Great Chowder Cook-Off 2013

8 Jun

After attending Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off last year, I vowed to return. This year, the weather was more cooperative –  Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and chowder fans turned up in droves to sample a plethora of soups. The trick is to buy your “Chowdahead” VIP tickets early, so you can enter the Cook-Off one hour earlier This is the main tent before it opened to regular ticket-holders:

main tent

Here are some yummy highlights, so you’ll know where to dine if you’re in search for some of the best chowder in America.

Stefano's booth

Some of the competitors were veterans from last year, including this year’s winner of the Clam CategoryStefano’s Seafood (Long Beach Island, NJ). Stefano’s had the thickest, creamiest chowder again, though it was much too thick for my taste. Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar (Boston, MA) served a terrific gluten-free clam chowder, but my vote goes to Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, WA), for their well-balanced chowder with just the right texture and flavours.

In the Creative Category, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar (Newport, RI) served the same crab and brie chowder as the year before – it was absolutely delicious, and one of my favorites of the day. (Interestingly, you will find a traditional New England clam chowder on The Mooring’s dinner menu, but not the crab and brie chowder).  It was Octagon Restaurant (Groton, CT) that won this category, with its spicy chowder full of skate, lobster, and alligator in a brothy soup. The flavours reminded me of a hearty chilli with notes of cheddar cheese – definitely a very original and adventurous take on chowder.

In the Seafood Category, my favorite was the chowder by StoneRidge (Mystic, CT), with hints of wine that complemented, but did not overpower, the lobster and scallops.

clam mascotTo round out the day, Amstel Light reps served up beer and  “Vermonster” sliders, with apple, onion, bacon and feta – a delicious combo. Wine, beer, ice cream, and other desserts were plentiful. We watched hungry eaters chow down in a clam cake-eating competition, and snapped photos with mascots. The Chowder Cook-Off is one delicious day in the sun, and you’ll definitely get all the chowder you could possibly want!

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