I love clam chowder, and I used to make it from canned stuff, canned baby clams are ok, but the real difference is the fresh versus canned juice.
Our Boston by the Spoonful
If you need precise measurements, you'll have to use somebody else's recipe.
Go to a real fish market and get big quahogs, or chowder clams.
Make sure to use real clams, and I use the real big clams, because they are chowder clams. And you would just waste other clams. No there isn't a real difference. And you could use other clams, but they're more expensive.
I usually pick up 5 pounds is a good start, 10 pounds was too many unless you've got a crowd to feed.
Next scrub them with a brush. Make sure they are clean because from this point we are going to be keeping the fluids.
Boil about an inch of water or white wine in a pot.
Add your clams to the boiling water and put on the lid, and let them steam until they open. At this point I strain the clams through a colander and save the juice, setting them aside until they are cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, start rendering about a quarter of your of chopped bacon in a few tablespoons of butter, I like to cook on medium low.
Optional: when your bacon starts to get crispy, add some anchovies, I use about 5-7. You can use salt pork if you want to go traditional.
When your bacon is crispy add a few cloves of minced garlic. Saute that a few minutes, I like it when the garlic starts to get a little brown and pungent, but don't burn it!
Next I will add some really finely chopped onions, celery, and a few sprigs of thyme, and some black and white pepper. Cook it until it's almost soft, then add a few tablespoons of flour. Continue to cook to get the raw flour taste out, you gotta keep scraping it off the bottom of the pan when it sticks, and then add some white wine and a few bay leaves.
Bring it all to a boil. The white wine is optional, but I highly recommend it if you are going for a traditional chowder.
Take your clam meat out of the shells and chop it up.
You will need to work on this step because big clams are tough. Make sure that you chop them small, this will make eatingyour chowder more appealing.
For those of you who are feeling ambitious, rinse your clams in the unfiltered clam juice to get the grit out. I strain the clam juice through a wire mesh coffee filter.
The reason for this to get the sand out of the meat. I use the metal filter because the juice it will clog a paper coffee filter.
New to chowder? Then you will want to taste the clam juice to make sure it is not too salty.
In the event that it is too salty you can dilute it with some water, so when you add the clam juice, it won't mess up your liquids to solid ratio. Whatever you do, do not add milk at this point or it will clot up once you start boiling the potatoes in the next step.
After the wine boils a few minutes I add the clam juice and the potatoes.
Cook the potatoes until they are tender, not super soft, then add some light cream until it looks creamy enough.
I really don't use too much cream because the starch from the potatoes make it very milky in appearances anyways and it will dominate your flavors.
Make sure you taste it at this point, if it is too salty from the clam juice, you might need to add some milk. Add more white or black pepper to taste.
At this point I like to add some smoked salmon. Granted I know that ths doesn't tradiationally belong here, and it is entirely optional and completely nontraditional, but it's quite tasty and I have moved over to this.
This could be a good bacon substitute if you don't like pork.
And last thing I add are the chopped up clams, bring up to a simmer and then shut it off or the clams will get tough.
Take out the bay leaves and thyme stems, scrape the thyme leaves off the stem back into the chowder if you desire.
I love learning new techniques. So if you have some ideas to share I am all ears!
I will warn you, don't come to Boston and expect a lively arty, nightlife scene. Puritan roots are to blame for that. The general attitude that nothing needs to go beyond music and drinks is another aspect that keeps us from reaching our full potential.
The main clubs are located near the Stuart and Tremont intersection near the theater district.
Here you will find Venu, Rumor, Bijou, Cure, Royale, Guilt...to name a few. The Estate is also nearby - just off Boylston st. Honestly, all of these clubs are overpriced in terms of cover and drinks, full of douchebags, and the staff are usually pretty biased toward the cashed up college kids who get tables or who spend big at the bar.
I would recommend Brahmin which has about the best that you can expect for our club scene. It is located in Back Bay.
The location is pretty nice, it is a two-storey building that acts as a bar/club/lounge, serving food during the day. Here is their website to give you a better idea of what you will find.
If you want a night out I would try and arrive around 10pm. The line goes pretty quickly and its free cover and they take some pride in their reputation. Something, most places don't do, which is another thing that they need – pride in their establishment.
