MENDOCINO Co., 1/4/24 — Happy New Year! I know we have all been anxiously awaiting the start of local crab season but there is bad news — another small delay. Technically, the season starts on Friday, Jan. 5 along the Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte coasts.
However, according to Emily Alsager and Elissa Levin, owners of Little Dory Seafood Co. in Point Arena, crab season is still on hold. “The season was set to start with the first traps being pulled on Friday. However, Mother Nature has other plans!,” the two shared in their latest email. “With a swell forecast of 15+ foot seas and high winds, the crabbers have collectively decided to stay tied up to the dock. This decision is also coupled with ongoing price negotiations between crabbers and buyers.”
The dock they mention is at Arena Cove Pier where crabbing gear has been sitting dormant on the shore for over a year. Due to Friday’s forecasted weather conditions, the National Weather Service Eureka has issued a beach hazards statement for Jan. 4, from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., hence the decision for crabbers to delay dropping their traps. The safety of the crabbing crews is of primary importance.
It’s no surprise that negotiations remain a challenge among crabbers and buyers. The struggle has been real for crabbers across Northern California who have been dealing with almost annual delays in the season due to whale migration, resulting in major income losses. Crabbers want their money’s worth, especially given they missed out on the two highest demand crab-eating days of the year: Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Is it high time that the State of California look at grants or financial support to ensure family-owned, sustainable crabbing businesses can stay in business and carry on the legacy of California crabbing? While loans exist to help fisherpeople and crabbers buy equipment and invest in their business, a loan is useless if you don’t have the income to pay it off, let alone make ends meet.
On that note, let’s hope Mother Nature decides she’s in the mood for Dungies and calms the seas so the traps can be distributed.
2024 food trends — snacks and soups
The New York Times released its food trend predictions for 2024. Ultra-processed foods with unpronounceable ingredients are out and rustic old-fashioned made-from-scratch foods where you can rattle off every ingredient are in. Three meals a day is out and snacking is in. Espresso martinis are out and cocktails that taste like chicken and smoked salmon are in. Here are a few other notable trends:
Grab your grandma’s recipe for chicken noodle soup and start churning out photos on Instagram of the finished product because soup is the meal of the year. From matzo ball to ramen, lobster bisque and clam chowder, trend forecasters describe soup as “a low-risk, forgiving way to experiment with new flavors and ingredients” and a dish that uses vegetables and meats (i.e., chicken stock) that would often go to waste. Look for more soup offerings on menus and an increase of soup starters and ready-made soups at your grocery store.
Water will be a trend. Yes, water. This ranges from an increase in flavored water options to making hydration fashionable with the use of wearable technologies to track dehydration. Additionally, food and drinks made with dry-farming techniques (like dry-farmed wine) are expected to increase in marketability as consumers become more conscious of their water use due to climate change.
If you’re a quinoa fan you’ll be excited about 2024’s grain trend: buckwheat. The sustainable grain is commonly used as cover crop and is full of healthy carbs, fiber and lots of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It’s also gluten-free. Buckwheat is most commonly known for its use in making soba noodles and blinis (caviar anyone?). However, it can be used as a side dish, crisped up as a salad topper, a base for cookies and more. Check out recipes here.
New barbecue pop-up and caterer in Fort Bragg
Hayes Dennis launched his new barbecue catering business, Hayes’ BBQ, in Fort Bragg last week. Dennis specializes in small batch barbecue including ribs, tri tip, pulled pork, smoked turkey, brisket and sides like cornbread and baked beans. He also has his own line of rubs and spices. Dennis is lining up catering jobs right now and is planning pop-ups along the Mendocino Coast in 2024. Follow him on Instagram to learn more.
Tickets on sale for Dining with the Stars fundraiser for the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center, Jan. 27
The Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center is hosting its tenth annual fundraiser to raise money for its free community programming for children and families including recreational activities, an adult day program and Special Olympics basketball. Tickets include appetizers, dinner and dessert from Garbocci Gourmet Catering and wines from Frey Organic Wine. Back Porch Trio will perform and there will also be a live auction hosted by Tom Allman and a silent auction. Tickets on sale here.
Brewery Gulch Inn offering 50% discount for hospitality workers in January
The luxurious Brewery Gulch Inn in Mendocino is offering a 50% off discount to hospitality and service industry workers for the entire month of January. The discount is also available to active military and first responders. “This discount serves as a special `thank you’ to all of those who may have spent their holidays in service and did not get to enjoy any special down time that they are so deserving of,” according to a press release. In addition to lodging, every guest receives a complimentary locally sourced organic breakfast and wine and appetizers in the evening. To utilize this special discount, input the code “NameTags” in the “Additional information: Special request” box when booking online or mention it by calling (707) 937-4752. This offer is good through January 31, 2024, and there are no blackout dates. Proof of service or relevant employment is required at check-in, such as a work ID, business card or badge. Regular weekend rates at the Brewery Gulch Inn start at $455 a night, meaning the discount rate starts at $227.50 a night. Learn more here.
Updated pantry and distribution hours at Fort Bragg Food Bank
The Fort Bragg Food Bank has updated its 2024 hours. The choice pantry is open Mon. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues. closed, Wed. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Thurs. closed, Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and curbside distribution is open every day from 10 am.-12 p.m. Clients may visit once a week. 910 N. Franklin St., Fort Bragg, (707) 964-9404, fortbraggfoodbank.org.
January register round-up at Ukiah co-op supports treatment for substance abuse and behavioral health
Shoppers at Ukiah Natural Foods can round up their purchases to support MCAVHN Care and Prevention Network, which has the mission to “Address the co-occurring disorders of mental illness and substance use disorders, within an integrated model of care; assist in the reduction of harmful practices and overdose; and stop the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C, and care for those affected.” Mon-Sun, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., 721 S. State St., Ukiah, (707) 462-4778, ukiahcoop.com.
Join Mendocino County Foodies on Facebook!
My friend Serena Alexi and I launched Mendocino County Foodies on Facebook last week! Keeping with the tradition of our other group, Sonoma County Foodies, it’s a place to share and learn about food and beverage culture in Mendocino County, including home cooking and recipes, wineries and breweries, favorite restaurants and farmers markets, and more. Join the conversation here.
Small but equally important updates
In Boonville…Foresight Wines is closed for repairs and maintenance until Jan. 24.
In Caspar…Good Bones is closed until Feb. 16.
In Fort Bragg…Drop In Donuts is offering a dozen donuts for $24 every Thursday, while supplies last. Los Gallitos in Fort Bragg is closed for winter break and will reopen on Jan. 5. Mayan Fusion is closed and will reopen on Jan. 10. HarborView Bistro & Bar at the Noyo Harbor Inn is closed starting Jan. 8 and will reopen on Jan. 12.
In Mendocino…The GoodLife Cafe is closed until Feb. 12. The Fog Eater Cafe and Bottle Shop is closed until Feb. 13.
In Philo…The Apple Farm launched a newly redesigned website. The Disco Ranch is closed until Jan. 13.
In Point Arena… Cove Coffee reopens on Jan. 6.
In Ukiah…Cultivo is now available for delivery on DoorDash.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.