Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ocean Chronicles: Feeding Frenzy

Every year during the Sandbridge trip, Granny and Pop watch the grandkids (seven to date) so the big "kids" can go out to dinner.

For the past several years now, we've gone to Margie & Ray's, a dive seafood place that's always packed to the gills (bad pun intended), loud, crowded and oh-so-delicious.

We always have to wait. A really. long. time. We use this opportunity to try to beat my brother, Jim, in a game of Trivia at the bar. Not sure we've ever beaten him. At least not in  his mind.

Brother Jim and Sister In Law Lesley at Margie & Ray's

Sister Beth, Sister Becky and Brother in Law Anthony at Margie & Ray's

This year, we hardly had to wait at ALL.

Margie & Ray added some more tables, and it seemed to be easier to fit a large group into the raucous back room.

The table behind us was louder than we were.

That's unheard of. 

However that's the beauty of Margie & Ray's: you can be loud and it's not only not frowned upon, it's encouraged.

Margie & Ray's is the kind of place where you can pound on the table, eat with food all over your chin and NO ONE CARES.

Because the special at Margie & Ray's, besides the Hurricane Margie (all things fried you could imagine on one plate) is the Maryland Blue Crabs.

Salty, steamed, juicy, sweet, spicy deliciousness on one BIG. HUGE. PLATTER.

This is only a half dozen, by the way.   

I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though.

You HAVE to start a meal at Margie & Ray's with either the crab balls or the She Crab soup.

Crab balls are little bite-size orbs of fried crab tastiness. The crab is bound together by little filling, letting the crab taste burst right through. This year there was many a joke about crab balls, as Anthony's recovery from cancer has a lot to do with he and Becky's amazing sense of humor.

I always get the She Crab soup. A cross between a bisque and a chowder, laden with huge chunks of crab meat, the She Crab soup is a velvety smooth, caress-your-tongue starter to a fabulous meal. I do always add some hot sauce, which probably makes Margie cringe and Ray bristle, but hey, it's on the table!

After the soup comes the crabs.

Caught live, steamed live and seasoned liberally with Old Bay seasoning, the crabs incite a feeding frenzy at the table. All conversation ceases as we 'pick' the crabs. The meal easily evolves into a two-hour, crab-picking odyssey.

It's primal.

It's frenzied.

It's delicious.

I'm not an expert on picking crabs. Anthony is. Jim is. They can get chicken-nugget sized pieces of meat out of their crabs. I'm a bit more...unrefined? Is that the right word? I crack, pick and eat!

Fresh crab meat is so sweet...mild and buttery, scrumptious.

It's not pretty: I won't lie.

But if you can get beyond the carnage a delicious treat awaits.

We even had leftovers.

Which Jim and Anthony picked the next night for the kids to try.

Curt liked it; the others weren't so sure.

But that's OK, too.

More crabs for us.

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