A recent visit to Florida happened to coincide with the start to stone crab season which runs from October 15 to May 15. I first had stone crab claws several years ago in NYC while sitting at the bar at Balthazar. Then earlier this year I ate them in Tampa when I was there for my second cousin's wedding. When I discovered my October trip coincided with the new season, I was determined to have some.
I love stone crab because the only part we eat is the claw. These crabs have huge claws relative to their body size. Generally the bodies are not eaten or even killed during the harvesting of the claws. The claws are twisted off and the crabs are thrown back in the water where they grow new ones. How is that for sustainability?
Plus I grew up on steak and potatoes in the Midwest so dealing w/ crustaceans generally terrifies me: Which part am I supposed to eat and how do I get it out?? New Englanders have this figured out but I generally resort to garden tools.
Stone crabs therefore are perfect food for me: delicious, no one dies, and I don't have to pick pieces out of strange crustacean crevasses.
The most famous place in South Florida to get stone crabs is Joe's Stone Crab Shack in Miami Beach. Since I was staying in Ft. Lauderdale I decided to go to Billy's Stone Crab Restaurant in Hollywood, Florida. The meal was delightful. The stone crab claws were generous in size and full of succulent, sweet crab meat. I had a side dish of garlic creamed spinach which I could eat three times a day. I made a mental note to find a recipe for garlic creamed spinach. I washed it down with a lovely glass of sauvignon blanc. The service was pretty good for that part of Florida and my table was outside overlooking the intra-coastal waterway. Several huge yachts with happy partiers cruised by.
It would have been a great evening if it hadn't been for my date who turned out to be a cad. Fortunately I'm not the kind of woman who lets a lousy man ruin a perfectly fine meal.