• Steven Keith

Crab feast cookout all it was cracked up to be

Sometimes the best meals out are literally just right outside your door.

Fresh crabs shipped in from Maryland
Fresh crabs shipped in from Maryland

As much as I love to dine out, summer is also a great time for relaxing with wine and cheese on the porch, enjoying a home-cooked dinner on the deck or going all out for an epic cookout with family and friends.


We did the latter this past holiday weekend and it was one of the most delicious feasts I’ve enjoyed al fresco in quite some time.


Fresh corn, tomato and avocado salad
Fresh corn, tomato and avocado salad

To celebrate their son being home on a short leave from the Navy – and another trip around the sun for me – close friends of ours hosted a big “crab boil” dinner in their backyard Saturday night, featuring fresh whole crabs shipped in from Maryland.


While sipping icy adult beverages and catching up on an unseasonably breezy summer day (Yacht Rock playing in the background, of course) we steamed dozens of those crimson beauties while arranging platters with all the fixings on a long red, white and blue festooned table.


When it was time to dig in, we cracked open and scooped out the goods, dipping that sweet meat in drawn butter – or eating it just as-is – along spice-dusted corn on the cob roasted with shrimp, sausage and potatoes; hot-from-the-oven cheddar biscuits reminiscent of Red Lobster’s; a fresh corn, tomato and avocado salad; and bubbly mac-and-cheese.


Man, oh, man was it good!


Better yet, we enjoyed it with awesome company, cornhole, music, laughs and other shenanigans that lasted well into the evening.


Couldn’t have asked for a better holiday feast. Or a better birthday, for that matter.


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I received a shot of good news this week from reader Alan Kuhlman, who reached out to let me know that the fun “Capital Cocktail Classic” will return next month after taking last year off due to the pandemic.


Roasted corn, potatoes and shrimp
Roasted corn, potatoes and shrimp

As a fundraiser for Fund for the Arts, the event’s success is even more crucial this year since the group couldn’t host its largest event, Wine and Jazz, for the past two years. So he asked for my help spreading the word and maybe sampling a few of this year’s creations in advance.


I am so the man for that job.


As part of this year’s event, local restaurants Bar 101, Black Sheep, The Block and Sam’s will offer special cocktail and food pairings from 5 to 7:30 pm on Aug. 14, which guests can vote on to determine this year’s winners for best drink, best food and best overall pairing. (Those not interested in the cocktails can substitute a glass of red or white wine instead.)


I’ll share more details as they come, but go ahead and mark your calendar to meet me downtown for a cocktail on Aug. 14!


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Although my Food Guy columns only run in Wednesday’s newspaper, I occasionally write other food features that appear other days as well.


In case you missed the latest this past Sunday, check out this amazing story on a young local man who used a COVID stimulus check to start his own microgreens business (in his living room!) and was soon successful enough to hire his parents, who lost their jobs during the pandemic.


The company’s name is Oh My Greens, and OMG is it a good one!



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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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