Sixth Annual Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl

On Saturday 22 June, The Clamarati sounded the shell and reconvened with eight courageous crawlers for a gastronomical road rally of epic proportions that was the 6th Annual Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl.

We came. We ate. We clamquored.

ORIGINS STORY

As our lore goes:

The genesis of our Crawl dates back about three and a half ago years ago when Joe M and I recorded an episode of our pubcast, Joe Mecca’s Big Mouth. In one of our ‘casts, we talked specifically about clam cakes being a uniquely Rhode Island food and that everyone has a very passionate response to the question “Who has the best clam cake?” It’s a very intimate preference, based on personal taste (some like it crunchy, some like it soft, some like big nubbins, some like tiny bits of clams versus large chunks), historical geographical comforts, and family history.

Admittedly, my family historically has been George’s of Galilee people. We eschew Champlin’s, as few members of my family (more specifically, my mom’s side of the family) have never had a good dining experience there. And this goes back over fifty years. Thus, I refuse to step foot on its premises. Even when I worked at the Block Island Ferry in college, I crossed the street before Champlin’s when wandering around the hport. Call me a clammist!


B-LIST CELEBRITIES (B for BIVALVE)

20190522_17271420190522_17280720190522_172837

It’s incredibly humbling that last year’s Crawl has been canonized in glossy print — as featured in the June issue of Rhode Island Monthly. The Clamarati and fellow Crawlers have been recognized by friends, family, co-workers, and strangers since its publication (and, yes, we have autographed a few copies upon request). 


SHACK SELECTION

Throughout the year, the Clamarati keep a running list of clam shacks they’d like to visit, recommended by friends, and new ones discovered in passing. What’s new? Who are people talking about? (Or not talking about.) Does your aunt’s cousin’s book club friend recommend a shack? Did something catch your eye while driving to your favorite hidden fishing spot? Did a clam shack open and target us on social media, barraging our Facebook feeds with sponsored posts?

Being that we’ve been to well over 30 shacks over our half-decade, we’re always looking for ways to cycle in new ones and revisiting oldies we haven’t seen in awhile. At the same time, we want to keep things fresh and not Crawl by rote. 

Our qualifications are simple: we need to be able to order through a window or just inside the entry way. While some clam shacks do have indoor sit-down restaurants, clam cakes and chowdah are best enjoyed at a picnic table, on the rocks by a breachway, or on a bench by a pier with a hint of ocean salt in the air. Also, to hit up nearly a dozen clam shacks in one day, we’re constantly on the move with nearly as many people. Formally seating us at a table to eat one clam cake is not a good use of anyone’s time (or patience). 

As we do our bi-weekly pub quizzing at the Wild Colonial Tavern, The Clamarati discuss options for our itinerary throughout the year, collecting a mental list that is eventually brain-dumped onto a spreadsheet and Google Mapped. Same as last year, Joe, Carol, and I convened at Casa Mecca, ordered up Chinese food from Lee’s, and got to business. We looked at each region and our shack history. We’ll keep a few tried and true, bring back some we hadn’t been to in awhile, and add a few newbies to the list. An hour later, we had mapped our itinerary and put it in the figurative vault for a week.

As protocol, we kept the Crawl route underwraps until the day of, and this time until we finished a shack — keeping it a mystery for all Crawlers each step of the way. For those who planned to join us at mid-way, we told them which direction to drive and checked in an hour before we knew where we were going. Though we had a list of 14 shacks, we also have to be realistic. Wait times can vary from shack to shack (average wait time is 15 minutes from ordering to pick up), as does traffic on roads that lead to beaches or on Aquidneck Island, thus we sometimes have to pivot from our original itinerary and skip a shack or two. And there’s always a literal gut check — how are the Crawlers holding up after hitting a dozen shacks. Sometimes sanity prevails!


THE CRAWLERS

The Clamarati

Renee Bessette (aka RSB)

Though not Rhode Island born, RSB is Rhode Island bred (and when she dies, she’ll be Rhode Island dead). RSB has a well-stamped passport, though thrives on playing backyard tourist in Lil Rhody, discovering and sharing those out of the way places and “only in Rhode Island” experiences with her family and friends. She first encountered clam cakes at an early age, most likely at George’s of Galilee, after a day out at Sand Hill Cove.

