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May 28, 2008

Crab Week is coming! Crab Week is coming!

CWComing.jpgAre you as excited about Crab Week as I am? I know you are.

For those readers who don't know what I'm talking about (which means you haven't been checking in often enough), Crab Week starts this Sunday, June 1. There will be many thrilling events, but not to worry. If you don't like crabs, I will be posting other stuff too.

I'm going to list the events now, but I don't want you to discuss the topics specifically until Crab Week, except for suggestions for next Tuesday's Top Ten or for other crab-related entries you'd like to see included. I know it's hard, but please try not to jump the gun here. 

Anyway, here's the lineup so far: ... 

1) Our Top Ten Tuesday will be, no surprise, crab houses. Please start suggesting your favorite places to pick hard shells below.

2) A highlight, perhaps the highlight, of the week will be Amanda's video on West Coast crabs. I've seen it, and it's spectacular, although I have to give it an R rating for violence.

3) I haven't seen her other video yet, on making crab enchiladas; but I'm sure it will run a close second, although perhaps without the action of the first video.

4) We will approach the Dreaded Crab Cake Question once again, but this time we will eliminate all the usual suspects (G & M, Faidley's, Koco's Pub, etc.) and get people to tell us about unlikely spots to get great crab cakes.

5) Soft shell crabs: everything you want to know about them and what restaurants prepare them the best.

6) Maryland crab soup or cream of crab? Discuss. (Only not yet.)

7) We will talk about why crab imperial has gone out of favor on restaurant menus.

8)  We will discuss what warped mind came up with the concept of fried hard crabs.

9) People will let us know where we can get hard shells to take home and eat on our back porch, and discuss the merits and disadvantages of buying crabs out of the back of a truck.

10) We will have Film Critic Extaordinaire Michael Sragow's insightful review of the classic Attack of the Crab Monsters.

11) We'll talk about why crab houses steam their crabs differently from Eastern Shore watermen, and also why the experts pick crab differently from the way most of us do. That will lead to a discussion of the proper way to get the most out of your crab eating experience. 

12) Perhaps Owl Meat can be prevailed upon to come up with a crab-related Mystery Product

13) Not to mention an appropriate Shallow Thought by Multimedia Editor Etc. John.

14)  And last but certainly not least, I will present Mr. Old Fart's T-shirt design in honor of Crab Week. I haven't gone so far as to have 100,000 of them made up to sell for $19.95 on this blog, but I'm thinking about it.


(Todd Holden/Special to the Sun)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:35 AM | | Comments (31)


LP Steamer's in Locust Point...Not much on atmosphere (except for the nice, small rooftop deck) but their crabs never disappoint

Re: #11 - Picking crabs. What we need are videos of the pros picking and then your garden variety Joe
Six Pack (Naty Bo, hon) picking.

And maybe Rob Kasper could join in with a "best beers to have with crabs"?

An excellent idea. Thanks. EL

Ooooooooh, this is SO EXCITING! With such a great list of discussion items, we'll be busy for days, maybe even weeks!! Can't wait!!
(Yes, the exclamation points are meant to pluck some "last nerves" a fun way.)

In regards to your Top Ten Tuesday, does anyone have any leads on cheap happy hour crabs? The Admiral's Cup in Fells used to sell crabs for $1 each on weeknights, but they closed about a week after I moved to Baltimore. :( My friends and I have been lamenting it ever since...

EL: Are you really venturing back onto your porch or has the dreaded squirrel nest disappeared? Or perhaps Mr. L and Gailor got brave enough to dismantle it? Just wondering ...

Unless you can tell me where to get crabs without Old Bay I'll be taking the week off.

Don't do that. Remember, we are talking about other crab dishes, plus not everything will be crab-related. EL

Ok, here's a question that might freak people out... I'm allergic to Old Bay as it contains cayenne pepper. I need a couple of places to go for crabs that don't steam in Old Bay (or something containing cayenne) or that can honor a special request such as this.

and yes, I know, I should leave the state immediately...

This is a great topic for discussion. (Not whether you should leave the state immediately, but where we can get crabs not flavored with Old Bay. I know that several crab houses make their own steaming mix, perhaps without cayenne.) EL

Scooters on Route 1 in Elkridge. Crushed whole coriander makes the spice on the steamed crabs just right and the crab quesadillas are loaded. Watch out for the roaming goats...

there are no videos of professional crab picking. it must be a trade secret. i have been searching for them and have not found any. i have seen footage of them on the food network, but that was a long time ago.

