Brooklyn Is All About Clams

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The "stuffies" at Kittery are wonderful. Overflowing with fennel-flavored Italian sausage, they're Brooklyn on the half-shell.


In the 1630s, when the first Dutch settlers started poking around in the swamps between what are now Carroll Gardens and Park Slope with an eye toward turning it into agricultural land, what they found were Canarsie Indians pulling clams from the Gowanee ("leader" in their Indian language) Creek. Eventually, it and the complex of waterways known by the English as Mill Creek would be dredged and consolidated into the Gowanus Canal, the new spelling reflecting the Dutch version of the name. Since the earliest days, Brooklyn has had a love affair with the clam.


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Kittery's fried clam plate is bursting with the soft-shell clams sometimes called "piss clams" in Brooklynese.


Indeed, in the 19th century, the shores and beaches of Brooklyn were loaded with carts selling raw clams and seaside clam shacks. It seems the borough's residents couldn't get enough of them. By the early part of the 20th century, Sheepshead Bay was clam central, with perhaps a dozen clam shacks--many on stilts--lining the waterway. One gave rise to Lundy's, a seafood palace that lay claim to being the largest restaurant in the world. Another, and the only place that remains from that era, is Randazzo's Clam Bar, where fried clams, raw clams, chowders, and rolls are still sold.

But despite some lean years, the clam is making a comeback in Brooklyn, and the focal point is in the area surrounding the old Gowanee. Littleneck opened last year on Third Avenue, and this year we have Kittery, which is the subject of this week's Counter Culture review.

Read the entire review here.

While the place takes its name from Maine, much of the menu is pure Brooklyn, including clam rolls, fried clam platters, baked clams (called "stuffies), and, of course, raw clams on the half-shell--a challenging dish which all but Brooklynites may disdain to eat. There's clam chowder, too, of the New England variety. What's up with that? Well, the red, Italian-influenced variety is called Manhattan clam chowder for a variety of historic reasons. (Go to Randazzo's, and you'll find both types served. The creamy type may be originally Dutch.)


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Served in a white enamel bowl with oyster crackers, Kittery's clam chowder features the bivalve flavor front and center, modified with cream, chives, and bacon.


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Location Info

Kittery Brooklyn

305 Smith St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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3 comments
Dino Barberini
Dino Barberini

Amos Oz and Abraham Yehoshua have humiliated themselves wanting to humiliate Samer Issawi, the Palestinian patriot dying in Israeli jails for a prolonged hunger strike. They have degraded to act purely suicidal his painful battle for the right to a fair and motivated trial, inviting him to give up because peace and justice for him, his people, Palestine, is about to take place. A wicked lie. But this is Samer Issawi, in the words that he addressed to the Israelis, an appeal so overwhelming universal to call to the responsibility of men of culture in the whole world: "I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones. I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees. Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self. Israelis: Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory. We ask you too to listen to this voice, immediately mobilizing yourselves in a global campaign for his release before it is too late.

Diane Silverstone-Moffat
Diane Silverstone-Moffat

same was true of Plum Beach (along the Belt Parkway); as kids we would spend the day at this beach, clamming! but that was back in the early 1960's.... i'm sure it is a toxic site by now, sadly! :p

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