Joe Mecca

Joe had his first clam cake at the age of 11 at Rocky Point Park as part of a shore dinner when visiting his brother and family for the summer from his home in NY. That clam cake left an indelible mark on Joe. He moved to RI in 1994. Joe has a penchant for regional and ethnic cuisine- basically peasant food, and there is nothing more quintessentially Rhode Island than the clam cake.

Carol Caulfield Mecca

Carol has been a Rhode Islander since age 8, growing up in North Kingstown. Clam cakes weren’t really on her culinary radar until adulthood. Carol is an art and drama teacher at a private middle/high school in Massachusetts. Favorite clam cakes might be Quito’s, but big fan of clambiance – she likes most clam cakes if they are served in a place with a great view and salt air. 

The Crawlers

Christopher Scott Martin (2 Crawls)

Christopher Scott Martin is the curator of Quahog.org, a website about Rhode Island’s history and cultural quirks, Corresponding Secretary of the Johnston Historical Society, and an occasional columnist for Edible Rhody magazine. He lives in Johnston with his partner, Kim, two cats, a dog, and assorted reptiles and amphibians. A transplant from upstate New York, he encountered his first clam cakes at Rocky Point Park around 1990.

Kim Calgano (1 Crawl)

Kim Calcagno is a biologist and Wildlife Refuge Manager with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. When not caring for Audubon’s raptor ambassadors, writing or making wildlife costumes,  she accompanies Christopher around the state, soaking up all things Rhode Island.

David Norton Stone (2 Crawls)

The culinary itinerary of David Norton Stone’s 2012 book “Clamcake Summer: One Man Eats Every Clamcake in Rhode Island (Or Dies Frying)” was, in retrospect, a mere May to September solo warm up-lap compared to the grueling one day Lil Rhody Crawl, which premiered in 2013. David was astonished to learn there were others like him, who were indeed even more obsessed than he with clam fritters and better at puns, and most enjoys the clamaraderie of the Crawl. As co-authors of “Rhode Island Clam Shacks,” David and Christopher Scott Martin are honored to have been bestowed by the Clamarati with the title of official state clam shack historians.

Christine Connolly (Newbie!)

Christine Connolly is Rhode Island born but has lived in 7 non-clam cake states. Now back permanently and employed as a college professor, summers provide ample time for chowder, clam cakes, and some summer fun!

Kathy Chute (2 Crawls)

Kathy is a veteran Clam Cake Crawler, having participated in three journeys. She enjoys trying new restaurants with friends, and Little Compton is her go to vacation spot!

Clambina (1 Crawls)

Sabina Mecca (aka Clambina) serves as the crawl mascot. A fan of all kinds of food that can be mooched and/or scavenged off the ground, she has developed a discerning palate for clam cakes. However, as a non-voting participant in the crawl,she chooses to keep her personal favorites to herself.

Special Guests

Elaine Beebe (2 Crawls)

A New Jersey native, Elaine Beebe grew up hearing tales of her father’s days at Providence College, when clam cakes at the Golfers AC were three for a quarter. Her favorite clam cakes are the ones eaten on the annual Clam Cake Crawl, with the added zest of clamaraderie.

Jamie Coelho (1 Crawl)

Jamie is an associate editor at Rhode Island Monthly magazine in Providence, where she has written about food and drink and lifestyle topics in the Ocean State for the past eight years. She calls herself a border jumper, because she resides in the neighboring state of Massachusetts, but spends the majority of her days in Rhode Island, grabbing clam cakes at every opportunity. She knows the best places get clam cakes by boat because that makes the experience even more clamtastic.

Audrey Galli & MIchael Wojnar (1 Crawl)

Audrey (physical therapist) and Michael (marine mechanic) have been with the Clamarati for two years though they have followed the group since its inception. Residing in the South County area with their companion animal Bentley the cat, they enjoy many RI sites and activities when not clam caking.


THE SCORING

We tweaked revised the categories on which we rate clam cakes based on a few key learnings and discussions over the past year. 

