Clam. HG does love that briny bivalve. The love affair began decades ago at the Harbor Rest fast food and sea food joint on Jamaica Bay in New York’s Rockaway Park — at the time, the proletarian Hamptons. HG, 13-years-old, was employed as an oyster and clam shucker (also a peeler and de-veiner of shrimp). HG ate a lot of clams. His mantra: One for the boss and one for me. HG’s oyster passion developed later. Boyish passions subside but not HG’s clam lust. HG ate scores at Lundy’s located at Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay. He downed them at Nathan’s in Coney Island; at Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar. HG refers to raw clams (cherrystones and little necks ) on the half shell. HG has always fancied clams (and oysters) unadorned. Maybe a modest squeeze of lemon. No beverage but beer. Lundy’s served its raw clams with hot, buttered, straight-from-the oven biscuits — HG never complained.
When HG lived in Colorado HG began his daily lunch at the Palm Restaurant with six little necks (some 1,500 miles from the Atlantic but surprisingly sweet and fresh…go figure). HG has never neglected cooked clams, preferably as part of Italian cuisine….clams posillipo (clam broth enriched with tomatoes); Linguini with white clam sauce; clams casino (light on the bread crumbs, heavy on the garlic, bacon strip optional). HG is not a big clam chowder fan. HG finds New England style overpowers clams and Manhattan style is simply inedible. The best is light clam chowder served at the Legal Seafood chain in New England (an excellent purveyor of clams and oysters).
A great clam dish was sauteed clam bellies at the late, great Gage & Tollner’s in Brooklyn. HG is a fan of the fried soft shell clams available a scores of New England shacks. When resident at the family beach home on Prince Edward Island, HG downs scores of steamers, cleansed in broth and dipped in Tabasco-enhanced melted butter.
As stated in a previous post, the true clam heaven was Fire Island, the magical barrier beach that stretches for miles off Long Island between Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. After a day of Fire Island beach and sea fun, the HG family and friends would arm themselves with buckets and wade into the Bay. It was a clam bonanza. Following would be raw clams, clams casino and BSK’s extraordinary white clam sauce adorning bowls of linguini fini. The HG and BSK dune house overlooked the Bay and Ocean. Sunsets. Infinite whitecaps. Many martinis. Much beer and cheap, cold white wine. A jolly, sunburned time. Happy memories.