CLAM JAM - A CHOWDER COOKOFF, part of the 25th Anniversary Commemoration of the Christening and Launching of the Elizabeth II, had this Elizabeth judging six different clam chowders put forth by area restaurants. The rules were simple -the ingredients had to be traditional, and for the Outer Banks, that means just 5 ingredients - clams, potatoes, pork, onions and water.
Judging is a difficult job. Blind tastings led us immediately to two very traditional renditions, the winner by Sam & Omie's Dolly Gray Jones, with its balance of pepper, clams and tender veggies. The runner up, Basnight's Lone Cedar, featured small, whole clams. The addition of carrots DQed one, and another pushed the envelope with sweet potatoes that overpowered the taste of the clams. The newly crowned Clam Jam Queen, Dolly, was so pleased - the recipe was her mother's, and it was her mother's birthday. Trust me, only the food gods rigged that! She promises not to substitute her crown for her motorcycle helmet.
The People's Choice Award went to Poor Richard's. For five bucks, attendees could taste all of the chowders, and cast their clam shell for their favorite.
LOCALVORES - Friday evening's reception in the Boat House featured ingredients settlers brought with them or found on Roanoke, including a whole roasted pig, smoked trout, steamed vegetable bundles and champagne - not authentic but at least from the Biltmore Estate. Ocracoke's own Molasses Creek played their awesome bluegrass music.
On Saturday, a replica of the Elizabeth II was launched - and wasn't lost in the strong wind. The crowd paraded behind the bagpipes and the Queen to the Festival Park, were they tasted the clam chowder and were treated to slices of a huge cake.
OREGON INLET FISHING REPORT
Couldn't resist popping into the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center to see what the charter boats were bringing in. Sunday, the catch of the day was stripers. Big Boys, 25 to 35 pounds, caught just outside in the wash of the inlet. One fellow had trimmed the loins from each side of the backbone, a present he's taking to his mother for Thanksgiving. He hopes she's do it "the traditional way", baking it with bacon, onions and potatoes. One fish would feed a multitude at that size, and there were several very happy fishermen on the dock.
In THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK, you'll find that traditional recipe, as well as a recipe for grilling Striped Bass, a terrific way of preparing this firm but delicately flavored fish with butter, herbs and lemon.
Basically, what you want to do is to melt butter, parsley, scallions, salt and pepper, and lemon juice together, then brush that mixture over the whole fish or fillets. Place lemon slices over and/or in the fish. Then grill, covered, basting occasionally with butter mixture, until fish flakes easily. Time depends on thickness, and whether filets or whole fish. Garnish with more thin slices of lemon.