Blog: Hammer and Claws Feast
Friday, September 7th through Sunday, September 9th, crab lovers descended upon 11th Avenue for a tasting festival of epic proportions as the weekend marked the return of the Hammer & Claws Feast to New York City. As we approached the entrance to The Tunnel at the Terminal Stores in Chelsea, we were immediately hit by the scent of steaming crabs, one that stays with your fingers long after you’ve left (more on that later). Rows upon rows of picnic tables lined the wall to the left, as stations of beer, sides, and most importantly, piles and piles of fresh crabs adorned the walls to the right. Abita beer, a New Orleans favorite, was the drink of choice at the event and a few of their selections were offered including the highlight, Abita Purple Haze. Meanwhile the number of sides included steamed corn, creamy cole slaw and potato salad, warm corn bread, and potato chips seasoned with Old Bay seasoning. Our plates were heaping with all that we could handle sided by the excellent corn bread, which was incredibly moist and tasty, and the steamed corn (husks on) which, despite being unseasoned was sweet and buttery. The old bay seasoned crab was handed out on cardboard trays and the entire experience almost had the feel of a cafeteria serving up the perfect end of the summer crabfest.
The LocalBozo crew arrived early, eagerly grabbed a beer and a tray of crabs with a few sides, sat down and started the fun. The tables were lined with hammers and everywhere you turned people were smashing, picking, tearing, and devouring crabs. Some people were so enthusiastic, if you didn’t know better you’d think they were participating in a crab eating contest.
It is essential to be prepared to get down and dirty if you truly want the full experience of this event, and the rewards of your efforts are oh so sweet. The lump crabmeat hiding in these crabs was perfectly cooked and accented by the Old Bay seasoning used to steam the crabs. The smashing of the shells and the subsequent sucking out of the meat was also half the fun as this is the backyard-style event we rarely get to experience in our urban city. There was no question that everyone was having a good time and enjoying the food, as some had piles and piles of empty crab shells strewn across their table.
Adding to the ambiance inside was a DJ playing lively music throughout the event, and at certain points an emcee got on the mic and asked everyone in the room to bang our hammers along with the tune. It was a great group experience and a perfect for one of the last Sundays of the summer. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and as we loaded up on crab, sides, and beer we realized that the “all you can eat” event was taking its toll. As we left the event, satiated and smiling, we realized that the one downside to enjoying all the succulent crab is having to deal with the smell of crab that lingers on your fingers and clothes, even well after you leave. Tip: we learned that the trick to getting that smell off your hands is lemon juice. So for those looking to score tickets to next year’s event, be sure to keep that in mind (unless you enjoy crab musk – don’t worry, we won’t judge).
- Terry Ballou