My primary goal for the trip was to eat myself stupid with seafood, and up to this point in the trip, I think I was doing pretty well. My secondary goal was to do a proper New England clambake. Not surprisingly, everyone was on board with this decision.
I originally wanted to do the whole dig a pit, throw in some coals, seaweed, seafood and stuff, cover it with a tarp, wait a bit, and enjoy. But that idea died quickly when we checked the rules for the beach and no form of flame was allowed. So, off to the stove-top! Well, eventually. Gotta get the stuff first.
We stopped by a small place to purchase our seafood. They had a modest, but good quality, selection of bivalves. The lobsters were divided into different clothes baskets according to their weight. We bought two one-pound-and-a-halfers, but they did have one monster of bug. Our best guess is that it weighed in around five pounds and covered half of the bottom of a clothes basket.
The recipe for a clambake is really easy. It sums up as: gather the ingredients, layer them in a huge pot, and cook. The specifics are as follows:
Once everything is layered in the pot, cover, turn the burner to high, and cook for 17 to 20 minutes. Basically, until your potatoes are tender and the lobsters are bright red. Everything else will be done by the time these two are ready.
It was decided that the easiest way to divy up the lobster was first to remove all the meat from the shell. Easier said than done for a couple of novices.
The clambake was a little on the expensive side, but split between five people it was really reasonable. I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a blast cooking it. And guessing by how quickly it was devoured, I think that they enjoyed eating it as much as I did. The lobster did end up slightly overdone, but it still tasted great. The mussels and clams were the hit of the party though. Basically it’s hard to screw up really fresh seafood (as long as you don’t overcook it). The only thing not eaten was some of the sausages and potatoes.
Yup, it was good.
All of us are baseball fans to varying degrees (I’m probably the most fair weather fan of the group), so it was a unanimous decision to catch a minor league game while we were out East. The fact that we got really awesome seats for $10 helped to make the decision even easier. Since we had a bit of time before the game, we stopped by a small eatery to catch supper. The Sea Swirl reminded me of a Mom & Pop version of a Dairy Queen that also served a nice variety of seafood.
The clam strips were quite good. In fact, I used the tarter sauce for the fries because the clams didn’t need any kind of adornment.
After we ate (and were incredibly stuffed), we made the short journey to the Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium where the Connecticut Tigers call home.
I did take some pictures during the game, but I won’t bore you with them. Although, I did get some really cool shots with the continuous shooting mode. I took a series of photos of each pitcher throwing the ball. It comes out as a nice slow-motion montage.
Since it was a Friday game, they had fireworks afterwards. Again, I’m totally in love with my new toy.
Yeah, the new camera is fun.
A quick apology first. Since I was just learning how to use my new toy, there was a bit of a screw up. Somewhere along the way, the camera got switched to manual focus and I didn’t realize it for a day and a half, so there are a bunch of pictures that I’m really less than satisfied with. Please bear with me, we’ll get to better ones soon.
The whole dream of the Rhode Island vacation started with an invitation from our friend Dave’s parents. They have a beach house that they were kind enough to open to Dave and some of his Seminary friends for a week. Through a couple of iterations of who was interested and available, our group came out to be Dave, myself and Lindz, and Matt and Janessa.
Our first day in Little Rhodie, we went over to the Port of Galilee for some seafood lunch. There is a restaurant that Dave’s family goes to all the time that is about a 20 mile drive from the house (or about 10 miles as a crow would fly). Champlin’s Seafood is located right on the inlet from the ocean to one of the many saltwater ponds in the area.
They have a great working relationship with the fishing boats that use the Point Judith Pond as a harbor. Many dock right outside of the building. One touch that I thought was really cool is that they have the names of the fishing boats that they buy from on the life preservers hanging up around the building. Besides the restaurant, they also sell a large variety of fresh seafood.
Their menu has a selection that any seafood lover would drool at the mere mention of a quarter of the items. I would highly recommend at least looking over the menu before you go. That way, you aren’t staring slack-jawed at the menu board trying to make a decision while people are waiting for you. They have a full bar, so if you would like a homemade bloody mary, a beer, or just a soda, they have your thirst taken care of as well. I should warn you that you should be prepared to spend a bit of money. It’s not excessively expensive, but it isn’t cheap either. I really should clarify that a bit: the quality to cost ratio is unbelievable, but it’s not someplace most people can afford to go more than once or twice a month. Yeah, I feel better with that description.
