Every season in the Napa Valley, even winter, seems to be a wonderful opportunity for food & wine pairing. We are always amazed how nature’s plants and animals know when to ripen at the right time to pair with some other food group! Take Herb’s favorite time of year – Dungeness crab season in the Pacific Ocean from November to June. He is out on his boat in Bodega Bay almost every weekend with friends, (weather be damned!) catching their limits. And darned if our 8 Meyer lemon trees aren’t doing their best to feed the neighborhood from January to May! What a winter combination – fresh crab, sweet lemon and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Meyer lemons in the Napa Valley (on a good year like 2011, when we haven’t had constant cold temperatures and rain) are like zucchini in summer . . . you don’t park your car in town with the windows down, or someone will put a shopping bag full of them on your front seat!
With a constant supply of fresh crab, (including the price of the boat, fuel, bait, mechanics and driving an hour each way, it’s now down to $598.62/pound!) we have eaten crab every way possible - cioppino, chowder, baked, marinated, and fresh out the pot, piled high with sauces, on a bed of baby lettuce from our garden, and stuffed in avocados - but most often we enjoy the fruits of our labor on an improvised tablecloth of newspapers on the island in our kitchen when friends stop by for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc after work.
Here’s our favorite crab cake recipe, simple and quick, but can vary with personal taste. Get creative and add what you want.