On Eating and Loving Food

Steamers, with white, red or pink wine, cheap or pricey

I am not a wine snob
Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 2:15pm

Steamers with melted butter, a great salad, some good crusty French rolls, and wine. Hello.

I love steamed clams. But for some reason I never buy them. Why? I have no idea. Pinkham’s sells them for $2.49 to $2.99/lb. Seriously.

I stopped by there on my way home from work the other day for some haddock. I had been virtually eating a big salad with pieces of crispy golden fried haddock on top, like, all afternoon.

That “hot” salad, with fried haddock or chicken, or pan seared steak strips, is my go-to dinner. I might have it twice a week, and I never get sick of it. I’ve told you about it more than once, but have you tried it?

A big bowlful of whatever kinds of greens you want – I usually opt for the bag of sweet leaf lettuce: A combo of red leaf and green butter, and a handful of arugula. Then halved grape tomatoes and chunks of avocado around the edge, and fresh mozzarella, or crumbled Gorgonzola or blue (not bleu) cheese, and pecan pieces thrown over the whole thing, with Good Seasons Italian dressing (sorry oil & vinegar purists) dribbled over before throwing on the hot haddock, chicken or steak.

I’m tellin’ ya.

Anyway. I’ve been trying to be good, so have forgone the fried chicken or haddock for a while, opting for the less fattening steak strips. But a girl’s gotta have some vices, besides the daily manhattan. That’s become kind of a bad habit. But it’s only one shot, and I’m old. So give me a break.

Where was I? Oh yeah – steamers.

So with the big pile of steamers, I didn’t need any fish or steak on the salad, so I just made a big one sans the protein. (Now I’ll have to make yet another pot of fish chowder – bummer huh?) That, and a crusty French roll, with a glass of pinot noir, and Season 5 of Game of Thrones, from the Southport Library, and I was good to go.

They drink a lot of wine on that show, and I seriously doubt any of them give a damn what color it is. Pinot noir with CLAMS, you say? Call me gauche, but I simply don’t get the white wine with white food/red with red thing. I’ve tried. I really have, but I’ll take any color wine with any color food.

Course I don’t get the good vs. cheap wine thing either. You’ve heard of Charles Shaw, or Two Buck Chuck wines, right? I once poured some of that into an empty bottle that had contained a $25 wine, and poured a glass for a wine snob friend. He said it was “very good.” I didn’t tell him the truth. I’m not that mean. But of course I kind of gloated.

I think Two Buck Chuck still sells for $1.99/bottle in California Trader Joe’s (the only stores that sell it), but it’s $2.59 at the one in Portland now. A real splurge :-) Here’s what Trader Joe’s website has to say about the cheap wine: “We do think we know why these wines have struck a chord—they've proven that wine doesn't need to be expensive to be good, drinkable wine. These are not expensive; they are good, and they're very drinkable.”

I concur. I get several bottles every time I go to Portland.

There was a segment on the Today Show a few years ago, back when Matt Lauer (insert wide-eyed emoticon) was the host, with a panel of wine “experts” tasting five wines from bottles with hidden labels. Three chose the Two Buck Chuck over the other ones – one that cost something like $48.

I’d love to take a wine-tasting class that will convince me that an expensive bottle of wine is worth the extra money. Plus I’d get to drink a lot of wine. But, seriously – anyone want to host an event? Maybe I’ll have to get that ball rolling. It gets pretty boring in the harbor by February, especially with Paul Coulombe in Florida.

Oh my god – steamers!!!

So, why don’t I have steamed clams at least twice a month, or more often? Don’t ask. I honestly don’t know. The ones I got from Pinkham’s were as good as Maine steamers get. They were relatively small, which I like, clean, (I didn’t even need to rinse them in broth), plump, firm, and sweet.

And how much easier can dinner be? Get a pot of salted water boiling (a mere inch will do), throw the clams in, and when the water comes back to a boil, turn down the heat, cover them, and let them rock and roll for three to five minutes.

Melt some butter (with a good squeeze of lemon if you want), throw together a big bowlful of salad, heat up a good crunchy French roll or baguette, and pour a glass of wine, red, white or pink. I don’t care which.

Dinner doesn’t get much better than that.

See ya next week!

P.S. I found a container of the leftover pecan pieces I had quickly pan roasted in a little melted butter with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar for those ridiculous brie and cranberry/mozzarella and rhubarb bites I made for the Studio 53 Christmas show. I threw them on the salad, instead of plain old pecan pieces. OMG.