Suzen and I are bouncing between Portland and Seattle and many points in between. We spent today in Westport, Washington, a maritime village located on the southern tip of the entrance to Grays Harbor. Fortunately, the “Harbor” houses only fishing boats and never became a center of commerce, like Seattle, that houses today’s huge cargo ships. Grays Harbor is filled with fishing boats. And, of course, fish and seals and sea lions and pelicans and …
Today the family went crabbing off the docks at Westport. In five hours, we got 16 “keepers” or crabs legally big enough to take home. My daughter Kelly has the most patient boyfriend in the world. Mark makes his living doing two things: offering custom fly fishing experiences on the Yakima River in eastern Washington and selling the most lovely fishing flies you can imagine.
There will be more about Mark later in the week. Today, we followed him to Westport. Our catch ended up tonight in pots back in Seattle. At the top, there are pictures of my grandsons Reid and Daniel completing their day’s work. They were about to boil the crabs they’d caught themselves earlier in the day. Big crabs. Legally sized crabs. Mark was a stickler for only taking Dungeness that met the standard of his ruler.
At first, tossing back a 5 ½ inch crab upset the boys. When would they ever get a 6-inch keeper? “Patience,” Marked announced. And patience paid off. That and moving the crab pots up and down the docks to find the “hot spots” and the tide first came in and then went out.
Making sure the crabs are legal is just the beginning. You have to get them home alive. You can’t put them on ice. You can’t cook them if they have died. You have to keep them oxygenated for that three hour drive home. Mark’s expertise got us home with two big buckets fill with Dungeness and Red Rocks.
Even if you are not eating the crab that night, you need to cook them. Then put them on ice for the next day.
How to cook them? It’s pretty basic. Buy a can of Old Bay seasoning and follow the directions. No, you don’t need the Old Bay, but that flavor combination of spices is one you’ve become accustomed to. Cooking crabs is easy: you boil water, add salt and spices, dump in the crabs and wait fifteen minutes.
I love my crab. Yes, I hope to die more peacefully myself, but hours spent watching The Discovery Channel and National Geographic have desensitized me. I eat them now with a special gratitude. They are strong, frisky creatures, as you discover lifting one out of the crab pot. And fighters, as one of my fingers can attest.
The pictures below show some of the crabbing steps, from baiting the crab rings, to watching them every 10 minutes, to removing the critters you have enticed into your net. Crabbing is a family experience that will linger long in everyone’s memory. It a few hours of getting wet, screaming, laughing, measuring once, measuring twice, and dodging those wondrous claws.
If you fly, certainly if you fly Jet Blue, then this post is for you.
The afternoon was getting complicated. It was 4PM and we had an 8:40PM flight from JFK. Jet Blue at their sparkling and massive Terminal 5.
“Do we eat now?” I asked Suzen. “Or get to the airport and eat there?”
“Airport? Airport food? What the devil is the matter with you?”
“Suz,” I began carefully here because when Suzen is upset thing can spiral the wrong way, “I read this wonderful review about the Jet Blue Terminal. The restaurants are phenomenal.”
“And this review was in The Post?” Suzen asked. Suzen has certain press prejudices about what is, admittedly, a tabloid. But, you see, The Post is a good tabloid. The girls on Page 3 are always fully dressed. Or at least in bathing suits. Okay, two piece suits.
“You know,” I said, “I’m not sure where I read it. But I’ve heard from multiple people, actually, that there are good restaurants there.”
“We’ll try it,” Suzen accepted. “But so help me, God, if …”
It turns out that, for this issue, I do not need God’s help. At least in the United States, airport food has some remarkably common properties. It is very expensive. It tastes worse that recycled cardboard that has been dipped in runoff water and allowed to dry in an insect filled environment.
Eating at US airports is a lot less safe than getting on the planes.
But, Jet Blue, to its credit, has changed that. There are nine full service restaurants there at Terminal 5, all have intriguing menus posted, and the selection of one is not an easy matter.
We chose Deep.Blue, a modern sushi restaurant decorated in that deep, bold blue color of Jet Blue. The food is excellent, the prices very reasonable — given that it is sushi. We had two rolls —a Dragon and some wonder whose name is forgotten but was deeply appreciated — that were made on the spot, fresh, and radiated flavor. Big, thick rolls with enough content so that two were really a full meal for the two of us.
And then there was the Crab Fried Rice topped with a fried egg. It is quite impossible to convey how wonderful that rice is. Soft, moist but not wet, subtly infused with veggie flavors, and mixed with lovely fresh crab. No one flavor dominates, but all form an orchestra of sensation in your mouth.
Where did this food come from? It’s Buddakan’s Michael Schulson, a recognized master of food. Frommer’s Guides has recognized Deep.Blue as one of the top 10 airport restaurants in the country.
Your travels may well involve a stop at JFK, either as destination or gateway to a distant country. If you can possibly arrange to do it, get to Terminal 5 and enjoy the special flavors and striking quality of Deep.Blue.
If anyone has a recipe for Crab Fried Rice that comes close to Deep.Blue, I would love to share it with everyone on this blog.