Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Mothers Day connotes gifts, one of which is spoiler her by making dinner.  The problem is that you are used to mom being the cook.  One great idea is to buy food with the preparations already taken care of so all you have to do is cook.  Take, for instance Cross Bay Seashell Fish Market, located in Howard Beach where you can opt for whole or fileted fish or get some with the proper seasonings to minus the recipe. 

Vincent Marinello is the co-owner of Cross Bay Seashell Fish Market, located at 161-14 Cross bay Blvd. in Howard Beach.  “My family comes from a small fishing village in Sicily called Sciacca,” said Vinny. “As a teen my dad (Luigi) would work on a fishing boat along with his brothers. He would be out at sea for days and at times for weeks.”

Upon arriving in New York along with my mother, my dad started working for a gentleman by the name of Ray Hart, who owned Crossbay Seashell at the time. This was in 1974. My dad worked for Ray Hart until 1982. Then in 1982 Mr. Hart sold Crossbay Seashell to my dad and to my uncle (Salvatore Catanzaro).  My uncle retired around 10 years ago, and he sold his share of the business to Pat Marotta, who is currently my partner.

My dad retired 4 years ago, and I took over his ownership. As for me I never envisioned myself owning the business. I went to college, got my degree, and worked in the Import/Export field as a sales associate for around 6 years. When my uncle retired I went back to give my dad a hand, and haven¹t left since.”

On the top of the list of “preparations” is a Maine lobster, already steamed or stuffed with shrimp and scallops (and bread crumbs) to bake it on your own.   It is so worth ripping apart and getting every little morsel.  Keep in mind that if you purchase lobster tails (anywhere) they are frozen and cooked   There is nothing like having fresh lobster.   As for the “gift” portion, how about your taking it apart and less work for her.  It doesn’t just mean the two claws and tail.  Meat is hidden in the tiny claws and inside the body.   I found that the lobster did not require added butter.  I don’t know where that tradition began since the lobster itself should be juicy and sweet.   Save the calories for some dessert, instead. 

Stuffed flounder is a good choice for non-shell fish as well as being “mild” in taste.  Vinny or Pat will stuff it with lump crabmeat, shrimp, cream of mushroom soup and bread crumbs.  Now, that sounds delicious.  How did it taste?  As if it were served at a fine dining restaurant (I followed the baking instructions that Pat gave me).  

You can get two types of crab cakes.  Vinny tells me that some people actually prefer them with the imitation crab meat and are much less expensive.   I prefer the real Maryland style that they stuff with lots of lump crab meat, some bread crumbs and those Maryland spices.   Fish cakes are another option using cod instead of crab.  Easy tartar sauce combines mayonnaise and relish.  For a spicier one use one with mustard or just add a bit of mustard to the other two ingredients.  

Baked clams oreganata uses the fresh clams with olive oil and seasoned breadcrumbs as is an excellent appetizer.  It’s not as if mom will be eating all of this!  

A Shrimp Cocktail presentation will wow mom.  Pat tells me that the shrimp are wild and come from South America.  Buy them raw and steam in beer…that’s right.  It gives a bit of sweetness and removes a bit of the fishy flavor.   You can get cocktail sauce or make your own.  It’s now difficult.   A combination of ketchup and horse radish does the trick and gives mom the option of adding more horse radish if it further tempts the palate.   Line a martini glass and place the cocktail sauce in the middle.   If you really don’t want to cook it, Vinny or Pat will steam it for you.  Important to note that the shrimp has been frozen and thawed out.  You cannot refreeze but you can cook it up and freeze.  

If you don’t want to make your own cocktail or tartar sauce, you can purchase that at the market.  However, if you want lemons or limes you have to go next door to the grocer. While you’re there, I highly suggest that you pick up a can of crabmeat.  Get the one that comes from the claw. It has both excellent quality and taste (I tried it and loved it!).  Use some of it with the shrimp cocktail, add it to a salad with avocado and lime juice, concoct a crab quiche, add it to macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwich.  Keep in mind that the can of crabmeat is fresh and requires refrigeration. When you open the can, it stays fresh for 3-4 days.   Best thing is to take out portions of the meat, place in containers and freeze. 

I suggest that you call ahead of time…like maybe a day or two before to make sure that all of the items are available when you get there.  Phone: (718) 835-2987.  Small parking lot on the premises. 

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