Monday, May 30, 2011

A Meal to Remember

A weekend at the beach with friends…it sounds so benign, right? But when you're with Linda Colwell and Carol Boutard, things can get pretty nutty pretty fast.

Kelly's Brighton Marina in Rockaway.

Linda had taken us to one of her favorite haunts, Kelly's Brighton Marina in Rockaway, for a lunch of fresh clams and crabs washed down with a bottle of a stunning '06 Pinot d'Alsace from Domaine Bott Geyl that she'd brought along. Though the day was misty, it wasn't cold, so we sat down at one of the brightly painted picnic tables on the deck overlooking the bay.

Linda anticipating the deliciousness.

Kelly Laviolette is the ebullient proprietor manning the tanks and the cooker. His wife, Janice, mans the store and took our order, shortly thereafter delivering three pounds of tiny, succulent steamers with cups of melted butter to the table. A rain shower required a move under cover, but didn't stop us from sucking down all three pounds in short order. After all, we had two whole Dungeness crabs coming.

The delicacy that is a crab heart.

When they arrived, Linda pointed out the tiny, star-shaped heart of the crab, insisting that I needed to try it. I picked up the half-inch morsel, bit down and got a flash of a soft, creamy, intensely briny flavor. Then it was gone. And it's definitely something I'll look for the next time I shell a crab.

Kelly at work.

Walking over to the oyster tanks where Kelly himself presides, Carol asked about getting a fresh oyster. Now, Kelly has the usual small molluscs you find on most restaurant menus, but he also has eight and ten-inch-long monsters, things you might expect to find in a Ripley's Believe It or Not display. So when he told Carol to grab one out of the tank, I thought she'd choose a small, ladylike shell. I should have known better. She came back from the tank proudly carrying (or was it hoisting?) one of the leviathans. Kelly was so impressed he said he'd shoot one with her, though you can see he added his own special twist.

How poor little Travis got roped into the proceedings, I'm not sure I know, but if you turn the volume up at the end of the video you'll hear his review. Hopefully the little guy's not scarred for life.

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