Holeman & Finch bathed these beauties in a cream and chicken stock broth spiked with Old Overholt rye, with bits of house-made bacon and thin slivers of jalapeno adding alternating bursts of meaty smoke and assertively sharp spice. The broth was actually not too far from a really good, thin clam chowder, and it was the combination of the clams and broth spooned over the crunchy bread that set off the fireworks. The insanely good slice of pain au levain, from H&F Bread Co., of course, hit all the right notes - well buttered, crusty edges, and a dense but light interior pocked with airy holes (airy holes? I know it's redundant, and sounds strange when you say it, but just saying "holes" doesn't capture the benefit of those holes!). It was perfect bread for sopping things up, and the clam-filled broth was highly sop-it-up worthy.
One pile of clams, one piece of good bread. For $12, it's a bowl (and a slice) of Georgia happiness. My neighbor at the bar took in the wafting aromas left by the clams, lamenting that he was only having a cocktail in advance of dinner somewhere else. I let him know that that didn't stop me, and I headed off to my next appointment, a good bit more sated than I had been an hour earlier.
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