Day 46 – National Linguine Day

I know that yesterday I told you today was National Double Cheeseburger Day.  I didn’t lie – it was.  While I’m always up for a good cheeseburger, especially a double cheeseburger, I happened to notice that this Sunday will also be National Cheeseburger Day.  Why would these holidays be so close together?  Why would you put the double before the single?  It seems like the holiday overlords need to get a bit more organized.  Nonetheless, knowing that Sunday would be celebrated in full (a cheeseburger watching some football sounds fun, right?), I felt I should celebrate something else today.

Today was also National Creme de Menthe Day and for a moment I was thinking that I should make us a couple of Grasshopper cocktails as kind of a Throwback Thursday celebration.  But a Grasshopper is made with Creme de Menthe and Cream de Cacao, neither of which I had on hand.  I went to the package store (yes package store, we are Rhode Islanders), and our friends at Allen’s Wine & Spirits actually didn’t have any Creme de Menthe on display.  Rather than having him go check the stock room, I opted out of my Grasshopper hopes. It seemed silly to buy two bottle of liquors that will just go to waste after today (especially after I just made space in our liquor cabinet too).  No, Grasshoppers would have to wait.

Then I realized today was National Linguine Day, so that’s where I settled.  Thanks to my extensive research on Wikipedia, I learned that linguine is “a form of pasta – like fettuccine and trenette, but elliptical in section rather than flat. It is about 4 millimetres (0.16 in) in width, which is wider than spaghetti but not as wide as fettuccine. The name linguine means “little tongues” in Italian.”  Some pastas always seem to be paired with certain types of preparation.  Spaghetti goes with sauce meatballs.  Fettuccini goes with an Alfredo sauce.  To me, linguine goes with white clam sauce, so that’s what I decided to make.

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I found a recipe from good ol’ Martha Stewart and went to Clement’s to pick up the ingredients.  I’ve never cooked clams before and I have much to learn about how to use them.  My first error may have been what I bought.  I ended up buying cherrystone clams which I discovered are bigger than what you need for this kind of meal.  Cherrystones were the only clam that Clement’s had on hand, so it wasn’t actually a choice, rather an only option kind of deal.  Sure, I could have gone somewhere else for the clams, but I got impatient and I didn’t realize why it mattered until later.

The recipe is easy.  Cook the pasta.  Sauté some onions and garlic, add wine, then cook the clams. In theory, the clams are ready when they open up and the warning that everyone will give you is that if they don’t open up, don’t use that clam.  Seemed like a foolproof system.  The recipe said that the clams would open within 3 to 5 minutes, but the recipe called for a smaller clam.  The clams I used did open up after five minutes but they didn’t open wide.  It was a conundrum because I didn’t want to overcook them, but I definitely wanted to make sure I didn’t undercook them.  I gave them a little more time but then continued with the recipe by adding the pasta, butter and parsley to the pot.  I then served it up and I will say, it looked good.

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I am actually writing this on the morning after, so any concerns I have about having made some bad decisions have passed (I hope).  Lola, always the trooper, seemed to be ok too, although she wasn’t sure if she was having an allergic reaction.  Regardless, this meal caused us a bit more medical concern than any meal really should, so I’ve learned a lesson to be more cautious in the future.

At first bite, everything was a little bland and did not have that clam taste that makes the meal famous.  The problem with the clams only being open a little was that you really had to pry open the shell to get the meat out.  It was tough work.  Lola did the smart thing and took the clams out, opened them all up, removed the meat, chopped it up and added them back in.  After that, she really liked it.  I served it along with some grilled toast which she used to mop up all the sauce and was having a blast eating it until her throat started itching.  To me, it was good but it wasn’t the exact taste I was looking for.  Live and learn.  Next time, I’ll just go to Scales & Shells.

So we celebrated.  One of the things I have learned about this quest is that it’s not always going to be easy (although I didn’t think it would be dangerous).  I just have to keep remembering why I am doing this – to make every day special in some small way.  Sure, it wasn’t the best meal I have ever eaten, but it was something we never made before and something out of the norm for our dinner routine.  That’s a victory over the mundane and that’s what I am celebrating.

Next Up: National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day 

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