Monday, November 23, 2009

Crab Season: Dining Santa Cruz Style

Santa Cruz, CA – There are some meals that taste better when eaten at home. Last night I feasted on the first-of the season Dungeness Crab with my good friends Bob and Laurie. Why the home-cooked meal? First of all, you have to consider where my generous friends live, in the mountains of Santa Cruz, in a little berg called Bonny Doon. Picture yourself surrounded by mist hanging on redwood trees, smelling the Earth after a rainstorm, and then reveling in that clean air. Their artisan’s home reflects 20 years of loving care. On their grounds is a hand made yurt that Bob built, a herb garden that Laurie tends, and a Japanese Maple in it’s full autumn glory – red and gold.

Once inside their home, I never wanted to leave. The wood burning stove warmed my bones. Books everywhere I looked. Their furniture is the color of liquid peace and tranquility; a Turkish rug framing the hardwood floors. And then the sweet aroma of Laurie’s Cinderella Pumpkin Soup brought me to the kitchen table. Earthenware style plates fired in a Finnish kiln were waiting to service our meal.

We cracked and ate fresh crab, caught that day off the Santa Cruz coast. Complimenting the star crustacean attraction was an aromatic Arugula green salad picked that evening from the garden, and corn muffins topped with Bob’s homegrown dark honey, thanks to his productive beehive. I shared the story of my first-ever crab-eating epiphany at the virginal age of 22 as a college student at Humboldt State University in Arcata. Laurie talked about her San Francisco roots including her family’s tradition of eating crab, complete with the now non-PC Campbell’s tomato soup with cheese melted at the bottom in a cup. Gentle conversation, warm feelings and a simple, Epicurean meal made this Santa Cruz evening a night to treasure. Thanks Bob and Laurie, for opening up your home and heart to this grateful soul.

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