Jimmy Cantler’s

Cantler's Sign

Okay okay. I did go to Annapolis and enjoy the lovely downtown area. But the real reason for the short trip out to Annapolis? Jimmy Cantler’s Roadside Inn. Basically, crabs.

We arrived around 7pm on a Sunday evening, and were notified of a 90 minute wait. 90 minutes waiting for a small restaurant – any restaurant – in the District would cause outrage. But here at Cantler’s, where it was clear folks came from far and wide to have a crack at the crabs, it was just another normal night. And frankly, better than the two-hour estimated wait that I later overheard.

table of crabs

The inside of the restaurant was pretty much what I though a crab restaurant in Maryland should look: slightly dank, musty from the smell of crabs, long wooden tables covered with butcher paper and piles of clam carcasses. The loud buzz of conversation was only interrupted by the pounding of mallets, and the occasional bouts of laughter from groups of friends. A huge bar on the left half of the restaurant provided a rowdy dine-at-the-bar option, with other patrons hovering behind bar stools calling out for beers while they waited.

Blue Crabs

The weather outside was pleasant, so we managed to get in our orders for several cans of beer at the bar, and then joined the other crowds of people in the parking lot and down along the waterfront, where we watched a Cantler’s employee sorting fresh caught blue crabs (so small compared to their Pacific brethren!) in what I call the ‘crab staging area’.

watching crab picking

Our little group of four found a nice, removed spot on the dock, where we watched boats coming in and out for gas and for crabs. We made it through two cans of Fat Tire, each, and a sunset in the hour+ wait.

Fat Tire on the Dock

When we were finally seated, we were starving. The menu was fairly extensive, with more options I would have guessed. There was quite a varied seafood selection, including crab cakes, mussels, king crab legs, steamers, shrimp, fried fish, and more. There were also non-seafood options for people who were crazy enough to go to a crab joint and not like crab or fish.

Crabs were sold according to size, and depending on the catch that day. Our server informed us of what was available: Large, and Extra Large. By the 1/2 dozen, dozen, and bushel. I’m going to blame our hunger and over-eagerness to eat crabs, but for our party of four we ordered an appetizer of blackened rockfish bites over coleslaw, followed by a dozen (half Large, half Extra Large) Old Bay seasoned steamed crabs, along with hush puppies and four ears of steamed corn. Oh, and a rack of ribs.

seasoned steamed crabs

crabs dumped on our table

When our crabs arrived on a large red cafeteria tray, they were promptly dumped onto our butcher paper-lined table. Free for all! Equipped with a mallet and pick each, what followed was nothing short of ugly. Kind of reminiscent of another one of my recent crustacean-involved gastronomic endeavors….

cracking open crabs

I’m used to eating crabs from the Pacific, which have much harder shells, are larger, and thus have more meat that is slightly tougher. These crabs were small in comparison, but the meat that I managed to extract was tender, and oh-so-flaky! The problem is the shells were doused with what must have been a metric ton of Old Bay seasoning. By the end of my third crab, I could barely feel my lips, as they were numb from an excess of salt.

We did it, though.

the aftermath

the last mallet standing

We finished off the dozen crabs, and only had half a rack of ribs left over. Not bad for a party of four, of which two persons supposedly don’t really like crab. I’ll admit, I did try to over-compensate. Also, my hands, which were covered in crab juice, rib sauce, and seasoning, made it rather difficult to take a decent photo.

Here is where we indulged our bellies:

Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn
458 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21409
Phone: 410-757-1311

Annapolis, Maryland

Guys, the East Coast is so different. I mean, you drive one hour and you’re in a different state. Drive six and you cross three states. Did you know California takes about 15 hours to drive from North to South? Growing up, my family spent many summer hours in a car driving up, down, and around the Western states. I learned how to love my time spent in an automobile, sometimes watching hours of nothing but desert whiz by. It was in our old Dodge Van that I perfected my techniques for dealing with my chatty little sister and where I learned how to instantly fall asleep by the rocking of a vehicle. Today, though I don’t take them as much as I used to, I still love car trips. Not only does it remind me of my youth, but it reminds me of how big my world can actually be.

When I was living in New York, I think I was swallowed by city living. Sadly, I only managed to get out of NYC a handful of times. A handful! In five years! That’s pretty sad. There was one memorable Fourth of July trip to Cold Spring, New York, where I swore thereafter that I would make efforts to get out of the city more. Then an amazing trip up the coast to Maine for the following Fourth, which I reminded myself of my previous years’ promise. Sprinkled in between were a few more trips upstate and out to Jersey. But certainly not a track record of travelling about to boast.

house in Annapolis

A few weeks ago I went on a very short day trip to Annapolis. A few hours, really – we didn’t even leave town until 3pm. The car ride wasn’t that long, an hour at most. I wasn’t really expecting anything other than a naval academy and an abundance of shellfish restaurants, and was pleasantly surprised when we drove up to a bustling, quaint, cafe-filled college town. As we ventured out of the car on foot, everywhere we looked were coffee shops, bars that looked like they’ve been operating since the 19th century, waterfront seating, and flag-decorated patios.

men in white

Somehow we found ourselves first strolling through the US Naval Academy, which was a surprisingly beautiful campus. Lots of greenery, lots of beautiful brick buildings and very wide paths. A beautiful gym, and dumpsters that, to no ones surprise, were in formation. About face!

