The bounties of the Eastern Shore
Jun. 25, 2010 5:07 am
Updated: Jul. 3, 2010 4:18 am
Just about every year we head to the Eastern Shore; specifically Chincoteague Island, VA. Chincoteague is well-known for several things - the wild ponies and the annual pony swim in July, blue crabs, and oysters. We've never attended the pony swim -
I prefer the island when it's a little less populated. We've always gone after the pony swim in the past. This year we changed it up a little and went before. The crowds were not as big and the blue crabs seemed a little more plentiful, or at least bigger!
To get to Chincoteague it's about a 10 hour drive for us with an hour stop for lunch in Cambridge, MD. We are creatures of habit. About 10 years ago we discovered Ocean Odyssey - a little "hole-in-the-wall" seafood restaurant on Rt. 50 in Cambridge, MD.
That is now always the beginning of our "seafood fest". This year's lunch was stuffed shrimp. OMG! They were the best stuffed shrimp I've ever had. I guess it only stands to reason when you have good, fresh crab available to stuff a shrimp with they'll
be awesome. My husband had softshell crabs. He loves those little critters. I haven't been able to master eating a softshell crab - maybe if I had a few beers or a bottle of wine to go with them I'd be able to just pop that thing in my mouth and not think
about how I'm eating the whole thing! From that point on our excitement grows - we can hardly wait to get to the Island.
We have a small pop-up camper, so it takes about an hour to get "camp" set up once we arrive. After that chore we head to the beach. I have to say "hello" to the ocean. Then, from there we have to decide which restaurant to go to first. This is a camping
trip where the only meal we eat at the camper is breakfast. There are far too many favorite seafood restaurants just waiting to take our money and I don't mind one bit. Seafood is mine and my husband's weakness. We can't get enough of it.
Until this trip I've always been a "cooked" seafood lover. My husband eats raw oysters on the half shell. First dinner on the Island and he orders an appetizer of a dozen of the raw, slimy looking things. He always offers one up to me, and I always politely
wrinkle my nose in disgust and say "No thank you." Well, this time was different - could have been the bottle of wine we shared back at the camper before we left to eat, but I was feeling brave. So, he squeezed a little lemon juice on it and handed it over.
I closed my eyes and popped it in my mouth. OK - I was mad! I just discovered what I had been missing all these years!! I loved it! It was not a bit slimy - a little salty and a little sweet with just a touch of the lemon flavor. I ate half his plate
of oysters! I am a new fan!
There was a new restaurant open this year - The Crab Shack. It is a fun, light-hearted place. The kind of place you go - have a few good brews and "slip" into Island life. This is where I enjoyed my first steamed blue crabs of the season. And were they
ever good! Of course we had more raw oysters. I think we had those with every meal we ate. In fact, we even went to the local seafood store and bought them to enjoy at the camper in the evening with a drink or two for a snack. We also bought 1/2 a peck
to bring home - nothing better than a Chincoteague oyster!
I enjoyed so many tasty meals that it's hard to say which was my favorite. One of the best dishes I had was oysters (cooked this time) with fresh blue crab on top and then a layer of bread crumbs and cheddar cheese over that. Very rich and very tasty. I'm
going to try and duplicate it at home. I enjoyed fresh caught flounder, clams, scallops and oysters with almost every meal; also the best crab soup around. I also enjoyed a Tropical Shrimp Salad one day for lunch that had a fabulous honey mustard dressing
on it. Lucky for me the restaurant had a sale on their homemade dressing, buy one get one free - so I bought some. I'm buying the fruit and shrimp today and we'll be having it for our dinner tonight along with some raw and some steamed oysters.
Our final meal on the Eastern Shore was once again Ocean Odyssey. This time we ordered a steamer pot full of steamed oysters, clams, shrimp, corn, red potatoes, and a tray full of Jumbo blue crabs. As we crossed over the Bay Bridge I said farewell to my little
piece of paradise - until next time.....