We’ve been away for a spell and I am truly sorry. I’d like to say it’s because we’ve been eating a little less…but…not so. Next stop St. Michaels, let’s do some seefaring!
As part of our next stop on the Chesapeake, we decided to stay a few days at St. Michaels Marina. Word on the water was that it is one of the best stops on the eastern side of the bay. When we arrived at the marina, Roy was waiting there with a smile to take our lines. He was a little soft spoken and very helpful. When we went to check in at the dock office he had a chance to meet Jasper who immediately was rewarded a treat for his tail wagging, greeting efforts. As we shared a little bit of our journey with him and asked him for local knowledge, we also learned a little about his life – he had a really great dog, too and he and his wife had retired to St. Michaels after years of living up north and they loved it there. He was a local by choice! He gave us the skinny on places to eat and things to do. He highly recommended the maritime museum and the antique car museum as well as the local brewery, local winery and local distillery which all had tasting rooms. We thanked him for the info and for the good energy and as we were walking out he offered the use of his truck if we needed to get provisions. It’s amazing what a little kindness and genuine interest can do. It was the simple, warm embrace of a gesture that made this small, beautiful harbor town already feel special. I’m going to throw it in idle for a moment with an easy pass-by of history before getting to the tasty stuff.
The harbor was originally established as a trading post and some houses in the village date all the way back to the 1600’s. During the War of 1812, the townsfolk fooled the British, who were attacking at night with cannon fire from the water by putting lanterns high up in the trees. The British overshot the houses and the shipyard and only one house was hit, which they call the Cannon Ball House to this day. The main industries for over a century were shipbuilding and seafood. One business, Colbourne and Jewett was notable at the time because it was one of the only black-owned canneries. They specialized in crabmeat and it was Frederick Jewett who created the five-level crab grading system still used today (regular, claw, special, backfin, and lump). The property of this once very successful enterprise is now home to the wonderful Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Since we were planning on staying longer than a day we decided to check it out. It has 12 exhibition buildings, an amazing, historical floating fleet and changing special exhibitions. It is truly a world-class museum and we learned a lot about the early years in St. Michaels. We highly recommend a visit there.
We also decided since we had a little time to hit the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels, MD housed in a beautiful post and beam barn. It’s what they describe as a living museum — their collection rotates regularly and it’s not just cars but “motoring classics of all kinds.” We were greeted by a lovely lady who spent a little time telling us about their mission of “educating the next generation of technicians trained in the art of classic vehicle restoration and maintenance.” We had a great time checking out the old beauties.
St. Michaels Crab and Steak House
Ok, enough already with the sightseeing, on to the fare! We decided to keep our first onshore meal easy by heading to St. Michaels Crab and Steak House. It’s the restaurant that sits right next to the marina and has a cheerful, funky marina vibe to it. They have an extensive menu with a lot of choices and a raw bar that offers cherrystone clams and oysters on the half shell.Maryland Steamed Crabs was one of the specials but we quickly decided we didn’t want to work for our lunch so we ordered another special of the day, Ceasar Salad with fresh Maryland Lump Crab. No need the see a menu. We were pretty parched and a margarita sounded right. Of course, we needed to wash down something with them so we ordered some clam strips. Clamstrips are our kryptonite – we make every valiant effort to avoid having too much fried food but we are drawn to the clam strip…like a miller to the flame! Normally we make our own margaritas from scratch and in this case we should have settled for a cold, local brew. The marg was fine but nothing beats the fresh lime juice and a touch of agave in our classic OLOH Hammerita. The clam strips were perfectly fried – crisp and golden – and decently plump. With a little cocktail and tartar sauce for dipping, they hit the spot.
The fresh lump crab Caesar Salad was excellent. The crab was sweet, juicy and fresh with nice sized chunks. The romaine was fresh and crisp as well and the dressing (on the side thank you) was a classic Caesar (mash garlic with anchovies together in a bowl and then whisk in some lemon juice, Dijon mustard, some red wine vinegar, an egg yolk, and Worcestershire sauce until it gets creamy then drizzle in olive oil). Done right, you get a rich dressing with the salt of the anchovies but not the fishy taste. This dressing tasted homemade. St. Michaels Crab and Steakhouse is also a great spot to sit at the outdoor bar and enjoy the water views or you can enjoy them from the inside dining room as well. The staff was polite and very friendly. A good first stop.
We covered a lot of ground on our first day in St. Michaels and found a great restaurant to check out for dinner the next night, so we’ll see you there tomorrow. Until we eat again, slainté! — your sesfaring Admiral
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