I didn’t grow up eating fish. The occasional fish stick was all I was served in my younger and more vulnerable years, and that was always just a vehicle for ketchup. My mother doesn’t like cooking fish because it can make the house smell. I don’t think that I would have eaten it even if she did cook fish while I was living under her roof. I was not an adventurous eater. Not even close.
Throughout college I became more adventurous. I spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year on Martha’s Vineyard. I grew to love some seafood such as scallops and crab cakes. Gateway shellfish such as muscles cooked in a rich creamy garlicky sauce became a typical order on a night out.
I believe that I can now call myself a lover of seafood. Apart from sea urchin which I cannot bring myself to try, I have tried, and like to eat, most of what comes out of the sea.
Last week in Galway and Clare it was all about the crab claws. Oh man, even writing that has made me want another plate. All in all, I must have eaten about fifteen crab claws in one day. And I still want more, greedy guts that I am.
The first place I ever ate a crab claw was at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn in Liscannor, Co. Clare. It was just over a year ago. I have thought about them a lot since then. I didn’t know that the restaurant was called Vaughan’s, so I was thrilled, when after a swim in the sea and a long day jaunting down the West Coast of Ireland, we arrived at Vaughan’s last week.
Full disclosure: on our first stop of the day, at New Quay, our happy gang of six popped into Linnane’s and shared two plates of crab claws. Just to keep us going, obviously. I have no photo of them because we ate them too quickly.
So when we got to Vaughan’s and were thinking about what to order, I was going to go for the fish n chips. Only because I thought I should after already having eaten crab claws that day. But the Vaughan’s crab claws really had made an impression and who knows when I will be back in Liscannor, so “F*#@k it,” I thought, “I am going to get them again.”
Happily, Fergal was experiencing the same inner turmoil in regards to the crab claws, so we came together in one fabulous order of fish n chips AND crab claws.
It was the perfect combo. Too many crab claws would have been a sad way to end a magical day. Not ordering them would have lead to months of regret. A bad food order can do that to me.
Because we were all feeling a bit buzzed after our beautiful day in the sun and sea, we also ordered starters to share: crispy pigs ears and white bait. Always a good appetite whetter, that combo.
The chef sent out espresso cups full of smoked eel and potato soup for us. We thought we were being rewarded for being the most attractive table in the place, but we noticed a group of golfers getting the free soup as well. Whatever the reason, it was delicious and rich and we were grateful for it.
The crab claws lived up to my memory fully. It’s almost not worth eating crab claws anywhere but on the Western Coast of Ireland. I have yet to be disappointed.
The fish n chips was also fantastic; the fish was incredibly fresh and flakey.
You would be a Super Silly Soul not to go to Vaughan’s when you are in the West of Ireland. It is worth the trip, no matter how long the detour may be.