The week of the 2013 Clambake was filled with highs, lows and…pizza. To start off, Joe and Jodi and the boys were up from North Carolina for the week. It’s always lots of fun when they are here. However, Jodi’s dad, Dean, had been gravely ill back home in New Mexico but Jodi made the trek for a needed break but kept in constant communication with her mom. Grace is always excited to see her cousins. Michele is having a very busy summer. This week she was away at Science camp at Brown University reportedly having a lot of fun. Also, a few weeks ago she was in Dominican Republic learning about dolphins.
I came down to Sea Girt with Julia and Grace for a long weekend at the beginning of the week and came back again for the another long weekend at the end concluding with the Clambake. Al and Charlie joined us when they were able on the weekends. Debbi was also down for the week and Marilyn and Doug rented a house in Manasquan. Together with Cindy they stopped in Sea Girt for a meal or two and some activities. Kate was also present. She is in between leaving her old job in Philly and before the start of her new job at the Hyatt and living in a new apartment in NYC.
Joe and the kids were on a mission this trip. With the Antinori competitive spirit churning, they wanted to compare all the pizzas in the area including some of the known favorites to see what reins as the very best. They tasted and charted all the aspects of a pie every day for lunch or dinner and I believe there was a day or two when they tested twice in one day. — Yeah, I know, but they don’t get real pizza in Burnsville. By the end of the week, Squan Tavern, Andy’s and Leggetts were in the finals.
The weather was great, with only one day of rain. The Camp was set at the beach every morning. Al wasn’t there during mid-week for his professional set up and I heard an umbrella went flying one day, but we always had a comfortable camp and never any high tide wipe outs. The water was cold, but refreshing if you got up the nerve to go in. I enjoyed my chats at the beach with the kids and got to know more about all the incredible things they are doing.
Midweek the gang went to the annual Fireman’s Fair in Manasquan. Mara, Doug, Debbi, Jodi and the boys had a lot of fun. Another night the big kids took in a movie. Interestingly, we played very little Scrabble. I played one game with Jodi and Deb and Deb won. Hmmm. Debbi engaged in her beading and helped Theo make a beautiful bracelet for his mom. Seriously, nice. It was blue and gray beads that matched Jodi’s eyes. Deb and I finally fit in a night of collaging. She makes beautiful cards that I am now inspired to make, also. The night before the Clambake while some of the gang went over to Manasquan to hang out with the Reuthers for what has been called “The Circle of Truth”, Deb, Julia, Luke and I kept it simple, but were riveted to a marathon of Breaking Bad on Netflix.
Other than pizza, we had some very healthy and delicious meals. Always a favorite, is Jim’s grilled chicken and sausage and perfectly seasoned strip steaks. John Michael brought fantastic organic vegetables that we incorporated every night including delicious cole slaw that he made. Paul’s garden gave a steady supply of cucumbers and herbs. The corn this summer has been perfectly tender. Jim was concerned one night that there wasn’t enough food for our head count of 22. I came up with the idea of a crudite to snack on and pasta. I worked fast to get the selected items prepared and plated. Jim and Joe joked that I made it in time to spare and I wouldn’t be Chopped. As always, there was a group effort in the kitchen, setting the table(s), and the clean up is a breeze when we work like a team. The star dessert, which caused a frenzy at the last Celebration Party, was Margaret’s Peach & Cherry Crisp. This time she made two. One for dessert for us the night before the clambake and another to serve at the end of the Clambake. That Crisp goes so fast I can’t seem to get a picture to show what it looks like.
Up early, Jodi and I ran a few of the mornings. I just started running and she encouraged me to go with her. I was hesitant because her experience and long are intimidating. The Sea Girt 5k was coming up on the weekend and she was training for it. We ran the route of the 5K keeping a good pace and she gave me pointers on endurance.
Sadly, by the end of the week, Jodi got news that her dad passed away. Knowing this could be a possibility she was prepared as best as she could be. The 5K that she had trained for would have to wait, along with her final days and nights with us culminating with the Clambake. Before leaving with a plane ticket she thought she would use the following week to go back to New Mexico, she convinced me to run the 5k in her place. I was hesitant but she really wanted me to run and didn’t seem to mind that I would be running under her name and forever altering her impressive record. ugh.
On Saturday, the day of the race, John Michael, Joe, Jim, Kate and David Rahner and his son James, David’s daughter Elizabeth’s boyfriend Anthony and I were ready to run. James and Theo who are usual standouts surprisingly decided not to run. The race was better than I expected, but longer than I imagined. Thank you Jodi for giving up your number and encouraging me to run. I was happy with my time but not happy it was now Jodi’s Sea Girt 5K 2013 time.
What a perfect day for a Clambake. Sunday started out with the usual Bake prep. Al constructed the Pot. Tent, table and chairs were arranged, coolers filled and the bar prepared. There was last-minute pick up of mozz, bread, the clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster. Badminton and bocci, a lemonade stand for the kids, and a cool bouncy gym that Matt and Allie brought for the kids were set up. We had average attendance this year which consisted of a partial showing of Dales, Antinoris, Careys, all the Reuthers, and Ceceila Rahner and David and Doug and their families. The food was nicely paced and delicious. For the third year in a row we fully appreciated the helpful servers that did prep, set up and clean up. For dessert we had ice cream cake, fruit and Margaret’s forever disappearing Crisp.
Unfortunately, Julia, Grace and I had to go back home in the evening so we couldn’t stay for the final round of the Pizza-Off. Apparently, after a lot of tasting and deciding, da dumm…Andy’s Pizza wins the prize as the best pizza around- according to this group. But hey, who’s better than us to taste some pizza. Feel free to add your comments about the contest or results because I actually never had any of the pizza and missed the deciding round. Al and Charlie stayed over for the pizza results, more hanging out and another nice beach day on Monday.
It was a lot of fun and laughs mixed in with the sad news of Jodi’s dad’s passing. My sincere condolences to Jodi, Joe and the boys, her mom Mickey and her brother John and his wife Ann. Obit to follow