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21st Dinner Club: Puget Sound Crab Feed Summary

The night of the party was absolutely beautiful!  For a while I toyed with having appetizers out on the deck but, as often happens with these spring days, around 6:00 the wind picked up and brought a chill back to the soft spring air. Instead, we stayed inside and pretended that the sun outside was the warm sun of summer.
Because this menu I’d picked from Tom’s Big Dinners is really a summer menu there were a few substitutions that would need to be made throughout the evening.  The first was in the Peach Sangria.  Peaches just aren’t in season and instead R used mangoes which bring the same summery color and sweet element to the drink.  The sangria was great – light and refreshing – it would be nice to make up a pitcher and spend a lazy afternoon on the deck sipping through it!  R had been a little worried about the squid, never having worked with them before, but in our area you can find both cleaned and uncleaned squid so she went with the cleaned – makes the work much easier!  The squid itself was so great!  The sambal oelek in the marinade added just a bit of heat.  We removed the squid from the skewer and placed it directly on the garlic toast covered with lemony arugula.  The combination of tastes and textures was heavenly!  It was another one of those starters I would have been happy to have for the entire meal! 
We served the Chop Salad with Corn, Snap Peas and Bacon; the Mac and Cheese Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and the Crab with Sea Salt Butter and Ginger Mayonnaise all at the same time.  
K had lucked out and picked a wonderful smoky bacon for the the Chop Salad and it was a great counterpoint to the fresh peas, corn, cukes and other vegetables in the salad.  The dressing, a mustard vinaigrette, was nice and bright as it had a nice bit of fresh lemon juice in it.  I say lucked out on the bacon, as she just happened to use a pack her boyfriend’s mom had sent him from Montana – we all wish we knew what it was!
The Mac and Cheese salad was great – a simple pasta salad with greens and buttermilk dressing.  Tangy and a little sticky, this salad would go with just about any summer meal from picnics to grilled steak from the BBQ!  And it would be a great make-ahead dish, too! 
Crab – what can you say about our beautiful, local Dungeness Crab?  We love it.  My local Central Market has a big tank of live crab so I picked a few up, brought them home and cooked them about 2 hours prior to serving them.  Any kind of crab is good but fresh from the pot crab is the best!  We all had a little surprise for the night though.  We are pretty much crab purists – give us a crab to crack, a little melted butter and some lemon and we are good to go.  No need for dips or dressings or anything that might hide the taste of our crab!  Well, that has all changed now!  The Ginger Mayonnaise was so good with the crab – even though my homemade mayo flopped, dang it! – the ginger and chives lightened and added a bit of heat to the mayo.  A touch of it on a big ol’ hunk of crab leg and the ginger actually enhanced the flavor of the crab.  Genius.  In fact, M2 liked it so much she bought crab and made the mayo the next day just so she could have it again! 
For our finale we had the Blueberry Cornmeal Crostata with whip cream.  M2 did a great job with this dessert.  The crust was soft yet a bit crunchy with cornmeal, the berry jam was sweet but not too sweet and mellowed with the buttery crust and whip cream.  It was really the perfect ending to the meal. 
I have one regret about this meal, well two.  One it just didn’t last long enough!  But I can fix that by making it again.  The other regret though is that somehow I overlooked Tom’s wine recommendations for the menu and somehow got in my head that Sauvignon Blanc was the wine for the night (it was in the sangria).  I would have liked to have done the meal with Tom’s wine choices.  We did, however, have a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from one of my favorite areas.  It was the 2004 Forefathers from Marlborough, New Zealand.  Nice and crispy, dry and a bit minerally it went very well with all courses. 
We all agreed this was a wonderful menu and meal.  I know at least a couple of the members plan to do the whole menu at some point.  Although it is intended as a summer menu, for us it was the perfect reminder that summer will soon be here and it brought that season just a bit closer as we ate our way through the summer tastes. 

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