i left my heart in.... annapolis, maryland
so i'm chatting online with the boy yesterday afternoon, and he kept bugging me to find out exactly when i'd be leaving work, because he had some "special snack" for me that apparently needed to be timed exactly (lately at New Big Corporate, when i think i'll be leaving at 4, i actually end up having to stay until 5:30 because someone inevitably drags me to a meeting or something). i did in fact get to leave at 4, and i spent the drive home wondering what it was he was up to.
we had, until today, two really fantastically unseasonably warm and beautiful days, so we opened up all the windows in the house and fired up the grill. when i walked in the door yesterday, i could smell hickory smoke wafting through the back door. hmm, that boy, i wondered what he was up to?
turns out he was making a variation of Bobby Flay's Grilled Clams with Serrano Ham (go to books.google.com and type in Bobby Flay Boy Gets Grill, and it's on page 105. this is my new! favorite! online toy!) . Even though Mr. Flay doesn't say to use hickory chips, the boy threw some in the smoke box because he thought (rightly so) that the smokiness would lend itself well to the clam, and it did. He couldn't find any Serrano ham at the market, so we used regular ham lunch meat and drizzled on a variety of hot sauces (i used regular Tabasco, chipotle Tabasco, and Sriracha). these were a really light and wonderful snack (he made only a portion of the recipe, enough to sate me before dinner).
i was standing behind him when he opened the grill lid and revealed the clams, and both of us were hit at the same time with a briny smell; and i was instantly transported to another place, another time. we lived in maryland for 5 years until moving back to Atlanta in mid-2006 (the boy is from there). the boy worked in annapolis and i spent a lot of my free time there. we were married on a boat in the harbor. annapolis is the only thing i miss about maryland.
the feeling that overcame me was so overwhelming that i had to sit down and take it in.
then we took Mrs P on a walk and the whole time we kept talking about how much we miss that place, and how we'd like to retire there someday (if we ever retire, that is). the whole rest of the evening while we were sitting outside while the boy grilled us some dinner, i sat staring off into our supertall pine trees thinking about all the places i loved to frequent. Yin Yankee for the House of Yang crab soup; Sean Donlan's; Middletons for oyster shooters; and Armadillos. walking up Main Street tipsy on beer and trying to convince J not to pee on the governor's lawn. Sitting on the dock dangling my feet over the edge and watching the boat traffic go by. Good times.
today, back to reality. the gorgeous weather is now gone, and we're getting hit with a wall of thunderstorms. the grill is covered, the memories pushed back into the dark of my brain for another time.
so back to the clams. these would be really great to make for a tapas dinner party if you want your guests to interact with the cooking. have someone grill the clams until they're open (about 7 minutes), have someone else cut the ham, have yet another person gather various hot sauces together, have a couple of people assemble them. i think we will add this to our spring/summer repertoire, if only to have those fleeting selfish moments of another place, another time.