Over the last decade (or two), I seem to have developed quite an aversion to crowds of people. The feeling of being hemmed in, the annoyance of trying to get where I’m going while people stand obliviously in the center of the walkway, frustration with children running over you while their self-adsorbed parents text and check their email…the list goes on. Life is hectic out there and I don’t often have the patience for it. (Yes, I’m old – and get off my lawn.) However, for something really worth the risk of leaving my controlled surroundings, like a Willie Nelson concert or traveling to an exciting destination, I will steel myself against the onslaught of humanity and march with the crowd.
Patty at Chowstalker.com recently wrote about visiting the Dekalb Farmer’s Market; she drove for an hour to get there to stock up from the incredible produce and unbelievable meat selections. This reminded, or maybe shamed me, into remembering that I live not 10 minutes from this great, international farmer’s market. Why haven’t I been shopping there? Primarily because it is IMMENSE and full of people. By immense, I mean 140,000 square feet, and by full of people, I mean they serve 100,000 customers per week. Every aspect of shopping there feels like a battle, from parking to maneuvering through the store to getting though the oddly-arranged check out area. (Really, a big rectangular room with cashiers against the walls does not have a traffic flow.)
I sucked it up…this was a worthwhile trip to go on. I decided to go mid-week in the morning, to lessen the crowd aspect. I was pleasantly surprised to see only half the huge parking was full. Sure, there were plenty of people and carts inside, but it was manageable – especially when you see the rows and rows of fresh fruits and vegetables of all descriptions (organic included). Please don’t get me started on all the meats, seafood, cheese, and wine. This is a great place if you love food – a shopping paradise. If you want selection – here it is – mounds of it! I didn’t have much of a list prepared so I would be more open to suggestion (which is often dangerous when grocery shopping), so I did a lot of browsing. I came home with a lot of stuff – grass-fed beef, veal rib chops, chicken thighs, pork chops, littleneck clams, parsley, eggplant, broccoli, garlic, lemons, strawberries, an assortment of mushrooms, olives, a couple bottles of wine, and a bag of Georgia-ground cornmeal. There’s probably more that I don’t remember. Forgive me for listing all of that, but I did it for a reason. It all cost less than $125. I don’t know about you, but I can’t begin to stroll through Whole Foods for that!
I’m a convert – I just have to remember to avoid the place in the afternoon, on weekends, or holidays, and always bring my checkbook (they accept cash, check or ATM only).
Here’s our first meal with the goods from that visit! Thanks, Patty!
Ingredients (All amounts are negotiable – pretty much anything will work!):
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, grass-fed (Kerrygold is my favorite)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 cup white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
- 3 pounds littleneck clams
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- juice from 1 lemon
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Before cooking the clams, keep them on ice, outside of a plastic bag (they need to breathe). I put a shallow tray of ice in the sink and left the clams on top of that until I was ready to cook. Just before cooking, scrub the shells with a brush under cold, running water.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the garlic and shallot; cook until fragrant, without browning (1-2 minutes). Sprinkle in desired amount of crushed pepper flakes and add wine. Bring to a boil and add the clams and oregano. Cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes until clams have opened up, shaking the pan occasionally.
As the clams open, carefully take them out and set aside in a bowl. Discard any clams that have not opened after about 8 minutes.
Continue to simmer the broth until it has reduced some in volume (how much broth you would like with your clams is up to you). Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir in the parsley. Season with a few grindings of black pepper. Taste to see if salt is needed (probably not, because clams are salty!) Add a touch of heavy cream to the broth, if you’d like. Return the clams to the pan to reheat.
We served this with gluten-free cornbread. It would also be great over some gluten-free pasta. Enjoy!
An international shopping experience deserves some international music, don’t you think? First up is a concept that I truly love, Songs Around The World. Musicians from all around the planet collaborating, just remarkable. South Africa, Ireland, New Orleans…but all with a song in their hearts.
Next, something for the little ones…after you’ve had the clams! Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs, “quiet time” music from around the world…lull them to sleep and broaden their worldview, all at once!