I curse having so many windows during the summer. Itʼs like living in a heated fishbowl. At times its hotter inside our loft than it is outside. It’s time for a summer vacation!
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went on a road trip to Big Sur. We drove north up Highway One, the famously scenic California highway that runs along the coast from Orange County to Mendocino County. The roughly ninety miles of the highway that wind through Big Sur are particularly gorgeous. The Santa Lucia mountains jut dramatically out of the Pacific Ocean. The water near the shore is often an incredible shade of turquoise and becomes a deep, dark blue further out. Outcroppings of giant boulders dot the shoreline and the sand is fine and clean.
We stayed in an old motor court style motel that has been converted into a hip boutique hotel called the Glen Oaks Big Sur. Everyday we’d go on a magical hike, through beautiful groves of towering redwoods and oaks. At Andrew Molera State Park, we crossed a lovely meadow early in the morning where deer were grazing peacefully. The meadow gave way to a small patch of forest and ended at a breathtaking beach where thick billows of fog rolled over the cliffs.
Everywhere we went there was fresh fish and shell fish on the menu. One of Alanʼs all time favorite dishes is Linguini alle Vongole, and after eating so much beautiful fresh fish in Big Sur, I was inspired to come home and make it for him. When done right, itʼs so simple and so fresh, perfect for when its too hot too cook. As a bonus, my girlfriend Nicole gave me a head of purple garlic from her cousin’s garden in San Francisco. The dish takes all of 30-45 minutes from start to finish.
1 shallot thinly sliced in rounds
1/3 cup chopped garlic, about one large head
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3/4 bottle good, dry white wine
2 tsp chili flakes
1 lb linguini pasta
3 lbs little neck clams
2 tbs of unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbs olive oil
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tbs kosher salt- or to taste
Boil water for the pasta. Heavily salt the pasta water; I use about a handful of salt for a pound of pasta. Cook for the amount of time specified on the package, but carefully checking to make sure you don’t overcook. I used homemade pasta from Roma Italian Deli in Pasadena.
Meanwhile heat the 1 tbs olive oil in a braising pan or a large sauce pan. Add the shallots, garlic and chili flakes and sautée for 3 minutes. Then add the clams and 3/4 of the 1/2 cup of parsley. Stir and cover for 15 minutes and check frequently. Cook on medium high heat. When the clams have all opened, take off the heat and serve over the pasta. Discard any clams that do not open. Garnish with fresh parsley.