Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bodega Bay in a Chowder Bowl

Up at Bodega Bay on a gorgeous clear day recently, I stumbled across the Spud Point Crab Co. on the road to Bodega Head and the Bodega Marine Laboratory, where I was headed to do research for an article (which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle June 22). There was a line out the door and I wasn't hungry yet, but when I saw the sign warning that crab cakes often sell out by noon I had to wait and order some -- they are one of my favorite foods. Tony and Carol Anello run the place, which is nothing fancy, just a couple of picnic tables outside. He's a crab fisherman and she's the cook. They live in the neat, one-story house next door and take only Wednesdays off. During crab season, the crab cakes and crab sandwiches are made with the catch that Tony hauls in each morning from the waters outside the bay. When I told them I was running out to the lab for hike and a tour (the lab is only open on Fridays 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) but I didn't want to miss their crab cakes, they said they would set aside a couple for me to have later. I returned just before they closed at 5 p.m. and the scene had quieted. Tony and Carol dished up some of their delicious clam chowder and cooked up a couple of those superb crab cakes -- chunks of fresh crab with a light, crisp crust -- and told me the story of how Carol decided to turn her chowder -- which had always drawn raves from family and friends -- into a business. The Spud Point Crab Co. has only been open since 2004, but it has built a rabid following due to Carol's cooking. On a recent Wednesday morning, Carol woke to find a note on her front door: someone from the Midwest claimed to have driven all the way to Bodega Bay for a bowl of her chowder only to find the doors locked. "They said they would come back and I hope they do," Carol said.

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