Spain … on the road Again came to us in the Fall of 2009 from PBS with weekly installments of an epicurean tour of Spain featuring an unusual cast of Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman and Claudia Bassols. With Willie Nelson singing On the Road Again, the carefree quartet was filmed cruising the Iberian peninsula in Mercedes convertibles on a culinary crawl from Aranjuez to Zaragoza. Nice work if you can get it!
The foods of Spain are equally as rich in history and flavor as those of the Greeks and Romans and are tinged with abundant Moorish touches. Gwyneth’s Clams was inspired by a dish the four foodies enjoyed at Casa Pintos in Cambados. They were enthralled with the freshness, simplicity and the inclusion of fresh bay laurel and a copious amount of Albariño wine.
As far as I know, no one in Oregon is growing Albariño grapes. We do excel in excellent pinot gris, a crisp dry white suitable for this recipe. Bring on the fresh Oregon clams.
Correction: May 13, 2010 – When I wrote this post, I was unaware of the Spanish/Iberian varietals of grapes grown at Abecela Vineyard and Winery. Their micro-climate is perfect for these grapes.
“Here, on sunny south sloping rocky hills, we passionately grow Tempranillo, Albariño, Syrah, Merlot, Dolcetto, Malbec, Grenache, and other varietals carefully matched to our unique micro-climate.”
Abecela Vinyards and Winery
Our first clamming expedition in Oregon was in April of 2003 during low tide on Siletz Bay, just south of Lincoln City. We were joined by a larger group led by Henry Miller, outdoors columnist for the Statesman Journal. The wet sand at low tide was teeming with purple varnish clams, and Vic, Pranee and I quickly had our legal limit of 36 clams apiece.
Clamming is a very easy and enjoyable beach outing. On this day, our greatest challenge was navigating a short, rocky descent from the Pacific Coast Highway to the bay and back up. If you’re planning on going clamming, check with your state’s fish and wildlife department on laws and conditions. There are times when certain species are prohibited for protection or safety. In Oregon limits are as follows:
Razor Clams – First 15 taken.
Bay Clams – Butter, cockle, littleneck and gapers – 20, of which only 12 may be gaper clams.
Softshell and other clams: First 36 taken.
Gwyneth’s Clams with Linguine
Adapted from a recipe from Spain … on the road Again
Although Ms. Paltrow’s original was probably intended as a first course or appetizer, I am going a bit further and serving it over some fresh linguine.
- 2 pounds (908 gr.) fresh clams (I used manila clams)
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half across the bulb
- 2-3 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried*
- ½ bottle (375 ml.) Albariño or other dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 oz. (336 gr.) fresh linguine
- Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish
* Intrigued by fresh bay leaves and the fact that we can grow them here, I plan to acquire a young tree ASAP to add to our garden.
- Have boiling, salted water ready to cook linguine.
- If using fresh (not dried) linguine, begin cooking all at the same time. Otherwise begin dried linguine and start clams about half way through.
- Put everything in a deep skillet, cover and steam until all the clams open. Discard any that do not open. “It’s that easy!” wrote Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Serve over freshly cooked linguine with chopped parsley and some crusty bread to go after any lingering sauce.
Note: I have been making linguine with clams for decades with some variations along the way. Most recently I’ve been inspired by a recipe from Ray’s Boathouse restaurant in Seattle, which includes adding a can of whole baby clams. Vic proclaimed this latest version the best ever. Thank you, Gwyneth!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities