Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back in the (Old) Bay


Baltimore Vegetable Medley
Many years ago I was introduced to my first mouthful of Old Bay at a popular seafood restaurant in, yes, Baltimore. When I say mouthful I mean it. They had used so much Old Bay seasoning on that poor, delicious crab that I had wanted to gag among the throngs of visitors who were merrily chowing down around me. Later I gave it a second chance at another Baltimore favorite by giving the crab cakes a go. Again, the food was barely noticeable under the heavy-handed use of seasoning. After that experience I wrote the Old Bay fans off as being either "Tourons" or "Baltimorons" (the air quotes are a *tsk*tsk* at my young-and-dumb, name-calling self), and I didn't let "Old Bad" touch my tongue again.

Through the years since I've considered giving the popular seasoning mix another try, especially after making my own version for a crab cake meal. Recently I was enjoying a cheesesteak at Philly's Best when I was once more confronted by Old Bay. There it was, sitting on all of the tables next to the hot sauce like I was supposed to be using it on something. Glancing up at the menu board it all became clear when I spotted a listing for Baltimore Fries seasoned with Old Bay. I like to mix it up with spuds, and thought that the flavors I'd taken away from my bad experiences with Old Bay might be interesting on them, but since I was already stuffed with a sandwich I decided to try it out at home.


Crabby, Cakey
Just to give it the full go I picked up some lump crab meat for cakes and roasted red and white potatoes, red and golden beets, and carrots with olive oil and a light (DO YOU READ ME, BALTIMORE?) sprinkling of Old Bay added after the medley had started to crisp up. Some lightly salted slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes rounded out the plate, and yes I did use panko and pork rinds in my crab cakes once more.

Back In The Bay
The verdict? Well, I'd say that you'll have to like celery salt to enjoy the flavor of Old Bay, but I did like the tastes of food that wasn't buried in the stuff Baltimore style. The cakes came out delicious and the vegetable medley was perked up by the spice mix. I'll likely still make my own from time-to-time, but for those pressed-for-time moments it's good to know that there's a can of quick in the pantry. Maybe I'll try it out on tomatoes next time. Meanwhile, I'm glad that I gave the Old Bay a new chance.

Yurm