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Crab lovers snap up season's first catch

  • Chris Vasquez picks out a pair of crabs for customer Diane Lafranchi at Oliver's Market, in Santa Rosa, on Thursday, December 1, 2011.

"Give me two of the largest you've got," said Frank Haeg as he leaned into the crab counter at Oliver's Market on Thursday.

The 78-year-old Santa Rosa man was one of hundreds of customers around Sonoma County who were finally getting a long-awaited taste of locally caught Dungeness crab.

The commercial fishing season began Monday after a two-week delay as fishermen and processors sat in a stalemate over the price. The parties settled at $2.25 a pound after some boats from Oregon set out and dropped their pots, and the race to catch the crustaceans was on. Crab began showing up at some local supermarkets on Wednesday.

2011: Crab Fishing In Bodega Bay

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"I couldn't wait. I was getting crabby," Haeg said. "I was very disappointed that the season was delayed. We didn't have any for Thanksgiving, because it wasn't here."

Haeg said he planned to soak the crabs in sauvignon blanc for a day, to allow the flavor of the wine to absorb into the meat.

Oliver's was selling cooked crab for $4.99 on Thursday and planned to drop the price to $3.99 on Friday, said Todd Davis, meat and seafood coordinator. That's when he anticipates big crowds.

"It's like blood in the water," Davis said. "It's a frenzy."

At G&G Supermarket, the frenzy began on Wednesday, when the store offered the delicacy for $2.99 a pound and sold out its first shipment in a record 45 minutes. Waiting for crabs to arrive, store officials used Facebook to ask its customers to look for the incoming delivery truck, updated them on expected delivery times, and alerted them when the stores were sold out.

"Trying to spot the Tides Wharf delivery truck is like a &‘Where's Waldo' game for us, now with Facebook our customers know better when we are going to get the crab delivery than we do," CEO Teejay Lowe said in a statement.

Cooked crabs sold for $3.99 a pound at G&G on Thursday.


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