Chowda’ and Sweet Treat Cook-Off #whatsonyourplateblogchallenge


My talented blog friend, Donna at Retirement Reflections, has teamed up with Deb at Widow Badass to invite all of us to a monthly virtual dinner party. The goal is to spread meal inspirations and share dishes that we have recently enjoyed. Breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, dining in, dining out… all ideas are welcome.

Each spring, my husband Matt and I host a Chowda’ and Sweet Treat Cook Off at the Sayville Yacht Club, a community of sailors and beach bums. Over the years, the events evolved from guest judges tasting three types of clam chowder, Manhattan, New England, and “Free Style” and a table of homemade desserts to having all the guest vote for their favorite chowder. 

Cooks prepared their chowder at home and bring it in a crock-pot so that it stays warm during the afternoon. I ask for people to let me know what they are bringing so I could gauge the amount of appetizer I prepare while everyone sips and slurps chowder and samples the sweet treats. I usually have a cheese tray out and cold salmon gravlax, which has become a staple for this event. 

Inevitably,  the calls trickle in and I get anxious there would not be enough chowder for everyone. If there are no leftovers, someone would go home hungry (my personal mantra). I bought the biggest salmon filet I could find and two of Costco’s over-served sleeves of chocolate chip cookies. Matt and I make a pot of chowder each. I go with my Grandma’s Manhattan Clam Chowder, but Matt searches the internet for a new chowder experience. 

This year, the ninth, Chowda’ and Sweet Treat Cook Off, Matt found the New York Times Rhode Island Clam Chowder recipe. Rhode Island chowder features a clear base as opposed to the northern cousin’s creamy New England base or the savory tomato broth in Manhattan Clam Chowder. 

Clams are part of our heritage on the south shore of Long Island. The clamming industry was a way of life for generations and supported families. As a kid, my friends, sisters and I dug clams with our feet and little scratch rakes. We would collect enough for a raw snack or a feast. Matt earned his college tuition “donkey raking” during the summer. Unfortunately, the bays were over harvested, mismanaged, and fell victim to environmental issues—all to write about at another time. 

We ordered clams, steamed, chopped, and simmered. The house smelled heavenly. Seven pots showed up, plus our two. The dessert table filled up quickly. A friendly crowd gathered, sip, slurped, sampled the chowder and treats and frequented the bar. We counted the tallies. Matt’s Rhode Island Clam Chowder tied for first favorite. We also counted two deserts in a tie. 

Applause, applause, trophy hats, picture snaps and another SYC Chowda’ and Sweet Treat Cook Off is in the books. 

Thanks a bunch again to Donna at Retirement Reflections and the Widow Badass, Deb .

Never miss a story, book event, or life musing. Take your seat at the Stories Served Around The Table News to Nosh Newsletter.

Hope you are hungry. Becoming America’s Food Stories recalls the tales that have been told around my family’s dinner table. The histories explain the motivations over bowls of macaroni, antics play out while slurping soup, and laughter echoes throughout the dining room. Pull up a seat. There’s always room.
The Heart of Bakers and Artists is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 1911. The story follows nine-year-old Lily, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, who wants to prove she is not a little kid. To be a big kid in the crowded tenement neighborhoods, she must tackle bigotry, bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and learn to cross the street by herself
The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists left off.Lily has big dreams to sing out with her powerful voice, but must do EVERYTHING, since Mama fell into a deep depression, the baby is sick, and the “Black Hand” terrorizes the neighborhood, threatening her chance to sing at the New York Highlanders Fourth of July baseball game.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.

10 thoughts

  1. Oh you had me drooling. When last in Savannah I ordered a crab, potato, and corn chowder! Omg we were in heaven. I’ve been so wanting to create this creamy thick chowder upon returning home, but sadly the price of crab has hindered that want. It was so thick, that the spoon could free stand! Your chowda party sounds like the place to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun community event. We don’t have much of a chowder tradition here (although I do make it every so often in winter) so I loved hearing about the history too. Even though I love them, I find the creamy bases sometimes too heavy for my tummy so the clear base sounds like something worth googling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a wonderful community get together. I really enjoyed learning about the local history of clam chowder. Thank you for sharing


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.