Clam Juice and Tomato Cocktail

Monday, September 8, 2014

This recipe was inspired by eating clams and thinking about how we can use them in a recipe (we did a dairy-free clam chowder last year), and also by a recipe we discovered in a cookbook found digging around in a thrift store.


The cookbook is a 1936 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cook Book. The recipe is simple: it proposes mixing 2 parts clam juice and 1 part tomato juice. Nothing more.



Intrigued and inspired, I started digging around. The closest thing I found to a modern-day clam cocktail is Clamato, which is a cocktail mix that is apparently quite big in Canada, Mexico, and on cruise ships. It is sometimes mixed with things like vodka, and sometimes even like beer. After trying something I found somewhere that strangely suggested mixing half part the mix and half part beer, I can report to you that I am not among those gourmands that enjoy this peculiar beverage (it tastes just how it sounds).

Dissatisfied, we decided to make our own version. We mixed and measured and sampled until the combination of ingredients seemed just right.

For the clam-squeamish, don't be. If you like Bloody Marys, you will like this one. It is closest to that, except with a clammy twist of je ne sais quoi. For more seafood and cocktail inspirations, you can try our Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail.


Clam Juice and Tomato Cocktail
Serving size: 1

You will need:
4 oz tomato juice
2 oz clam juice
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp hot sauce such as Tabasco
1/4 tsp horseradish
Celery salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime

1. In a shaker, with ice combine the above ingredients. Shake well. In a highball glass, add 1 oz to 1 1/2 oz vodka (to taste, or skip), 4 ice cubes, and fill with the mix from the shaker. Garnish with lime or lemon wedge. Enjoy!


Jersey Summer - LBI

Monday, September 1, 2014

In late summer, heading south on the Garden State, a one hour and forty minute drive can stretch to four hours. Simply due to congestion.

Everyone heads to the shore.



To get to Long Beach Island, you wait an hour just to get off the exit, because there is only one road to the island. But oh, once you get to it, you forget everything else.

This is a place I want to come back to, no matter the traffic. This is the place where I want to live, year round. This is my shore.




It's full of one mile wide towns with names like Ship Bottom, Surf City, and Love Ladies, of seafood and of warm lapping waters, and of sun bleached cottage houses painted in pastel colors.




If you drive through the length of the entire island (it's called long for a reason), at the very bottom you can see the skyline of Atlantic City. From the northern tip, on the breakwater, you can see the Barnegat Peninsula across the inlet.





Barnegat Lighthouse is a fun place to be in the evenings. In the summer, it offers night climbs for some spectacular views.


(Tony took these lighthouse photos.)


We saw some divers in the area (this man waddled his way across the wet rocks only to come within two feet of the diver, hold up his camera, take his picture, and waddled his way back).



It is the best part of the island to watch the sunset, before heading back to your cottage for some grilling on the patio, or, for us, hitting the road (but not before securing a bucket of fried clams for the ride back).




Jersey Summer - Highlands Clam Fest

I'm not a native New Jerseyan, but it has been my home for the last few years. Before moving here it used to be what it perhaps is still to my coworkers who live in the city: something far away, less cool, where "other" people live. With some hazy images of trees and suburbs.

I've previously lived in various parts of the city for a number of years. I don't miss it, mostly because I'm still there five days a week for work. When I'm done at the end of the day I go back to the hot sweaty summers in Jersey, full of hikes, cicadas, katydids, the cries of blue jays, ripe and juicy Jersey tomatoes, farmers' markets, and the shore.

I heard of the "shore" way before it was made infamous by MTV. That shore exists. I've been there. The Boardwalk is lined with kiosks that sell burgers, fries, pizza, margaritas and beer. It is full of places offering philly cheese steaks, except when you're on the shore, you order the "Jersey Shore" - a philly cheese steak stuffed pita with cheese balls. In the words of one tween we were ahead in line of "when you're at the shore you can't eat healthy." The boardwalk is is full of carnival attractions, with a small amusement park, similar to and just as crowded as Brooklyn's Coney Island.

But there is a different shore. There is the North Shore, which most wouldn't consider "the shore" at all.


At the North Shore, there is Sandy Hook, which used to be an army base but is now a national park, with sandy beaches, a jitney to NYC, and some nudists on one of the beaches named after a military officer John W. Gunnison. A former gun battery, it is still a home to its ghosts. At the very tip of it, there still stand officers' quarters, abandoned and boarded up, but the area is open for biking and exploring.


After a day of exploring this place, a good place to go for dinner is in Highlands, NJ. Highlands used to be a popular resort town in the beginning of 20th century and has a rich history (including being a popular destination during the prohibition era). Severely hit and damaged by Sandy, the place is home to some of its own ghosts.


But most of it has bounced back. And it remains a good place to get some seafood. There is Moby's (a shack-type restaurant that serves everything you would want from a shore-front seafood place, in its freshest form - pick up your order at a kiosk and sit on a patio facing the water cracking a lobster or eating clam strips) and its neighbor Bahrs Landing (a sit-down, waitered version with boat access).


This is also a place where the local annual clam fest is held. We were there last year, and again this year. This is one of the best times to get some good seafood, raw clams, oysters, lobsters, lobster rolls, gator sausages, crab cakes, and some of the world's best clam chowder (from Bahrs).



This is a good time to get your fill of summer seafood, have some beer, listen to some good music.


Strangers strike up conversations and people are there just to have a good time, no questions asked. The atmosphere has been what Jersey is to me: unassuming, matter of fact, welcoming, frank.  "Is that a lobster roll?" A woman asked us when we sat down to share one, busy with her own plate of clam strips. Upon our assent, she shouted "Hey! Glen! Get me a lobster roll! I'll split it with ya."


Glen was nowhere to be seen, so she went and got one herself.


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