Sunday, August 08, 2010

Beach Party

There’s no question we were dumped. With no warning, Mad Me-Shell decides to skip town and move to Chicago. I mean, what is she thinking? Chicago probably has – what - only one food truck? What is she going to eat for lunch? I predict she will starve.

Having now been downsized to a dynamic duo, Zany and I decide to drown our sorrows in chowder.

We return to the site of our recent crime, the Beacon Restaurant & Bar on 56th, where Mr. Pink continues to do a brisk lunch business of double hot dogs. This time, the occasion is Beacon’s annual “Chowder Fest” that starts at 6:30PM. Evening dining is kind of a new thing for us. It feels very grown up. So does eating indoors. At a table.

Inside, the Beacon looks like a Beach Boys single come to life. Our friend Katie from the Side Door is greeting guests and she’s decked out like Annette Funicello in one of those beach blanket movies. Okay, maybe more like Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

Beach Baby
We get these neat little white paper hats to wear. A guy at another table has written “Everybody Loves Fish” on his paper hat. New Yorkers have turned out in droves, but there is not a Speedo in sight.

Katie has seated us at “the fun table” where we meet the guys from Brooklyn Brewery who have supplied the beverages for the evening. There is also a guy who calls himself “Chowder Mark.” He works in the art work and rides motor cycles.

Chowder Mark
After finding our seats, we push our way to the chowder bar. We have a choice of New England Clam Chowder, Manhattan Clam Chowder, Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder and Fulton Street Seafood Chowder. We politely request one of each.

We love the thick, chunky clam flavor of the New England Chowder and the sultry smokiness of the Fulton Street Seafood Chowder.
The staff is passing some spunky fried clam rolls. With these, we are at serious risk of spoiling our appetites.

Zany is getting into the spirit. I note that she has shed her street shoes and is now wearing flip flops. I ask her about her worst beach experience ever.
“When I got splinters on both feet on the boardwalk at Atlantic City and had to listen to my mother’s “I told you so” speech,” she says. “My best beach experience was discovering fried Oreos under the boardwalk at Atlantic City.”
You gotta love her.
Next we’re served an entire bed of oysters, clams and mussels, wood roasted and served in broth and on the half shell.

Within minutes, there are 25 or more empty shells scattered in front of us. We collect them in a beach pail. Zany takes a deep breath.
“And now for the rest of the dinner,” she says.
At this moment, we are joined by two Johns from Staten Island who took the scenic route and arrived late. They are from a bar in Staten Island called The Wild Goose Pub. John #1 has the title Head Goose on his card. John #2 doesn’t like most seafood. Is he at the right party?

John #1 From Staten Island
“They come from Brooklyn, they come from Staten Island,” says Zany. “Chowder Fest is an International Affair.”
Chowder Mark and the Johns decide to engage in a variety of Fish Tales, like the hazards of eating goldfish and infamous shark attacks. Just as it’s all getting a little sordid, the fried chicken arrives at the table. Someone asks, “When was the last time you saw chicken in an ocean?”
“I did see a rooster in Key West,” says Zany. “That counts.”
What’s most important is that the chicken is crispy, spicy and delicious and John #2 has something to eat. “At Chowder Fest there are no rules,” notes John #1.
Chowder Mark and John #1 skillfully pitch in to hold the food as I take pictures. They could get work as hand models.

Zany and I speculate that Mad Me-Shell – who is now on the road to Chicago – is probably eating at some sorry Interstate rest stop.
Next comes the Lobster Invasion. “I think this could make me get over the Burger Truck,” says Zany who is nearly salivating.
“Do you think the lobster is local?” I ask.

“Define local,” says Zany. “If it was caught anywhere east of 56th Street, I consider it local.” She prepares to attack.
We stab our forks into succulent roasted lobster meat that is drenched in basil butter.

Having made mince meat of the lobster, I note that I am now wearing most of Chowder Fest.
“It takes all five senses to experience Chowder Fest,” says John #1. He’s become the philosopher in our group.
We finish things off with about a dozen Whoopee Pies and chocolate chip cookies. The two Johns and Chowder Mark decide to call it a night. We suggest that the two Johns take the Staten Island Ferry home as it’s the most direct route.
Zany and I are pretty happy (although Zany would have liked to have seen Mr. Pink). We’ve made some new friends, and we’ve stuffed our faces. What could be better? Maybe a summer cookout on the beach? But, wait – we did that – and we didn’t even have to leave Manhattan!
The last thing I remember is a beach ball flying over our heads, and the sound of the Beach Boys drowning out the free-flowing Brooklyn Beer.
Poor Mad Me-Shell. She’s going to miss New York.
©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


~amusette~* said...

