Florence

Florence

When the call came a few months back asking if I’d like to judge a professional clam chowder cook-off, it took me about three seconds to respond. You see, I consider clam chowder to be its own food group. In fact, in college I survived – literally — on the stuff at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in downtown Portland. For $1.50, I could keep a steady stream of oyster crackers flowing into a terrine of steaming bisque and be satisfied for an entire day.

So, when I found myself in Florence on the central Oregon coast, seated at the judging table of the Professional Chowder Cook-Off, I was ready. There were 11 chowders to judge, brought out in flights of four, four, and three. I checked the viscosity of the first one: perfect. Then I took a bite: heaven. It was so good, I kept eating. The rest of the judges were sniffing and sipping. Not me. If the rest reached this benchmark, it was going to be tough to make it to the end.

Judging

Judging

There were some decent chowders after that initial entrant, but to me none had nearly the same balance, flavor and texture. Then we reached #11: an example of classic New England style chowder: chunky, clammy, a bit on the thick side, and with a hint of smoky bacon. The other judges really liked its traditional “chowder-ness”, and it was dubbed the 2008 champion. To see the recipe for the winning chowder, from Patti Gentle of Reedsport, download our recipe book from the Oregon Bounty home page.

Contest

Contest

That other chowder – my favorite – was actually an Oregon Dungeness crab and corn chowder submitted by Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach.

Chowder

Chowder

If you want to learn to cook like the pros, check out our Oregon Bounty “Cooking at the Coast” program. We’ve paired coastal cooking schools with intimate hotels and inns so you can make a weekend of it. Also, the Oregon Coast Professional Chowder Cook-Off is part of the “Chowder, Blues and Brews” festival that happens each year in Florence. There are lots of other festivals and events happening on the coast during Oregon Bounty.

Also, it’s crab season on the coast…grab a ring, find a dock, and then get cracking.

Crabs!

Crabs!

Check back tomorrow… I’m making chocolate in Southern Oregon. Cheers!

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  1. Travelmom says…

    My mouth is watering! There’s an insider place I’ve heard of called the Crazy Norwegian in Port Orford that’s supposed to have outstanding chowder.

    Written on September 25th, 2008 / Flag this Comment
  2. dellena says…

    yummy

    Written on September 26th, 2008 / Flag this Comment
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