Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chowder Mania

One of the best ways to kick back on a cold winter day is to sit in front of a fire with a hot crock of chowder. Nestled in a cozy chair, instant comfort seeps in with every spoonful.

My hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY ran with this idea fifteen years ago when the Convention and Tourism Bureau started the Chowderfest—a fun day where local restaurants create unique and tasty chowders. They serve cupfuls of these hearty soups to hungry patrons for one dollar. The idea is to try as many chowders as possible then vote for the one you like best.

February 2, 2013 was the big day when more than 20,000 chowder hounds invaded the streets of downtown Saratoga searching for their favorite. It's not just the common New England or Manhattan clam chowder varieties either. Take a look at some of the offerings (and there were 65 more to choose from):

 Chicken wing chowder with a chicken wing on top (Dango's) 

Paella Chowder (Gaffney's)

Reuben Chowder (Irish Times Pub and Restaurant)

Brownie Batter Chowder (Plum Dandy)

African Sweet Potato Chowder (The Wine Bar)
Of course, I was there with husband, Keith, and good friends. What a kick back day! My favorite chowder: Balinese style seafood chowder with sweet potatoes, tomato, coconut milk, & ginger at Sperry's, but to be fair to the other restaurants, I was full after seven, or was it eight cups. With over seventy restaurants participating, I missed quite a few. Yes. We do like to eat in Saratoga Springs. 


Even though the chefs in town offered their culinary best, the festival isn't all about chowder. It's about people turning off the TV and computer, getting out of their homes, gathering as a community, and having plenty of fun. Take a look:

   Caroline Street is closed to cars so people can walk freely 
without having to worry about traffic.

No one minds waiting in line at Chowderfest—a chance to
chat and meet new people.

    Who needs an inside table on a February day in upstate New York?
After all, cold weather & hot soup go together!


Soup servers at Scallions keep the customer satisfied 
and happy.

  A group taking a rest at one of the many outdoor fire pits in town.

And there's more than chowder. These bloody Mary's look 
like a meal.

Friendly bartender at Jacob & Anthony's isn't too busy to smile.


The snow didn't even push people inside.

Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau staff member,
Angela LaTerra helps to make sure everyone has a great time.

How many people walked the streets of Saratoga Springs on February 2 searching for the best chowder: over 20,000.

How many cups of chowder served? The numbers aren't in yet, but if everyone had seven cups like me, that equals 140,000. Quite sure the final number will come in much higher. 
Who was the winner?
The Parting Glass with their triple seafood chowder.  

Don't know if this is the recipie The Parting Glass used, but it is a seafood chowder from Galway, Ireland...supposed to be delicous. Check it out:

A great winter kick back day in Saratoga and I wanted to share it with you. What's a popular fun day in your hometown? I'd love to know.



  1. Wow, that sounds like fun. I have never been overly fond of chowder, but some of those more unique ones might just hit the spot - especially with this cold spell. Your favorite sounds right up my alley - anything with sweet potatoes has to be good. The African sweet potato one sounds good, too.

    1. These chowders are incredible and so creative. Someone should open a restaurant that just sells these kinds of chowders with several varieties of bread. It would be a huge hit!

  2. This looks like so much fun, and a great cure for anyone with cabin fever in the middle of winter. Love your post!

    1. It did cure cabin fever--such a fun day!

  3. I love this blog post. I love the pictures, I love the warm feeling it gives me. It's very special!!

    1. Thanks Raani--a great day--thanks for stopping by!

  4. What a great read! Thank you Peggy for sharing a wonderful afternoon with me! I would love to attend such an event, even though I don't know if I could even sample seven!! Thank you for the accompanying pictures, everyone looks so happy and warm despite the cold weather. God bless you, Peggy, and keep telling us the wonderful things that go on way upstate NY!

  5. Sounds just magical! Can't think of a better way to spend a day :) And I love your picture of Piece and tranquility.

  6. Man, I want to live there! Sounds like a great time was had by all and the wonderful pictures prove it. Have to try the triple seafood chowder.

  7. Man, I want to live there! Sounds like a great time was had by all and the wonderful pictures prove it. Have to try the triple seafood chowder.