A highlight of Members Day at American Littoral Society headquarters in historic Fort Hancock are fresh clams -- shucked or grilled -- washed down with beer.
Editor's note: In 2016, The Fishery in South Amboy was out of business.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The only true antidote to staring at a sea of red brake lights year-round on New Jersey's congested streets and highways is a day at the shore.
Even in the hot sun on Saturday, I enjoyed watching American Oystercatchers using their long, red bills to hunt for food buried in the sand.
A 90-minute nature walk with bird watching is a great way to whet your appetite for a lunch of fresh clams, sandwiches, salads and beer laid out on Members Day by the American Littoral Society, a non-profit group dedicated to coastal conservation.
I skipped the sandwiches, and had a couple of dozen fresh clams, some raw and others grilled and plucked out of their hot shells.
I washed them down with beer from a keg, and followed with salads, romaine lettuce and then fruit.
The oldest working lighthouse in the United States (opened in 1764) is on Sandy Hook, where the American Littoral Society, a coastal preservation non-profit, is headquartered.
The Broiled Seafood Combo at The Fishery Seafood Restaurant in South Amboy is served with a vegetable; potato, rice or french fries, and a cup of chowder.
At The Fishery in South Amboy
After our filling lunch on Sandy Hook, we stopped on the way home for an early dinner at The Fishery, a no-frills seafood restaurant and market in South Amboy that might remind you of Seafood Gourmet in Maywood.
After our initial visit in 2009 -- when were returning from a weekend in Barnegat Light, one of New Jersey's oldest fishing ports -- we've eaten at The Fishery at least once a year.
On Saturday, the board listing specials showed three farmed fish -- Scottish Salmon, Tilapia and Catfish -- and no live lobsters were available, so we ordered from the menu.
My wife started with Maryland Crab, Clam & Corn Chowder, topped with fresh crab meat, and I had Maine Lobster, Clam & Corn Chowder ($4.75 each), both cream-based soups.
Mine didn't have any lobster on top, but was good nonetheless.
Then, we shared a Sauteed Soft Shell Crab appetizer ($11.95), a House Salad with Garlic Toast ($4.95) and a Broiled Seafood Combo ($21.95).
The garlic-and-white-wine sauce with the soft shell crab was so good I was tempted to bring the plate to my lips to drink it all.
Our seafood combination plate included fresh flounder, shrimp, scallops, a stuffed clam, crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp, fresh spinach sauteed with garlic and a baked potato we didn't have room for.
My wife got the stuffed shrimp, and I found bacon in the clam stuffing that I don't eat. Nor was it mentioned on the menu.
We enjoyed our dinner, but I'll give the nod to Maywood's Seafood Gourmet, which is only a couple miles from our home.
The highlight of our meal at The Fishery was this appetizer of Sauteed Soft Shell Crab swimming in a garlicky white-wine sauce.
The House Salad is romaine lettuce in a wonderful balsamic vinaigrette made by the Greek owner and chef.
The Fishery has about 20 seats and a small selection of fresh seafood on ice.
The Fishery Seafood Restaurant, 1812 Route 35 north, at Midland Avenue, South Amboy; 1-732-721-9100.
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, BYO, small parking lot next to busy highway.
On Facebook: The Fishery Seafood Restaurant