maryland

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

Summer Snapshots: Delaware and Maryland Beach Weekend, 2.0

I’m back from my long weekend on the Delaware/Maryland coast, and it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be: relaxing with tons of beach time with a few of my favorite people!

Mal, Peter, Paul and I rented a little bungalow in north Ocean City, a prime position close to all our favorite sandy spots—like the quiet beaches just a few blocks away. (The beaches farther south, near the boardwalk, are much more crowded.)
ocean city, md

The weather was chilly on our first afternoon, so we practically had the beach to ourselves. I was thrilled just to have my feet in the sand, once again.

sandy feet

We all ended up taking long afternoon naps—not a bad way to start a trip!

beach sleep

At sundown, everyone else ran sprints along the beach to warm up and get some exercise. I opted to stay on the blanket—only one vacation per year involves running, at least in my mind!

sunset sprints

The O.C. beach was so nice that we returned the following day. But after that, we decided to switch things up and go to Fenwick Island State Park, just over the border in Delaware. I’d forgotten how much I liked that beach. They only let in as many cars as can fit into the small lot.

walking to fenwick island

Which means that the beach never gets too crowded! Plus, the sand was soft and clean.

fenwick island

Also, unlike many other beaches along the east coast, there are no buildings or high rises adjacent to it. The view is just a little nicer that way, isn’t it?fenwick dunesOne of the reasons Mal, Peter, Paul and I travel so well together is that we all appreciate ridiculousness. That’s why we ended up at Seacrets, the spring break-esque beach bar, for a second year in a row. (Apologies about the slightly blurry pics—I took them through a waterproof bag.)
seacrets

We had a few drinks on the giant floats before the sun went down. Unlike last year, we didn’t end up dancing (and drinking) for eight hours.

mal and peter, seacrets heather, seacrets

Mal and I believe that you have to eat at two types of restaurants when you’re at the shore: an old school, red sauce, family-style Italian joint. And a blue crab place. (I know I’m stating the obvious with the latter!)

For this trip’s Italian, we went to Mancini’s, on Fenwick Island. They make an awesome marinara, whose scent hits you, upon walking in. I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs based on that, alone, and wasn’t disappointed. We ate in their small, outdoor area, which was much airier and brighter than the spartan indoor seating sections.

We also made two trips to Bethany Beach’s Blue Crab, our all-time favorite blue crab restaurant: once for the all-you-can-eat dinner, and a second time for our final lunch before heading back to NYC. During that last meal, I felt a little sad when I realized I was savoring my last crabs until next year. But it was a pretty perfect way to close the summer.

blue crabs

So Ready for Delmarvacation 2.0!

Speaking of favorite vacation spots—this pretty much sums up what I’ll be doing for the next few days:

delmarvacation

I’m going back to Delmarva for another long weekend. (The Delaware + Maryland + Virginia peninsula = Delmarva, according to the locals! Peter has dubbed trips down there “Delmarvacations,” and since this is our second of the year, we’re about to embark on Delmarvacation 2.0.)

We rented another house in Bethany Beach north Ocean City, this time, but with a much smaller group—just Mal, Peter, his brother Paul, and me. I’m looking forward to everything in the photo above: boardwalks, blue crabs, beer and especially long days at the beach! And maybe a few drinks at Seacrets

Enjoy your last summer weekend!

Off to a Beach House Weekend

beach

After spending practically every other summer weekend on the beach, for the two years Mal and Peter lived in Maryland, I kind of got used to that luxury! Instead of associating summer with steamy, NYC heat (which I do love), I found it synonymous with long days laying out in the sun and cooling off in the waves. (Which I love even more!)

So when Mal and Peter moved back to New York last year, I vowed to find a summer share so we could keep spending weekends on the beach.

That didn’t happen.

I got caught up with life (the new job, etc.). And before I knew it, summer was here. I had missed the summer share market by months.

As a consolation, I decided that the next best thing would be to rent a beach house for a weekend—and fill it with a lot of our friends. Luckily, our friends were game. The hardest part was finding an affordable rental!

The market is insane—especially if you start looking for a July rental in June. I spent a good two weeks speaking with realtors and scouring rental listings for every beach town in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. (I’m not exaggerating! The places I looked at included Fire Island; Montauk; the Hamptons; Long Branch; Ocean Grove; Asbury Park; Lavalette; Long Beach Island; Avalon; Cape May; Ocean City, NJ and MD; Rehoboth Beach; Dewey Beach; Lewes Beach; Bethany Beach…and more.)

