Mar 26, 2010

Clam Tavern: Retro in Delco

Last Saturday, my older son Jack was at a sleepover, and the rest of us went out to dinner. My friend Lori said she was going retro, to Towne House in Media. which gave me the idea. We couldn't blatantly copy her and show up at Towne House as well. I remembered that Jackie in my book group had mentioned Clam Tavern, so we popped over there, to Clifton Heights. It's actually more than 20 minutes away, where Baltimore Pike narrows to one lane in each direction.

Clam Tavern is a little brick building on a corner, a modest little place. Clean as a whistle and filled with cops and firefighters and guys who want to be cops and firefighters, and guys who were cops or firefighters in the past, and the big-haired gals of cops and firefighters. They had Hop Devil in bottles, so Mr. Dream Kitchen was happy, but not as happy as if the taps had been working. That's right, the taps were not working.

Apparently, you have to make reservations here on a Saturday night to get a decent table. We didn't have them, so we settled for a bar table right by the door, where we got to see plenty of action. Someone was having a birthday party, and all the revelers were collecting at the bar, filling up the place with well-scrubbed white people.

So we studied the menu, which included Clams Casino. Is that retro, or what? So John and I split an order of that, and then split an entree of fried oysters. I have always loved fried oysters ever since I ate them at Walt's King of Crabs at 2nd and Catherine, in Philadelphia. That was back before Queen Village had parking meters in Queen Village, in the age when Acme Piano Company was just that and not a condo named after it. Walt's King of Crabs served fried oysters, and buckets of mussels. They served pitchers of beer, creamy cole slaw, and decent fries with the seafood. When you were done putting all that away, you were expected to get the hell out of there and allow room for more hungry hordes.

The Clams Casino were very spicy, rich little concoctions of clams, bacon, and chopped jalapenos, mixed with breading and baked in clamshells. The oysters were fresh and perfect. (Am I using enough adjectives for you?) Will had chicken fingers (sigh) and fries, but he liked our fries (that we were splitting; remember how I technically "don't eat fries"?) better because they had Old Bay Seasoning.

So afterward I talked to my friend Lori, who was pleased with Towne House--where, interestingly enough, she had clams casino as well! Strange. Well, no, not so strange, maybe. Lori reminded me that it was she who told me about Clam Tavern in the first place, last year, from a secretary at her work. Jackie had merely cemented the impression in my unreliable brain. So it's not coincidence, exactly, more like a sphere of influence imploding.

Next time at Clam Tavern: A martini (with gin and an olive) instead of beer, and crabcakes. And also? Reservations.

Mar 24, 2010

A Found Poem from Nana's Files

This is exactly how my Nana's recipe reads; I only added line breaks. It must be read in that pretentious poet voice; you know the one I mean. A hint of resentment and aggression in the consonants, especially when pronoucing "broiled," would help.

Cheese Bits, Broiled

Cut tiny rounds of

Pepperidge Farm bread. Place

paper-thin small white onions on top of

each round.

Mix equal parts of

mayonnaise and grated Parmesan,

spread on top, and

broil until brown.

Mar 19, 2010

Mortar & Pestle: A Quick Sketch

Oh, no.

My town paper, The Swarthmorean, has listed several local blogs today, so I had to hurriedly post something fresh!! So----hi. Don't mind me, as I straighten my hair and shove the cat off the table. We're ready. Really. I post whenever I've a mind to, and I never apologize or explain.

I'm about to use my mortar and pestle. Unlike a bread machine or a food processor and their obscure parts that break, a mortar and pestle is reliable. Also, it's beautiful, with its cool stony curves. I truly do love looking at it. I am going to crush garlic and fresh ground pepper into a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and schmear (I love Yiddish) it over my pizza dough. It's a ritual I made up. I figure it makes the oil more garlicky and peppery . . . right?

Without this weekly use of the mortar and pestle I would be a lost, depressed, soul in the kitchen, a culinary Eeyore, complaining darkly about the hairline cracks in the food processor and the wrong parts that we got for the bread machine. Don't get me started about that piece of the oven that falls off about four times a year.

My boys are out back playing catch. The windows are open and I can hear the thwack of the baseball hitting the glove. They'll be hungry. So I'll be going.

But tell me: what simple kitchen tools please you?