The Sacramento Bee, 10/18/2006
Out of their shells - A gathering of friends and a pot of chowder chase the chill away
That chill in the Sacramento mornings and evenings, and the recent snow flurries in the Sierra, are stirring up appetites and heralding the upcoming "eating holidays" -- Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
The brisk weather brings to mind (and to the table) fiery chili con carne, fragrant chicken soup with al dente egg noodles, thick beef stew accented with minced garlic, brandy and red wine -- and clam chowder.
Clam chowder? Isn't that the potato soup-like stuff you order in restaurants on Fridays or buy in a can and bring to steaming on the stove top?
Well, usually, especially since this isn't New England, the residence of the real thing. There, dozens of kinds of clam chowders (and fish chowders) appear on menus up and down the coastline, from fancy fish emporiums to funky little clam shacks.
Locally, two of our favorite restaurant chowders are at Jamie's Broadway Grille and Evan's Kitchen (see the accompanying story above).
Jamie Bunnell makes an outstanding chowder using sea clams (whiter than ocean clams, with less grit), clam broth, white wine, sherry, cream, butter, bacon, potato, celery, onion, carrot, coarsely ground black pepper, thyme, bay leaf, Old Bay seasoning and a touch of garlic.
Bunnell once was the general manager at Flaherty's seafood restaurant in Carmel. He developed the chowder there, but tinkered with the recipe (adding more clams, among other improvements) after he opened Jamie's in 1986. Chowder is on his menu two to three times a week because his regular customers would mutiny otherwise.