Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cross Country for Crabcakes


Yup, Baltimore. To eat and post about all the great food there.  YES, Baltimore.  YES, for food. YES.  Is this thing on? 

This trip has been almost 10 years in the making.  Lexi's Favorite Restaurant Anywhere is located in Pasadena, Maryland so it's gonna be a Girls' Trip to take Gwen to dinner. 

Baltimore is really underappreciated as a food destination, mostly because folks have a hard time differentiating between blue collar food and blue collar culture.  I know, I know, Tony Bourdain calls BTown a "Rust Belt" city.  Sure, it's industrial.  But it's also been situated right on the shores of Chesapeake Bay for hundreds of years and that means a rich and storied seafood tradition by folks who have learned to make the best with what they've got.  And lemme tell ya, it's good.

Some people may think this is what Baltimore food is about:
Those people are wrong.

Both of us were raised on the pebbly shores of Puget Sound, and admittedly we're totally spoiled when it comes to seafood.  We grew up with clams, mussels, oysters, crab, salmon, cod and all manner of seafood practically at our doorstep.  As much as we love local seafood, we're totally down for trying new experiences and new traditions when it comes to fishy goodness.  Hence: Baltimore - first stop: Crabtown!

The native Puget Sound Dungeness Crab.  Note the size.

In the Northwest, you get more or less 1 crab per person.  The local dungeness are big, and the meat is sweet and easy to pick.  It also shreds easily and getting true lump meat from a dungeness is nearly impossible.  If you get just one bigger Alaskan crab off of a boat,  it's a crab party for 4!

In the Pacific, crabs get big.

The Atlantic has smaller blue crabs.  They eat 'em by the bushel in Maryland: steamed and pasted thickly with old bay, lumped into crabcakes, cooked into soups and stews.  Ordering crabs by the dozen?  That's crazy talk!  We've gotta do it.

Atlantic Blue Crab.  How tiny and cute!  I'll take a dozen.

Baw'lmer is going to be a seafood tour extraordinaire.  The restaurants are working class simple, with little decor and low ceilings.  The drinks are stiff and the beer tends to be either Budweiser or Yuengling.  And every place worth a damn has crab, crabcakes, stuffed quahogs, stuffed flounder, fried softshell crab, steamed shrimp, the list goes on and on... And Old Bay is an option everywhere.  It's really the first American Curry.  But more on that later...

The blue collar difference in the attitude about seafood is most evident in restaurants.   In Seattle, you order by the plate. In Baltimore, you order by the pound.  The west coast serves very spartan, usually Asian-influenced seafood dishes:

How it's done out West:  Note the elegant photography, the restrained presentation, the clean white plate. There's a chilled glass of white wine and a clean linen napkin somewhere in there too... the wine is probably some oaky overpriced chardonnay with a pretentious name.

How it's done back East:  Awwww Yeah!  A big ass pile of steamy, spicy crabs dumped onto a table covered with newspaper to be picked clean by hand and served with pitchers of cold lager.

While we're gone, eating our way through the Eastern Seaboard, posting will be suspended for a week.  HOWEVER, if you have suggestions for where we should go, ideas on what to eat, or just generally want to follow what we're up to, we'll be constantly on twitter @feastygeeks.  If you're in the area and want to meet up, let us know!


  1. Ok so this post is two years old. But I'm a current Bmore resident and I loved the love for my city. The only thing? I cringed at the mention of Bud or Yuengling! Any true Baltimore resident knows you can't eat blue crab without Natty Boh! Boh runs the beer market in these parts. And if it's not boh, it's usually a local microbrewery instead. Loved the love, though!

  2. Fair enough on the beer - I'm just a sucker for Yuengling. Fist bump for BMore!!