When it comes to seafood, there's something so irresistible about lobster rolls and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Maybe it's the mix of fresh, chewy bread with sweet shellfish deliciousness, or the balanced mix of protein and carbs, salty, yeasty and tasting of the sea. Maybe it's the way the flavors remind me of lazy summer days at the beach. Or maybe it's just because both of these taste damn good.
Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl makes a great lunch or dinner, especially when made by Boudin. The Boudin family accidentally invented sourdough bread in 1849 during the Gold Rush due to the serendipitous combination of San Francisco wild yeast with their traditional French bread recipe. With several restaurant locations including Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, Boudin's soup in a bread bowl makes a true San Francisco treat.
Other yummy renditions of this seaside delicacy can be found at the Santa Cruz pier restaurants, at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay overlooking a nice little beach, and at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach, where the line inevitably winds down the block. When we curiously joined the line over the 4th of July weekend, the woman in front of us declared her love of the clam chowder in a bread bowl. She had just driven four hours to satisfy her craving, so it had to be good! It's extra yummy with crab and shrimp piled on top of the soup, the sourdough bread filling lightly toasted and buttered. Eating at a picnic table on the pier with a wonderful ocean view made it taste even better.
Another seafood favorite of mine is the lobster roll. Even though it originated on the East Coast, the lobster roll has found its fans on the West Coast too. Nearby in both Portola Valley and Redwood City, the Old Port Lobster Shack sells a delectable version with a buttery roll and lobster flown in fresh and live from Maine and Massachusetts several times a week. The owner, who moved to California from Boston when he married, brought his extensive experience in the lobster business to his Bay Area restaurants. While known mostly for its lobster roll, the Lobster Shack offers many other dishes and, for those who are ready to yield to their desires, sweet blueberry pie a la mode.
Perhaps most impressively, the Old Port Lobster Shack's lobster roll was named 'Best of Show' at last month's Lobster Roll Rumble in Manhattan. While some East Coasters grumbled about the rumble judges choosing a West Coast sandwich, we in Northern California can rest assured we've got the best right here.
Yankee Pier restaurant at the Santana Row shopping center also offers a delicious lobster roll. With its elegant, upscale shopping location near the Winchester Mystery House and Valley Fair mall, Yankee Pier creates a delightful stop to enjoy the atmosphere and re-energize for shopping.
Both of these seafood dishes have the mark of a winner: As soon as I'm done eating, I'm already thinking about the next time I'll get to indulge.