Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Crab Report

Yesterday, Scot and I chose to rearrange our weekly schedule so we could play in the great weather, and then work today. We headed to the coast. After a quick stop in at Petwerks, we had breakfast at The Turnaround Cafe in Turner. (Best chicken fried steak. Ever. Anywhere. Period.) Then we headed for the coast.

First stop was Munson Creek State Park. A mile and a half off of 101 south of Tillamook, the drive back to the small parking area is nearly an off-road experience in and of itself. A sign pointing right to the park sites in the center of a fork in the path. Parking under the tall old growth trees in a tiny lot, there's a quick quarter mile walk on a clear path back to a 300 foot tall falls. It's beautiful, but shows the violence of the weather in past years, with clogs of fallen trees all about.

After admiring the falls and poking around in the ice cold creek in a few spots, we hopped back in the Jeep and asked, "Wonder where that road goes?" as we approached the fork again. Thankfully, we have a Jeep! We can now answer some of those questions for ourselves. :)

Scot had some off-road experience. Our Jeep is currently a stock Wrangler Unlimited Altitude, and we were by ourselves, and without a full self recovery toolkit. So our goal was just to get back a little further than we usually would feel comfortable doing.

Up, up, over and around the roads took us. Without a map, we turned left, consistently, when presented with options, so we could easily backtrack if needed. The path was always well maintained -- even if it had shrunk down to just wheel paths. There was one slide area that had been dug down into -- the Jeep passed with no problems, but the cut through was just about the width of the Jeep and no more.

We approached one low point with some mud and standing water, so we got out and tested it with a stick to make sure we knew what we'd be going through. The path ended just up over the next hill. Or, rather, it degraded to a point that we didn't feel it was wise to continue alone without a winch or second vehicle in our party.

Over, around, up and back -- we found a number of great high spots to kick back and hang out, and a few roads we had to say, "Nope" to until next time when we are better prepared.

After we'd had enough of that, we headed to Bay City, Oregon, to The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster. We had a fantastic lunch on the bay, blinded by the sunlight reflecting off the water. You can even sit at a table that looks out into their processing line, if you're into that sort of thing. When we were there, work was done for the day and it was all about cleanup, so we sat so we could admire the seafood counter.

Crab there was pricey. Cleaned crab was $14.99 for 6 ounces, or $42.99 for a pound. Do the math on that... the SMALLER container is actually cheaper per ounce. You're better off buying multiple small containers. *Eyeroll* We thought that was pretty high. But, wanting to compare, we bought a small container (along with their house cocktail and tartar sauce which is relish, and a load of french bread made by a bakery in Girabaldi) and then headed to Barnacle Bill's in Lincoln City. (Of course, first we had to stop at Tillamook Creamery for cheese samples, ice cream, and a photo op in the Mini Loaf Mobile.)

Barnacle Bill's still closes at 4:30 during the week, and still takes cash only. They do have a new sign, and some swanky packaging for some packed products like seasoning mixes, tuna, and smoked salmon.

Their picked crab was $38.00/lb. Their fresh crab were on a huge sale -- $4.99. WHUT!? We bought 3/4 lb of picked crab there, along with a ginormous ling cod fillet. They did a brisk business, as always.

Before the layer of cheese is applied. CRABARAIFIC.
Our goal was CRAB MELTS. What's a crab melt? Cut a soft french loaf in half. Spread an herbed cream cheese or spread like Alouetta, top with about 1/2" of picked crab, then layer on a mix of cheddar and jack cheese. Warm in the oven at 350 for ten minutes, then turn on the broiler to get the cheese bubbly and lightly browned. Cut and eat.


Had one last night with some red wine while chatting with a friend, and then did it again today for lunch.

With crab from two sources, we compared:

The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster has good crab. It was tasty and fresh, but was more expensive, and tastes as if the crabs are boiled in straight water.

Barnacle Bill's crab was better all around. It was cheaper, but price aside, it was much more flavorful. They clearly use a perfectly balanced crab boil that brings out the best in the crab. Also, the crab from Barnacle Bill's was much "lumpier," with amazing tasty fresh pieces of claw meat. We didn't see much claw meat in the crab from The Fish Peddler.

So there you go. We do these arduous tests so you don't have to. Life is tough out here in Oregon, I gotta tell ya.

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