In the process, I learned:

  • No one rents for just the weekend in high season. Unless you want to pay a ridiculous amount of money—as in, $3,000 for two nights for a house that sleeps eight.
  • Prices are crazy. Everywhere I looked, most low-end rentals (small homes that slept six to eight people) generally started around $3,000, though most were at least $5,000—or more. Much more.
  • Most rentals are Saturday through Saturday. I don’t understand that—because you don’t get a full weekend! One realtor I spoke to told me it’s because it’s hard to find people willing to clean the homes on Sundays. Um, ok.
  • Contrary to what I’d assumed, Sandy-affected areas were not offering steeply discounted rates. In fact, a Long Beach Island relator told me that most owners aren’t lowering prices because they’re hoping to recoup some of their losses.
  • My new goal in life is to buy a beach house an hour away from the city. Because it’s probably much more doable than buying an apartment in Manhattan. And it would be a great investment because I could always rent it out. And I’d never have to deal with the crazy rental market again.

I eventually found one home that was (miraculously) a Sunday to Sunday rental, available the dates we wanted to go. The price was low enough—shocking low, actually—that we were willing to sign a week’s lease, even though we’ll only be using it for four nights. (Hopefully, it’ll be in pretty good condition!) And it’s in Bethany Beach, Delaware—a town I loved visiting the past few summers, and home to our favorite blue crab restaurant.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to a few days on the beach surrounded by good friends.

Hooray for summer!

Off to My Last Maryland Beach Weekend!

OC parasailer

I’m heading down to Maryland with the rents. It’s Mal and Peter’s last weekend before moving back to New York. So we’re going to help them pack up their place, but also fit in plenty of beach time and, of course, enjoy one last blue crab dinner. I’m sad to say goodbye to my “summer share”–I loved having a place to escape to on the weekends. But I’m even happier to have Mal and Peter nearby!

Have a wonderful weekend! And enjoy my favorite links from this week:

Gorgeous photos of Norway (they make me want to go back!)

A disturbingly accurate portrayal of what happens every time “that Goyte song” starts playing in the car. This was literally me and my best friend on our drive to and from Maryland a few weeks ago. Multiple times.

Colorful towns from around the world

Why can’t the Bronx be more like Brooklyn?

Nutty, yet brilliant: New Yorkers can rent a backyard by the hour on the LES

Could you live in a 300-square foot studio? (I don’t think I could!)

There’s going to be an Internet Cat Video Film Festival. Seriously.

The best fish tacos in NYC. (I really don’t know why we don’t have better Mexican food here. Sadly, some of the best fish tacos I’ve had in the city were ones I’ve made myself. But I can vouch for Fonda Nolita’s being among the better ones!)

Assateague Island

assateague island

How nutty is this photo? I don’t know about you, but I don’t often see wild animals on the beaches I visit. But this is the norm at Assateague Island, which is just a few minutes from Mal and Peter’s place. The 37-mile national seashore runs from Maryland to Virginia and is known for its wild horses. On the Virginia side, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department owns the animals and keeps them fenced in designated areas. But on the Maryland side, they’re free to roam as they please–even among beachgoers.

Mal said that when she, Peter and Paul went to Assateague last week, the small herd in the photo above just milled around for hours. They went into the water and ambled along the sand, sometimes causing sunbathers to scramble to get their blankets out of their way. Then, at the end of day, the horses sprinted away as if they had somewhere to be.

Even though it’s on my Maryland bucket list, I haven’t made it to Assateague and probably won’t, at this point. I’m severely allergic to horses–which I discovered on a disastrous 8th grade trip to a dude ranch–and probably couldn’t be in such close proximity to them. Plus, while the horses are gorgeous to look at, the beach has some not-so-appealing equine-related issues: namely horse droppings and horseflies. But I’m glad to visit it vicariously through Mal, Peter and Paul’s photos!

(Photo via Peter Burger)

Seacrets

seacrets

If I were to put Seacrets on NY Mag‘s Approval Matrix, it would be all the way in bottom right corner: It’s extremely lowbrow. But also brilliant.

Seacrets is a “Jamaican”-style beach bar in Ocean City, MD. It reminds me a bit of Rick’s Cafe in Negril, plus Rehab in Vegas–but way higher on the ridiculous and skeevy scales. The main draw is that it’s spring break for adults. You can sit and drink in giant, multi-person floats or semi-submerged tables and stools, or just dance right in the middle of the bay. On a hot summer day, that’s a pretty enticing option. And that’s why the place is always hopping, mostly with 20- and 30-somethings downing cheap drinks, but also with older folks who just want to cool off–and quaff cheap drinks, too. (The margaritas are just $4.50, if you can believe. And yes, you kind of need a drink or two before going into the water so you’re not thinking about how gross it must be.)

seacrets

Since it was sibling/ridiculousness weekend, Mal, Peter, Paul and I spent, um, a good chunk of Saturday there, chillin’ on the dock, then the floats. It was super hot, so it was the perfect way to spend the day–and check off another item on my MD bucket list!

heather and mal

peter, heather, mal, paul

 What’s you favorite summer beach bar?