On Saturday, I joined my friends for the Belmar Seafood Festival. I haven’t been to the Jersey Shore in a long time (a few years ago I drove to Cape May during the off-season), and this was my first trip south on NJ Transit. It was two hours on the commuter train, but it was more relaxing than driving on the Garden State Parkway.
After a day of torrential rain throughout the state, the Belmar Seafood Festival grounds by the beach were covered in hay, but we still managed to get muddy and sink into the ground a bit. I was certainly glad that I wore sneakers instead of sandals — I saw a few muddy feet.
My first stop on the seafood fest tour was a little Cajun booth that sold alligator sausage for $8. I have to admit, the meat didn’t really taste any different from a pork sausage, but the Cajun seasoning made it great. It was definitely the best food available.
Most of the food stands were the same, but there were a few that stood out. I found buffalo fried clam strips, which were pretty good. The second-best booth was Jamaican fish — I ordered the jerk fish, which had an amazing sauce. I only wish the fish had been a little larger.
My friends also ordered crayfish, crab cakes, softshell crab (with a mango sauce), calamari, and a few other things I can’t quite remember. I’ve never been much of a fan of crayfish — I see it as too much work for too little food. The calamari definitely wasn’t as good as at the Hoboken Pilsner Haus. But the softshell crab and crab cakes were pretty good choices.
We also sampled the beer tent. It was a choice of four Leinenkugel beers from Wisconsin. I opted for the imperial IPA and Baltic Porter — I figured I might as well get the higher alcohol beers if I was paying $6 per beer in a plastic cup. The imperial IPA, at 8.9% abv, was quite smooth — the hops weren’t overpowering, but the flavor went well with seafood. The Baltic porter, at 8.5% abv, was much heavier and didn’t sit as well after all the seafood — as my friend put it, the beer had more of an alcohol flavor.
After we finished eating, we headed to Point Pleasant to walk the post-Sandy repaired boardwalk. I forgot how cheesy and expensive the Jersey Shore boardwalks were. But there was a shop that sold ice cream and waffles.