By Shari Lynn Rothstein-Kramer….
Before I moved to Florida I really never understood the allure of Stone Crabs. I mean, I grew up in New York, summering on the beaches of Long Island, indulging in all things delicious, drinking champagne and eating Maine lobster. It’s not like I was deprived or anything, we just didn’t really eat crab that often.
I believe that Dungeness crab was my crab of choice back in the day. But once I moved to Florida that all changed. I met my now-husband, Ian, and one of his favorite places was (and still is) The Rustic Inn. If you don’t eat crab – don’t go!
On one of our very first dates, he ordered mounds of Blue and Golden Garlic crabs. I am not really a fan of anything drenched in butter but working so deliberately for just a bite… the purity of the actual crabmeat, the sweet, firm, white flesh… is incredibly satisfying. And that was 11 years ago.
Since then, we make it a practice to eat crab as often as possible. And not just any crab – okay, well, most any crab will work, but come the king of crabs – the Stone Crab. Just coming into season, which is October 15 through May 15, these tasty morsels come in three sizes: Medium (6 to7 per pound), Large (four to 5 per pound), and extra large (also called Jumbo, 2 to 4 per pound). Some places will offer colossal (one to 2 per pound) – and those are really big! The crabs have two claws, the larger claw – the crusher; smaller claw is the pincher. Both are edible, but in Florida, fishermen only take one at a time.
If you’ve never indulged in this exquisitely messy ritual, the time is now. The place to go: Joe’s Stone Crab. Known world-wide, Joe’s takes the mess out of eating them. The upscale-yet-casual eatery that closes in the off season, cracks the crabs so you don’t have to. And while it serves “other” items, it is known for this seasonal specialty. Served chilled and with a mustard sauce, they are not only delicious, but also not un-healthy. Without butter or dipping sauces, the sweet meat is low in calories and full of flavor.
This is the time of year I relish! I have had Stone Crabs twice so far. First, at the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort, and just this past Sunday – sitting in my living room watching the football game. I paired it with an heirloom tomato salad and freshly picked basil from my garden. It was amazing.
As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything more satisfying. So eat them out, bring them in, order them online, pick them up, but no matter how you get them – don’t miss this season!
Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.