blue crabs

A Bit of Summer in Fall

One of my favorite summer traditions, as of the last few years, is downing blue crabs by the dozen during trips to the Maryland coast. (I know I’ve certainly posted enough photos of them on this blog!) It’s one of those experiences that’s so quintessentially summer—and a ton of fun when you’re with a group. Mal, Peter and I joke that that was the best part of their year living in Maryland—easy access to crabs after a day at the beach.

Apparently, the best crabs come at the end of the season—after they’ve had months to fatten up. I never made it to Maryland during September or October. But luckily, this weekend, some blue crabs found their way up to New York—and Mal and Peter stumbled upon them in Fairway.
blue crabs

They purchased a few pounds and invited me over for dinner. Have I mentioned that they’re my favorite people in the world? (As well as good cooks—I don’t consider the dinners I throw together for myself to be real cooking, so eating at their place, where they actually cook, is always a treat!)

The crabs were big…
burg and blue crab

…check out the claw on this guy!

blue crab

The crabs sat on ice for most of the day, so Peter moved them to a box to bring them to room temperature before cooking—and make sure they were still alive. Then, he dunked them in water, and steamed them over water and vinegar. With lots of Old Bay sprinkled on, of course.

In the meantime, Mal and I fried hush puppies—our favorite crab side.

frying hush puppies

In my humble opinion, hush puppies taste better with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, so we dressed ours accordingly.hush puppies

We couldn’t get authentic wooden mallets and plastic crab knives, so we made do with nutcracker sets.

nutcrackerAnd the crabs were amazing—super-meaty and tasty! For the time we were eating them, it really felt like summer again.

blue crabs

Now that we know how easy (and fun!) it is to make a crab feast at home, we’re thinking of catching our own and holding a crab boil at our rental next summer. Something to look forward to in 2014…
crabs and hush puppies

Off to Another Beach Weekend!

blue crabs

I’m taking a summer Friday today (woohoo!) and heading back to Maryland. It’s going to be a sibling weekend, since Peter’s older brother, Paul, will be there, too, which only doubles the fun/ridiculousness. So I’m looking forward to more beach, sun, blue crabs, summery drinks–and maybe another slice or two of Smith Island cake.

And here are my fave links from the week:

Where’s your happy place?

The cool journalist’s travel kit (of course there’s booze in there!)

200 dance moves in 200 seconds

Lykke Li’s awesome cover of “Silver Springs” (I’m not a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, but I’m so loving this)

…and always remember: “Stressed” is “desserts” spelt backwards (I definitely needed that perspective this week!)

What are you up to, this weekend?

First Crabs of the Season

I had such a nice weekend in Maryland with my favorite people. As I’d guessed, it was too chilly to go to the beach (will summer please start, already?) but we did manage to indulge in our second favorite Maryland activity:

Maryland’s blue crab season runs from April through October. The best crabs are, admittedly, in September and October, after the crustaceans have had months to grow and fatten up. But the first crabs of year are always fantastic, too–I think that’s partially due to anticipating them for six months!

Last year, we tried out a number of crab joints along the Atlantic coast and unanimously decided that the best blue crabs are not in Maryland, but in Delaware. They’re at the Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. We stumbled upon the restaurant about a year ago, on another chilly, pre-summer day. Little did we know that it would become our favorite crab place in the region. The crabs are always fresh and meaty and the hush puppies are amazing.

As usual, Peter and I got the All You Can Eat blue crabs and Mal opted for snow crab. As we eagerly awaited our meals, we readied our tools…

…and tried not to eat all the hush puppies and fried chicken they bring out first in an attempt to fill you up.

Finally, the main event arrived!

It’s funny; eating crab is like riding a bicycle–it takes a minute to remember how to do it, after it’s been a while. But once we did, we were cleanly breaking those guys apart, effortlessly extracting big chunks of meat and savoring the meal for a good hour or so.

A Pre-Season Saturday on the Shore

Ocean City Boardwalk

More beach pics! Several weeks ago, before it suddenly became summer, I felt like I needed a change of scenery, no matter how brief. So I decided it was time for another quick trip to my summer share in Maryland. My goal for the weekend (besides, of course, savoring the time with Mal and Peter) was to spend time on the beach and dip my feet in the ocean–no matter what the weather was like.

I didn’t get the warm, sunny weekend I was hoping for; the sky was grey and overcast. Still, Ocean City was well on its way out of hibernation. Restaurants and bike rental stands were open for business and groups of people ambled down the boardwalk.

Ocean City beachWe headed straight for the beach.

Ocean City beach

I accomplished my mission…

Toms

…and, in the process, dropped one shoe into the frigid ocean and frantically chased it down before a wave swept it out to sea. (So much for not getting my jeans wet!)

M&P, Ocean CityI would have stayed on the beach forever if it weren’t so cold. After about an hour, we brushed the sand off our feet and departed for warmer activities–namely, eating and outlet shoppingВ one state over in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The Blue Crab

On the drive up, we stopped for lunch at the Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside or inside–just wooden booths, checkeredВ linoleum floors and a few framed photos on blue walls. But our meal was fantastic.

Hush puppies

The hush puppies were В amazing–light and crispy on the outside and the ideal balance of sweet and savory. (1,000 times better than the ones we had at Hooper’s!)

Crabcake

I was tempted to get the all-you-can-eat crab feast that most of the patrons were indulging in, but decided against it since it was only lunch. Luckily, the crabcake I ordered was the best I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t heavy, greasy or bready; it was just fresh jumbo crab, perfectly broiled and seasoned.

But next trip: definitely going for the big feast!