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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Baltimore Blue Crab and Oysters and a wonderful giveaway!

By Beth

I am a very lucky woman. I have one utterly wonderful husband, an extraordinary family, plenty of wonderful friends and two pretty fabulous sons. Number one son, Alex is the one that I conceived, birthed and have sweated blood and tears raising for the last 23 years and my second son Zach is his very best friend who although I did not have to endure a single labor pain is truly my son nevertheless. These sorts of relationships are created in the heart after all , not necessarily through shared DNA. I love him as if he were my own.

The two of them couldn’t be any different yet they share a bond that goes well beyond friendship…it’s a kinship of brotherhood understandable only to them. They met over 15 years ago when they both were attending a very avant garde elementary Montessori school. They were the only children of older, fairly sophisticated parents who traveled with them and talked to them. Even though they went to different high schools they remained close and when Zachs father was killed in a freak accident in China about 8 years ago , Alex didn’t leave his side for well over 2 weeks. I am sure that Zach is the one person alive that my son would drop everything and travel all the way around the world to be there for him if he was ever needed and no doubt Zach would do the same.

Zach has wonderful mother, who fortunately for me has learned to willingly share him. Whenever we can we spend time together, not an easy feat because he’s often jet setting round the world, he fancies himself a bit of a worldly nomad, climbing mountains in Tibet, enjoying places like Vietnam and Russia on a students budget. My home is filled with gifts from exotic far away lands…..bags of spice from India, the freshest green tea from Japan…porcelain and silk from China, bookprints from Paris, painted mirrors from Peru. I always get a call and sometimes flowers from him on mothers day….I am truly blessed.

I can hardly believe it though because next weekend he’s graduating from Johns Hopkins and today finds me relaxing in his apartment in Baltimore. I can’t come for the graduation, but instead Jim and I have driven up here on the weekend before so that we can just spend some time together with Zach just enjoying each others company. He will be going to China the day after graduation to start a new job and this time there’s no return flight for at least 2 years so I guess that one of  these days Foodie Sunday will be live from Shanghai!

One of the lovely things about having two sons is that the range of experiences that you can share is wonderful. Alex is a brilliant musician and sometimes a painter, artistic to the core and a completely wonderful and totally intellectual bohemian type who is currently employed at Whole Foods, and working on finding himself after having dropped out of college early this year. Zach is graduating with a degree in economics and loves designer clothes and great cologne (Jo Malone’s Black Vetiver Café). Alex is the anti foodie - “Really mother , all this family ever does is go from meal to meal” as opposed to Zach who just wandered in and said “Ok, When you’re done writing , we will go and eat!”

Because Zach is the son that loves to eat with me in wonderful restaurants whenever I make plans to come for the weekend the conversation always begins with food. “What do you really want to eat this weekend ?” he asks. Well that’s a no brainer. I’m in Baltimore during crabbing season. Oysters and blue crab? You can’t get them any fresher! Add a perfect Hendricks Gin martini with a slice or two of cucumber and I’m in heaven!

I can always count on Zach to take me at my word so when we arrived of course he’d found the perfect place to eat. We walked onto the Johns Hopkins Campus and he led us toward the Baltimore Museum of Art , to be more exact to a restaurant named “Gertrudes”. To say that the Bluepoint oysters and crabcake were the freshest and best that I’d ever eaten would be an understatement…it simply wouldn’t do them justice. The oysters were briny and sweetly sea scented and the crab cakes were filled with huge chunks of fresh blue crab, with just the right amount of breading to hold them together. I had sides of tangy cheddar cheese grits and garlicky spinach and there was a wonderful sauce of capers and fresh basil. The martinis were perfect and the company and conversation which lasted long past the meal even better.

After dinner we took a long leisurely (albeit necessary!) stroll through the moonlit campus. John’s Hopkins is in full bloom right now, with magnolias, dogwoods and peonies everywhere perfuming the night air. We walked to a corner pub for a nightcap, more conversation and then home to a wonderful nights sleep.

This morning he’s promised me the best pancakes in Baltimore and a trip to a wonderful farmers market where I am told we will find the best pickles ever. Then it’s off to Georgetown for a day of shopping or maybe the harbor for more crab…..or both. Come to think of it….another plate of Bluepoints with horseradish and mignonette sauce? Why not…The sun is shining brightly and today the world’s our oyster! (you may insert a very long groan now!)

I never travel without bringing home souvenirs, so today I’m off to find some wonderful spices for my own crab boil! I’m going to get some for you too, so if you’d like to be entered into the drawing please share with me one of your fondest memories of some yummy indigenous food that you’ve enjoyed...... even better if it’s with someone you really love!

