If you’re looking for a seafood feast – or perhaps a series of feasts – then look no further than the Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival. This year’s event, which ran from January 20 to 29, showcased the county’s culinary and winemaking expertise, along with art and entertainment.
The festival is dominated by Dungeness crab and other seafood, but mostly crab: crab legs, crab cakes and pretty much any variation you can imagine. There are crab bites, crab feeds and crab dinners, crab cruises and crab cake cook-offs. Did I mention the crab?
This year, 15 county chefs participated to compete for the Professional Judges’ Award and the People’s Choice Award. In addition, the Wine Competition highlights the sparkling, white, and rosé wines of the county.
But it’s more than just eating the food and drinking the wine and beer, it’s getting to know the local offerings. There were several winemaker dinners, like the Roederer Estate and Domaine Anderson affair at Crush in Ukiah. Enjoy the food and chat with the winemakers.
For those with tighter budgets, there was the Blue Collar Winemaker dinner, which featured wines from Navarro Vineyards at Cucina Verona in Fort Bragg.
If a winemaker dinner seems a little too formal for you, try a barrel tasting, and sample the wines of the future. One event in Hopland featured samples from Brutocao Cellars, Cesar Toxqui Cellars, Graziano Family of Wines, and many others.
Perhaps you’d like a little fish with your crab. The annual Cioppino Dinner, held at Pentecost Hall in Fort Bragg, benefited the Mendocino Coast Clinics, as did the Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition the following day. The Cioppino Dinner featured Mendo wines, and beers from the North Coast Brewing Company.
There were also a number of all-you-can-eat crab feasts, including the Knights of Columbus and the Mendocino Coast Sports Foundation & Fort Bragg Rotary event.
Enjoy a little music between meals. There were numerous performances around the county, including the Alexander String Quartet, the Bolshoi Ballet and other artists.
The festival sums up everything Mendocino does well: seafood, wine and entertainment. Mark your calendar for next year!