Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chowdah! Chowdeur... however you say it.

One of my favorite Simpsons moments ever, involving one of my favorite foods ever.

I really love New England clam chowder. Don't give me this Manhattan crap. It's gotta be rich, creamy, and flavorful. Last night, while waiting for my boyfriend's plane to arrive, I decided to treat myself to a cup of clam chowder at Legal Seafood in the airport.

Now, understand that I don't love Legal. I think it's overrated, and the chowder just isn't that great there, but it's still nothing to sneeze at. I don't love it, but I enjoy it. Unfortunately, memory must have served me incorrectly. I had what was possibly the worst clam chowder of my life.

The clams had no flavor. This usually means the clams were boiled off into the broth to sap the flavor into the broth. A big no-no, but usually bearable, except that in this case, the broth had no flavor either. Where the hell did the clam flavor go? It might as well have been chicken chowder. On top of that, the broth was gritty and you could taste the flour or corn starch that they used to thicken it -- another big no-no in chowder. People mistakenly believe that the thicker a chowder is, the better it is. But when you add things like flour and corn starch to a chowder while it's boiling, all it does is make it chalky and deaden the flavor of the clams.

I'm not saying I like a very thin chowder, but that's why restaurants need to use heavy cream and simmer it for the right amount of time. I'll be the first to admit that I am slightly biased, as I used to work there, but I truly believe that Great Bay in Kenmore has the best clam chowder in the city. I've seen the painstaking detail put into each bowl of chowder. To prove to you that the clams in the chowder are NOT the same clams used to make the broth, the clams are arranged with potatoes and bacon and all sorts of good stuff at the bottom of the bowl. Upon serving, the yellowed cream broth (read: full of flavor) is poured on top of the display. Go give it a try and tell me if I'm wrong.

What are some of your favorite places for clam chowder in Boston?


  1. I have to admit, my favorite Chowder in Boston is at the Oyster Bar and Chowder in Faneuil Hall. It may not be the best in the city, but it's been the best that I've experienced in Boston since I moved up here.

  2. had a chowder at the airport 2-3 years ago too, while waiting to catch a plane down to florida in july weather (and outfit), but found myself freezing stiff inside the terminal. can't say that blood-sucking $7 bowl of stuff from summer shack gave me anything to remember it by (except for the warmth i was paying dearly for), but i wasn't having too much of expectation from brand name restaurants these days, anyway.