September 08, 2009

Boston Getaway - Day 1

This Labor Day, my sister and I celebrated with a weekend jaunt to Boston. Just a few hours from New York City by bus, it is a city not only filled with history, but also wonderful food! We arrived Saturday afternoon and after sitting on a bus, we were ready to stretch our legs, explore and get some lunch!

The Union Oyster House was steps away from our hotel and we soon learned that it is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the U.S. - the doors have always been open to diners since 1826. Now 183 years later, it is our turn!

This historic landmark was buzzing and the tiny oyster bar was overflowing with hungry tourists. Here, the oyster chefs are hard at work and moving so fast that I could hardly capture a clear picture!

We sat down to our small, creaky table and knew we were dining amidst history. A tiny stairway leading upstairs was obviously designed when Americans were smaller than today. There was even a old-fashioned dumbwaiter still being used to quickly transport the fresh seafood from one floor to another.

Our charming and enthusiastic server handed me a menu, but I already knew what I was going to eat - a big bowl of authentic New England Clam Chowder!

The chowder was as thick and creamy as I had imagined all throughout the bus ride on the way to Boston. Each spoonful was overflowing with tender clams and soft bites of potato.

This and other time-tested recipes are available in the Union Oyster House Cookbook, which is sold in the gift shop next door to the restaurant.

Union Oyster House Clam Chowder

1/4 cup diced salt pork
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups canned clam juice
2 cups minced fresh or frozen clams (not canned)
1 cup half-and-half
Salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, to taste

1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, render the salt pork until it is crispy, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the butter, and melt. Add onion and celery, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to form a paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the thyme, potatoes, and clam juice, and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

4. Add the clams and bring quickly to a boil, stirring almost constantly.

5. Add the half-and-half and bring quickly to a boil. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

The gift shop also happens to sell lobster hats :) I love Boston!

To learn more about the history of the Union Oyster House you can visit their website.

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