Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fried Clams... mmmmm

I was in Boston this past weekend and I was able to experience some highlights of the New England cuisine. While I love a good bowl of New England clam chowder whole-heartedly, the prized dish of the weekend had to be the fried clams. I had never tried them before, due to the fact that they are NON-EXISTENT on the west coast, and I was not let down. These are a great way to eat clams, and a real treat.

Let me back up here for a minute. It wasn't until not too long ago that I even knew about the famous fried clams of New England. Because of growing up and living in the Bay Area, I had never seen them on menus around here. I've traveled a fair amount, but for some reason my trips to New England have only included visits to family in Connecticut. Unfortunately for me, I have never had the chance to really experience the food. So anyway, it was a couple of weeks ago when I was reading a food blog on the New York Times website. The author wrote about his journey up and down the coast of New England looking for the fried clams of his youth. This article made the clams sound so good that I knew that I needed to find the same kind of satisfaction from fried clams when I was in Boston.

I looked pretty hard. Though I was trying to get a feel for all different types of food in Boston, I tried the fried clams at several different locations. They were all delicious, however it was at a small, cozy, contemporary seafood restaurant in the North End called Neptune Oyster where I found paradise. Living up to its name, the oysters were delicious. 12 different kinds. Salty, plump, juicy, briny, cucumbery, buttery, chewy, anything you could think of they had. It was the fried clams though that took the cake. When they arrived the pile of clams were just perfectly golden, and I could smell the tangy, saltiness of the batter with a lemony finish, and the subtle fishiness of the clams. Thinking of the smell alone makes my mouth water. I could not wait to take my first taste. As I bit into the first clam my taste buds went wild. The first thing I noticed was the burst of salty clam juice that erupted as soon as the fat belly of the clam had been punctured. Next was the slightly chewy neck of the clam. The combination of fat, juicy belly and thin, chewy, and buttery neck went together perfectly. Then I noticed the batter. Thick, but still very light. Extremely crunchy, and yet silky. Salty, but also acidic from the lemon. The flavors were meant to be. Plus, the most amazing part, not the least bit greasy! The wet juice of the clam mixed together with the crunchiness of the batter and helped it melt in my mouth. These clams had been done excellently. Some of the other clams I had tried were either too chewy, too covered in batter, not juicy enough, or not flavorful enough. These clams had just enough flavor to stand out even with the delicious, golden batter, and they were just juicy and soft enough to interact mutually with the batter. Unlike at other venues, the flavors did not have to compete over which was more powerful, the clam or the batter. These were one of the highlights of my trip. They were heavenly.

Hopefully we can find away to bring these to California!


Az said...

*drool* what a glorious, golden artery clogging mount of goodness!! Must go fry soemthing! Thanks for planting evil thoughts in my head!

hoo.asked.yoo said...

mouthwatering! i've never had a fried clam, but might have to go visit my friend in Boston just for the experience!