Food scene in October in Southern Maryland!

When that Indian summer weather hits NOVA, it’s time to head down to Southern Maryland! Now that I’ve lived in the area for about 5 years, I do have favorite events to attend. Here are two fun food-related events in Southern Maryland that you can take your loved ones to.

<U.S. Oyster Festival / National Oyster Shucking Championships>

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  • When: 3rd weekend of October (Saturday: 10am-6pm / Sunday: 11am-6pm)
  • Where: St. Mary’s County Fair (42455 Fairgrounds Rd, Leonardtown, MD 20650)
  • Admission: $7/person (kids under 12 are free), food is pay as you eat
  • Website: http://usoysterfest.com/

I was introduced to this awesome oyster festival thanks to a couple of friends last year. This year, they celebrated their 50th anniversary! Everything you can think of (when it comes to oysters) is there: raw oysters, fried oysters, grilled oysters, steamed oysters, oyster po’boys, oyster tacos, oyster stew… You name it. A dozen of raw oysters were $18, FYI.

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There is a barn where the oyster cook-off takes place. Sit there and watch the chefs show off their skills. You may get lucky enough to sample their final products if the timing’s right. I got to taste the oyster Benedict and this amazinglicious soup at the end!

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When you see the King Oyster greeting people, you know it’s time for the oyster shucking championship rounds!

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Go get those freshly-made mini donuts with extra strawberry icing on the side and watch the experts compete! By the way, it truly IS a national championship. The winner of this national round complete in the international oyster shucking championship!

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You don’t do oysters or you are scared of eating raw food? Don’t worry. They have other food options including  the stuffed ham sandwich or fried Oreos!

The bottomless soda guy is amazing too! You get a mug and you can fill it all day long.

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Mark it on your calendar for 2017 and drive down to Southern Maryland with the whole family!

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<Harvest Taste of Solomons>

  • When: 11am-4pm on a Saturday in October (This year, it was on October 22, 2016.)
  • Where: Solomons Island
  • Admission: no admission; $4 ticket gets you a food or drink sample at a participating restaurant
  • Website: they need one!

My father-in-law came down from Upstate New York to visit us and we needed a last-minute entertainment option. I googled local food festivals for the weekend and ta-da! This small yet fun food festival popped up. We drove back down to Southern Maryland.

As you can see in the map, most restaurants are gathered in the southern part of the island. You can park the car in the parking lot there and hit the restaurants one by one. We didn’t buy any tickets in advance but paid as we went.

KakaoTalk_20161030_174644131.jpgCrabby tater tots topped with crab dip at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

kakaotalk_20161030_174645355“Half & half” soup: Maryland crab soup + cream of crab in a bowl at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

KakaoTalk_20161030_174649348.jpgSmoked spare ribs at Grill Sergeant

kakaotalk_20161030_174650688Oyster Rockefeller at the Charles Street Brasserie

KakaoTalk_20161030_174651913.jpgBacon wrapped dates at the Charles Street Brasserie

kakaotalk_20161030_174653241Seafood platter at Captain Smith’s

Some of the drinks looked delish too! Wished I was more of a drinker. Oh well, I get to drive drunk people back home.

So, if you are itching for some delicious day trip in October, head down south and go to town! Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival

I just went to Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival this weekend. I know that I wrote a review on a crabhouse very recently but I have to do this because it’s not just about eating crabs! It was a family gathering so we got their package deal, which cost us about $85 apiece after  taxes and fees(?). It sounds a bit pricy but this is ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CRABS & ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK-BEER AND WINE for 4 hours so after all it was not a bad deal. With the weather being perfect and family around, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this for this price. For future reference, they give you an option of just purchasing a beer-only-package for $39 (plus taxes and fees) dollars as well. If you don’t like seafood, it’s okay too. They have individual vendors that sell hot dogs, burgers, fried dough and other things on the venue.

They had two sessions for this event: 11am-3pm / 5pm-9pm. Of course, we went for the second option. All you can drink alcohol means that we are drinking!! They had pretty decent beer options but the lines were really long. Some people were just drinking while standing in line (SMART!!). Once you get in, they give you a plastic mug. That’s your booze vessel for the night. And after you pass that point, there are a few crab stations, where they give you 6 crabs+corn on the cob+coleslaw at a time. You can always go back for more. I think we each ended up getting two trays (at least). Even though there were lots of tables, people were still looking for a spot all evening so be there early. Getting there earlier also means that you will sit at a clean table.

