Photos By Melissa Groth, Words By Logan Hollers
There’re very few things more Maryland than picking and eating a huge bushel of Old Bay-doused Chesapeake blue crabs. If you live in D.C., it really is something you have to try at least once. But, even though “eating” crabs is one of my favorite things to do, having to drive to Annapolis to do it super sucks.
Enter Nate Beauchamp, executive chef of the Fainting Goat on U Street, and this summer’s monthly “Picnics at the Goat,” a series of monthly-rotating, casual family-style suppers focused around different iconic summer foods. July was all about the classic fried chicken picnic, but I’ve been biding my time, waiting for this month’s offering: an authentic crab boil.
An Eastern Shore native, Chef Beauchamp’s childhood was spent cracking crabs on the Chesapeake Bay. Monday nights in August, the Goat brings in peak-season Maryland blue crabs and serves the feast with some of the classic sides Chef Beauchamp loves most.
$30-$40 per person (depending on the price of crab that Monday) gets you grilled sweet corn on the cob, house-made coleslaw (heavier on the mustard and vinegar, lighter on the mayo, just the way it should be), thick-cut fries with malt vinegar, and some of the most ridiculous peel and eat shrimp you’re going to try this summer. Seriously. Drenched in Thai chili butter and served with a spicy cocktail sauce, I could’ve easily made a meal of these.
But that would have been dumb. Because crabs are fucking delicious and Chef Beauchamp brings out an enormous tray of them. Steamed and absolutely covered in Old Bay, the crabs are as fresh as they come, juicy and sweet. Don’t forget to ask the Chef for a demonstration of how to most effectively crack and eat (dude’s a pro – apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all along). Clarified butter’s there if you want it, but naah. I’m good. Once you’ve gorged yourself on crab and Old Bay, end sweet with a homemade summer berry cobbler.
I mean, honestly, how much can I really say about this? If you’ve never picked crab, you’re gonna have a hard time finding a closer, cheaper, and more fun option than this. If you’re an old crab pro, you know the drill: it’s hard work, it’s messy as hell, it’s a great time, and it’s goddamn tasty. Get some homies together; wait for a Monday; make a reservation; order an ice-cold bucket of beers (I’d go with Modelo, but who am I to turn down a Boh?); crack away; leave happy.