Friday, July 30, 2010

New Things #1 & #2: Adventures in Clamville

New Things #1 & #2: Adventures in Clamville (Coincidentally Keeping with the Clam Theme)

So, on Father’s Day we went to my parents’ to hang with my Dad for awhile. We knew we’d be staying for dinner & I also wanted to get Dad a bottle o’ wine, so we stopped by the liquor store. On the way there, Derrick mentioned that we should get my brother Marc a farewell forty, as he was leaving again for tour the next day.

We ran into the store just as a torrential downpour was starting, which is always fun, isn’t it? We chose some wine & wandered over to the fridge case to grab a beer for Marc. And that’s when I saw it--Chelada!

I had heard about the wonder that is prepared michelada awhile ago, yet had never seen it available to buy. For those not in the know (ha! as if my brief research makes me an expert on the subject), a michelada is beer mixed with tomato juice, lime juice…& clam juice. They’re popular in Mexico & Latin America. Now, one can imagine that perhaps a freshly mixed michelada might be ok, if you’re into that sorta thing. But these michelada specialties are canned, made with Clamato & come in two lovely varieties--Bud or Bud Lite. And they’re just called Chelada, ‘cuz it’s snappier. Or something. Like I said, clearly an expert.
Marc needed to have one (don’t worry, we actually got him something good, too).

When the time came & Marc’s initial horror waned a bit, I finally got him to try it with the understanding that I would also try it…after him. His expression of disgust, swearing & coughing was not a good review. Upon my first sip, my assumption was correct: Chelada is totally repulsive.

I’m not a fan of tomato juice (which is strange, considering my love for tomatoes & all products made of the fruit) & I am not a fan of Budweiser. The first taste of Chelada is gross on it’s own. Your taste buds are flooded with the overwhelming flavor of tinny, vaguely fishy tomato. The concoction is also a little bit spicy & citrusy, finishing with a splash of crappy beer “taste.” You swallow & think the worst is over & that you will never have to taste such horror again. But wait! About 4 seconds after you swallow the swill that is Chelada, your taste buds come back to life & hit you with another round of nast. I think I’ve blocked it out a bit, but it was somehow even worse than the first time. Spicier. Budweiserier. More tomatoey, limier, & WAY clammier. I think I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.

After bonding through our shared taste of the beverage served in hell, we locked eyes & shared a sibling moment--Dad needed to try this. But, as fate would have it, Mom got to it first! What’s funny is that she said exactly what I said above, as did Marc. It’s bad, it goes away, & then it comes back even worse! A few minutes later, the four (D wouldn’t budge & take even the tiniest of sips…probably a smart thing) of us got my Dad to try it.

His feeling on Chelada? After his sip & the accompanying exclamations & expressions of horror, he gently placed the can on a pile of flaming wood & returned the hellish drink from whence it came.

What did I learn from this taste test? Keep clam juice the heck away from beverages! Seriously, dudes, c'mon.


Before the whole Chelada incident we popped in to D’s grandparents’ for their Father’s Day shindig. Perhaps as a glimpse into the future, his Grammy made not only stuffies (made with mashed potato, how strange!) but also a giant pot of steamers. Upon the unveiling of the steamers, all women (& Derrick) evacuated the area, allowing the men-folk their time with clarified butter & the alien-like shellfish.
Steamers are clams that have been steamed open to reveal the fleshy nugget nestled inside, much like steamed mussels. Within the last few years I have developed a love for mussels. In fact, I could go for some now. But steamers? I don’t know…

I’ve had clams, obviously--I’m not that bad of a Rhode Islander. But most clams I’ve had have been in clam cake or chowder form, with the occasional fried clam thrown in for good measure. Usually the clams are cut fairly small in cakes or chowder (& fried clams are basically crispy batter with a hint of clam in the middle. no big deal) but on the occasion of getting a “big” piece of clam I’ve always found them to be chewy & sometimes gritty. Thus, despite not having much opportunity to eat a steamer without ordering an entire plate, I’ve just avoided them, assuming they’d be a big gummy turn off.

As an aside, I remember going clamming a few times as a kid with my Dad, Grandpa & one of my aunt‘s husbands. The help I provided mainly involved getting “peed on” by clams, playing in the sand, splashing in the water & probably annoying my Dad. But I went, & afterwards we’d go back to my grandparents’ house where the dudes would cook up their bounty & sit around the tiny kitchen table, wiggling the steamers at me & Grandma. Enticing! We’d eventually get grossed out & go sit outside on the swing, wondering how the heck they can eat those icky things.
So, anyway. I had just recently come up with my plan to do this blog & the steamers were eyeballing me through the walls. “C’mon Niiickiiii, you know you want to trrry oooooneeee. Do it in the spirit of your new prooojeeecttttt. Trrry iiiit, you’ll liiiiike iiiiiit.”

Ugh. Fine.

I waited a little to let the dudes get their fill. I wandered over to the table & gave the steamers the fuzzy eyeball. I grabbed one, & with the instruction from Uncle Tim to “take off the sweater,” I dipped my steamer in TJ’s bowl of butter (wow! haha) & threw in in my mouth.
Wow. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all! Slightly sweet & surprisingly tender. Ooh, I wanted another one. What was going on?? This time, it was suggested that I “rinse” the clam off in the “juice” from the steaming process, which is funny because clam juice does not look like it is capable of cleaning anything in the slightest.

Mmm, gray, gritty, fishy juice.

But I took off the little guy’s sweater (this time retaining more of the clam), gave it a bath in the cleansing clam broth, dipped it in some butter & tada! Still totally delicious.
Now, if only I hadn’t waited so long. As I swallowed my second steamer, the last few were falling into the bowls of the others. There’s always next time, & now that I’m in the know, watch out, men! For I am Nicole, & I will take your clams!


  1. LOL! I'm still to chicken to try steamers. Adam has convinced me to try shrimp and lobster (you'll like it, it's really good, not rubbery at all), both of which I hated and basically gagged on. It doesn't inspire me to try other shellfish.

  2. crazy shellfish loving daughter of mine!!

  3. I hate shrimp (fish should not be crunchy) & lobster (I haven't tasted it in years, but I can not put something in my mouth that looks like a cockroach), but I love me some mussels...& apparently clams!

  4. My mom looooooves steamers. I have very clear memories of watching her eat them and being completely grossed out. I have had lobster (worst food experience ever) and have no intention to eat any of that stuff ever again. However, I am slightly curious about tuna steak.

  5. I don't think shrimp IS supposed to be crunchy, Nicki(at least unless it's battered -yum!). I like lobster, and stone crab, but as for the little shelled things, the best I can do is clam strips, again, only with assistance from a batter.
    Your Chelada story brings back two memories for me:
    1. Trying yicky Snapple ginger beer in college. (I know you guys like it. I'm pretty sure it's a RI thing.) That one bottle made its rounds to so many unsuspecting tasters.
    2. The episode of the Simpsons when Homer has to retrieve his car, which he's left parked on the sidewalk at the World Trade Center in NYC for two months. He gets thirsty and buys clam juice from a street vendor because the only other drink he sells is Mountain Dew.
    Good for you for trying something new!

  6. Well maybe crunchy isn't quite the right word. It's too firm & it definitely has an almost-crunch to it, when you compare it to the total lack of crunch of other fish.. Though I do like some coconut shrimp, because, come on. There's like a half inch of batter & coconut, then it's deep-fried. Ok, delicious, & what shrimp?? :)
    Ew, I can imagine that Snapple ginger beer isn't that great, in particular.