I had the pleasure of being a judge at the fourth annual Taste of Cambridge over the weekend along with John Shields of Gertrude’s at the BMA, Nancy Devine of Faidley’s Seafood, Roger Mallon, host of the "Fishin’ Kitchen" radio and TV shows in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and Abigail Hutchinson, executive chef at the Jekyll Island Club in Georgia.
It was so much fun for many reasons. The Eastern Shore town on the Choptank River—a James Michener and John Barth favorite—has evolved from its cannery roots into a charming family-oriented spot. And a renewed focus on food has brought several restaurants to the historic area, Jennie Rideout, one of the festival organizers, told me. She and her husband, Skip, are proprietors of the Mill Street Inn, a lovely bed-and-breakfast in one of the town’s grand Victorians.
The old-fashioned summer festival featured such events as watermelon-eating, hula-hoop, limbo, and Lego-building contests. A highlight of the day’s activities was a crab-picking contest. From 5-9 p.m. Saturday, several blocks in the heart of town were closed to traffic while music played and neighbors and tourists mingled. The festival is free, but visitors could buy tickets to sample dishes in the Crab Cook-Off and share their opinions in a popular vote. Proceeds benefited the town’s revitalization efforts.
As for us judges, after sampling six crab soups, two crab cakes, three crab dips, and three crab specialty dishes, we came up with these winners: crab dip: Portside Restaurant, crab soup: Snapper's Waterfront Cafe, crab cake: Bobby's at Clearview, and crab specialty: Water's Edge Grill at the Hyatt (for a crab-and-shrimp lollipop). Though really, all the entries had a winning quality. Keep the festival in mind for next year, or just head down there sometime soon for a visit.