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My Great American Road Trip – Connecticut

July 15, 2020

Connecticut is the land mass that you have to get through when driving from New York City to Boston. I have done that drive many, many times and there are some highlights, like beautiful strip of 95 that runs along the water and of course Rein’s, but usually I just try to power through to Rhode Island and the welcoming arms of Northern New England.

Sometimes, though I stop in the lovely seaside town of Old Saybrook, and the even more welcoming arms of my beloved step-mother, where we always have at least one meal at a shack along the Long Island Sound and indulge in lobster rolls and french fries. To me that is what you eat in Connecticut. Google acknowledges that as well, but there were a few other options as well.

Interestingly, the Nutmeg State offers no great nutmeggy options. This is possibly because the nickname doesn’t come from the actual nutmeg in the state, so the legend goes, but because Connecticut traders carved wood to look like nutmeg pods and sold them to unsuspecting southern visitors! Might not be true, but it makes me so fond of early Connecticutians!

One of the other foods that come up as iconically Connecticut is PEZ. PEZ! The weird sugar tablet candy that is only interesting because of the whimsical dispensers. Apparently, there is a PEZ Museum in Orange, CT, which I will absolutely be visiting the next time I’m able to be in the state. I will also appreciate that long drive so much more, as well!

But for something that is only in Connecticut, there is nothing like a white clam pizza. Pizza in New Haven is a thing. It’s thin crust and coal fired and no where is it more a thing than at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria. And the most famous thing at Frank Pepe’s is the white clam pizza. So, though I was skeptical, white clam pizza it would be.

I did many things wrong. First I decided not to make my own pizza dough, and when I pulled out the frozen dough, I realized I’d bought gluten free dough by accident. (note to companies everywhere – make sure that it’s easy to tell the differences in packaging. Different colors maybe. Something. Thank you.).

The first step in making a clam pie is to open up the clams. A scary proposition, but with the help of a xanax and a YouTube video, I grabbed a towel and a dull knife and give it my best. Of the dozen clams I opened, at least 10 were usable.

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Clams are chopped and mixed with dried oregano, garlic, and olive oil. The recipe I used said that once you have your crust spread thin, you layer it with mozzarella (this is optional, I did it). Then spread the clam mix over it, and then a layer of parmesan.

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The whole thing goes into an oven at 500 degrees until it is crispy and bubbly, like a pizza. A generous layer of parsley on top, and it was ready to eat.

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So….I learned after the fact that Frank Pepe’s discourages the use of mozz, because it makes the pizza too rich. It was. The pizza was so garlicy and briny and delicious, but it was tough to eat more than a piece or two. Also the gluten free crust didn’t get nearly crispy enough.

I liked it, I won’t make it again, but I may very well order it when I’m next in New Haven.

I’m taking a break for a day or two now, to eat salad and leftovers. Heading to Delaware soon.

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3 Comments
  1. Linda Drohan permalink

    How beautiful!

    You are always welcome. We will have a white clam pizza when you come.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  2. Eric Bartels permalink

    I want you to make me a white clam pizza one day. You should know that my wife is from Orange. In fact, back when I was newspapering full-time, I thought to do a freelance piece on the Pez factory, but they were terribly, strangely secretive. Kind of like my wife. Hard to say what really goes on in there. And don’t be surprised if you hear from champions of the amazing Zuppardi’s in West Haven. Pepe’s is the favorite for some; Zuppardi’s is No. 1 in my estimation, although I don’t know that they do the white clam thing. Loving the travelog. Keep up the good work. E

    On Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 6:12 AM Mountains and Moxie wrote:

    > kathleenjd posted: “Connecticut is the land mass that you have to get > through when driving from New York City to Boston. I have done that drive > many, many times and there are some highlights, like beautiful strip of 95 > that runs along the water and of course Rein’s, but usua” >

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