I’m driving south down coastal Highway 101, near Rockaway Beach, Oregon, when I suddenly spot this sign: “You have passed Kelly’s Brighton Marina. Turn around.” I veer off the road and do just that, having read about the place’s fresh-from-the water crab, oysters and clams. There are boats leaving the marina, people pulling crab pots from the water and a group of hunters in camouflage outfits and smudged faces departing with bags of live and cooked shellfish.
But I don’t spot any signs of a restaurant till I spy a picnic table of folks up to their elbows in crab shells. They point me in the direction of a rubber-booted woman cleaning crab, and she pulls one from a water bucket and holds it up for me to photograph, till it pinches her hand and she drops it, clattering, on the deck. Julie weighs it and sends me into the store to pay (a bargain $13.40 for 1.5 pounds), while she cleans and cooks it.
Twenty minutes later, armed with walnut crackers, I’m fighting tooth and nail with this hard-shelled creature to excavate every morsel of maybe the butteriest and certainly the freshest crab I’ve ever eaten. A guy with a jester’s hat (Kelly) sees my struggles and exhorts me to “use your hands and teeth.” Okay. But I’ll need someone to hose me off.
Kelly’s Brighton Marina
29200 Highway 101 North, Rockaway Beach, Oregon