What’s This Shrimp Doing in My Crab Cake?

Posted February 25, 2004 at 2:19pm

“Attention! Our crabcakes have small pieces of shrimp in them,” reads the small sign at the Market Lunch counter at Eastern Market. Shrimp? In a crab cake?

It’s true. About a month ago, the recipe for some of Washington’s favorite crab cakes changed to include shrimp.

“We’re always tinkering with the recipe,” said Tom Glasgow, who runs the Market Lunch operation.

He said he had crab cakes at a restaurant that included shrimp and decided to try it on the Market Lunch menu.

“It’s not a cost-saving measure” he said, adding that for a 20-pound batch of crab cakes, there’s only about three and a half pounds of shredded shrimp.

A taste test of one of the new crab cakes revealed a few not-so-small hunks of shrimp that did more to change the texture than the flavor.

More than most other foods, crab cakes invoke strong opinions about how they should be prepared. Crab cake connoisseurs are often fiercely loyal to a particular recipe, be it their mother’s or a favorite restaurant’s. Typically, the better the crab-to-filler ratio, the better the crab cake.

So have crab cake purists been cringing in horror at the addition of shrimp to the revered Eastern Market cakes? According to Glasgow, “The majority of people have been raving about it,” and some don’t even notice.

And he indicated that he’ll probably stick with the new recipe.

Crab cake sacrilege or positive change? You be the judge.

Presidential Tastes. What do Christie Brinkley, James Carville and Muhammad Ali have in common? They all count Bill Clinton as a friend, and they all contributed recipes to the Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook.

The cookbook, which was released in January, includes 250 recipes from an eclectic group of Clinton cronies: celebrities, family members, politicians and administration officials. The result is a diverse compilation of culinary creations.

The first recipe in the book — for a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich — pays homage to Clinton’s fondness for Elvis.

The pages of recipes that follow include chicken jambalaya from James Carville, Czech sauerkraut zeli from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and nougat tiramisu from Andrew Cuomo, former Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Former Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) and his wife, Betty, donated a recipe for Dale’s crab soup, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe offers up a family recipe for Millie McAuliffe’s apple pie.

On the celebrity roster, Don Henley provides a recipe for corn dogs, Bono offers a simple recipe for a Black Velvet cocktail (champagne and Guinness), and Chevy Chase and his wife, Jayni, contribute a recipe for cauliflower soup with croutons. Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Steenburgen and saxophonist Clarence Clemons also contributed.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) weighs in with her award-winning chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the recipe for chicken enchiladas that the Arkansas governor’s mansion cook often prepared for the Clintons is crowned Bill’s favorite.

The cookbook costs $24.95 and is available at major bookstores.

Uncork and Unwind. This weekend, wine lovers from across the region will descend on the Washington Convention Center for the International Wine and Food Festival, where more than 1,700 wines will be waiting for tasting.

Washington Post wine columnists Michael Franz and Ben Giliberti will provide food and wine pairing demonstrations each day at 2 p.m. A seminar series will include lectures on wines from different countries and how to buy wine and pair it with food.

On the food front, three stages will host some of D.C.’s top chefs for cooking demonstrations. Participants will have the opportunity to sample the specialty dishes the chefs prepare and take home the recipes.

On Saturday, Olives chef Todd English, Café Atlantico chef Katsuya Fukushima, Oceanaire chef Rob Klink, Taberna del Alabardero chef Santi Zabaleta and Signatures chef Morou Ouattara will show off their culinary expertise.

Sunday’s line-up includes Marcel Bernard of Brasserie Les Halles, Bryan Voltaggio of Charlie Palmer Steak, Frank Morales of Zola, Jamie Leeds of 15ria and Steve Mannino of Olives.

The cooking demonstrations are included in the general admission price, but seating is limited. One-day tickets cost $71; a ticket for both days costs $92. For tickets, call (800) 343-1174 or visit www.wine-expos.com.

Wooing Women. Tosca restaurant is celebrating the fairer sex March 8-13 with a special menu designed for women in honor of Italy’s Festa della Donna — the country’s version of International Women’s Day.

“In my homeland of Lake Como, this is a very important holiday,” said Tosca chef and owner Cesare Lanfranconi. “Restaurants are filled almost exclusively with women dining out and celebrating, and men bring bouquets of bright yellow mimosa flowers to their wives, mothers or girlfriends.”

The three-course lunch ($22) and three-course dinner ($35) will feature housemade tortelli stuffed with peas and leeks, Maine lobster sausage, roasted duck breast with a potato and sheep’s cheese tart, and an organic cornmeal cake with strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar.

The menu is presented with a yellow flower.

Tosca is located at 1112 F St. NW.

Thaw Out. Winter can’t last much longer, but with temperatures still lingering around freezing, you may need some help remembering what summer feels like. Zola recently introduced two new tropical cocktails to do just that.

The Coconut Tears cocktail blends Cruzan coconut rum and Malibu rum with a splash of soda served in a glass rimmed with toasted coconut. The Passion cocktail mixes champagne, mango rum and passion fruit juice in a champagne flute with a sugared rim.

Zola is located at 800 F St. NW.