Reflecting back on my three-month stint in New England, it's easy to get stressed. I'm still dealing with the gastrointestinal repercussions of driving in Boston and putting way to much pressure on myself in school and at work. But when I think about the great food that I forced into my possibly ulcerated throat, nothing was more worth eating that the clam chowder at Petey's Summertime Seafood and Bar in Rye, N.H.
I stopped there for the first time with my dad when he came to visit. We thought the line out the front door before the doors opened for lunch boded well. My dad is not a big seafood fan, and it has been a bone of contention in our family. My mom loves fish, but whenever she served it for dinner she would have to make something else for him and my youngest sister, Emily. He was a more than a good sport to indulge my craving for seafood on our day to the coast. In fact, I feel that I may have converted him.
I ordered a cup of clam chowder and some fried clam strips while he went with baked shrimp--shrimp happens to be on his very short list of edible seafood. It was a brisk day on the beach, so the hot chowder was welcome when it arrived. I offered him a taste. "When I just might give it a try," he said whilst gingerly dipping his plastic spoon in my cup.
Clams, potatoes and onions were packed into the thin opaque broth that tasted like it might be perfect for mermaids. I'm so used to those thick, almost pudding-like, chowders garnished with cheddar cheese like baked potato soup. This was not that at all. It was completely absolutely fish-y, not disguised at a tuna steak or mixed into a lobster mac-and-cheese. This chowder was boldly clam-tastic, and my dad, fish-hater, was eating it up. He promised me on several occasions "This will be my last bite." But then he didn't put down his spoon, and I couldn't very well deny him even though I could have easily polished off the entire cup.
I came back several weeks later with my friend David. We didn't skip the clam chowder and both sprung for Petey's famous lobster rolls, which, for Midwesterners like myself who are unfamiliar, is a sandwich of bread filled with a lobster-mayo salad. Big deal, let me tell you.
Petey's, if you couldn't tell by the yard art in the top photo, catches its own lobsters. The second time I went to the restaurant, the boat and at least half the cages were missing--surely put to good use drawing in the days catch. I don't know that it could get any fresher, about 100 yards from the beach.