When the sun finally arrives in the lower mainland, you’re likely to hear an apocalyptic “CLAP!” But fear not, it’s only the sound of Metro-Vancouver’s collective high-five. These are precious days to be spent feasting on crab in Steveston, strawberry picking under the blue sky, and enjoying the fruits of your labour with berry shortcake and Riesling on the porch at dusk. Sounds like a good day? It was – let me tell you about it.
With the sun out, there are few things nicer than enjoying lunch in an open-air restaurant on the water, and Crab King indeed sits directly on the water; it’s built on a barge that rises and lowers each day with the tides, and has a 360 degree view of Steveston and the harbour. It was opened in January by the Dinh family, who came to Canada from Vietnam in 2004.
Unless you go fishing and cook it on the boat, you will simply not find fresher crab than the Dungeness beauties they serve here each day. Why? Because they catch it all themselves. Each morning, Mr. Dinh rises early to collect their daily stock, most of which is transferred (still alive) into tanks at the restaurant, managed by his son Van. Mrs. Dinh sells the remaining crabs directly from their boat on the dock, next to others offering shrimp, sea urchin, and fish. This is truly boat-to-table eating.
At Crab King we had the full-on, plastic bib, wooden mallet, butter-dripping-down-your-chin-crab-eating experience. We ordered the Taste of the West Coast meal ($49.95), which included a full Dungeness Crab, clams, shrimp, mussels, corn on the cob, Yukon gold potatoes, sausage, garlic butter, and lemon. And because we couldn’t NOT, we also ordered the Crab Poutine ($8.95). With determined minds and bibs securely fastened around our necks, we got down to business.
If you’re uncomfortable eating with your hands, using a mallet to pound your food, or sitting at a table littered with crushed crustaceans, then a) you probably shouldn’t go to Crab King, and b) you should get over that, because it is so fun! Kids would have a blast eating this meal, as it breaks all their usual dinnertime rules. Even if they don’t like seafood, there are plenty of other options to fill them up, and they’d have fun helping their parents break into the crab.
This meal invites you to dig in, get dirty, and taste seafood that is truly West Coast. The poutine was fantastic, the crab moist, the corn sweet (I sure hope they’ll switch to local once it’s available), and the rest of the seafood was nicely cooked.
Crab King also offer smaller combos, clam chowder, miso soup, salads, mussels, gelato, and more. The service is friendly and the location couldn’t be better. For the experience and fresh ocean offerings, Crab King is a must-try in Steveston.
Bellies full of crab and hands wiped clean with our wet wipes, we set off on our next mission: finding a u-pick strawberry farm in Richmond. This is the height of strawberry season, and it turns out there are many!
We headed over to Birak Farm, and spent an hour filling our ice cream buckets. This is SUCH an affordable way to enjoy local fruit – on average, each full bucket only cost about $7.50, which is a ruby-red steal. We didn’t bring our own containers, so we paid $1.50 extra for each bucket, and it can get a little muddy so make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes. Also, bring a hat and water bottle if you plan on being out there for an extended time, as you’re completely exposed in the fields. If you don’t wish to pick your own, flats of strawberries are available at Birak (and many other farms) for freezing or preserving – hey jam!
Laden with berries, we headed home, froze some, and ate the rest. I baked sweet biscuits which we cut in half, spooned with crème fraiche, and covered in sliced strawberries we’d macerated in a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sugar. Enjoyed with a glass of Riesling, these strawberry shortcakes were a sweet end to an even sweeter day.
Here’s the recipe, courtesy of one of my second mothers, Linda Povarchook, who’s an incredible cook and baker. It was included in a hand-written recipe book she gave me when I graduated from highschool, and to this day it remains one of the most precious and well-used gifts I’ve ever received. Enjoy.
Patch-to-Table Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup graham cracker crumbs (or about 5 whole, crushed)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut up
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons sugar (for sprinkling on top)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.
Make the dough like a standard biscuit dough – mix first five ingredients, cut in butter, then add milk. Gently mix, and drop (rather than rolling and cutting) into 6 mounds on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 20-25 minutes until golden.
To serve, split in half, fill with cream (whipped or otherwise) and any kind of fruit.
And now, the world premier of my first film without the help of Sarah and Justin, the technical brains behind my application video. It’s choppy, poorly edited, and not very linear, but it was SO MUCH FUN to make I’m sharing it anyways. iMovie and I are slowly becoming friends, and we can only go up from here. If nothing else, I hope it makes you chuckle. What’s that? Do I hear OSCAR?
Starring Joel Gorrie, Sarah Wex, and Dana VanVeller.