Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crabby fingers

When rain comes to Florida's Gulf Coast, it comes fast and hard with thunder and lightning and blinding washes of water on the windshield.

That's why we took a U-turn before hitting the Gandy Bridge, eastbound from St. Pete to Tampa, and went back to check out a low dilapidated little seafood joint with pickup trucks in the flooded parking lot.

We had just eaten breakfast a couple hours ago, and weren't very hungry, but getting in out of the rain was what it was all about. We sat at a two-top by the window in the bar, looking at the traffic whizzing by in the torrential rain, and listening to country music on the radio. A few bar-stools were occupied, and a few other tables, and the waitress plunked down a couple menus in front of us.

Oysters on the half shell were $8.95 for a dozen. In Los Angeles, the going rate for a half-dozen is $14.95. We ordered a dozen and a couple cold beers.

The oysters came right out with the beers, and were served with lemon, a couple Saltine crackers, and a cocktail sauce that sizzled with horseradish.

The waitress suggested we get the blue crab claws sauteed in butter and garlic. Now, I'm a West Coast girl - I'm used to big meaty crabs like Dungeness and king, but [The Man I Love] grew up here and used to fish for blue crabs off these causeways by dangling a chicken neck into the water on a string. "A lot of work, getting meat out of a blue crab," he said.

"That's why I suggested the claws - we do all the work for you and give you the best part," she said. "You won't be disappointed."

When they came, there were over a dozen of the smallish claws on the platter, bathed in a puddle of browned butter with bits of minced garlic. It smelled like heaven - for garlic lovers. Just the first joint of the claws were presented, out of the shell, with the small fixed finger shell remaining as a convenient handle - like a perfectly designed finger-food! Holding the claw, we dipped the meat into the butter and skinned it off the central piece of cartilage with our teeth - the flavorful meat was a little coarse-textured and stringy, and strongly crabby and delicious.

"See, didn't I tell you they were good?" said the waitress. We looked at the rain and licked our buttery fingers. Then it was time to get back on the bridge.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Awesome! It's been a while since I've been crabbing- the water quality's not so good, so one cannot consume too much local seafood.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

When rain comes to Florida's Gulf Coast, it comes fast and hard with thunder and lightning and blinding washes of water on the windshield.

You rang?

My best crabbing was as a kid on Jekyll Island, Ga. The family vacation spot.

AKA: It's hot and humid in August in D.C., so let's all go to Georgia! But it was the beach, and so we loved it.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...


my kind of lunch!!!

one of my favorite places in the Grand Central Station oyster bar!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

one of my favorite places in the Grand Central Station oyster bar!

October's Guinness Oyster Fest is also great- it used to be held on 4th and Bowery, now it's held on Stone St in the Financial District.

mo.stoneskin said...

I'll bet it smelt fantastic. I'm hungry now and secretly wish I had a beer and some crab right now (it's 9am).

Nej said...

That looks like the exact kind of place we'd end up at. I love the little small hole in the wall places!!!!!

Now, I just need to work on my distaste for seafood. :-)

Beverly said...

Okay, you are in a part of the world very dear to me. We lived in Tampa when I was a very young child, and we often went to St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Ybor City. I experienced my first Cuban food in Ybor City and it was love at first bite. And, I grew up eating boiled peanuts - my husband hates them.

Have fun. I wish I was with you. Of course, we would have had to order more oysters and crabs. ;-)

Anonymous said...

My daughter turned eight today, and we just got home from stuffing ourselves silly with ooths and stone crab, my nose is still tender from the horseradish. It must have been a good day for it. Blue crab is so worth the effort...

Anonymous said...

I just ate dinner and now I am hungry all over again!

I've missed stopping by on a regular basis. Between it being a busy season at church and also having a friend in crisis, I've lost a lot of computer time. Add in spring break and a trip to NYC next week, and I'll be sporadic in my visits for a few more weeks... but I love coming here when I can find the time! :)