Wow, that was quite a Beach Feast and you definitely got seated at the right table!
There are many things to miss about NY, and the beach is certainly #1 on my list...and some summer weather to go along with it!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a wonderful beach feast you and Zany had.

The atmosphere created here was fantastic. I love the beach pails for the shells. How clever. I'll remember that. I would have had to have help walking after the scrumptious spread they offered. The chowder would have been enough for me, but I would definitely not have stopped eating. I'm a "worry about it tomorrow" kind of person when it comes to eating.

Poor Me-Shell. She definitely should have gone to this party before she left town. I'm pouting that she's gone and I'll miss her. Just wait until the winter winds blow in Chicago and there's not a food truck in sight. She'll be sorry....

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Okay, New Yorker, while this looks like a wingding of a beach party, this ex-New-Yorker-now-from-New-England-er has to straighten out a couple of things. First, there is only one true clam chowder. The Manhattan stuff, with the tomato? That's a soup, not a chowder. Second, clam rolls and lobster rolls must be served on the split-top hot dog buns. I don't know why, but that's the law around here.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Amusette - The only thing missing from Chowder Fest was the sand between our toes!

Sam - Mad is probably regretting her decision already, and we're in the process of auditioning for a third. Are you interested?

Lydia - I take anything the Soup Chick says VERY seriously, but as our friend John #1 put it, "There are no rules at Chowder Fest."

Kalyn said...

Looks like a wonderful party, even if you were missing your friend. I'll tell you one thing, you can't get food like this in Utah!

lostpastremembered said...

Love the party atmosphere of this place... must go! I hate to say it, but CHicago is soooo a food place (with great hot dogs). Although a NYer for many years I hale from the windy city... your friend will not starve.. although I am sure she will miss your delightful company and food adventures!~

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I have to live my culinary adventures vicariously through you. What a great time you had. I'm a Manhattan style chowda kinda gal. I'd grab that cup in a minute.

Sarah Caron said...

Oh, that lobster looks mouthwatering ... It's certainly not summertime without eating one fabulous lobster and lots of fried clams.

Julia said...

If I were Mad Me-Shell, I'd be on the next bus out of dodge and back to New York! How could she walk away from all this?!

tasteofbeirut said...

Sounds like a great time! Your friend will be back in a hurry!

Chef Dennis said...

what a great much food, where would you start eating and how could you stop!! You would have had to roll me out of there!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Michelle is definitely going to miss New York, but there are also great restaurants out in Chicago.

I can't believe all of the wonderful food at this event. The clam chowder tasting is a rare opportunity to try these different styles. I happened to like Manhattan clam chowders the best.

Of course the lobster dripping with basil butter - that picture made me very hungry.

Zany said...

The dangerous thing about this experience at the Beacon is that it's only blocks from work! I will DEFINITELY be going back before summer's end to eat another one of those fried clam sandwiches...delicious!

Mary said...

I really wanted to be there. You made the event seem like a blast. You certainly managed to be placed at the right table. Poor Me-Shell will regret her decision that's for sure. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

veron said...

That was quite a meal. I love the shot of the lobster...I miss eating lobster like that.

Stacey Snacks said...

you know how to have a good time!

Mad Me-Shell said...

I'm gone one week and you've already gone to a beach party AND made friends with the Brooklyn Brewery guys?!?! UNBELIEVABLE! Fear not, I will spend my days diligently uncovering Chicago's best culinary secrets to share on your next trip to the Windy City!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Mad - we've already been invited by John #1 to come to Staten Island and try his Pulled Pork Pizza. Zany's booking it now. Aren't you so sorry you left us now?

Velva said...

You just need a bonfire on the beach to complete this chowder festival.
God, I love NYC. Awesome.

Sophie said...

That looks like quite the beach party!!

the food looks quite sublime & it looked that you had great company!

A lovely evening fully entertained!

greets from Brussels!

Jann said...

What a party and what a spread~You have the best food experiences ever!!