Our 44th anniversary found us, as usual, celebrating with a tasting dinner at EMP. And, as usual, the kitchen managed to find a way to surprise and thrill us.
After the parade of amuses, we were expecting the Homage to Jewish Appetizing. Instead, Chef de Cuisine James Kent sent out the Clambake. My first thought: “He’s giving us a change of pace, so it’s back to the Clambake.” We’d had it several times, though not recently, and always enjoyed it. However, it turned out Chef Daniel Humm and his kitchen magicians had a new trick up their culinary sleeves….
Our captain, Kevin Browne, placed on the table the familiar black chowder pot perched on a bed of rocks and seaweed. As before, to add a touch of drama, he poured hot water over the rocks, producing a cloud of steam which rose towards EMP’s sky-high ceiling.
But gone were the four small plates containing two types of dressed clams, potato croquettes, and madeleine-shaped cornbread. (You can see photos of them in this set). Now, in addition to the small bowl for the chowder, a larger bowl and spoon were placed in front of each of us, and just one small plate on the table contained two midget corn husks tied at the top.
We unwrapped the corn husks to discover inside midget zucchini breads. The husks had been roasted so that the bread was warm. In a word: Yum!
Kevin enumerated the contents of the large bowl: clams, red pepper, radish, zucchini, corn, corn cream, and tomato snow. When combined, the corn cream and tomato snow formed a delicious cool broth, the clams provided a briny flavor, and the other components added a nice level of crunch. Delectable!
Before departing, Kevin told us to pour the contents of the pot into the smaller bowls at our leisure. I did the honors and… Surprise! It was not the clam chowder we were expecting. It was corn chowder — ultra-creamy with very intense corn flavor. Wow! While the original clam chowder was lovely, Michael and I agreed that this corn chowder had it beat.
Chef Humm and his team like to inject a bit of playfulness into the dining experience at EMP. It’s their way of saying, “We want our guests to have fun while enjoying seriously delicious cuisine.” With the original version of the Clambake and now the sensational Clambake 2.0, they’ve definitely succeeded.
To see all the photos of this anniversary dinner, click here.