Woodman's of Essex -- So Good I Didn't Notice the View
Posted May 22 2009 11:44pm
One way to tell if someone is a true New Englander is to see if they know how to eat a lobster. My mother, for instance, born and raised on the South Shore, can pick one dry. My dad -- a native upstate New Yorker? He hates the stuff. Me? I'll do damage to any size lobster. But there's another way to tell if someone is from New England: they know a good clam shack. They could hate fried clams, but if they know of that little restaurant on the shore whose line is out the door -- then they know New England.
Eating fried clams here is a summertime tradition, one that I thought I would never be able to partake in again since discovering my gluten-intolerance. Whenever I drive by local beaches I don't stare at the shirtless men, I longingly gaze at the people enjoying their fried clams. After all, the A-man has wondered aloud a few times whether there is a fat kid hiding somewhere inside me. I'm going somewhere with this I promise.
I present to you: GLUTEN-FREE FRIED CLAMS!!!!
And GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN FINGERS!!!!
About six months ago I read on a gluten-free forum that Woodman's in Essex, MA uses only corn flour in their batter for their fried foods (only their onion rings and crab cakes are not gluten free). And since they have a family member with Celiac disease, they "get" the whole gluten-free thing, meaning they understand that gluten-free food and gluten-laden food cannot go in the same fryer. They get that even a speck of wheat flour cannot touch food for a Celiac. They just plain get it. So, after talking up Woodman's for months, and finally arrainging a trip up there for my family to take (my sister and father are gluten-free too) I was blown away by how good the food was. So blown away in fact, that I didn't even notice the gorgeous view outside of the restaurant until I finished eating.
Woodman's, along with being gluten-free, is very well known for having the best seafood in America, so even if you're not gluten-free -- this is the place to go. We got there around three in the afternoon and there was a line, but it moved quickly. We placed our order, asked about it being gluten-free and were pleased to hear the cashier totally understand what we were talking about and make note of it on the order (side note: drinks are ordered in a separate line). Our food took about ten or fifteen minutes and we brought it outside to enjoy on a picnic table under a tent. If there is a heaven, this would be the setting: sitting on a picnic table next to a marsh with my loved ones, eating fried clams and enjoying each other's company.
I think we have a new family tradition.
And a Happy Birthday to my sister Kate! This photo was taken at Woodman's of her giving La Dudarina a little belly nuzzle.