In terms of the quality of food, it was GOOD. The crabs were fresh and not smothered in Old Bay. I wouldn’t say that it was mind-blowing. When it comes to the best deal (quality and price) in town so far, I am gonna say Maine Ave. Fishmarket’s got the best deal. As you can see in the picture above, the crabs were not that big. I would say they were small-medium sized mostly. They were delicious. though.

Also, although they do keep brining in new buschels of crabs constantly, you might end up getting the very last bits of the whole batch, which means that the crabs might not be that hot. So look around the other crab stations to see if they just brought new ones from the steamer and go there. There aren’t any servers who help you with drinks and food there either so be prepared to serve yourself. They have paper towels there but, as you know, YOU WANT TO CLEAN THE HECK OUT YOUR HANDS after crabbing. Wet naps I brought came in handy BIG TIME, FYI. Oh, don’t forget to get those sweet watermelons that they give you on the side for free! After you eat all these crabs, your lips burn! The watermelons tasted sweeter than ever!

 

After the battle was over, we were all happy campers. 🙂 Then, real drinking starts. Of course, people getting drunk means that the place might get a little crazy: beer overflowing on the ground, people getting loud………. and the bathroom (O.M.G.) but it’s all good. By the time this is all happening, no one is sober! 😉

National Harbor, MD is a really small area but it was just perfect this kind of weekend. There was music playing by the pier and there were fireworks around 9:30 as well. We went to Bobby McKey’s for some drinks and entertainment for a bit. What a complete day!

It’s an annual event so don’t miss this fun event if you are in town next year!

[Restaurant Review] Cantler’s Riverside Inn – Annapolis, MD

▣ Location: 458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis, MD 21401

▣ Tel: 410-757-1311

▣ Seafood, Crabhouse

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of August 5, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

▷▶▷▶▷▶WARNING◁◀◁◀◁◀

If you don’t like to WAIT to be seated and/or if you are a clean freak, don’t go to this restaurant!

Quintessential Maryland experience! If you had one day in MD, what would you do? Go get blue crabs! Cover the table with some paper and get messy in lots of old bay!

For that reason, there are quite a few “crabhouses” in MD. Some are decent, and some are terrible. I’ve been to several and THIS IS IT! It is legit!

Cantler’s Riverside Inn. As I warned up there, expect LOTS OF waiting. We got there around 5:30. It took 30 minutes just to get a parking spot and got seated at about 7:10. Was it worth the wait in the heat? YES!

While waiting for a parking spot, one of you can actually get out and walk to the restaurant and put your name in the waiting list to somewhat shorten the “process”. They give you a little beeper so you can stare at it for the next 1.5 hours till it buzzes. 😉 Actually, it wasn’t that bad. As you can see in the picture, they are right by the river with the pier. People actually dock their boats and hang out there until they get a table too. You see the guys measuring crabs and separate them right there too. I totally wish we would’ve brought some old bread to feed the ducks. Time would have gone by faster. Who knows. Maybe take your scrabble board. 🙂

Once you get a table, the server asks, “Paper for crabs?” And your answer is “NOW!” It differs day to day but this weekend they had medium/large/x-large crabs. They have other seafood dishes as well but blue crabs are the way to go. Crabs are not served with any sides FYI. We got a dozen medium crabs, hushpuppies, corn on the cob, and onion rings (they are very, very delicious and I don’t even like them usually). The crabs are served with vinegar, butter, and extra old bay on the side but honestly the crabs are so fresh that you don’t even need anything else! I’ve been to Maine Ave. Fishmarket in D.C. for steamed crabs as well but the medium-sized crabs at this restaurant were VERY BIG! I think 10 crabs would have been enough with the sides that we ordered and they totally let you do that as well – 1 or 10. Even if you don’t know what to do with those steamed creatures, no worries. Servers are just down-to-earth and show you how to get that nice, juicy meat out of the shell very kindly!

Cantler’s is in a very remote, residential neighborhood so don’t let your hubby or bf get too cocky and go “I got this. I know where I’m going” because he doesn’t! Turn your GPS on and find this hidden gem for great crab feast!