Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and celery; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add 1 teaspoon garlic, and sauté for 1 minute. Add potato, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper; cook for 2 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over potato mixture, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add clam juice and milk; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Partially mash potato using a potato masher. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, Pernod, and thyme; simmer 10 minutes. Add scallops and half-and-half; cook 5 minutes or until scallops are done. Sprinkle with chives.
Wine note: With its splash of licorice-laced Pernod, this chowder is reminiscent of bouillabaisse. And that makes the classic Provençal pairing, rosé wine, ideal; the 2006 vintage is arriving now. These fruity, affordable pink wines boast bright acidity and little tannin, which allows the subtle, sweet scallops to shine. Domaine de Fonsainte Gris de Gris ($13) from Corbières is vibrant, fresh, floral, and bone dry. --Jeffery Lindenmuth