Drinks are relatively well priced, they aren't cheap but they aren't astronomical either. And for Boston the atmosphere is second to none.
It is definitely better than a lot of the sketchy clubs that people will suggest and I always have way more fun there.
Another good option is Howl At The Moon. It is fun and they have good live music nearly every night. It really isn't a club though, more a bar scene. One good thing about Howl is that they have Down, it is well, downstairs from Howl and it serves as is a club/lounge.
It's nice because the two are linked via a staircase which allows you to move up and down freely. We generally have a good time there as well.
What can I say. Boston and the surrounding area is a great place to explore when you don't have a clear plan of what you want to do. What I mean is that Boston/Cambridge/Somerville are great for just wandering and exploring. It is easy to go from one neighborhood right into the next.
When friends visit I uaully tell them to stay in Cambridge, there are a lot of nice hotels there and when they want to explore they just need to follow Mass Avenue. When you go down it you will quickly find yourself right in the heart of Boston and you will get the opportunity to cross the Charles.
There are plenty of cheaper restraunts that around Cambridge and Boston that serve delicious food. I have posted about them in the past so I will not go into much detail about them here.
I know that people like to hate Yelp, but more often than not Yelp will be your friend when looking for something in your location. Use it to scout the neighborhood and get an idea of what they have to offer.
Cambridge between Central, Inman and Harvard Squares supports a lot of productive wandering for those unfamiliar with the area. Even Davis Square in Somerville has a lot to offer so I recomend looking around there as well if you have the opportunity.
The central areas are the places to visit because as soon as you move away from the center a bit there's a lot of residential or mixed commercial/industrial residential in between the pools of activity and those areas aren't very rewarding to the wanderer on foot except where they're loaded with Olde Boston charm and that's all around Harvard in every direction and all around Central too. In the daytime some of the parks and other open spaces are great too, such as along the Charles River in Cambridge or in Back Bay/Beacon Hill in Boston.
Boston is great because we have so many great places to explore. And if you are only here for a few days you have more than enough, maybe even more than you can wander (which means a second visit!) but you can go pretty much anywhere through the historic center of Boston; this includes the downtown, North End, Haymarket, Chinatown, Bay Village, Beacon Hill areas, and I would even include Common and Public Garden if you enjoy that type of thing. Once you have got through those districts you might want to check out some of he newer parts. But the newer parts are less prevolent, leaving mainly South End and Back Bay neighborhoods, which is great for wandering but not a top priority.
If you like water harbor waterfront is really nice. This is regardless of which part you vist; both in Boston and South Boston as well as Charlestown and East Boston.
When you are there I would try and checkout Jamaica Plain, it is really nice for wandering but mainly because of the funky shops, in the summer they also have beautiful green spaces and charming Victorian era vernacular architecture.
College age? Allston is loaded with bars, cheap restaurants and college-age people and ideal for random interactions with like minded people.
That sounds like a lot because it is. In fact my list got so long it is way too much to do in the time you have but should be fun.
In general be sensible. Avoid walking at night alone, not just in Mattapan, Roxbury, East Boston, or parts of Dorchester. But in general, I say this because you aren't familiar with the area and you don't want to end up in a sticky situation.
One thing that I should note is that if you are from out of state remember that tipping is only for wait or bar service. For those times when you order at the counter or get take-away, you don't need to tip. I like to tip the takeout places because they are providing the containers for the food, etc. that would otherwise be an aspect of being in a restraunt.
The Glenville Stops serves beer and wine only, but it is definitely a place to checkout if you are interested in an adult bar hidden. It's nice and quiet, and right off of the T. It is funny because it is actually right in the middle of a college neighborhood.
Devlin's in Brighton does weekly jazz and they do not have a cover charge, they have a low-key crowd devoid of college kids which only adds to the atmosphere. The food is great and their service is friendly. I've had two dinners there, both of them were more than I expected. However, I did order one appetizer which was not for me, but they just took it off of our bill without batting an eye. Like I said, great service. I recommend it if you want to get a group of 6-8 people together on a table and not shout.
I will add this to both suggestions, not every place is the same night after night, so use your common sense. I once experienced a are get taken over by about 40 drunken people from a wedding party come into what had been up until that point a great evening and turn the place on its head.
