Features in the Fall 2013 Issue of Edible Cape Cod:
My family rented the same cottage in Harwichport the first two weeks of July every summer during my formative years from a lovely French-Canadian couple who had a summer home next door. They tolerated their unruly neighbors in exchange for our help gathering periwinkles. For us children, periwinkles were something to be adopted as a sort of inferior pet while on vacation, languishing in pails of seawater outside the back door until they were unceremoniously dumped back into the ocean on the day we returned home. For the neighbors, however, they were a delicacy. I couldn’t for the life of me image putting one in my mouth.
Flash forward 20+ years to my first trip to Paris with my husband and our good friends and travel companions Mary and Steven. At a classic French seafood restaurant Mary ordered a plateau de fruits de mer, which included raw oysters and clams, and cooked mussels, langoustines, cockles and—yes!—periwinkles. She did such an excellent job relishing everything on her plate that I had to reach across the table and steal a periwinkle. Using a straight pin, you extract the meat gently. It curls around the pin resuming the natural shape from its shell. It was astonishingly delicious on its own and even better dipped in the velvety homemade mayonnaise that came with the plateau. I’ve been a fan of this tiny shellfish ever since.
Even though our beaches are populated with periwinkles, you never see them on local menus. We asked Elizabeth Saito to find out more about these ubiquitous tidal creatures for our fall issue. Just as she was filing her story, we began seeing razor clams on several menus. We had spent an entertaining morning a few years ago learning how to harvest razor clams—another ubiquitous, and usually empty, shell found on our beaches—and found them delicious, but, like the periwinkle, they never appeared on local menus. Until this summer, that is. Larry Egan discovered there was, indeed, a bumper crop of razor clams on some parts of the Cape. We hope you enjoy both stories about these local “free” foods that are there for the taking with a little know-how about how to harvest and prepare them.
In addition to having interesting items like periwinkles or razor clams on its menu, a restaurant gets on the consideration list for our Through the Pass feature by being recommended by a local farmer or two. In the case of the phenomenally popular Ocean House in Dennisport, the Miss Scarlett’s Mixed Green Salad on the menu was called to our attention by Sue and Jim Knieriem, the farmers behind Miss Scarlett’s. Besides salad greens, Ocean House Executive Chef Anthony Silvestri also sources many of the unique Asian herbs and vegetables that are the hallmarks of his cuisine from the farm.
Chatham Bars Inn has taken farmer-chef collaboration to a whole new level by converting a former nursery in nearby Brewster to a dedicated farm for the Inn’s three restaurants. In just over one year, contributor Cindy Hollett reports, Chatham Bars Inn Farm is producing as many vegetables, herbs and micro greens as the world-class resort can use—with a little surplus. They are also using the farm as a teaching opportunity for young guests so they can see learn how the food on their plate is grown. Maybe they should send them scampering on the beach to collect periwinkles and razor clams, too!