And so, we find ourselves back again to the beginning of fall, and our taste buds turn to Long Beach Island and the annual Chowderfest extravaganza. Now in its 24th year, it is simply one of the biggest food events on the South Jersey calendar. If you’re a chowder-tasting veteran, or if this is your first time going, here’s what you should know:
* Don’t worry about feeling alone – you will be joined by about 20,000 or so of your closest chowder-loving friends. It is an absolute deluge of people that attend this event, so be prepared to have to fight (civilly) for your right to chowwwwwwwwDAH!
* If you don’t like the white, try the red – on one side of Taylor Field, all of the restaurants offering New England-style (and, on occasion, Down Jersey-style) chowder; on the other side, Manhattan clam chowder will be offered.
* It’s a friendly competition, to a certain extent – I have never heard of any stories of sabotage, but it’s clear when you’re there that each restaurant really wants to win. There’s a good bit of smack and cheerleader-like chanting going on throughout the day.
* The collection of restaurants competing is an intriguing one – As it usually is, it’s a good list of places that will be competing, including: Bistro 14, Chicken or the Egg, Phillips Seafood, Red Dog Café, Southern Smoke, The Black Whale, Buckalew’s Tavern, Stefano’s Seafood, Greenhouse Café, Country Kettle Chowda, TGI Fridays (OK – not every one is intriguing), Gourmet Deli, Howard’s, Four C’s Sons, Lefty’s Tavern, The Maine Course, Chart House, and Black Dog Café.
* What you carry your chowder in is almost as fascinating as the chowder itself – Chowder cup caddies, be they muffin tins, egg cartons, or some other kind of contraption, have become a object of creativity in their own right. And now, there will a competition for the best caddies as well. What an awesome idea!
* And this year, Chowderheads meet Parrotheads – each Chowderfest has a theme, and this year it’s Clam Chowder in Paradise. Hope you like your Jimmy Buffett.
LBI’s Chowderfest runs from 11AM to 4PM this Sunday, and the cost to get is $20. And by all means, don’t insult the restaurants by looking for your lost shaker of salt.