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Away From Home

Sunday, August 07, 2005

You haven't lived until you've beaten a crab with a mallet

This afternoon, a few of us went over to Annapolis to visit this place called Cantler's Riverside Inn. It's an actual crab shack, in that it's right on the water, so the boats unload fresh crabs straight into the restaurant. Doesn't get any fresher than that, folks.

Getting there is interesting, as it's not on any of the main roads, but thanks to the wonders of Mapquest, we were able to find it without difficulty.

The place is arranged with large tables that run the length of the room, giving it a very friendly, congenial atmosphere. We sat outside, where picnic tables were laid out on the deck overlooking the water, and ordered a dozen steamed crabs.

They were so good it defies description.

The crabs came out whole, on a tray, and slightly reddened from the Old Bay seasoning. And I do mean whole, with their legs, faces, etc. still attached. None of us had ever eaten whole hardshell crabs before, so we had no idea how to begin.

It turns out there's a certain method to "crab-picking," as it's called. First, you pull all the legs off (making sure to save the claws for later!). Pull a little piece off the bottom, and then you can rip the top shell off. Scrape away the entrails, break open the last piece (the provided wooden mallet helps), and voila -- you have crab!

And yes, it is as messy as it sounds. They don't even give you plates -- you just eat on top of a big piece of butcher paper. It's a fair amount of work to get to the meat, but once you're there, you really feel victorious. I win, Sebastian. You can't keep me out!

Then you get to the claws, which open fairly easily with the help of our friendly mallet, and have a couple bites of delicious meat inside.

Fresh crab is like nothing else. There's a huge difference between crab fresh from the water, and crab that's been shipped someplace. Even if you think you don't like crab, you have to try it fresh -- it's so much better.


  • Yes, nothing tastes like fresh crab. I had it in Virginia Beach at someones house. We watched them being boiled alive. The only thing was that we ate it in the back yard with about 15 cats trying to get to the crabs so you stood and moved the whole time. The crab was memorable, but the atmosphere left something to be desired.

    By Anonymous kam, at 8/08/2005 03:10:00 PM  

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