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Oct 8, 201211:00 AMFood & Dining

Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought

The Weekend Is My Oyster

Oct 8, 2012 - 11:00 AM
The Weekend Is My Oyster

Photos by Jane Adama

It had been a long three months at work. I can’t say I am not grateful to have a job and a steady income. But the job I hold comes with its stress and challenges.

After three months of working overtime, I set aside five days to visit Chincoteague Island, Virginia, with friends on the weekend of the 40th annual OysterFest

My vacation started on Friday, and we left in the morning so we could make good use of the rest of the day. After checking in, we made a late afternoon visit to the Chincoteague Inn.

The Chincoteague Inn is my favorite place on the island. It is, well… admittedly, somewhat of a dive.

But it is a wonderful dive, and a dive with a cheap drinks, at that.

It is a place you’ll find friendly interesting locals, lots of outdoor seating, and a wide angle view of the sunset. Not only is it my favorite place to go on the island, it’s the place I visit most often when I need to relax, slow down the pace of life, and just chill.

It was at the Chincoteague Inn this past Friday night that we spied the Clam Farmer.

We had seen his work truck at the Inn on previous visits and the Clam Farmer has since become our idol.

He drives a sturdy truck filled with coolers of seafood. He gets to spend every day outside and he gets off by 4. He doesn’t have to get dressed up for work and he has lots of friends.

We envy him. My husband, friends, and I have long fantasized about living the Clam Farmer’s lifestyle. We would shun our professional jobs and eschew the daily grind for a simple lifestyle. Unfortunately, mortgages, bills and kids’ educations have to take precedence at this stage of our lives.

Uncooked, these clams are gray and heavy like river stones. After a long steam in the pot they slowly open their shell to reluctantly expose their precious pearl-like bounty. The juicy treasure is fat like a ripe Chardonnay grape.

I don’t know if it was the stress hormones leaving my body, the cool salty breeze or the extra beer I had Friday night, but that evening I decided to introduce myself to the Clam Farmer and tell him how much we admired him. He threw me a sideways glance, and nodded, as if I was the geeky obsessive girl interrupting the hunk at the middle school dance. He was way too cool to talk to me.

But somewhere in the course of the evening I learned that he was a self-employed, licensed, tax paying merchant. And he had freshly farmed clams for sale. 

Let me be clear about one thing; the little gems I am describing are nothing like the dry shriveled up raisins that restaurants sell for $8.99 a dozen.

Uncooked, these clams are gray and heavy like river stones. After a long steam in the pot they slowly open their shell to reluctantly expose their precious pearl-like bounty. The juicy treasure is fat like a ripe Chardonnay grape. The outside is sweet and firm, and when you bite down on them, they squirt warm salty clam juice inside your mouth.

I bought two large mesh bags. Back at the rental house, I steamed them over beer and served them with a side of clarified butter and lemon.

They were fantastic and over the course of a lazy afternoon on the waterside deck behind our rental home; which slid into an evening full of crabbing, talking, drinking beer and fishing, a handful of us ate about 20 dozen. 

Yes, that’s right, we ate 20 dozen over the course of about 5 hours. I didn’t realize it at the time. I just kept steaming, serving, eating and enjoying the company of friends, the warm sun of a perfect October day and brief taste of the lifestyle that we fantasized the Clam Farmer led. 

We returned to the Chincoteague Inn Saturday night and sought out the Clam Farmer. I wanted to find him and tell him how good his clams were, but unfortunately, he wasn’t to be found. Being a Saturday, there were a lot of tourists there, and I guessed the crowd was not cool enough for him.

But at least I was cool enough to talk to him, at least for a fleeting moment; a moment long enough to convince him to sell me some clams.
 

Old to new | New to old
Oct 8, 2012 07:45 pm
 Posted by  D.B. F.

Sounds like a great time!

Oct 10, 2012 07:34 am
 Posted by  HistryFindr

Jane, you have a way of turning even the most commonplace visits into food destinations... I LOVE your column!!!

Oct 10, 2012 08:42 am
 Posted by  Oysterman

Great article.

we buy a lot of seafood from Gary Howard's shop, down, or up, Deep Hole Road. Oysters are good, but the crabs are really fat right now!

www.DeepHoleCreek.com

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