Bite clams come crammed in one of those classic cardboard boxes that all New England seafood shacks seem to have, fresh out of the hot oil so that the bottom of the container develops oil spots. The batter is substantial and craggy—perfect for swiping up the pickle-y tartar sauce without falling apart—but light enough that the rich, creamy, mineral-y clam belly flavor comes through bright and clear.
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Having just come from a thoroughly disappointing meat at NY's latest attempt at a clam shack, Ditch Plains, I began to ruminate on how much I love fried clams. With Memorial Day, the official start of the fried clam eating season, just around the corner, here is my absolutely incomplete guide to eating fried clams in the NYC area, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, with a southern Maine spot thrown in for good measure. The descriptions of the clams themselves will be minimal. As I discovered a couple of years ago when I went on a ten clamshack eating adventure with Dave Pastnernack, the chef of Esca, fried clams are either really good (sweet, nutty, crisp and greaselessly fried with no breading...