  • Crispiness: Is it crispy or limp? Do you hear the bite into the clam cake as you eat?
  • Tenderocity: Is it soft or firm inside? Can you easily bit into it? Is it fully cooked or still doughy? How was it to chew?
  • Seapidity (renamed): What does it taste like? Does have any flavor? Are there other elements that balance well or overpower? Has it been assalted?
  • Nubbins: Does it have any of those protrusions on the clam cake that can also be used as a handle as you eat and/or look like bodily appendages?
  • Clam-to-Cake Ratio: Does it have a lot of clams? Are they chunks or shavings? Do you taste clams in every bite?
  • Clambiance: As an overall experience, would you go here again? Did the decor / environment meet your own description of clam shack? Would you recommend this shack to others?
  • Dining Experience: Was there a wait at the window? How long did it take you to get your order? What types of amenities were available (eg. napkins, cutlery)? How was the staff? What was the parking situation?

Each category is rated on a zero to 10 point scale, whole numbers only. The best possible score is 70 points. 


Stop #1: Dune Brothers / Providence (NEW!)

A view of Dune Bros over by the new Wexford building

It is only fitting that on the day of the Crawl, which we believed to be the day that our state’s founder Roger Williams landed in Providence in 1636, we went to a clam shack in Providence — the first one on our Crawl and the first PVD shack in our history.

Adjacent to the new Wexford Innovation Center and the Providence Downtown Parking Lot District (and contentious former 195 land) lies Dune Brothers. After a few years of pop-ups around town, Dune Brothers is in its second season at The Shack. It prides itself on locally sourced, sustainable seafood and other ingredients, and offers a modern take on seaside classics. RSB had previously been to Dune Brothers and had shared some somewhat controversial opinions last year. Irregardless, it is The Clamarati’s duty to taste and be objective, and we take our responsibility très au sérieux.

IMG_20190622_112600_014
Joe orders the first batch of clam cakes for the Crawl
20190622_110920
Urban clambiance
IMG_20190622_112600_019
8 clam cakes, complete with a thingy of homemade tartar sauce, a bit aioli-ish
IMG_20190622_112600_021
Not a lotta of nubbins
IMG_20190622_112600_079
Joe inspects his first clam cake
IMG_20190622_112600_068
Let the scoring begin!
IMG_20190622_112600_096
Something captures Clambina’s attention. Is it a clam cake?

Crawler Comments

  • RSB: Crushed shell picnic area – nice! Butter, lemony, dill chunks visibile. Parsley? Tiny chunks of clam – could have more. Good exterior, soft slightly undercooked.-
  • Joe: Friendly service. Order took 21 minutes. Parsley, dill, moist and crispy. 
  • Carol: Lemony, dill, fresh clam, crunchy, soft. $8 half-dozen.
  • David: As U2 said “She wore lemon!” Lemon zest pieces in cake. Lemony smell at register. Lemons being sliced, lemon garnish.
  • Kim: Area under construction. Kinda smelly. Locally sourced. Hot, a bit greasy. Herbs 🙂 
  • Christopher: Crushed Shells. Tables with umbrellas. Chewy. Herby – not very clammy.
  • Christine: Smell sewage. Cute decoration. Locally sourced. Lemon, dill, parsely. Greasy.

Stop #2: Quito’s Restaurant / Bristol, RI (2016 Winner)

Second stop on The Crawl is Quito’s, along the waterfront in downtown Bristol. We’re about a block down from the patriot patriotic stripes Main Street. And, unlike last year were able to park right up front to the restaurant. We are met by special guest stars Elaine and Jamie (with her two young children).It’s a beautiful day in the town that is home to the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country, and we always look forward to sitting on the benches admiring Bristol Harbour.

Elaine it goes into the store front and orders a dozen. Joe follows up and orders a cup of clear chowder. We figure that we are to taste test the Rhode Island clear chowder as we crawl, some people dipping their clam cakes in. 

Special Guest Elaine procures the second round of clam cakes
Let me point something out: we are very serious about this endeavor
Crawl roll call!
Special guest Jamie stops in for a clam cake

Crawler Comments

  • RSB: Great exterior. Large clam chunks. Massive funky nubins. Ok / cakey interior.
  • Joe: Hot, crispy, clammy. It’s Quito’s for Christ’s sake!
  • Carol: Perrennial favorite.
  • David: Nubbins galore. Perfect ambiance but no evidence of fresh clams – possible sea clams.
  • Christopher: On the water.
  • Christine: No [something] but beautiful. Benches at water. Sea clams.

