Lobsters and Oysters and Clams

May 17, 2013

As the weather warms up this spring, so does the lure of the open road, and all that comes with it- scenic views, the ocean breeze along the coast, and everyone’s favorite road food!  While it may not be warm enough to go for a swim in Long Island Sound, it is perfect weather for a stop at one of the popular seafood restaurants that dot the Connecticut coast.

Seafood has been popular on the New England coast for as long as this land has been inhabited.  Connecticut Native Americans harvested clams and oysters, and the Colonists who came after them also enjoyed these salt water treats.  Seafood shacks began to pop up in the early part of the 20th century and continue to thrive today.  The Clam Box (pictured), opened Memorial Day in 1939 as a small seafood stand on the Boston Post Road in Cos Cob.  As it grew in popularity the restaurant expanded and opened two other locations—Westport and Wethersfield.  The restaurants were favorites around the state until they closed in 1980.

The lobster roll is a New England classic and though today we often think of Maine as lobster central, Connecticut waters have long been a source for the prized meat. We can thank Harry Perry, the owner of a Milford fish shop for first serving the now-classic hot-buttered lobster roll in 1934.  The roll features hot lobster dressed with lemon and butter served on a grilled, split-top roll. Another Connecticut seafood specialty is clam chowder.   Though sometimes called Rhode Island Chowder or Southern New England chowder, this style of chowder was often referred to as Connecticut clam chowder in early cookbooks and menus. Connecticut chowder distinguishes itself from creamy New England and tomato-based Manhattan styles with salt pork and a water-based broth thickened with potato.  Chowder purists claim this stripped-down version lets the true clam taste shine through. 

To learn more about Connecticut food, roadside attractions, scenic drives, and day trips, stop by the Connecticut Historical Society store to purchase autographed copies of A History of Connecticut Food by Eric D. Lehman and Amy Nawrocki or shop online at http://store.chs.org/books/