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All photos by Ryma Chikhoune’s iPhone.

Good news, my digital darlings! We’ve got a pair of tickets up for crabs grabs to the Sunday September 22nd seating (12-3pm) of Hammer & Claws 2013, aka the very best crab feast that exists in New York City. (We’re talking all-you-can-eat Maryland blue crabs, all-you-can-drink Abita beer, and all kinds of other side dish swag.) If you’re not a gamblin’ man or want to choose a different seating (there are two on Saturday the 21st of September, the first being from 12-3pm, the second from 8-11pm, and then one on Sunday the 22nd of September from 12-3pm), you may just want to secure your tickets right here right now, because they WILL sell out, and you WILL be super bummed, as will soon be evidenced in a rerun of our recap from last year’s festivities.

If you ARE interested in trying your luck at all-you-can-eat crab glory, though, all you need to do is let us know in the comments and/or on Twitter (@BYTNYC) whether you are feelin’ CRABBY this week or not. (The inclusion of crab puns in your response is also encouraged / appreciated, but not necessary to be entered into the contest.) Let us know by NO LATER than noon on Friday September 20th to be considered, okay?

And now, please read all about how much we enjoyed our time at Hammer & Claws LAST year:

Ryma and I had the pleasure of attending the annual Hammer & Claws Maryland Blue Crab Feast, where we collectively gained just under ten pounds. I am not going to lie to you, I watched A LOT of YouTube tutorials on how to properly eat blue crabs in preparation for the event. I was feeling fairly confident, especially after watching this tutorial, where a fourteen-year-old assured me I now possessed the tools and know-how to eat a crab without wasting ANY meat. But as it would turn out, I was not (read: still am not) very good at it.

What I lacked in crab-picking skills, though, I made up for by INHALING all the various side dishes. These included cornbread (which we both agreed kicks the teeth out of the Whole Foods variety since we eat there ALL THE TIME), roasted corn, potato salad, Utz potato chips, and most importantly, SO MUCH Abita beer.

After about ten minutes, we both realized that we were about to become social pariahs once we left the event; the allure of Old Bay smell is undeniable when you know you’re about to eat some seafood, but in all other instances, you quickly fall into the “you-don’t-smell-too-great” category. Fortunately for me, Hammer & Claws was all I had on the agenda the entire day. Meanwhile, poor Ryma was off to photograph some fashion shows, and her new accessories included crab musk and grillz made entirely of corn kernels. CUTE!

Speaking of fashion shows, because it was #NYFW, I had the BRILLIANT plan to style the blue crabs before we ate them, which made us really popular with our fellow guests. (See also: they hated us.) I purchased some weird small hats from a Chinatown 99¢ store before making my way over to Chelsea (I wish I could’ve bought the whole lot, but I settled on just two), and then proceeded to place them on two particularly striking crabs, who I am sure would be the equivalent of Lara Stone and Claudia Schiffer in human terms. They were incredibly photogenic, as you can see:

In fact, they were SUCH naturals in front of the camera that we decided to put one to the test editorially; Ryma brought along an issue of SUPER NASTY Magazine, which was the perfect opportunity for our chosen crab to shine. For instance, the crab gave Behati Prinsloo a run for her money, and Anja Konstantinova better watch her back, ’cause she’s got some seriously CRABulous competition! Do you see how the crab is smiling with its eyes? #SMIZING.

We were so impressed by the crab’s performance that we decided to feature it on the cover of the magazine. Very appropriate, wouldn’t you say?

After the photo shoot, we decided to eat the crabs instead of paying them for their hard work on set. It was a good decision. Or, it seemed like one, anyway, until we felt so full that death seemed imminent.

After blankly staring at the mess we’d made of the table for a solid chunk of time, we decided we couldn’t handle anymore eating or drinking and started roll in the general direction of the door. Ryma invited me to go to this fashion thing with her, but I just gave her three pieces of gum as my way of politely declining. After we went our separate ways, I decided to walk off my food coma along the West Side Highway, and in that moment, with the polluted water in clear view, I really felt at one with Callinectes sapidus.

So thank you to Hammer & Claws for inviting us on this intellectually, emotionally and physically expansive journey. We will be sure to come back next year, slightly larger, and (hopefully) slightly better at eating blue crabs.

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