Happy Foodie Sunday my dear friends....I hope today finds you happy, healthy, surrounded by love and eating something utterly delicious!

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Blogger ~elise said...

Ooo! I have the best! Szechuan Pepper Hot Pot in date? My 3rd daughter just a few days after we'd met in China! :)

12:38 AM EDT  
Blogger marsha said...

Shrimp and oysters freshly caught off the NC coast that my late husband would fry for me! They were the best! Now, how can your son be an ani-foodie and work at Whole Foods? :-) I still say your posts are the best!

7:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Prettywitty504 said...

Where to begin? I was born and raised in New Orleans, a city that revolves around food with family and friends, like many European cities. In New Orleans, folks enjoying hot beignets and a cup of café au lait at Café du Monde are already talking about the Shrimp Rèmoulade, Crabmeat Yvonne, soufflé potatoes and Trout Meunière Amandine they’re going to have for lunch at Galatoire’s. In the hands of most any native, spicy boiled crawfish with corn and potatoes become crawfish potato salad or Maque Choux with crawfish the next day, or maybe a crawfish bisque or etouffée . Oysters on the half shell, fried oysters, char-grilled oysters, fried oyster poboy, oyster stew, seafood gumbo with oysters, Oysters Rockefeller or Bienville – all of these are common fare in the Crescent City. I grew up eating boiled crabs and shrimp on Friday evenings, and could pick a crab clean in five minutes when I was six years old. A crawfish boil with family and friends is a favorite way to spend a Saturday or Sunday in the spring. Wedding receptions in New Orleans serve some of the most elegant and delicious food you’ll ever encounter, and you’re likely to find much the same at a gathering after a funeral. There’s no place on earth like New Orleans and I miss it every single day.

8:55 AM EDT  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us. It's a lesson of love and kindness. Our common passion for perfumes might bring us closer, but partaking in someone's personal life- even virtually- is really insightful!

I am going to share with you in my turn two indigenous drinks. The first one is related to my Pontic Greek origin, and it's called Ariani [ariani]- it can also be found in Turkey. It's considered the Pontic Greek "beer"! All it takes to prepare is homemade yoghurt (it has to be homemade, as it should be a bit sour, after it sits for a few days) diluted in cold water (I usually shake them in a bottle), poured in a big porcelain bowl in the middle of the table, shared and eaten as a soup by all the present members. It can also be served in individual glasses, but the other way is more intimate and close.

The second drink comes from Cheju island in South Korea, where I went on a conference, and was served this lovely non alcoholic berry juice, which was said to include all 4 different tastes! Well, sweetness was the most prominent to my liking! It had an amazing dark pink colour; it might actually be a reason I would like to visit the place again!

After a great time at the Takeshi Yamamoto exhibition today in the Victoria and Albert museum, my day rounds off with a really touching story, beautiful memories and tastes!

4:54 PM EDT  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

*Yohji Yamamoto!

8:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Charna said...

What a poignant story, and what a wonderful relationship you have with your two sons. Thank you for sharing. Your description of blue crabs, ice cold martinis and fresh oysters has me drooling and suddenly craving Old Bay seasoning! I enjoy reading Foodie Sunday very much.

8:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Nancy said...

Oh, when I met my in laws my husband to be and I brought lobsters fresh from Maine to their home in FL. We goofed around and over cocktails had lobster races and then had dinner....Lobster! It was most memorable as that was probably the last time my F I L was mobile and it was so much fun!

10:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

You guys are so generous with me! I love reading your makes the story and circle so complete for me!
In response to the question about my son the anti foodie.....he's doing a little better and I think that Whole Foods really helps! He's got IBS so food has been a bit of a dilemma for him...but also, he's kind of a practical food guy like my dad was..meat and mashed potatoes! His darling girlfriend is a very food creative vegan so slowly he's evolving. The raw oysters that we consumed by the bushel full though would have him running for the door!

You guys are the best! I love sharing this space with you!

11:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Dixie said...

Great story! Prettywitty504-you're after my own heart. I grew up in New Orleans (Gentilly) was weaned on boiled seafood. In fact my husband and I had a contest yesterday-steamed blue crabs versus a louisiana crab boil. C'mon! Is there really a competition?
And why aren't there snoball stands all over the country or at least florida? My mom's cooking me a gumbo this weekend with gulf shrimp and crabs and I can't wait......

11:36 AM EDT  

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