Winter affords me a great deal of thinking time. Cutting through the frosted waters of Oyster Bay and the Long Island Sound in my ongoing pursuit of nature’s perfect creations (in my humble opinion) recipes and table settings dance around my mind. These thoughts are warm companions on the coldest days when my hands ache and the wind scorches my lungs. In a matter of months, I’ll be back in a tee shirt, harvesting clams and oysters for clambakes and backyard parties instead of bringing bushels to market for people up and down the east coast to enjoy.
I think about these folks as well. There’s something simple, yet magical thinking about the fruit of my labor winding up in the finest restaurants. So few professions offer the kind of satisfaction one has in knowing that the work I’m doing hasn’t changed since our ancestors harvested shellfish from the very same waters I work every day. I imagine a couple sitting down for an anniversary dinner, or an extended family gathering for a reunion, partaking in nature’s perfect delights. From bay-to-table. I can see mouths watering when the waiter approaches the table with trays of iced oysters surrounded by dipping sauces.
I’ve shucked clams and oysters with Billy Joel, prepared elaborate beach parties on Dune Road and stood side-by-side with home chefs who could rival the finest chefs in any restaurant. The common denominator to all of these moments is an unabashed love of fresh seafood.
Like I said, there’s a lot of thinking time out here on the water.
The warm thoughts that surround me when it comes to the best part of my year are even more satisfying. Mostly because I’m part of them! I’m fortunate that word of the Schultzy’s (famous) clambakes and raw bars has spread over the past few years. It has brought me to parts of Long Island I have never known before. From Sans Point to Montauk, people from all over the Island have invited me into their homes for communions, graduations, engagement parties or just to hang out and feast.
I’ve shucked clams and oysters with Billy Joel, prepared elaborate beach parties on Dune Road and stood side-by-side with home chefs who could rival the finest chefs in any restaurant. The common denominator to all of these moments is an unabashed love of fresh seafood. There’s something about what I do that connects people in a visceral way. I’ve never left an off premise catering job without receiving hugs and handshakes from my hosts and most of their guests.
It’s hard to explain really. I think the ocean air is something that all Long Islanders carry with them. It’s both our rocket fuel and our chamomile tea – the thought of being near the water is both exciting and the thing that keeps us grounded in a crazy world. Most people probably wouldn’t be as excited if they dealt with the elements that are part of my job day in and day out, but there’s no question that it’s our common bond.
The bay has been fruitful of late. I’m grateful for that. When the winds calm down and the weather warms a bit, I’ll be back on the sun-drenched Sound turning recipes around in my head as you plan your event. You plan, I’ll prepare. Together we’ll enjoy. See you soon. Buzz me later.
The nutrition found in clams is often overlooked, if even thought of at all. Most people wouldn’t consider me a health nut, but I’m in a very physical line of work. So it’s incredibly important to me to take care of my body and health. As a bayman for the past twenty-five years, I know that fresh shellfish are packed with protein and generally good for you. But as most of my knowledge comes from the sea, instinct and anecdotal information, I decided to test what I believed. I reached to friends who are health experts and spent time researching online to find out exactly what the benefits are of the product I catch day in and day out.
One of the better guides that I found can be viewed on this website. Even I was surprised to learn just how nutritious these little guys are. In one ounce of steamed or boiled clams, there are:
• 26 calories
• 0.34 grams of fat
• 0.89 grams of carbohydrates
• 12 milligrams of cholesterol
• 132 milligrams of sodium
• 4.4 grams of protein
To put that in better perspective, one cup of clams – about 12 medium size clams – packs in 1.8 grams of fat (very little of which is saturated), 4.8 grams of carbohydrates, 63 milligrams of cholesterol, 708 milligrams of sodium and a whopping 24 grams of protein.
It’s fair to say that the littleneck clams that we hand-harvest from the Long Island Sound boast a big helping of lean protein, which is something we all need in our diets.
Clams also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to breakdown triglycerides (fat in our blood). To boot, clams are mercury-free unlike many other fish in the sea.
Yes, clams are naturally high in sodium and also contain cholesterol…but everything in moderation, I say. You know what else is high in sodium? Most brand name cereals, spaghetti sauce and canned vegetables, just to name a few. It’s important to keep things in perspective and live in moderation. Not to mention (and this is where good old fashioned instinct comes into play) I trust the fruits of Mother Nature more than I would anything processed or manufactured. If it was here before we were, that’s good enough for me.
