Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Woodman's of Essex -- So Good I Didn't Notice the View

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!!!!


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.


Ricki said...

Bet they would have tasted great even if they weren't great--if you get what I mean! Just the coating alone would be a treat.

And that duderina?? OMG how adorable.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Gluten-free fried clams! I would think I'd died and gone to heaven! but now I want a recipe. *pout* maybe we can work on that? At least I know where I'm stopping for a meal next time I'm in MA.

Jenny said...

WHAT?!?!?!?!?! I am a south shore girl. A sea shore girl. A FRIED SEAFOOD GIRL. I am so happy to know of this. I need to go there ASAP! Oh this just made my life complete. And we're not going to Flatbread tonight, Allie suggested Marco instead and Flatbread another time and I just have too much going on so I'm opting out. I don't know if Julia and Allie are going to Marco or if they decided to just reschedule altogether. Will keep you posted, let me know how Flatbread is!
...hopefully I don't double post right now, but it's possible, if I do, sorry!

The Good Eatah said...

Ricki, I totally know what you mean. It was such a perfect day! I could stare at La Dudarina for hours -- she's so precious :)

GF Sox Fan -- it sounds like it's strictly corn flour, so I think I'm going to attempt a recipe at some point. If/when you come to Boston definately make this trip; it is sooo worth it!

Jenny, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I thought pizza and fried seafood were going to be a thing of the past once diagnosed, but with Flatbread and Woodman's -- we have hope! Really, it's amazing. If you can make it up there soon go for it... and if you need company, I'm always ready to eat fried clams. ;)

I'll let you know about Flatbread (and I'm sure I'll post about it)

Kate said...

OHG! FRIED CLAMS! heaven!!!

Oh man I'm JEALOUS!

Emilia said...

Oh my, fried food that is gluten-free? I'm a bit jealous too now. I love fried foods, but haven't found anything gluten-free here, well except some little fish which is called "muikku", but it didn't taste all that good. The fish is eaten with it's intestines and head and all, it freaks me out.

Using corn flour to deep-fry works well with at least tofu, but I haven't tried anything else with it, I can't remember at least :)

My name is Ellen. said...

I've heard about Woodman's. I think I'm just going to have to get in the car and make the trip from our home in Central Massachusetts! Thanks for the tip!


paul said...

thanks for the review and info. I'm on the south shore but will get back to Woodman's soon....was there years ago, had no idea then that they had the GF, but then again maybe 6years ago they were not?

The Good Eatah said...

Hey Paul! They don't exactly advertise that the majority of the food is gluten free, but the staff knew exactly what I was talking about it. It even came up on the cash register when I ordered.

It's worth the trip from the south shore for sure :)

Laura said...

Hello! I'm so excited about Woodmans! I was drawn to your blog because I recognized that fabulous Boston accent. :) I have it too! I'm a north shore gal myself, and loved Woodmans. I just never thought I'd be able to eat the fried haddock again. Now I can't wait for the seasons to change to get up to Essex! Thank you!!