Fresh Dungeness crab lands in the Foothills

The much-anticipated Dungeness crab season opened Friday, with optimism for a crab bounty.

Last year was one of the best hauls on record. Restaurants and fish markets were busy placing orders for the tasty crustacean, popular from Thanksgiving to Christmas and into the New Year.

Sierra Foothills crab connoisseurs can begin purchasing the fresh crustacean locally next week, as more of it fills the supply chain.

Whole Foods Market in Roseville was telling customers that fresh crab would be in the store as early as Wednesday.

Ikeda’s in Auburn and Davis, popular with crab lovers, began selling crab on Tuesday. The Little Fish Company, which sells fish at the Auburn and Roseville Farmers Markets, also draws legions of loyal crab fans.

All are expected to have bounties of fresh crab well ahead of Thanksgiving.

The crab season typically winds down in February, but a commercial crab trap limit — the first in California — could extend the season into March or April. It officially ends in June.

We love the Dungeness crab season. It is a Northern California tradition: family, friends, wine and French bread to accompany the fresh crab.

“Herb Caen always said that the quintessential San Francisco meal was fresh cracked Dungeness crab, a loaf of late-bake Larraburu French bread and a glass of dry white wine,” as The San Francisco Chronicle puts it.

In our region, fresh crab can be served with local artisan breads — Truckee Sourdough Co., The Baker & the Cakemaker in Auburn, as well as Dupre’s Baking Co., Flour Garden Bakery & Cafe and Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli — all in Grass Valley.

Sierra Foothill white wines pair well with crab. A favorite is Avanguardia’s Cristallo — dry, crisp, taut, and relatively full-bodied. Chardonnay from Smith Vineyard, Bent Metal or Sierra Starr are other choices. Sierra Starr also makes a “bubbly.” Solune’s Pandora No. 2 also pairs well with a fresh crab feast.

Try Naggiar’s Viogner with your Dungeness crab as well.

Here are some ideas about how to prepare fresh crab:

(Photo: Sara Adler for SFGate.com)

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