celery? And for that matter, is the lobster roll bun all that important, or should it be pretty standard issue sandwich-y stuff, as is treasured tradition in some quarters? And what is the proper way to dine upon crab? Does one enjoy the crab covered in Old Bay, upon a sheet of butcher paper, or does one savor their crustacean-based eats in cake form?
HEATED BUT FRIENDLY EXCHANGES... do carry on, even in friendly circles, but here's some excellent news for mavens of Mendocino County and buffs of all things crabby: The sprawling January-time celebration covers all bases, from "blinis topped with creamy crab" to a three-course crab-themed supper to judge-approved crab cakes at the Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg. Everyone who is in a particular crab corner, in short, can find their feasty favorites, and the fact that wine and beer are along for the rich ride only enhances the fun. Oh, and that fun has an official name: The Crab, Wine, & Beer Festival.
DUNGENESS CRAB... is the centerpiece of the celebration, as might be expected, as it is very much in season around that wind-swept coast. (Honest? Ever coast kind of deserves that title, to some extent, but Mendo kind of clinches it, hence why we're pulling it out here.) Special events, like the Skunk Train's Crab & Wine Express on Jan. 17 and 24 and the crab and vino pairings at a host of local wineries dot the January calendar. As for the full running dates? Jan. 16 through 27, 2015 is the stretch of time all hardcore crabbists should make for Mendo. Wouldn't it be sort of a dream to spend a chunk of January in the postcardian town, complete with its wind-swept cliffs? Crab cakes, local merlots, and train rides into the redwoods just complete the scene.