One thing you should never turn down is an invitation to a New York State clam bake. It comes as no surprise to anyone that the East Coast is a great place to get seafood, but on top of that it seems like everyone is just more willing to get along and have a good time over a bowl of shells and melted butter.
Summer cookouts usually make people think about hot dogs and hamburgers. If you’ve read my earlier post on picnics, you’ll know that I do love a good cookout – it’s an art form, really, to pull off the perfect spread.
But all the planning can just disappear when you decide to throw or attend a clam bake – my great-aunt just threw one together in a matter of 30 minutes for an impromptu 3rd of July family get-together. After a gorgeous day of sailing (yet another blogged-about topic that comes with the Finger Lakes Region), her eyes got big and she went, “Oh! I know! Let’s go get some clams!”
No intensive shopping list in sight. Clams + butter = clam bake. Throw in a few sides as you’re walking down the grocery aisle if you plan to make a meal of it. I highly suggest corn and potato salad, with some type of shortcake for dessert (ours was festively flag-shaped – hooray!). For the picky eaters a few Zweigles couldn’t hurt.
Chances are, whoever you call to invite will offer to bring some of these sides anyways. I find that food tables tend to fill up on their own when you provide room for them to (easiest done by inviting people and allowing +1s).
The only real thing you’ll have to decide on is the Great Debate of Clam Bakes: grilled or boiled? I myself am slowly starting to lean more towards grilled. However, the debate is off if someone forgets to scrub the edges of the shells – sand is a terrible seasoning. Even the butter can’t help that one.
It might just be for a meal or an afternoon snack, but a good clam bake is ultimately a way to celebrate summer, togetherness, and the 4th of July all season long.