Members of Annapolis Scout Troop 91 may have been "honorable" and "obedient" at last year's Maryland Seafood Festival, but they were definitely not "prepared" for the hordes of visitors who devoured their mussel and oyster dishes over the course of the weekend.
"We had people waiting in lines 100 feet long," recalls scoutmaster Vernon Laurie, whose troop manned a vending station, "and we ran out of food three times."
This year, with some experience under their belts, the Scouts and their parents will be ready to serve 1,000 pounds of mussels to many in an anticipated crowd of 75,000. And they'll set up early to prepare for the 19th annual seafood extravaganza, which begins at noon Sept. 6 and runs through Sept. 8 at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.
Troop 91 won't be the only purveyor of Maryland foodstuffs; 13 nonprofit groups, all of which had to "audition" a seafood dish for the festival committee, will be on hand to serve up some of the state's most delectable entrees -- from crab in every conceivable guise to shrimp, seafood gumbo and corn on the cob. ("Landlubbers," notes a press release, can feast on hot dogs, pizza and the like.)
Though food is the obvious draw, there will be continuous music and entertainment, including performances by the National Guard sky divers and Annapolis Windsurfers. Children haven't been overlooked, either. For them there is scheduled a treasure hunt on the beach (Saturday, noon to 1 p.m.) and two crabbing contests (Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.)
Laurie has advice for newcomers: "The key is to get there early."
The promoters concur. And if what was served last year is any indication, this year's crowd will consume over half a ton of shrimp and 6,000 soft-shell crabs, washed down with 4,000 gallons of liquid refreshment.
Admission to the festival is $2.50 for adults, and free to children under 14 who are accompanied by an adult. Admission covers parking and all entertainment. Food items will be sold throughout the weekend. Hours for the festival are noon to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call the Maryland Seafood Festival (301) 268-7682.
This Express Lane entree, Mussels in Wine, is one of Troop 91's contributions to the Maryland Seafood Festival. To be prepared, have pepper, butter, salt and flour on hand before a quick trip through the Express Lane.
Express Lane list: mussels, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, parsley, wine, thyme MUSSELS IN WINE (4 servings)
3 quarts mussels in shells
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, plus extra sprigs for garnish
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
Pinch dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon flour for thickening as necessary
Sort and scrub mussels, discarding any that have opened.
In a heavy 6-quart kettle, melt butter and saute' the garlic, celery, carrots, onion and parsley over medium heat, approximately 4 minutes. Add wine, water and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil. Add mussels (preferably placed in a large strainer) and cook until shells open, 5 to 8 minutes. (Do not overcook, as this toughens the meat.) Shake kettle occasionally to incorporate the mixture.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels from pot to serving dish. Remove top half from each shell. If vegetable mixture needs thickening, stir in flour. Spoon sauce over mussels. Sprinkle with a garnish of parsley and serve with french rolls, if desired.