Friday, March 9, 2012

friday photoblog: the magical healing power of the baltimore crab cake (and other adventures)

God. I've written so much about Baltimore on this blog y'all must think they're paying me in crabcakes.

Note to the City of Baltimore: I would gladly whore my blog out for crabcakes. Let's talk.

But as I mentioned previously, I was in town for a wedding last fall -- and, in true Nicki fashion, I'm only getting around to posting the pictures now. So let's pretend it's October.

The Loaded Handbag: part snarky blog, part time traveler.

After already stumbling upon an Occupy Boston parade and an Occupy Wellfleet "protest" (and by "protest," I mean "a bed sheet with spray paint"), I found myself in the midst of yet another Occupy movement:

Occupy Baltimore. By the end of the year, I'd stumbled upon a grand total of four (Occupy Pittsburgh rounded out the list).  No matter what your opinions on the movement, you have to admit: It was one helluva time to be traveling --and photographing-- in America.

Ah, but fear not, dear readers: this is not a political post.

This isn't even another love letter to Baltimore, though Lord knows the city has given me enough to write about:

Yep. That's a pirate ship in Inner Harbor.
Your guess is as good as mine.

But my guess is Somalia.

As mentioned in my first love letter to Baltimore, my family and I once went on a "vacation" to the city and it was then that I fell in love. The same hotel we stayed at now hosts a tapas bar instead of a tea room -- and I found the cocktails and tapas were much more suited to my over-21 tastes.

Though it should be noted that I said to my mother: "Remember that hotel we stayed at? Remember the cute tea room? It's now a tapas bar."

My mother: "A TOPLESS BAR? Ohmyword. That neighborhood...


This? This isn't even a travel post. This is a gushing love letter. This is a manifesto. This, my friends, is an ode.

Non-romantic types, look away: things are about to get RULL mushy up in here.

I was in town for a wedding, so it was only fitting that I discover my future husband there, right?

Or...should I future wife?

Readers. READERS. You must go to Baltimore. You must go to Fells Point. And you must go to Bertha's Mussels.

I love Bertha's. I pine for Bertha's. I dream of proposing to Bertha's with a diamond tucked in a mussel shell.

You must go to Bertha's Mussels and you MUST order mussels. It's a law. It's like going to the Cheesecake Factory and not getting cheesecake. Or going to Red Robin and not eating robin.

You must order the Thai mussels with coconut milk. You will spend an hour scooping creamy broth in your mussel shells, begging for more bread to sop up the red-flecked sauce. Do not do as I did and fall for the loves of your life, Guinness and Old Bay -- as terrific lovers as they may be on their own, they do not play nicely together in bed. Enjoy them separately.

And enough with your But I don't like shellfish crap. So you don't like mussels, you freak of nature, you. What of it? There's still the most magical treasure of all to be had at Bertha's:

 That wonder of wonders, that miracle of mircles: Bertha's crab cake.

Readers. Readers. Like my stouts and my tequila, I don't take crab cakes lightly. I know crab cakes. And most crab cakes are too bready, too fried, too overseasoned. Made with crap crab. I am the girl who catches her own damn crabs, remember?

I catch 'em, I boil 'em, I pick 'em, and I form 'em into the most luscious lump crab cakes you will ever have.

Unless, that is, you get one at Bertha's.

Order the house cream ale. It's served at "cellar temperature," which is an absurdly fancy way of saying it's warmer than your average beer. It is delicious. And it pairs perfectly -- perfectly -- with Bertha's fare.

Tell your waitress you want the crab cake sandwich. Expect her enthusiastic approval: you've just ordered the best thing on the menu. When it arrives, ignore the bun. Ignore the seafood salad. Take your fork and dive into the most glorious crabcake the world has ever known.

Lump crab meat worth its weight in gold. Just enough filler to hold the damn thing together. A crispy, buttery, to-die-for broiled top.

Yes, readers, this is heaven. This is the one dish I'd give up my prized Boston for. Because screw the lobsters and the raw oysters, friends: the Maryland blue crab is a force to be reckoned with.

So go. Feast.  Love. And tell them I sent you.*

*don't actually do this because they will have no idea who I am. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

friday photoblog: wellfleet oysterfest

The Wellfleet Oysterfest is the world's premiere oyster-lovers' extravaganza. It is a mollusk miracle. If you are an oyster fan, you must -- you must -- put the Wellfleet Oysterfest on your bucket list. It will change your life. 

Grilled oysters, my friends.  Plump, freshly-shucked oysters sizzled on the grill for mere seconds before  the shells are whisked from the grill and the chef drizzles with a lemon-garlic butter. 

The Sam Adams Wellfleet Oyster Stout, the dark, thick-as-bread oyster beer that's brewed with actual Wellfleet oyster shells. I could've drank 12. I may have drank 12. I regret nothing.

And then there's the raw oysters -- heaven in an oyster shell, that cool briny shot of oyster liquor and plump, salted oyster -- you will die, my friends. 

Yes, readers. I have seen heaven. And heaven lies in the bottom of an empty oyster shell.

Come to Boston in October. See the sights. Walk the Freedom Trail. Get your chowder fix. And then make your pilgrimage to the Wellfleet Oysterfest and pay homage to the Oystergods.

They will not forsake you.

My favorite shucker of the day -- please note his pink hat. Jayne from Firefly, right?

I know this picture is terribly out-of-focus. I'm okay with it. Because LOOK AT THEM.

My first Bloody Mary -- ever.
Don't look at me like that.
Since this picture was taken I've become a Bloody Mary connoisseur.
But at the time? I hated tomatoes until this summer, remember?
So why would I ever want a drink with damn bloody tomatoes in them?

Never understood the Cape appeal until I went there. One of the most stunningly beautiful places I've ever seen.
Worth the pretentious reputation, I promise. 

Oh, please. I barely give you any mush on this blog. You can take a few Myspace kissing portraits.

My favorite picture of us...ever.
Mainly because I look like I've just been electrocuted.
That's an insanely difficult look to pull off, friends.
I practice at home.
With a hair dryer.
And a bathtub.