I admit it…I am from New York and Connecticut and I grew up vacationing at such Atlantic Ocean communities as Montauk Point, Block Island, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod with numerous family camping trips to Maine, Massachusetts and Nova Scotia.
So lobster and its various “accessories”; clam chowder, steamers, corn on the cob, boiled potatoes, with lots of drawn butter, have been a happy part of my childhood and now my adulthood.
As a part time resident to Miami, I have noticed the lack of authentic New England Lobster choices…the versions offered by the likes of Ocean Drive and Lincoln Rd are generally tough and tasteless and displayed wrapped in plastic next to a colorless beef filet and billed as “Surf and Turf”.
So, it was with my Yankee skepticism, that I ventured to Chef Jamie DeRosa’s Tongue & Cheek for their Summer Tuesday New England Clambake.
Billed as a Half Lobster, bowl of New England Clam Chowder, steamed little neck clams, corn, chorizo sausage, boiled potatoes and a local New England craft beer all for $35, I grabbed a fellow New York/Miami transplant and headed over to check it out.
Chef Jamie DeRosa, known as both a creative and personable chef, started his Miami culinary career as Executive Chef for the swanky Tudor House in the Dream Hotel on South Beach. When Tudor House announced it was closing, Jamie and his business associate, Michael Reginbogin, decided to start their own venture and opened Tongue & Cheek in 2012 to offer ingredient-driven American fare.
The space is both inviting and quirky, offering a sophisticated dining experience conducive to socializing.
I was immediately taken with the art, as Jamie explained to me each piece was commissioned for Tongue & Cheek by local Miami artist, Claudio Picasso, who moved to Miami from Chile when he was one and started painting when he was 16, and has garnered rave reviews for his urban and graffiti style.
I sat with Chef DeRosa and his wife, trademark attorney, Amy Spagnole, in view of Claudio's wonderful triptych of “Biscayne Bay and Seaplane” as we chatted about the success of Tongue & Cheek, the Miami food scene and it’s community of chefs and the inspiration for the New England Clambake menu.
Jamie was passionate when I asked about changes in the Miami food scene in just the past few years and remarked how its community of local chefs are supportive of each other (dining in each others restaurants and tweeting about it!) and collaborating on various South Florida charity benefits like Taste of The Nation's No Kid Hungry, the OBIES and other worthy causes. “This is our home…we live here…our kids go to school here…we need to support the community whenever we can”, he so eloquently stated.
But, it seems it was his wife, Amy, who grew up in Rhode Island, who inspired Chef Jamie to create the authentic menu and has had a hand in other seasonally offered New England dishes like Fish and Chips and Clam Bellies.
The 1 ½ lb. Lobsters, actually flown in from Massachusetts from Blue Hill Seafood in Maine, and steamed in a mixture of broth and butter are served family style with tender steamed little neck clams (steamers are harder to come by and not as popular with Miamians), chorizo sausage, corn on the cob, and boiled red skin potatoes. Buttery grilled Italian bread for mopping up the broth is arranged on top and was hard to resist, as I ate all four pieces myself. I was even impressed that the lobsters came cracked in all the right places (the middle of the claws!) to ease getting to the tender lobster meat.
But it was the Clam Chowder ( or "Chowda", as Jamie calls it ) that caught my attention, and prompted me to meet with Jamie to talk about it.
It was perfection in a bowl. Unlike the overly creamy, thick New England chowders, or the clear and watery Rhode Island versions , this chowder of little neck clams was light and flavorful with just the right amount of seasoning and delicately sliced red skin potatoes and carrot shreds. Jamie confirmed it was milk based, but with a light touch.
I boldly asked Jamie if he would share the recipe for MIAbites readers and he agreed, with one caveat... that aspiring chefs understand that each recipe is open to interpretation, and just like Jamie, each chef will add their own personal touch to the dish no matter how closely they follow the actual recipe.
Spoken wisely. ( See Recipe below ).
So, If you decide to try your hand at creating your own personal "Chowda" , please share with us via Twitter and post a picture with #T&CChowder and tagging @tandcmiami and @MIAbites1.
The Tongue & Cheek New England Clambake is available every Tuesday throughout the Summer and is priced at $35 per person and includes all of the above and a New England craft beer. We chose Narragansett lager from Rhode Island, but other offerings include Whale's Tale and Grey Lady from Cisco Breweries on Nantucket.
Reservations are suggested, and this dinner makes for a fun group outing! If you are a transplanted New Englander or New Yorker, or if this is your first Lobster experience , be prepared to get messy....as eating lobster is worth every napkin you will need!
431 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL
305 704 2900
RECIPE: Tongue & Cheeks New England ” Chowda ” by Chef Jamie DeRosa
1 bag Little Neck clams
1 large onion/diced
3 large carrots/ diced
3 stalks celery/diced
½ C White Wine
1 Cup Fumet- Clam stock
¼ C Canola Oil
½ C Heavy Cream
½ C Milk
¼ lb Butter
To Taste- Salt and Pepper
in large skillet, sweat mirepoix ( lightly sauté just to soften not to brown ) the onion, carrots and celery in oil.
Add in clams, fumet, white wine and cover
Cook until clams are open
Reserve liquid, shuck clams and reserve shucked clams
Make basic roux of equal parts flour and butter
In saucepan, add to the roux the reserved clam broth, the heavy cream, milk and butter and BTAB ( Bring to a Boil) and then RTAS ( reduce to a simmer) Season to taste.
1 yellow onion , small diced and sweat mirepoix and cooled
1 carrot, small diced or julienned and sweat mirepoix and cooled
1 celery stalk, small diced and sweat mirepoix and cooled
5 Fingerling potatoes ( cooked in duck fat until tender) cut into ¼ inch rounds
To Taste- Salt and Pepper
Bacon Lardons: Cook bacon until crispy.
Serves 5-6 or so….