Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Chris and I met up in Hartford for his brother Nicholas’s wedding a few weeks ago. As I haven’t been back to Seattle yet, I’m calling this all part of “my” trip. And since I’m still traveling I can cook up ridiculous ideas like, “Let’s drive to the Rhode Island coast to try clear clam chowder.”

Apparently the idea didn’t seem too ridiculous, and that is how we found ourselves stuck in traffic at a dead standstill on State Hiway 4 joining what appeared to be all of Rhode Island and possibly part of Massachusetts in trying to get to any piece of land that touched the Atlantic Ocean. Our goal had been to drive to Point Judith, have a look around and then enjoy lunch at Champlins, a seafood restaurant on the water I had heard about on The Splendid Table. Now we were wondering if we were going to get Nicholas back to Quidnessett in time to get married. Note to self: don’t take groom on excursions on his wedding day, especially when Friday afternoon traffic and a beach could be involved.

Traffic cleared up enough that we figured we could have lunch at Champlins. It was one of those rough-around-the-edges-but-with-a-sweet-deck-overlooking-the-water joint a la Ivars of Seattle. All this effort was to try their clear clam chowder. Think the ocean, only tasty, in a clear broth chock full of clams and potatoes. They also had scallops, gigantic and perfectly cooked (rare and still sticky in the middle) and fried clam strips, served on a hoagie. This was something new to me-the " roll". Like a hotdog, only waaaay better. The best roll I had was a lobster roll at the Lobster Landing near Nicholas's house in Clinton, CT. Oh 1/4 lb of lemony, buttery peeled lobstery goodness.

Chris grew up in storybook New England – dense green forest, quaint main streets with a town green, old colonial houses and lots of streams and hollows and mountains that people will plan their year’s vacation to visit – and it was all in his backyard. Chris and Nicholas took an afternoon to drive me and a friend from California around to all their old childhood haunts. I think having out of towners marvel at all this gave them a real sense what a magical place the two of them grew up in. Still being in travel mode has me marveling at the diversity of cultures, language, climates, geography and cuisines all within the borders of the US. Our New England trip again reinforced my belief that there are so many diverse cultures and landscapes to experience without having to leave the US. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this new perspective opens up in Washington state. I'm also looking forward my road trip back to Seattle taking me through the South, Southwest and the Rockies. I'll keep ya'll posted on food, sights and experiences all the way back to Seattle.


At August 10, 2009 at 9:48 PM , Blogger kch said...

That's fantastic, Liz! I love that you drove all that way for chowdah. Admirable really. You can probably just pretend for the rest of "your" trip that you're hosting some on the road culinary show ;) I look forward to the hole in the wall, out of the way delectable culinary surprises you come across.....!


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