A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Freshest Pasta dish ever!

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Spaghetti al Vongole...Now, there is a dish I like!
I washed up at a pizzeria in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and I really liked it making this dish for my lunch! Al dente Spaghetti, Clams, Tomato sauce…

But guess what! I bet none of you has ever had Spaghetti al Vongole cooked from scratch on the beach!

When I was 6 or 7 we spent all our summers at my aunties or uncles because we lived about 60 km from the Med.
A dozen kids sleeping in the same room was not unusual. In fact it was great especially when Gran lay in the middle telling fables.
Most days, she took us kids to the beach in the morning till late afternoon.
A few chips and a slice of bread was our lunch. Food was not in our dictionary when we were young. This amazing feast was washed down with a swig of cheap cola. Heaven!

But every Sunday the adults joined the party!
The larder was transferred to the car boot and off we went.
On our arrival at the beach, we, kids virtually dived into the sea from the moving cars, while the adults set up camp in a remote corner and surrounded it with windbreaks not that it was ever windy in August. Tattered parasols turned the camp into a tented Saharan village. All we needed was a few camels and goats and we would have made a caravan!

A grand competition then took place. Buckets at the ready each one of us began collecting clams from the shallows.
The women, in the kitchen part of the “camp” lit a charcoal fire in a terracotta burner and got on with the sauce.

This is the recipe:
Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil
Fry a finely diced onion until soft.
Add 2 finely diced cloves of garlic and fry until soft.
Add one tin of chopped and mashed tomatoes and 1tbsp. of tomato puree.
Add a glassful of water. Nowadays I add a glassful of white wine…Shhhhh!
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour.
In the meantime boil the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and cool under running water.
The clams need to be washed a few times to get rid of the sand.
When ready to serve, heat the sauce up and add the clams.
Once they are open, add some chopped basil and parsley.
You can either re-heat the spaghetti up in boiling water or just add it to the sauce.
Serve hot with parmesan! Mmmmmmmm!

On the beach, once the Spaghetti al Vongole was ready, we were summoned to form a circle to wolf down this wonderful dish with thick slices of French bread to mop up the remaining sauce and our lips.

A cool drink and a slice of ice cold watermelon finished this wonderful meal. These were cold because, on our arrival at the beach, they were buried deep in the wet sand.

I would give up a gourmet meal at La Tour d’Argent to experience that once more!

Now, can anyone tell me if this isn't as near to heaven as life could really be...


Blogger Ale said...

that dish is def one of my favorites! i've had it on the beach before just not actually MADE on the beach :)

3/11/05 7:41 PM  
Blogger cream said...

When it was made on the beach, only fresh, ripe tomatoes were used, not tinned ones or passata or ready sauces...
The taste of fresh tomatoes in this sauce is out of this world, Ale!

3/11/05 7:43 PM  
Blogger hobbes said...

oooh - that does sound like heaven. I'm assuming the beach is actually a vital ingredient in this? No probs of course, as we have plenty of those here. Don't know what I'd use instead of fresh clams though. a) no fresh clams to be had on very small island, b) tragically allergic to shell fish. Any suggestions?

3/11/05 9:03 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Hobbes, the main ingredient, Vongole (Clams)may be replaced with anything you have in your larder. Fish, poultry, Chorizo sausage, vegetables, etc... Anything really! A combination of any of the above would produce a great dish!

3/11/05 9:11 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

We don't have clams. I've never tasted clams. I know I would love it.

Oh man, you can beat the taste of fresh tomatoes and not the tinned stuff.

It's the family affair thing that grabbed me here most, the many, many kids and the grandma telling stories. And the beach of course.

Look at that camel, so contented :-D

4/11/05 12:51 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

*you can't beat the taste of fresh tomatoes* I meant.

4/11/05 12:52 AM  
Blogger cream said...

GG, I knew what you mint...It must've bin a tipping err...
Families are class! We must carry on the good work!

4/11/05 9:01 AM  
Blogger DCveR said...

Olive oil, onion, garlic and tomatoes, white/red wine: the base of most Portuguese dishes! Talk about sharing an heritage... LOL

4/11/05 9:20 AM  
Blogger annie said...

Sounds like heaven. Mmmmm... you made me hungry. Off to get some breakfast.

(I'm also relieved, I thought you were posting a recipe involving camel).

4/11/05 10:04 AM  
Blogger cream said...

DC, if you include peppers to those ingredients you'll find the base of Mediterranean food. And I do consider Portugal part of the Med, really...
Annie, just this morning I was reading Michael Palin's foreword in the 2005 Good Food Guide and he was on about Camel liver in the Algerian Sahara! What a coincidence! I have never touched camel meat...I would most certainly end up with the hump!

4/11/05 10:11 AM  
Blogger DCveR said...

I only skipped the peppers because although we use them in lots of dishes they are not as "omnipresent" as the other ingredients. :)
And I guess we're the only mediterranean country that doesn't touch the Med itself, but the culture and most of all the food is basically med style.

4/11/05 11:28 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I noticed that the beach is a vital ingredient here - How much beach should I add???

4/11/05 8:36 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Caroline, the beach is the main ingredient.
Anything that you eat in your swimming gear sitting under a parasol, will taste heavenly!
A beach hut in Kefalonia served beautiful Greek salads with ice cold beer in frosted pint glasses.
Caro, Heaven is here on earth!

4/11/05 8:54 PM  

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