70s and sunny this coming weekend – my fingers are crossed that it holds up. I’ll be on the bay, doing my thing. Come on by the Port Washington Farmers Market from 8-12 on Saturday for your fresh bucket of tasty and nutritious clams, hand-picked by yours truly.
See you on the water. Buzz me later.
Doug Cohen and Justin Aranoff cut their teeth in business by cutting meat. A lot of meat. Hired as butchers to work at the Meat House in Roslyn, Doug and Justin learned first-hand how to slice and dice with the best of them and gained quite a following in the community. Enough of a following, it turns out, that when the Meat House closed its location-challenged facility, the young entrepreneurs didn’t miss a beat and took over another defunct butcher shop in Roslyn on Willis Avenue.
Center Cuts, Doug and Justin’s new home, is welcoming former Meat House customers in droves and they’ve stepped up their game accordingly. The prepared foods division is growing to keep pace with strong demand and their signature sauces are flying off the shelves. It’s a grueling business that requires an inordinate amount of hours but the duo is taking it in stride and working tirelessly to fill the void left by these two former butcher locations.
Schultzy’s was recently introduced to Justin and Doug through a local publicist named Harlan Friedman who instantly spotted the surf-and-turf synergy between our two companies. Overnight, our fresh clambake to-go buckets have become a hit with the Center Cuts clientele who now have the best of both worlds. The Cuddeback Clam Pot is leading the charge but the Drunken Mussel Pot isn’t far behind in popularity among this discriminating customer base.
Just this week we introduced the New Englander, which boasts a full lobster bake complete with fresh corn and new potatoes to the mix.
As exciting as it is for us to launch Schultzy’s, it’s just as incredible to watch these young entrepreneurs take food service to the next level. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious and their willingness to explore new products and try new things at their customers’ request is absolutely inspiring. What began as a small weekend experiment is quickly transforming into a daily, fresh distribution location for Schultzy’s clambake to-go pots.
We’ve already begun collaborating on football season platter specials that Center Cuts customers can order in advance and have waiting in time for Big Blue and Gang Green to hit the gridiron this fall. For anyone that hasn’t visited Center Cuts and met Justin and Doug, please do so. And take it from us… try the steak tips. They’re outta this world.
Thank you Doug, Justin and the entire crew of Center Cuts for this partnership.
Center Cuts is located at 382 Willis Avenue, just two blocks south of the LIE.
The 4th of July holiday is a time to celebrate our freedom, our founding and our liberties – all of the things that we enjoy as citizens of this big, beautiful nation we call home. For me the 4th of July is my Thanksgiving.
It’s the time of year that the bay is bountiful, the weather is favorable to a fisherman and my friends and family are close. I’m thankful for all of it. Summer on Long Island has always been extraordinary because the occupation that puts food on my family’s table is also part of so many celebrations.
It was a brutal winter for all of us, the Baymen in particular, so this respite means even more. But there’s something else. Something even more personal that makes these summer holidays so meaningful.
I come from a big family. So does my wife, Vicky. Sometimes at family gatherings it seems like everyone on the North Shore of Long Island is somehow related to us. Since we have been a couple the same thing inevitably happens during these long summer holiday weekends. I usually catch up with friends and family after getting out early and working all day on the water. We move from house to house, eating our way through neighbor’s backyards and stopping every ten feet to talk to someone walking between the beach and bay side streets in Bayville.
Then, like clockwork, we all wind up at Bumpy’s.
You may have noticed the “Bumpy Special” Clambake Bucket on our special order items. It’s named for my father-in-law. Bayville residents need no introduction because he’s a legend in this town. And deservedly so. Bumpy and my mother-in-law treated me like a son from the moment I met Vicky. In their minds we were instantly one family, not a relation through marriage. I know plenty of people who either dislike their in-laws or, at best, tolerate them but it’s not something I can relate to.
And so this year, unlike years past, I will get to Bumpy’s a little later than usual because of the launch of our new Clambake Bucket product line. And no one is more excited for Vicky and me than her parents. In fact, it seems like the whole of Bayville is pulling for us and being the wind in our sails. But I will get there. And no matter how late it is, Bumpy will be there holding court, smiling, laughing and loving life.