This is an extreme example but things can change pretty quickly.
In general I will say that you will have more success in general on a Sunday-Wednesday night than Thursday-Sat.
On top of that it also depends on the time of night. Some bars are crazier right after work, some are crazier late at night.
In Boston proper I would recommend The Hawthorne for most evening. As for late nights and weekends excluded this is not a solution since it is busy
For those of you who don't mind the metro area you could try TOAD in Porter Square Cambridge for chill live music. It has been a nice little retreat in the past and in general.
The Burren is another options it is located in Davis Square Somerville is nice if you want a more Irish pub type thing rather than a club. This is Boston after all!
The hard part for many is actually finding free live music. It simply is not a big thing in this area, a lot of bars are small in the area so it's hard to accommodate guests and a band. As a side note if you are going to be those groups that show up with a big party, do your server a favor, let them know when the first person shows up so they can plan your billing. Don't be the group that pays with 4 cards and a mix of Benjamins, then only tip on the card amounts leaving next to no tip.
There is a lot of culture around our little marathon here. The whole "kiss a Wellesley girl" is unique to our wonderful little city. But the marathon has so much to offer. And my BF has been running it for years. And so it is nice to have his input on what I needed to work on.
For example I know a lot of people are quite eager to capitalize on the downhill portion of the race. This is right at the beginning and they hope to gain time for the hills in miles 16-20 which are known to cause problems. But the thing is, downhill takes more of a toll on your quads than you think and the race is very crowded initially. Which makes the whole thing an inefficient attempt to try to get around people. All of which cost both time and energy.
If you know how to handle them (BF does) you will see that the hills are tough but not terrible.
You just need to plan for them and that means that you have prepared for them.
They can be attacked.
But you better be sure that you know what you are doing before going for it. Otherwise they will take everything you've got and more. What I have been told is that if you're not sure; if this is your first Boston marathon, then you should err on the side of caution and take them without full force because it may end sooner than you want it to.
In some stretches there are a lot of downhills, especially all of the ones that come after Heartbreak, and there you can make up any time you lost by playing it a little too safe in the hills.
Obviously, as with everything in life, it's a lot easier to formulate a good plan if you've run the race before. But with the Boston marathon you will learn something new every time.
I would suggest talking with people that have run it, or I would look online. YouTube has channels that can help you prepare.
And I hope to start gaining my experience next race. Things that I have learned are to make sure you bring a garbage bag or an old mylar blanket. You'll want to sit on it while you are waiting in the athletes' village.
There is lots of time to kill and you'll end up with a soggy, muddy butt without one.
Also I have been told that you will want to bandage your tits, if you are a woman.
There are so many wonderful things to do. You can walk the Freedom Trail for starters. Before you start make sure that you download one of the apps so you get some info while you walk. The Freedom Trail is amazing and you will have a chance to stop by some historical landmarks like Old North Church and the USS Constitution. One of the best parts is that it is free.
Here is a little bit more about what you'll be getting: The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston, Massachusetts, that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States.
When the weather permits I like to go and explore the esplanade, these are paths along the Charles River. I usually try this late spring through the summer months and into early/mid-fall which is ideal to get the broadest palette of colors.
One thing that I did when I was younger was go to the Boston Public Library at Copley Square. It was a nice chance to catch my breath and it is really beautiful simply to walk around the area.
The same goes for Beacon Hill, mainly because it has a great historic neighborhood to explore.
You can also go to Harvard Square. For those of us who enjoy activities like exploring the shops this part of town is ideal. And of course you can visit Harvard campus over there.
This really isn't my type of thing. But my mother loves to visit Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum and I used to meet here there when she was in town. It was nice and there is a lot of history, plus $5 admission with a student ID, and when you are on a budget it might be a nice addition.
Then we have Boston Harbor (tea party anyone) and Faneuil Hall. Both of these are interesting to visit, and there are a lot of restaurants and cafes in the area so it can be nice fora couple of hours.
I'm a foodie so the North End is great since I love to eat Italian food and they have plenty of pastry shops, too. It can be great fun to explore the area with the intention on finding something tasty to eat. If you walk the Freedom Trail, North End is right at the end of the trai so it might be a nice way to end the day.