Tonight, when I came home from work, I stepped out of my car to the smell of the ocean. Not the acrid smell of rotting seaweed and fish but that crisp clean smell of salt and sea and it called me to the shore.
As I stood down on the docks that are at the end of my street, I could see the tide was out and in the disappearing sunlight I was drawn back to a wonderful visit from my parents two summers ago and a day trip up the sea coast of New Hampshire and Maine.
My step-dad and I share a special love for seafood. We can down a dozen oysters on the half shell faster than you can blink and eye. We both think the most perfect thing to start a lobster dinner with is a pound of steamers. We fight over the last piece of calamari and if there are whole belly clams on the menu watch out! Whenever he and my mother are out here to see me, he orders lobster every meal he can.
When I was living in Boston, one of the places I always took visitors to have a true New England clam shack experience was Ray's Seafood Restaurant in Rye, NH. As far as I am concerned, there isn't a better place to get the quintessential summer beach seafood between Boston and Portsmouth, Maine. Yes, the fried clams at Woodman's are legendary and rightly so, but I think that Ray's does the whole menu beachfare as well as Woodman's does their clams and the prices are cheaper and the lines shorter too!
Ray's whole belly clams are coated in a light dusting of cornmeal and flour and fried to perfection.
I also think they do some of the best clam strips I've ever had.
There is no skimping on the meat and hiding it under a thick coating of batter.
Besides the food, the best thing about Ray's is the view from the upper deck.
You can sit on the upper deck, scarf down some of the best fried clams ever, and stare out into the Atlantic Ocean, where a few hours ago your lunch was swimming.
Even though it is humid outside tonight and I have the ac on, I cracked the window when I finally walked through the front door. I want to cling to the smell of summer as long as I can.