To the left of the store as you come in, you will find our shellfish case. It will be filled with a selection of live, fresh, previously frozen, and pasteurized items.
Start, as most people do, with our shrimp. Most of these are previously frozen. I know, you find this disappointing. I could sell fresh, never frozen shrimp from the gulf. They would be less expensive, and I would feel good about supporting American fishermen. They would need to have more chemicals to keep them “fresh” and would not have the same taste and texture as the shrimp we offer. Perhaps if you get them right off the boat on vacation you may prefer them. But not here. There are many different species of shrimp. There are farmed and wild varieties. They can come from many areas of the world. We sell wild pink shrimp from particular areas of South and Central America. I have been selling (and eating) shrimp for nearly thirty years. We sell these shrimp because I find them, while expensive, consistently the best tasting, best textured shrimp available.
We offer these shrimp in the shell in three sizes. Our medium have 41-50, the large 26-30, and the jumbo have 15 or fewer shrimp to the pound. We also carry the large cleaned, that is, the shell is removed save the tail, and the vein is removed. Finally, we offer the large and the jumbo cleaned and cooked, ready to eat as cocktail. With the shells removed, the large will have about 5 more pieces to the pound, and the jumbo about 3 more because you are not getting the weight of the shells.
On occasion we will have fresh rock shrimp from Florida. These are completely shelled, and have a milder taste and a softer texture than the standard shrimp. Try them in a saute dish over pasta. Another occasional offering during its short season is fresh Maine shrimp, a small sweet red shrimp usually in the shell and head on.
We offer crabmeat in several forms. Usually there is fresh domestic lump crabmeat. This is an all white meat from the familiar blue crab. It will contain some bits of cartilage which must be carefully removed, before preparing your crabcakes or whatever, fished out of your mouth when eating, or just swallowed for those who don’t care. We also have pasteurized crab: claw meat (brownish though tasty), lump (as with the fresh), and jumbo lump (bigger chunks than the lump). The pasteurized crab we offer is from the almost identical blue swimming crab, comes from the Pacific (not China), has good flavor, and due to more fastidious handling, is free of cartilage. We sometimes also have fresh peekeytoe crabmeat, in half pound containers. This comes from jonah crabs from off New England, is very sweet, is free of cartilage and comes in good size chunks. Pasteurized crab has a long (several months) shelf life, so we have a good supply. Fresh we are more likely to sell out of, so if you have plans, it doesn’t hurt to call ahead so we can purchase enough. A day’s notice is adequate, but call Thursday for the weekend.
Stone crab is in season from October to the spring. These colorful claws come from Florida and are often eaten with a mustard sauce. You could try our mustard dill sauce if you don’t make you own. We carry the medium size claws. Larger are available to order, but they do cost significantly more, and taste the same.
Blue crabs are available when stone crabs aren’t. We try to have #1 male hard crabs (the big ones) on weekends from a week or two after Memorial Day until just past Labor Day. Soft crabs start usually around April, depending on water temperatures, and run till sometime in October.
We carry a variety of clams.
There are wild hard clams, from the east coast, generally from Long Island, which we carry year round in several sizes. We buy little necks, which we sometimes further grade into little neck and somewhat larger top necks. The next size up is cherrystones, perhaps 2 1/2-3 inches across, and chowders which are larger. Little necks you will see in the case, and sometimes tops, ask about larger clams which we may have elsewhere.
Cockles are small wild clams from New Zealand. We carry them year round. They are great in a saute, or soup or in a clam sauce. Substitute these for manila or vongola clams in recipes.
Minced surf clams are available in pints. These clams are mild and easy for adding to soups, sauces and your creations.
In the summer we have steamers, aka soft clams, Ipswich clams, or piss clams. They are available year round, but seem to sell well only when its warm. If you need 15 or more pounds in winter, we can talk.
Farmed black mussels we have all year. We have been carrying Newfoundland product, though sometimes we have them from Prince Edward Island.
Oysters come in many varieties. In winter we occasionally have shucked oysters from the Chesapeake. These are eaten cooked in stews, fried, or in stuffing for turkey. We consistently have Blue Point oysters in the shell from Long Island Sound. On occasion we may have others on offer. The variety we can offer is limited by the amount and the speed with which we can sell them. If you want variety, support it by buying them when you see them. They can add a certain nose in the air sophistication to any meal.