Welcome to seefare. Having lived in many cities over the years, and having lived in New York City in particular, we’ve been exposed to many different types of great food. That does not make us foodies, and we do not claim that moniker. I love to cook, it’s another way for me to stretch my creative energy and while I have spent countless hours in the kitchen and the galley (boat’s kitchen) and have created some tasty stuff I am not a chef. My cousin Chef Jamie is an excellent and quite successful, award winning chef by trade and knowing the amount of time, education and passion he puts into it, I won’t call myself a chef. I’m a good cook. And I love being called that. My mom was a good cook, my grandma was a good cook. My brothers are good cooks and my sister is an exceptional baker. So, as a good cook and someone who understands how food co-mingles and as someone whose tastebuds haven’t been blown out by years of adding hot sauce to everything for flavor, seefare will talk about our eating experiences — the what and where with a little opinion and a little visual flavor of the town.
ANNAPOLIS — Chick and Ruth’s Delly
I’m going to jump right in at our Annapolis stop… Peter and Rachel, boaters and friends who have done this trip quite a few times had some incredible dining suggestions and we took a few of them. But let me begin by giving you a little flavor of the place first. Annapolis was the first peacetime capital of the United States from 1783-1784. In 1783, General Washington resigned as Commander of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was signed. It ended the American Revolutionary War and recognized the United States as an independent country. Pretty great stuff if you like history. We didn’t make it to The Annapolis Maritime Museum but apparently, it’s terrific – maybe next time!
The main street in town is quite a tourist destination but off the beaten path and down the side streets the architecture paints a picture of an old and rich history. The United States Naval Academy sits on the site of Fort Severn and young cadets in their crisp uniforms can be seen all-about town. My old man and my uncle were Navy men so I felt a connection there. It made me miss my dad. He was so very proud of his service in the Navy. The waterways are packed with boats of all types and sizes and it’s eye candy for anyone who loves the boating life.
The life of the Chesapeake Bay was rich with oysters and crab, making it the lifeline industry for years and while it’s changed a bit, there are still plenty of crab pots, their buoys bobbing in the swells of the bay, to look out for while you are underway! Remember, the Chesapeake is still all about the crabs, ‘bout the crabs, ‘bout the crabs!
Course alteration for a moment: We’d like to thank all those watermen who mark their pot buoys with flags.
To those who don’t know what this means — crab pots (cages) are dropped into the bay and a line is attached to them with a buoy on the end that floats on the surface of the water so the watermen know where their pots are. If a pot is 25 feet below the surface it has a line of similar length with a buoy on the end. If a boater hits one of them by accident, that long line can get tangled up in their propellor and cause serious problems. It can also cause the watermen to lose a crab pot which is awful for their business. When a buoy has been in the water for a long time, it becomes less visible as it fades and algae grows on it…unless it’s marked with a flag.
For the love of mike, the last thing any boater wants to do is hit a crab pot buoy! But, when the buoys are barely visible it sure makes it difficult. We didn’t hit any, but there were points where it was like an obstacle course with most of the buoys barely visible. Let me be clear, we support and respect the watermen and the fantastic produce they bring from the bay…but the water is shared by everyone. Pleasure boaters contribute to the local communities and marinas, too and are a vital part of this economy. All I’m saying is, when the pot buoys are easy to see EVERYBODY wins!!
That said, the places where we were able to enjoy the fresh local crab made all that buoy-dodging worth it, so do with that what you will 🙂
Our first meal in Annapolis was at the famed Chick and Ruth’s Delly (thanks Peter and Rachel!). It’s a Jewish deli that has been there forever with a menu the size of the Old Testament, but they’re renowned for…wait for it… their crab cakes. Our server, Shelly, was a real gem – spunky, fun, happy to give us some local info and honest about what we’d enjoy the most. We knew immediately that she was a five-anchor server (that’s a good thing). I chose the crab platter (single 1/2 lb cake) which was about 19 bucks – because it came with two sides AND, because the devil whispering “you must eat the mac-n-cheese” in my ear was like a tinnitus attack that had to be stopped. Throw in the onion rings and well I’m fat, happy and going to hell. A.J. chose the crab sandwich and a cup of the vegetable crab soup which is why he never looks like the camera adds 20lbs. We also decided on a nice, cold local brew called Bloodlines by Flying Dog Brewery – a hint of grapefruit out of the bottle, not hoppy, citrus that’s balanced with a sweet crisp and wee bit bitter flavor and just right. The joint was tight, but cozy so we overheard folks chatting about getting the famous crab cakes shipped – they ship all over the country. We witnessed folks coming in just to buy a black and white cookie – which pleased our Seinfeld sensibilities (look to the cookie!). As touristy a spot as it is, the locals still frequent the place, meeting to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. Often there are lines to get in at any time of day.
When our plates arrived we noted that the crab was less a cake and more of a mound. It looked amazing so we dug in. Right beneath the perfectly browned top were large lumps of fresh crabmeat. After our first bite of crabcake we literally stopped and looked at each other and said, “whaaaaat!?” It was delicious – the sweet crab melted in your mouth. As we dug even deeper we realized that the crabcake had an almost creamy consistency as they were done in what we later learned was a classic way to prepare them in Maryland, with an Imperial sauce (a combination of mayo, egg, sugar, old bay seasoning, lemon juice and parsley). What we also realized after a few bites was that it was incredibly rich. We thoroughly enjoyed most of them. The homemade deli pickles were excellent, the onion rings very good, the soup fine and the mac-n-cheese, well, let’s just say I wish I hadn’t sinned. We probably would have shared one crabcake – given how rich and creamy it was and skipped the sides. There are plenty of other delicious looking items on the menu to try and fabulous looking fresh donuts, cookies, pies and desserts on display. Chick and Ruth’s Delly did not disappoint, it was a terrific experience and it’s definitely a place to check out.
-Post from The Admiral