Stop #3: Evelyn’s Drive-In / Tiverton, RI

A fan favorite on the shore of Nanaquacket Pond, Evelyn’s is a quintessential clam shack.

Crushed quahog shell parking lot. Check. 

Picnic tables under a covered pavilion. Check.

Waterfront view. Check.

Speaker announcing orders ready. Check.

Optional air conditioned dining room and patio. Check.

As I ordered, the Crawlers retreated to said covered picnic tables, gabbing away on the latest to-doings and memories of Crawls past. I personally have fond memories of Betty complimenting her clam cake’s “nubbies” during last year’s Crawl. It was genuinely tender moment (well, until she chomped into it). We also meet up with special guests Audrey and Michael, making the trek from the West Bay to East for a stop or two.

RSB is about to tuck into Evelyn’s clam cake under Christopher’s mindful view
Not as many nubbins on this one
Documenting the documentation
Audrey is ready for this round
Clear chowder looking a little buttery and opaque

Crawler Comments

  • RSB: Micro-nubbins (made David blush). Cakey, good crispy exterior. Bready, lower clam-to-cake ratio than usual.
  • Joe: Dry, doughy. Worst Evenlyn’s I’ve eaten.
  • David: Loud speaker is a good idea! It is possible to be too breezy! Needed salt for flavor. Lacking clam savour.
  • Christopher: Crushed shells. Old school pavillion. Indoor/outdoor dining.
  • Christine: True clam shack – picnic tables. Great outdoor seating + view. Clam cakes needed salt.

THE SKIRMISH OF ISLAND PARK

Stop #4: Schultzy’s Snack Shack / Portsmouth

Stop #5: Flo’s Drive-In / Portsmouth

Schultzy’s Snack Shack

In lieu of last year’s dashed attempt to hit Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, we ambled over to the original Flo’s Drive-In in Island Park, paring its tasting with neighboring Schultzy’s Snack Shack, which we had eyed on previous Crawls when we hit up Flo’s.

Upon parking The Clamwagen, a full car-door length from a Harley, a biker dude allays a volley of unpleasantries at Joe – insinuating that he is parked too close to the motorcycle and is going to be in deep financial trouble if anything happens to said two-wheeled vehicle. We’re all a bit perplexed by this unprompted diatribe. People can be terrible.

Nonetheless, we break up in two groups, ordering clam cakes at each establishment.

I walk with Christopher, David, and Christine to Schultyz’s, curious about the new shack.

Our first time at Schultzy’s, Christopher orders a dozen for the Crawlers
Moon door on the out house at Schultzy’s

While Christopher ordered, we noticed that the staff was actively attentive to the grounds — cleaning tables, checking the trash, refilling napkins and condiment packets. Standing around with clipboards, an older woman in a Schultyz’s polo approached us asking what we were doing. It’s hard not to become a wee bit nervous seeing people with clipboards engaged in discussion, staring at a worker wiping down a picnic table, thinking a health inspector is making the rounds. 

She introduces herself as Deb, who owns the restaurant with her husband.

As we explained our mission, Deb seemed more at ease. She explained that Schultzy’s has been open for seven years and exclusively hires high school students during it’s summer season. After sharing a few pleasantries, we notice her speaking to someone at the pick-up window. Hopefully she was not imploring her staff to give us the best clam cakes possible. 

Christopher fights off the seagulls for Schultzy’s
Clam cakes served with tartar sauce

Crawler Comments / Schultzy’s

  • RSB: Very peppery. Interesting. Crispy exterior, not a lot of clams. Airy, bready interior, light and fluffy.
  • Joe: No flavor. Hush puppy-like.
  • Carol: Corny, peppery.
  • David: Hygienic! Someone scrubbing picnic tables. Super friendly owner Deb said hi. Crispy with nice pepper taste. No clams!
  • Christopher: On sea wall, water view. Picnic tables, no umbrellas. Personable owner. Pepper – flavorful, but not clammy.
  • Christine: Very peppery, light airy. Almost no clams. Washed picnic tables, games in yard.
The original Flo’s Drive-In in Island Park section of Portsmouth is related to the Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown (which now has the giant shark from Jr’s Fastlane on top of it now).
Pictured: several seagulls approaching the sea wall for my clam cake
There’s a clam shell in my clam cake!