Dave bought a half-dozen clam cakes to share around the table. Think of a doughy (in a good sense) crab cake and substitute in some clams. They were really good.
Lindz and I went a little wild with our order. Based on Dave’s recommendation, I went with the deep fried whole-bellied clams. In hindsight, I should have gotten them a la carte, and shared Lindz’s fries and slaw. Whole bellies are whole soft shell clams as opposed to clam strips which are sliced hard shell clams. The whole bellies that I ate had a nice mild clam flavor with a sweet undertone. You didn’t need tarter sauce or anything to accompany them. I’ll put it another way for you. I kept eating them after I was stuffed halfway through my meal. Hands down, they were the second best clams that I have ever eaten. Lindz ordered a lobster roll dinner for herself. I think she still has the lobster bug from when we ate at Cosmos. Ha ha! Lobster bug, get it? I’m so punny! I did swipe a bite and it was really good. Perfectly cooked and oh, so tasty. Speaking of Cosmos, that is the reason why I got a 1/2 pint of their lobster bisque. This was good, but it wasn’t quite as good as the one at Cosmos. Significantly cheaper, but still slightly disappointing. I shouldn’t be complaining because it’s still far better than you can find most anywhere.
Finally, I saw that they had raw cherrystone clams on the menu. I’ve never heard of, much less had clams on the half shell before. So I ordered two of them. I figured I’d offer Lindz one and if she declined, then I could eat both of them! But, she was feeling adventurous that day and decided to try one. Which still made me happy. Janessa kindly documented our experience.
If I was still hungry and we didn’t already spend a healthy wad of cash, I would have happily gone back and ordered a baker’s dozen. They were everything that people tell you that good shellfish should taste like. Slightly sweet and a bit like a fresh ocean. These are the clams that claim the #1 slot in the best that I have ever tasted. Lindz even liked them.
As far as seating options go, you can either sit inside (it’s really spacious) or out on the deck (a bit more limited). It was a gorgeous day, and the place wasn’t busy, so ours was an easy choice: the deck. I would suggest going there for lunch or an afternoon snack because I heard that around supper time, the line can get up to a hundred feet long or more.
One of my stated goals for this trip was to eat myself stupid with really good seafood. This place fulfilled that dream and then some. It also set the bar unbelievable high for the rest of the trip.
. . . So I guess I’ll catch up a little on my posts that I’ve been neglecting. I’m going to do the less involved ones, so don’t pretend there is any actual chronological order here. It’s just what’s convenient for me, and that’s what’s important right?
We ate out a couple of times at places that are worthy of posting. The first one is Mac’s Fish and Chips located on the corner of Hamline and Larpenteur in St. Paul. I cannot speak with any authority about any dishes beyond the cod and chips basket, clam and chips basket, deep fried cheese curds, and salt-water taffy. I’ve never been able to convince myself to order anything else because this subset of their menu is just that good. This is a place that I cannot possible recommend enough. BTW, chips = french fries in the British parlance for those not in the know. Oh, I should note that Mac’s wraps the baskets in newspaper like they do back in England. It’s a nice touch.
The other place of note that we ate at was Muffuletta on Como Ave. I had never eaten there before so I was interested in going to an alumni dinner that Lindz’s school was throwing. Ok, I was interested in going for a reason beyond just free food. Maybe Narren was right, I am just a food whore. But I think that is a topic for another post. Anyway, Muffuletta is a bistro style place with a globally inspired menu. Since the school took over the whole restaurant, there was a limited menu. I got the salmon wellington and Lindz got the mushroom risotto. Hers was very tasty but nothing I haven’t eaten / made before. I have to admit that curiosity drove my decision to have the salmon. Ever since we honeymooned in Jamaica where I had the most amazing beef wellington, again a topic for another post, I’ve been fascinated with the dish. The salmon dish was over some roast veggies and some kind of cream sausce that I can’t remember the specifics on. On the whole, the dish was good and put together well. My only complaint about it was that the salmon was over cooked. I don’t know of a solution to the problem, so while it is a critique, it is not a judgmental one. It is just something I would have liked differently. If that makes any sense at all.