It’s 7:27 AM on Saturday morning, my phone is buzzing and I’m wondering if the meal I had at La Belle Aurore last night was just a bad dream. After months of fantasizing about this new farm-to-table further down the shore, my expectations were high. Crap, it was real. Should have stuck to the plan and gone out for sushi. What is it? I check my phone, one eye open. It’s the lady down at Seawell Seafood, Aileen.
i know it’s been a while, but we have razor clams this weekend! i didn’t forget about your request.
When was that? Last Spring? I had just started my new job at GG, had to be Spring. I lay in bed just a little bit longer, there is still plenty of time to suit up for spin class. I sink further into the cozy flannel sheets, mentally refusing. I look forward to this time all week, when I wake up and my husband is still warm in the bed next to me. My mind wonders to briny juices, the ocean, I smell lemon and realize I need white wine. Do I have parsley?
Eventually I shove myself out of bed. I may have skipped spin but I’m going to Renegade Strong. We’re pulsing at the bottom of squat number 863 (?) and I’m lost somewhere between broiling or steaming the clams. Breathe.
They’re from Maine. Delicate and heavy, very much alive. I choose 12 and ask the young man who sometimes calls me hun if he’s ever had them. He hasn’t, but plans to try some for dinner. We promise to report back to one another.
Now it’s time to scoop up Road Dog and head over to the Velvet Mill. I want fresh bread from the Farmer’s Market and another dose of juice from Biologic +. I remember I can’t spend too long, we’ve got a party with the Saltwater gang later in the evening!
The baker remembers me, she smiles and we laugh. I choose a baguette and she hands me another bag of her sourdough because some just didn’t come out as pretty.
We weave through the Mill, dip outside and quickly back in to arrive at Biologic + where raw juice is made to order. I’m excited to tell Carlos that all of the dots have been connected, that it’s his beautiful wedding photo that sits above my desk and smiles down at me every day. His joy. I order the Pick Me Up, it has beets and I love their earthiness. The
three, four, five of us talk for over an hour, like old friends.
How long should razor clams soak?
An hour sounds good enough. This one is letting its clam-weiner hang out, gross!? I laugh to myself and then remember that time my girlfriend cut her toe open on one of these at the beach when we were kids – stitches required.
I toss a lidded pan on the stove with a big pat of butter, a guzzle of olive oil and wait. In goes the as-thin-as-humanly-possible sliced garlic. Russian Red garlic to be exact, picked up at the Farmer’s Market the weekend before. The farmer had hands as knobby as the garlic she had been sizing up for me. I wonder if she would think it was odd if I asked to photograph them… her hands. They tell such a story. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to ask some time.
In goes a glug of white wine, another glug. I let it cook down and empty a can of fire roasted tomatoes on top, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and stir it around with a fistful of chopped parsley. Finally, the clams and lots of lemon juice.
This better be good, I can’t deal with another culinary let down. Not two in a row and not one from my own kitchen.
I realize, it’s incredibly rare for the two of us to sit down together for lunch. Breakfast, on weekends, dinner, almost always these days. But lunch? It’s a lost meal.
The baguette is toasted, butter no longer a block of concrete from the fridge and we’re both starving for solid food. Full disclosure, I rolled the dice on when to pull the pan off the heat. Somewhere around 5 minutes with the cover on.
Neither of us will eat the “sucker” and it needs salt, more lemon too. Both an easy fix. They taste delicately like the ocean with the texture of calamari. Halfway through the second clam my mind shifts to the dish I’m bringing to the party later…
- 1 dozen razor clams
- 2 tbsp butter – preferably from grass-fed dairy cows
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic – sliced thin
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- 1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/4 cup of chopped parsley – estimate
- juice of one lemon
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Soak the clams in ice cold water with a few shakes of red pepper flake, someone once told me it makes them flush out faster. While this is happening, prep the other ingredients and warm the pan to medium low.
Melt the butter in the warmed pan with the olive oil, swirl it around and add the garlic. Let it cook for about a minute and then add the wine. Reduce by half. Next, add the tomatoes, parsley, a couple pinches of kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. Let it thicken slightly and then add the rinsed clams. Squeeze lemon over top and put the lid on. Take off the heat between 4 – 5 minutes (depending on their size) and enjoy with crusty bread slathered in butter.
Cheers to the perfect answer for a bitterly cold New England winter day.