Off Premise Clam Bake

The Art of the Meal

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.

Are Shellfish Good For You?: The Nutritional Value of Clams

Schultzys01The 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.

Schultzy’s Clambake To-Go Pots now available at Center Cuts in Roslyn

BG1Doug 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.