Thinking of Ivars: 2 recipes
A favorite lunch or dinnertime experience during pleasant summer or autumn days starts at Ivar's Acre of Clams, at Westgate across the street from PCC. Clams, by the acre, are not on the menu.
We often opt for halibut and chips, hop into the old Prius then whiz down Edmonds Way, hang a left on Dayton, and find a bench or picnic table on the waterfront.
Before beginning the feast I might raise an iced tea toast to the founder of the feast. That would be Ivar Haglund.
When I was working for the Post-Intelligencer our film files from a few decades before announced," Ivar Haglund to open cafe. Seeks parrot."
Naturally, anybody intending to open a restaurant needs, in this order, a stove, a parrot, some food and customers.
Haglund organized the first Pacific Free Style Clam Eating Contest and watched a Bellevue resident named Richard Taylor down 330 clams in 10 minutes. Miss Halibut Cheeks awarded a kiss and a trophy to the champion.
Haglund also promoted a wrestling match between a Puget Sound octopus and a boxer known as Two Ton Tony Galento.
Ivar campaigned unsuccessfully to have a special issue postage stamp issued to immortalize the clam.
He sang his own commercials on television, he played a pretty bad guitar and he encouraged customers at his waterfront restaurant in Seattle to donate leftover french fries to the wildlife. "It's OK to feed the seagulls," Ivar insisted. "They have dainty appetites."
Haglund was either an astute culinary critic or else he was pretty cheap. I base this assumption on the fact that I once received an order for 30 of my Seattle Cookbooks, to be delivered to company headquarters.
I learned later that these were Ivar's Christmas gifts to friends and employees. I sort of hope Miss Halibut Cheeks got a copy.
Here are two of my favorite recipes from the chapter in that book that was devoted to Ivar and his Acres of Clams.
clams in the shell (one pound per person)
1 cup water
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cube butter, melted
Into your clam pot pour the water and wine. Heat on your stove until it begins to bubble, then add the clams, onion, garlic, parsley and butter. Cover and steam the clams until all of the little buggers have opened. Serve the clams with toasted Italian bread and mugs of the pot liquor on the side for drinking or dipping.
Debob Deviled Clams
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Worcestershire Sauce and hot pepper sauce (in bits and splashes) to your taste
12 crushed Ritz crackers
1 can (8 ounces) minced clams in nectar
another 1 tablespoon butter
In a skillet cook the onions, celery and green pepper in the four tablespoons butter until tender. Stir in flour, cheese and seasonings. Add 1/4 cup of the cracker crumbs and mix. Stir in the clams, undrained and stir until mixture is thick and hot. Divide among two overproof bowls. Combine remaining crumbs and remaining butter, sprinkle over the top of each serving and bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.
In case you'd forgotten Ivar's theme song on radio and TV was a version of the Old Settlers' Song and Haglund reportedly learned the lyrics from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. The chorus went like this:
"No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams
As I think of my present condition
Surrounded by Acres of Clams."