Cook, Crack and Eat!
I can honestly say that I had been looking forward to this past Saturday for weeks now. Chrissie and I were invited to Phillips in the Harbor for their 'Cook, Crack and Eat!' cooking class led by Executive Chef Arturo Paz. We were lucky, as this weekend the class featured Phillips' Clam Bake for Two. Now if you weren't there, you have no excuse. On Thursday and Friday last week, Phillips' invited ALL of their Facebook fans to come to the class FREE! That's right, the $50 per person price tag was waived! I know you're scrambling to click that 'Like' button as fast as possible right now.
Now that you're thoroughly bummed out that you didn't attend, I'll continue on. We were greeted warmly by Chef Paz as well as Michelle Torres, Director of Marketing. Since we were a couple minutes behind (thanks to the marathon traffic), they jumped right in to their presentation. Arturo explained the origins of the Clam Bake. For those who don't know, this is a Native American tradition. It started with holes being dug in the sand cooking between rocks and seaweed to shield the seafood from the heat. We didn't have to dig any holes. We used a large pot and a bowl to shield the seafood from the heat to cook our Clam Bake.
Arturo then expertly took us through each of the ingredients as they were added to the pot, starting with the potatoes and corn. From there he moved on by adding Prince Edward Island mussels and middleneck clams, then the shrimp, crab legs and finally the whole Maine lobster. During this time we were served a baby spinach and arugula salad with warm applewood smoked bacon dressing. The bacon really upped the manly factor of the salad, which I loved.
We were served two styles of Clam Bake. The first is Phillps' normal preparation, steamed in water. The second, personally prepared by Chef Paz, was steamed in beer. They chose an Evolution Craft Beer which was featured that day, but you can choose any beer you'd like. I suggest trying it steamed in Phillips' own Amber Ale (developed by Clipper City Brewing Company) or keep it Baltimore and have it steamed in a National Bohemian. No matter what brew you choose, it will add an excellent flavor to your Clam Bake.
We all savored our wine as we dug in to our seafood feast. Everything was amazing. We were able to sit back and enjoy our meal knowing more about every item in the pot than we had an hour before. It was great to meet new people and enjoy a meal together. Before we knew it, the pots were emptied and over an hour had passed. This is a great social meal to enjoy with a significant other or a group of friends.
Our lunch wrapped up with a dessert from Chef Paz; strawberries with balsamic vinaigrette. While I've had this sort of combo in a salad, I had never had it alone as a dessert. I was surprised at how refreshing it was after our meal compared to the traditionally sweet toppings strawberries normally recieve. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and walked into the sea of people now finished with the marathon. Needless to say, we stood out in our street clothes and full bellies. Thanks again, Phillips!
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