best thing i ate last week: new england clam chowder at Mignonette

I'm still working on getting caught up from our vacation, but in the interest of not falling too far behind, let's talk about this past week. Actually, it mostly consisted of lots of home cooking, which is not a bad thing; but not as good as this New England clam chowder, Sunday's "CBGB" (Chowder, Bisque or GumBo) at Mignonette.

First things first. It's the right kind of clam chowder: New England style, lashed with cream, not that perverse red abomination that some tasteless troglodytes prefer. James Beard had it right, describing "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder" as resembling "a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it."

But even better: it's not so dense with cream that you can't taste anything else. The creamy broth is cut with vinegar and cayenne (I always dash my chowder with hot sauce, but Mignonette chef Bobby Frank saves me the trouble), brightening and lightening it so you can taste the clams, bacon and potatoes bobbing within. A couple plump steamed middlenecks are floated on top just before it's served.

It was the highlight of a Sunday brunch that also included some nice briny oysters, a crudo of cobia tweaked with tart huckleberry juice and diced jalapeño, and a hearty eggs benedict with shrimp and sherry cayenne aioli.

(You can see all my pictures from brunch – and more – in this Mignonette - Miami (Edgewater) flickr set).

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