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The Crab City That Ruined Me

“Being from Baltimore, I’m a crab cake snob, and I’m very particular on where I eat my crab cakes.” 

~Max Teixeira

I knew it was going to be good before I went. I had heard the rumors. I just didn’t know it was going to change me.

I love seafood. I especially love crab, and I think thought I knew a good crab cake when I had one. That is until one city changed my perception of the crab cake. It changed my entire worldview.

That city was Baltimore.

Again, I had heard of the lump crab cake before. I watched “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and it was mentioned on there. So before I went last month, I had planned to hit a few restaurants, a few local faves, and explore this famed crab cake.

I didn’t even get to hit the crowd favorites (due to a timing and conference I spoke at), but that didn’t matter. I was still transformed.

Mo’s Seafood

As soon as we got into town, a few blocks from our hotel was a spot called Mo’s Crab and Pasta Factory in Little Italy. The bellman said to try it for a close sampling of crab cakes, so we went.

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OMG, I don’t even know where to start. We got the hot crab dip as an appetizer and almost called it a day at that point! The huge chunks of crab in the dip, the riches cheeses, the cream cheese, all conspired to make our tastebuds darn near explode. My friend and I both tried a bite, our eyes got wide, and we stared at each other in shock. It was sooooooo delicious, and it was at that point we knew that we were in for something different on this foodie excursion. Accolades rang out as we got excited about the richness, the flavor, and how good it was. We quickly devoured that first course and looked forward to the second course.

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That was the lump crab cake. I should say the extremely massive lump crab cake. It was approximately 17 ounces, and was bigger than any crab cake I had ever seen.

But that wasn’t the reason that our cameras—and forks—immediately came out. It was the total lack of filler. All crab, no crap. I am not even sure how the crab cake stayed together but it was all lump crabmeat. Like crab legs without the work.

The crab was sweet and tender. And I knew at that moment that I was ruined. I could never go back. The crab cakes of old, with their filler and overwhelming breadcrumbs, and lack of lump meat deliciousness…I was ruined.

 

Apropoe’s Baltimore Marriott Waterfront

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One doesn’t typically think of a hotel restaurant/bar having amazing food. But good crab is contagious in Baltimore.

At Apropoe’s, we had a couple of items to share. First was the Crab Dip. It was much cheesier and less crabby than the one at Mo’s but still pretty darn tasty.

But the real MVP…the Crab Pizza. Yep, lump crab and pesto and cheese on a pizza crust. It was so good we quickly devoured it. The pizza was the perfect combination of pesto and the sweetness of the crab. I didn’t even know crab pizza existed until that day, let alone with lump crab. Again, ruined.

 

Phillip’s Seafood

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While in Baltimore I had the amazing opportunity to experience a chef’s dinner with the Head Chef of Kikkoman Helen Roberts. This accomplished Chef is actually the longest working employee of Kikkoman in the United States, as she has been with the company for more than 33 years. She shared a bit about herself (including being on the board of the International Association of Culinary Professionals), her background, and, of course, Kikkoman. As it turns out, Chef Helen educated us that soy sauce actually has a lot less sodium than table sauce and can be substituted for salt when cooking. Kikkoman has a number of recipes that cross ethnic cuisines for which Kikkoman soy sauce enhances the flavor and reduces the salt intake. Who knew?

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While learning about Kikkoman, and celebrating the Chef’s birthday, we indulged in a multi-course dinner at Phillip’s Seafood. It was incredible. Crab cakes, peel and eat shrimp… and fried chicken were the starters. Even though it is a seafood restaurant, the friend chicken was on point!

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Then came the whole crabs. Our server educated us on how to dissect the whole crab and we dove in. Mallets were flying and conversation came to a standstill as we embarked upon the journey which was breaking down a whole blue crab. The crab even tasted delish dipped in… Kikkoman Soy Sauce! Funny how that worked.

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Even when you see it coming… sometimes a city surprises you. Exceeds your expectations. But Baltimore, a city that previously wasn’t on my radar, ruined me. I have seen crab cakes on the menu since I went to Baltimore last month. And every single crab cake I have rejected. I know it won’t be the same. At some point I will have one again and it will take me back to Baltimore. I’ll definitely be back.

 

Kikkoman logo is the trademark of and courtesy of Kikkoman USA.

 

barristourista

I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

16 comments on “The Crab City That Ruined Me”

  1. These pictures make me want to lick my screen! I no longer eat meat but when I did, seafood was at THE TOP of my list. And I have never been to Baltimore and like you, would not have thought much of it when it comes to food but how nice for you to be pleasantly surprised!

  2. I love crab! I do not enjoy whole crabs because of all that work but my goodness I am here for that lump crabcake you all had. I live in the DMV and rarely visit Baltimore but I absolutely must take a mini road trip. Looks and sounds like heaven.

  3. What! Whole blue crabs dipped in soy sauce?!?! I grew up in Charleston, and we just ate them plain or with hot sauce. I definitely need to try it. Those crab cakes look awesome too.

  4. Yes B-more hands down will have you questioning why people even bother putting crab cakes on their menu! Fortunately living in Hampton Roads VA which is also surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay we have great crab too. But still Baltimore is Bae for crab.

  5. Ok, that just made me extremely hungry. I LOVE seafood! Now, if you really want some good Maryland crabs, go to the DC Wharf or to the Eastern Shore….yummy! That crab pizza looks amazing…..

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