This vacation began with a wedding. These guys below? Why, they're the Manhattan boys, of course, pictured clutching their signature drink, The Manhattan.
The following morning it was onward and eastward to St. Michaels, Maryland where we would be staying for the week in a beautiful house sitting on a 160 acre farm on the Chesapeake Bay.
(This is what humidity looks like.)Being on the Chesapeake, I had major designs on a crab-related attempt. In fact, that's what I'm thinking about here in my temporary Ina Garten-esque kitchen. So when the owner also told us about the crab pots at the end of our dock, Matt and my heads nearly exploded. You have what now? Tell us more. This sounds like a job for the Manhattan boys. Do you have bitters and a jigger of vermouth?
When the owner of the house stopped by to show us how to use the fairly intense stereo system, he told us that he'd built the house so that the front faced the bay. Matt took the below photo from a kayak-in-motion. The place could probably be described as pretty, no?
Step 1: Purchase chicken necks. Step 2: Fill the pots with our newly acquired chicken necks. Step 3: Give the pots an overnight soak. Step 4: Check the pots early in the morning for terrapins. If you see a terrapin, set it free. No questions asked. Step 5: If you see crabs, grab them with gloved hands and put them in a green bucket, filled with bay water. Also, by no means kick in more than two pots—each dock is allowed two, any more and the professional crabbers will come by and cut your ropes!
This next part was the trickiest. We had to kill them. David Foster Wallace's essay, "Consider the Lobster" immediately came to mind. Namely, the part where he asks: "Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?" Well, having been firmly faced with this task for the first time in my life, I can tell you that it certainly didn't feel all right, which is strange for any number of reasons, but particularly so considering that just the other week I basked in the retelling of the deliciousness of linguine and clams—fundamental to which, is the killing of live clams.
A few pages later, however, Foster Wallace offers this: "The whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue is not just complex, it's also uncomfortable. It is, at any rate, uncomfortable for me, and for just about everyone I know who enjoys a variety of foods and yet does not want to see herself as cruel or unfeeling. As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing." And see, that's the problem with a live crab or lobster. The fact that they are moving and you are the one that is going to stop them from moving ever again makes this notion of you as a cruel or unfeeling person unavoidable. But if we want to eat them, we should, at least in some circumstances, be able to deal with this unpleasantness. Otherwise, we shouldn't be eating them at all, right?
The Mexican-style roasted corn! I loved it so much.
There were so many reasons to love this corn. For starters, there was no moral dilemma tied to it. Secondly, it was covered in mayonnaise and topped with cheese, cilantro, chile powder, and lime juice. It was both indulgent and fresh-tasting at the same time, and our amazingly cute nephew, Henry, unexpectedly boasted a perfect toe point during the grilling process.
Mexican-Style Roasted Corn via Saveur
4 large ears corn, with husks still attached
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups crumbled cotija cheese (We substituted shredded cheddar.)
4 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
4 tsp. ancho chile powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste
1 lime, cut into four wedges
1. Working with one ear of corn at a time, peel back the husks to expose the kernels, leaving husks attached at the base; remove the silk threads and tie husks together with kitchen twine around base of cob to form a handle. Repeat with remaining ears. (We didn't do this step and it turned out all right.) Transfer corn to a large bowl or pot of water and let soak for 30 minutes. FYI: this includes the husks! (We only soaked the corn and the husks kept catching fire on the grill.)
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill over medium-high heat. Transfer corn to grill; cook, turning occasionally, until charred and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove corn from grill and brush with mayonnaise. Place cheese on a plate and roll each ear of corn in cheese to coat. Sprinkle corn evenly with some of the cilantro, chile powder, and salt and pepper, pressing the corn so that seasonings and cheese will adhere to the mayonnaise. Serve with lime wedges.