Crawler Comments / Flo’s

  • RSB: Clam shell chunks in my clam cake. Not great – not a lot of clams. Not nice biker dude yelled at us when we parked.
  • Joe: Underwhelming. Odd flavor. Dry, dry, dry.
  • Carol: $13. Cripsy, light, fluffy.
  • David: Mean biker. Moaned with pleasure after every bite. Clams may have liquified / no chunks.  Lotsa seashore flavor.
  • Kim: Were very large.
  • Christopher: Big cakes, kinda bland. 
  • Christine: Someone got clam shell in clam cake. Clam shack ambience.

With a few extra clam cakes left over, we toss a few at the seagulls over the sea wall. Probably a bad idea, thinking they are going to shit on beachgoers. Time to split!


Stop #6: Monahan’s Clam Shack / Narragansett, RI

The transit gods looked fondly upon us. Despite a brief downpour, Joe navigated the Clamwagen from Island Park, through Aquidneck Island, over the Claiborne Pell Newport and Jamestown Verrazzano Bridges, down Route 1A to Monahan’s with near-rock star parking in 45 minutes. No U-turns. No rerouting due to the historically hellish Newport tourist traffic. No . . . nothing! Just a straight shot from Point A to Point B. 

Clambina lets her hair down as we cruise in The Clamwagen

The Crawlers convene at a large picnic table. Kathy orders the round, and Christopher and Kim check out the new pebbled patio in the back that features Adirondack chairs, cornhole, and a stunning view of Narragansett Bay. 

Year after year, Monahan’s has been a strong finisher, usually in the top five. Consensus abounds on their ideal crispiness and pillowy tenderosity, festive nubbins, and reasonable clam-to-cake ratio. There is much more disparity when it comes to its seapidity. Monahan’s is known for a [black] peppery flavor. Some Crawlers thoroughly enjoy the unique take, others are turned off by its bitterness. This year’s offering was a departure – still the same size, shape, and flavor, though less peppery.

 

TRex!

Joe waves a greasy hand at the clam cake Crawlers

Crawler Comments

  • RSB: Golden, crispy. Not as much black pepper as the past. Slightly uneven tenderocity. Perfect crispiness. Large clam chunks.
  • Joe: Crispy, little undercooked. Flavorful.
  • Carol: Not peppery! Good texture.
  • David: Umbrellas, great idea for rain and sun! A little gummy. Miss the pepper.
  • Kim: Sun came out. Blander than last year.
  • Christopher: Tables with umbrellas. Water view. New back seating area with crushed shells. Ice cream. Cakes not peppery this year. Double bagged.
  • Christine: Beautiful, new back patio – cornhole. Very nice, double bag. A little gummy, big clams.

THE BATTLE OF POINT JUDITH

Stop #7: Aunt Carrie’s / Point Judith, RI (2014 & 2015 & 2018 Winner)

Stop #8: Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowder House / Point Judith, RI

The venerable, four-time Crawl champ, Aunt Carrie’s

An annual tradition, we cruise down Rte. 1A past Scarborough for the Battle of Point Judith: three-time Crawl champ Aunt Carrie’s versus it’s stalwart neighbor Iggy’s. No matter which direction we travel, the Battle comes at the midpoint of our travels. The long lines at Iggy’s gives the Crawlers a time of pause and reflection, and time to enjoy a Del’s frozen lemonade as plate cleanser.

Del’s time!
Nubbins galore!
Kim explains the inner workings of an Aunt Carrie’s clam cake to Christine and Christopher
David adds a slice of blueberry pie to the Aunt Carrie’s round

Crawler Comments/Aunt Carrie’s

  • RSB: There’s something rather brilliant about biting into the crispy exterior. Decent clam-to-cake ratio, a little soft inside.
  • Joe: The best. Should have more clams.
  • Carol: Huge, very crispy. Nubbiny, clam caves.
  • David: Deducted 1 point for wrong charge. Otherwise, these fulgent cakes should be canonized.
  • Christopher: Indoor dining, picnic tables, no umbrellas. Water view. Historic structure.
  • Christine: Good nubbins.
Iggy’s doughboy / clam cake. Meh.
Again, David Stone makes Iggy’s clam cake more palatable by adding Aunt Carrie’s blueberry pie to it for an umami effect

Crawler Comments/Iggy’s

  • RSB: Very crispy. Salty. No clams. Long-ass line.
  • Carol: Fair, consistent.
  • David: Much improved by dipping in Aunt Carrie’s blueberry pie. Umami!
  • Christopher: Water adjacent. Modern structure.
  • Christine: Long line. Dry with 0 clams.

