The Atlantic City Seafood Festival Is Next Weekend


ACSeafoodFestMy brother and I grew up in Annapolis and spent a lot of time on the water. We knew how to pick crabs before we could read and loved gulping the salty, buttery clam broth that was leftover in the bucket into which we dipped steamers to clean them before popping them into our mouths. We even developed a taste for raw oysters – my brother earlier than I. But there’s one thing our parents never exposed us to for some reason, and that was raw clams.

So it was with great gusto that my brother plunged into a plate of them at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival a few years ago – a marvelous spread of tents and live music and fresh shellfish and cups of ceviche and New Jersey beer and wine, all practically glimmering at Bader Field on a gorgeous September Saturday. As we walked around that day, eating, drinking, giving a presentation on the history of New Jersey beer and congratulating producer Jon Henderson, the mastermind behind such spectacles as the AC Beer & Music Fest, on another job well done, my brother kept raving about those clams. It was true, I agreed, they were plump and firm and nicely balanced between briny and sweet.

But this year, at the fourth annual AC Seafood Fest, held again at Bader Field on September 12th and 13th, I won’t be going near those clams, as fresh as they were. I’ll eat and drink again, sure, and I’ll probably try to convince Henderson to suck down a few oyster shooters. I’ll watch a few cooking demonstrations, especially the one presented by former White House Chef Guy Mitchell, and I’ll learn about vino with wine expert Michael Green. I’ll marvel how, at every festival, Henderson seems to outdo himself with entertainment options for his guests. Among this year’s offerings: a paddle board race, a chowder cook-off, sand sculpture, a kids park with zoo animals, and Super Fly extreme sporting (whatever that is). It’s pet-friendly, there’s no cover charge and all food is priced at less than $10.

But I’m not taking any more chances with raw clams. The seafood fest marked the second time I’d tried them. The first was at my sister-in-law’s wedding, where my clam trial from an awesome raw bar caused my nauseated self to spend the after-party rendering the single bathroom vomitously unpleasant to all who succeeded me. I thought I was dehydrated from the heat and the homebrew.

But apparently I’m allergic. Because what followed on the car ride to New York after the seafood fest made my brother – who to this day won’t shut up about how good those clams were – very glad that he’s got experience driving on the Autobahn. I made him pull onto the shoulder of the highway to let me throw up so many times that my dad yelled at us for being late. And we weren’t even meeting him.

So I don’t need to find out if the third time is the charm. I’ll stick with crab and lobster and oysters and fish, an occasional scallop and COOKED clams. I won’t ever ingest another raw clam. And this is good news for anyone who attends the seafood fest because that means more delicious raw clams for them. But I wish them luck.

They’ll still have to compete with my brother.

Atlantic City Seafood Festival [Official]