Despite what I was saying below, there is an enormous difference between what I make at home and the food that can be found in most restauarants. I was reminded of this when I opened "The New Brooklyn Cookbook," a recently published and fascinating account of the dining scene in Kings County. Melissa and Brendan Vaughan, who may very well be neighbors (though I've never met them) talked to the cooks and proprietors of more than thirty restaurants around Brooklyn. They worked with the photographer Michael Harlan Turkell to make a lavish and delicious looking collection.
The Vaughans start the book with one of my favorite places, Al di Là, and they get its chef and owner Anna Klinger to divulge her spaghetti alle vongole recipe. Her secret for tender clams is to take each one out of the pot as it starts to open, and let them finish cooking on a warm plate. I make a white clam sauce all the time, and I can't imagine paying this close attention to detail at home. It's why I eat out. I'm hoping to get back to Al di Là as soon as I can.