-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
The 24th Annual Crab Fest cranked up in Clearwater this weekend, marking the start of the annual stone crab season (October 15 through May 15). I went for a plate of the tasty crustaceans and have the small cuts on my fingers to prove it! The celebration was staged in the parking lot and inside of Cooters Restaurant and Bar. The sound of wooden hammers pounding on tables filled the air as patrons attempted to crack the shells of the tough underwater treasure. The payoff is worth the work! The energy was high as the band Sweet Spot cranked up to play pop and dance music from the stage in the parking lot.
Crowd estimates were about 200 people when I was there in the mid afternoon. It took 10 minutes to get a drink at the bar outside and 20 to 30 minutes to get a table to order. That's not bad considering the number of tables and the size of the crowd.
There were two options with stone crab. Order them cold and they come with a light mustard sauce for dipping. Ordered hot they are accompanied with drawn butter. Both of them sounded good but I opted for the cold ones. The menu describes each order is being approximately 1 pound. For $17.99 I got four large claws, a small cup of the mustard sauce, a wooden mallet to assist with cracking the hard shells of these tough crustaceans, and a fork to dig it all out. It was a tasty experience.
Stone crab is seasonal. From October 15 through May 15 thousands of pounds are harvested both in the Atlantic and the Gulf. One of the things that I appreciate about this form of seafood is that only the claw is harvested and the crab is returned to grow another one.
So, you have until next May to enjoy taking a crack at 'em. As with most seafood, it's an expensive venture. Retail wise 1 pound sells for between $12 and $20 depending on the size of the claw (larger claws sell for more), but well worth the cost. Find a simple recipe for mustard sauce to go with them and dig in!
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