This is my 4th of July.
Happy 4th. See you on the water. Buzz me later.
I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
– Henry David Thoreau
Every year for the past twenty years or so, the Baymen’s Association participates in the annual harbor cleanup in Oyster Bay. Boats from all over the North Shore of Long Island come together to troll the harbor and pick up debris deposited along the coastline during the winter months. It’s important to hit the area before the sea grass and brush along the coast really begin to fill in.
I remember the first year we organized such a massive cleanup effort. It seemed like it would never end. Years of neglect had stubbornly embedded garbage in the muck and the sand from what seemed like all over the world. It was a difficult task but one that was so necessary. This was more than just the area we worked; these were the waters we fed people from.
Over the years, this cleanup has become a major source of pride among the baymen who truly consider themselves champions of the environment.
This year I noticed something markedly different about the cleanup. It was easy. Friends of mine who came along with me this year also remarked about how they felt they actually had to hunt for debris along the shore. As a career fisherman in this area, it’s hard to describe how good it feels to know that we have made such great strides in restoring the natural splendor of this habitat while protecting the harvest at the same time.
Life, like the environment, is a balance. And you get out of it what you put in. Put in garbage and that’s what you’re going to pick out of it. Put in a little love, care and attention and, well, you get the drift.
With my kids in the boat, I eased along the shoreline looking for remnants of rubbish ushered in by winter storms and thought about my relationship to the water and the products I serve. Apart from the obvious fact that the clams and oysters I harvest are sweet, fresh and delicious, they serve a higher purpose. The most important function clams and oysters serve is as nature’s filtration system. Millions of shellfish on the ocean floor handle and cleanse many more millions of gallons of water that flow constantly in and out of the bay as it recharges every day.
So in a way, on this day I’m returning the favor. Lightening the load of the product that feeds my customers who feed my family. How’s that for the circle of life?
Now, you might be thinking that it’s a little hokey to think this way, but it’s honestly how I feel. Spend enough time listening to the wind speak as it hustles across the bay and you’ll know the water is very much alive, and very much a part of who we are. With my children with me in the boat, and my friends nearby, I could swear that I even heard the wind say, “thank you.”
See you on the water. Buzz me later.
“I never thought that things would go this far. I never thought that life would be this way. I never thought I’d be a superstar. Oh, Jesus Christ, I wish that I was back in Oyster Bay… Taking it easy.”
– Billy Joel
It was one of the first days of the real summer season last year. It was a particularly long winter and a cool spring on the bay and all of the baymen were itching to stretch out and open it up a bit on the water. For the first time in months I was in shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt and ready to dig a little further from home base; one of those days that makes you feel good about digging for a living. It almost didn’t matter whether I found a productive spot to fish in for the day. I was just happy to be alive.
After digging near the shore for a while I cruised through the harbor further out toward the Long Island Sound, I slowly hugged the shore taking in the beautiful coastline of the Island. Just as I was about to crank it up I noticed a guy at the end of a dock that led to one of those incredible Gold Coast homes that you see in magazines. He was whistling and waving me over so I let off a little and turned to head toward him. As I pulled closer to the dock I realized that the nondescript guy in a baseball hat gesturing to me was none other than Billy Joel.
Mind you, this wasn’t the first time I met Billy. The cool thing about this guy is that even though he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet, he’s first and foremost a Long Islander. There’s absolutely no pretense about him whatsoever and he treats everyone he meets the same. Aside from his obvious musical talent, the people around here know him as a dedicated fisherman and motorcycle enthusiast. I would venture to say that if you asked him, even he would say he considers himself more of a biker and a fisherman than a musician. In 2010 when he opened his bike shop, 20th Century Cycles, it was (of course) right in the heart of downtown Oyster Bay. Vicky and I catered the party because someone told him I had a killer raw bar and that I was a local guy.
That’s the Billy Joel we know around here.
So when he waved me over, I instinctively knew he was looking to jawbone about shellfish for a while. Sure enough, we got to talking about the catch this year and what was happening on the water. I had a few clams from the morning in the boat so we broke them open and enjoyed a few of Oyster Bay’s treasures, skipping the empty shells along the surface of the water. After a half-an-hour of trading fishing stories we shook hands and I was back on my way out to the “office.”
See you on the water. Call me later.