GALILEE STREET FIGHT

Stop #9: George’s of Galilee / Galilee, RI

Stop #10: Champlin’s Seafood / Galilee, RI

Stop #11: Salty’s Landing / Galilee, RI

Our next stop brings us past the Block Island Ferry to what we now call the Galilee Street Fight, three shacks battling it out across the parking lot for our attention: George’s of Galilee, Chamlin’s Seafood, and newbie Salty’s Landing, the snack bar at Salty Brine State Beach. We’ve been long overdue to a visit to this hamlet (and Christine’s backyard). 

For over 50 years, George’s has been providing people of Galilee with quite lovely seafood meals. It originally started as a breakfast joint for local fisherman.
Great Island resident Christine presents the George’s clam cakes
An oldie but goodie!

Crawler Comments / George’s

  • RSB: Great clam-to-cake ratio. Good nubs. Very even inside. Natural clam flavor.
  • Carol: Lots of clams.
  • David: Really nice examples. Ferry good! 100 seagulls can’ be wrong!
  • Christopher: On water. Huge restaurant.
  • Christine: Better than I thought. Lots of clams, good flavor.

Kim’s clam cake is a multi -faced beast
This clam cake can be used either as a shiv or shank if found in the Galilee Street Fight

Crawler Comments / Champlin’s

  • RSB: Darker interior. Not a lot of clams. Lemon / buttery. Cakey, dense inside. V greasy. Good nub.
  • Carol: Lemony. Good nubbins. 
  • David: Off taste. Coarse cornmeal. Fritter batter. RSB’s family is right.
  • Christopher: Indoor dining. Flavorful cake.
  • Christine: Dry – overcooked.
Salty’s Landing is located on Salty Brine State Beach in Galilee on the other side of the parking lot from George’s of Galilee and Champlin’s Seafood
RSB presents the round
Joe’s clam cake resembles a pterodactyl

Crawler Comments / Salty’s Landing

  • RSB: Doughy taste – Bisquick-y. Hush puppy? No clams. Nice nubs.
  • Carol: Mehg. Pancakey, not clam cakey.
  • David: No clams, Foster Glocester! Tasted like onion ring or hush puppy. Salty Brine would weep.
  • Christopher: Cross-contaminated.
  • Christine: Taste like hush puppy.

Stop #12: Rocky Point Clam Shack / Warwick, RI

In the heart of the Ann & Hope parking lot, a stone’s throw from TF Green, the Rocky Point Clam Shack “celebrates” the fried foods of the legendary amusement park. Despite the historic park’s notoriety for it’s Shore Dinner Hall and shore dinners, this is more of a fast food stop on the way home from the beach (or an easy stop for those who have little time to drive to South County). 

We had last visited the Rocky Point Clam Shack about three Crawls ago when we had a dedicated West Bay leg. We all recalled clam cakes whose size and consistency reminded us of hush puppies – slightly smaller than a golf ball, crisp nubbins, served in a paper cup. 

We decided to return to the Rocky Point Clam Shack on this year’s Crawl, well, because it was on the way back from South County. And instead of flinging ourselves all the way across Route 1 to Westerly (I’m sounding totally Rhode Island right now), it would be an easy last stop to make.

We met up in the parking lot and Carol proceeded to the ordering window. I walked with her and noticed there were a lot more activities for families, such as coin-operated rides along the way, and the usual cornhole. There’s a few dozen picnic tables, some with umbrellas and some without. Along the perimeter was a caged-in area of ceramic safari animals that Clambina tried to attack (she was probably bummed out by the shack’s no pets policy).