Another vote for LP Steamers on Fort Avenue. Tip: The mediums are usually heavy and a best buy.
Which reminds me of the old Gunning's on Hanover Street near the city line. Anyone know where to get real fried onion rings?

On buying out of the back of a truck - does that include the folks who sell crabs at the JFX market, and, if so, how does one do this without coming off as a Midwestern ignoramus?

Favorite crab houses- Mr. Bills in Dundalk, LP Steamers in Locust Pt., Harris's Crab House in Kent Narrows. We fall for the waterview and atmosphere of Nicks Fish House occassionally. But when we want good cheaper crabs we go to one of those three.

Very interested in places that do not use Old Bay. My husband is from Long Island and there they boil the crabs without seasoning. His father doesn't like the Old Bay crabs here and I'd love to find a place to take him that we can all enjoy. Even when we've asked for no OB, they usually scrape it off or rinse the crabs before serving us.

Obrycki's uses just salt and pepper, I think, no Old Bay.

There's got to be video of professional crab picking on YouTube- everything else is on there.

I'd definitely be interested in finding out where you can buy crabs to eat at home. I'm from Southern Maryland, where they are plentiful, but not sure where to go, especially in Baltimore City.

Heck, in the city (at least my part of it) you can get crabs delivered to your house.

Dirty Jobs! Mike Rowe, an MD native, visits a crab packing factory on the easterm shore. The segment reveals a lot about the industry, how the factory and the impact of crabs on our economy. Discovery should have the clip on their website.

Federal Hill Jim -- the Gunning family now runs Gunning's Seafood Restaurant in Hanover, off Route 100 at the B-W Parkway, with the same onion rings (as well as the green pepper rings with powdered sugar, also a Gunning's tradition for reasons that escape me). Their crabs are so-so, however -- I sure miss the old place in Brooklyn.

Conrad's on Joppa Rd near the Bel-Loc has $1 crab nights on Tuesdays, I think.

Definetly Canton's Dockside. They have steamed crabs all year round, but in the simmer, their the BEST!

The Captain's Galley II (in west O.C.) had Great crabs last year. Heavy and full, well priced and very fresh. Was just there for Memorial Day weekend and they weren't selling dozens - just all you can eat, which were small with maybe a few mediums thrown in. Not sure if it's because they only sell MD crabs and there just aren't many yet or this is a new thing they've started. Hope not cause not too many places do crabs right in OC!

Ah, Gunning's. I grew up in Brooklyn and we went there. The crabs were good and the onion rings were amazing. We didn't get crabs there more than 2 or 3 times a summer since a truck used to come around with live crabs once or twice a week and we'd usually get them from the truck.

Gunning's was one of our two favorite local restaurants, the other being Club 4100. We were last at the Club 4100 about a year and a half ago and they still brought us the complementary shot of peach schnapps.

I got a jump on question #5 last night, though it was by no means traditional (No Wonder bread, no Old Bay) or a staple of their menu.

Joyce, if we're throwing OC crab houses into the mix then Waterman's Seafood on Rt 50 takes the cake. I grew up in OC and have tried them all. Captain's Galley has great crab cakes, but Waterman's steamed crabs are consistently fatter and more tasty.

LP Steamers & Mr. Bill's for crab houses.

As for an odd place to get a good crab cake: either Olive Tree in Glen Burnie or Romano's in Glen Burnie. 2 great crab cakes one block from each other, and neither would you walk into thinking, "This looks like a great spot for a crab cake."

I just looked more closely at the photo at the top, and I have a question: Is Corona the beer to drink with crabs? I'm not a crab-eater, and when I drink Mexican beer I prefer Dos Equis (I really liked Tres Equis, which, apparantly, no longer is made) or Negro Modelo (even though it comes from the same people who brew Corona). Maybe this should be #15: What's the best beer to go with crabs?

You will have to wait until next week to find out. EL

Mr. OF -- notwithstanding RtSO's unconventional spelling, I concur with him that Natty Boh should be the beer of choice for steamed crabs. Perhaps Rob Kasper will have a different opinion if EL gets him to take up the challenge from Rob in PCB FL?

Greg - never been to Waterman's Seafood but always thought about it driving past - I'll give 'em a try next trip downyocean (hon). Thanks for the recommendation! :)

hmpstd: I take no offense. In what dictionary could I find Natty Boh? I did my best (poor though it is.) If I didn't have to look-up so many words, my posts would be done quicker.

Now, fight that traffic and get to the Owl Bar.

RtSO -- while it wasn't in Wiktionary, you get this result by looking for Natty Boh in Wikipedia.

If you need a cold brew with those crabs, forget about Watermans on Rte 50. They just don't serve alcohol.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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