“Clam chowder is one of those subjects, like politics or religion, that can never be discussed lightly. Bring it up even incidentally, and all the innumerable factions of the clam bake regions raise their heads and begin to yammer.”
Louis P. De Gouy
This past weekend, February 4th-6th, was Chowder Fest in Saratoga at participating locations. From what I could find it was the 3rd Annual event and even though the weather was awful, it was still a lot of fun. Participating locations gave small cups of chowder to those willing to pay a dollar for it. This also included some “dessert chowders” read as “ice cream” from participating locations that serves frozen treats such as Ben and Jerry’s. This year, they offered a $5 mug for your chowder in an effort to make the event more environmentally friendly. I don’t know my way around Saratoga so I found it difficult to figure out, even with a map, where to go to get which chowder. The list was posted online the day before so you could map out where you wanted to go. I didn’t get to try any of this years winners because of the amount of people as well as the weather conditions but in case you want to go back another day to check them out, here’s the list:
Chowderfest 2011 Winners:
People’s Choice Winner: The Parting Glass
Best On-Broadway Winner: Cantina
Best Off-Broadway Winner: Seven Horse Pub
Best Non-Downtown Winner: Longfellows Restaurant
Best Newcomer: American Culinary Federation
Most Chowder Served: The Parting Glass
I had three chowders in total (and one scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream). The first was from Black Diamond Caterers who was serving their Creamy Tomato Crab Chowder in a booth on the street. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t have much flavor to it. I didn’t have much crab and it really wasn’t all that creamy either. Since we arrived toward the end of the event, that could have been the reason for the low crab count.
Next, I had Peabody’s Sports Bar & Grille’s Corn & Crab Chowder and this was my favorite of the three. It was a little salty but chowder is supposed to be chunky and this was perfect. I got just the right amount of corn and crab and if they serve this at their bar, I would order it and pay for a whole bowl.
The last I tried was Stadium Cafe’s Seafood Chowder. My cousin is a fan of their food and they won in 2009 but when we tried the chowder, I realized why they didn’t win last or this year. The seafood was good but as with the first one, it didn’t have much flavor.
I know that there were a lot of restaurant’s with great chowder but I didn’t get to them. Even though I spent most of the time walking in the snow and sleet and getting pelted in the face, I had a great time. Even if you don’t like chowder and don’t spend your time and money going bar to bar to try different chowders, just go to the nearest bar and hang out. Each bar had some sort of drink special and tons of people. These were the biggest crowds that I’ve seen at a bar around 3:00PM on a Saturday and when you get hungry? Chowder’s right there for $1!