It took us no time to pick up our order. It felt like Carol just received her change and her number was being called at the pickup window that was about 20 feet away from the ordering window. She grabbed a large paper sack and proceeded to meet us over by the safari.

Carol tears open the large paper bag and pulls out that same paper cup filled with 10 clam cakes. They look familiar. Each of us grabs a clam cake – mine has a conjoined twin – and we proceeded to take our first bite of our final round.

Conjoined twins

EW.

Christopher and David are curious in a slightly disgusted / horrified way about these clam cakes

I look around at my fellow Crawlers. They sport looks of confusion and disgust, a bit clamfusion if you will. This clam cake tasted like none other I’ve ever had. It tasted like cooking grease mixed with dough that had not been cooked all the way. I stared intently at the inside of my clam cake only to view big red dots throughout. No, my clam cake was not bleeding. It was just filled with red canned sea clams. How do we know? From last year’s investigations, canned sea clams are barely clams and they are definitely not local!

My clam cake looks like it’s bleeding because these are canned sea clams that are not from this area

We were all aghast at what we had just eaten. This was offensive to our tastebuds and sensibilities. 

Carol is ready to ingest the final clam cake of the crawl (she thinks)

As much as we do not like food to go to waste and often store extra clam cakes in the Clam Bin (for RSB to use as croutons on salad or just as snacks the following day), we proceeded to take whatever was left and dump it in the trash bin. 

Crawler Comments

  • RSB: Red clams – is my clam cake bleeding? Conjoined twins, doughy, v round. Barely cooked.
  • Joe: Red clams. Avoid.
  • Carol: Small, canned clams. Not crispy, mushy interior.
  • David: Red clams at night, Crawlers take fright!
  • Christopher: In a parking lot. Far from water. Meh.

We all agreed to speak nothing of it again (well, until this post) and said our adieus. 

Clam Cake Crawl VI has adjourned.


THE RESULTS

As tabulated by our accountants at Dewey, Cheathem, and Howe:

  1. Aunt Carrie’s
  2. Quito’s
  3. George’s of Galilee
  4. Monahan’s
  5. Flo’s Drive In
  6. Evelyn’s Drive-In
  7. Dune Bros (new)
  8. Champlin’s Seafood
  9. Schultzy’s Snack Shack (new)
  10. Iggy’s 
  11. Salty’s Landing (new)
  12. Rocky Point Clam Shack

THE STATE OF THE CLAM CAKE

After six years of Crawling, The Clamarati and friends have developed a nuanced, discerning palate for tasting clam cakes. One bite and we can tell what’s good and what’s not. 

And this year, we found many of the clam cakes tasted to be underwhelming at both old and new shacks. Where some had previously been flavorful and clam-packed, they were bland and mushy. Other clam cakes were more cake than clam, some overwhelmed by other seasonings that neutralized the claminess.

This assessment is not malicious in any way, far from being super particular or nit-picky, or even biased by personal preference. It comes from caring about the quality of the clam cake and the experience we and, more importantly, YOU have whilst enjoying our favorite only in Lil Rhody treat.


BY THE NUMBERS

  • 12 Clam Shacks in 8-ish Hours
  • 107 Driving Miles Covered in a full loop around Lil Rhody from start and finish at The Clamarati PVD HQ
  • 3  New Shacks
  • Crawled 4 out of 5 RI Counties (Washington, Newport, Bristol, Providence)
  • 5 “Major” Bridges Traversed (Jamestown-Verrazano, Pell Newport, Mt. Hope, Sakonnet River, I-Way)
  • 8 Full-Day Crawlers, 4 Special Guest Stars
  • 1 New Crawler
  • 1 Canine Crawler

And that, our friends, is the story of the Sixth Annual Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl!

On behalf of The Clamarati, I would like to thank our Crawlers — especially those joining us for the first time — for their strong constitutions, thoughtful analyses, and general goodwill! And thank you, our family, friends, and fans for making it through yet another indulgent recap (congratulations to those who read this far)!

Remember: We did this so you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

In clam cake, we trust.

Til next year,

— The Notorious RSB

p.s. — Follow us on Facebook! We also encourage you to share this blog post with family and friends, though we request that any member of the print, broadcast, or online media contact Renee Bessette at renee.bessette@gmail.com regarding interviews with The Clamarati.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.