Dumpster Formation


We checked out an old musty bookstore, filled with old and new books practically falling off the shelves it was so packed inside. We peeked our heads in an ice cream parlor, only to forgo ice cream since the line was just too long. We walked around the quaint streets of town, observing the old houses with their colorful, tiny doors and ivy-covered alleyways. Doors and alleyways that could only have been built when the nation was first founded, as no one of excess height or weight today could comfortably fit under or through.

Annapolis Door

I’m so thrilled that already in DC, I’ve been exploring beyond the city limits far more than I did in my previous stint on the East Coast. And, it’s wonderful. Maybe it’s given the nature of people in this city, maybe it’s the accessibility of the freeways and that more of our friends have cars, maybe it’s just that the city is boring (no, not this, definitely not). Well, maybe it’s also that I’m now married to someone who can’t sit still.

Here are a few gems to hit up on a day trip to Annapolis:

the USNA
52 King George Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21402
Phone: 410-293-8687 (TOUR)
Annapolis Bookstore
35 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis Maryland 21401
Annapolis Ice Cream Company
196 Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: (443) 482-3895
the City Dock
Dock Street, Annapolis

Local Excursions: Maryland Renaissance Fair


If it’s anything I got from watching the first season of 30 Rock, it’s that expression. Blurgh! I’ve been totally behind on so many things. Blurgh! I have so many things to blog about that are moving farther away into the time space continuum.  Blurgh! I just spilled tea all over my pants. It’s okay, they’re sweatpants, which blurgggh, I’m still in my pajamas.

garland at the Ren Faire

Little Lords and Ladies

But blurgh! Let me share with your some photos and my experience of the Renaissance Fair just outside of town. A few weeks ago, the DiploMan and I, along with our good friends (yet another newlywedded couple, what is in the water these days?!) drove out across the invisible DC border into Maryland for the Renaissance Fair in Crownsville, MD. One of the things I’ve loved about living in DC so far is the accessibility to get out of DC. Slightly ironic, I know. But in our short two months here, I feel like I’ve gotten to explore the “greater” dc area quite a bit. Starting with the “Ren-Fair”.

jousting arena

I’m not a too-cool-for-school type of gal, but i’ll admit: I’ve always been skeptical of Renaissance Fairs. Renaissance Fairs were big with gamers (not me), drama kids (not me), and people who enjoyed Halloween (not me). Or so I thought. After spending a day at the at the grounds in Crownsville, MD, I learned that, little did I know they are also full of food enthusiasts (me!), craft-lovers (me!), and really amazing people-watching (so me!).

plaid pleating

head wear

The Renaissance Fair was quite a spectacular production. The fair was filled with more colored fabrics I’ve seen since the DiploMan and I went to India early this year. It was filled with more colorful characters than I’ve seen in quite some time too. Though there was a good portion of the visitors dressed in normal civilian garb, I was surprised at how many people went all out with their hair, costume, and makeup. I learned lots of things, like the word “Huzzah!”, which I plan to incorporate into my daily speech, and that I had a previously unknown passion for masks, fascinators, and glass-blowing (currently seeking classes in the dc area to recreate any or all of those crafts. We’ll see how that goes…)

masks on a wall

Knight's stirrups

We threw axes at a wooden wall and shot arrows from a bow at targets just 20 yards away, both are which are much harder to do (accurately) than you think. We watched a jousting tournament, slightly disappointed at the less-than-youthful knights that graced our presence. It was followed by log throwing, which was much more intriguing than I ever thought watching someone throw logs would be.

hair braiding

We ate giant turkey legs, having NO IDEA it was a ‘thing’. I’m so glad it is. We drank some mead and some cider, and also ate, randomly, a pizza pocket. We also strolled past an elephant ride, wax-dipping lessons, hair braiders, and lots of mugs for sale. We also contemplated buying armored underwear. The boys played with wooden swords, and we girls tried on flower tiaras.

The renaissance era was a pretty darned good time, if you ask me.

wooden sword tip

axes in the wall

arrow feathers

Where I went: Maryland Renaissance Fair
Sundays and Saturdays in September and October.
Driving address: 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis, MD 21401