January 21 – New England Clam Chowder Day
It may seem a little sacreligious to celebrate New England Clam Chowder Day in New York–especially since the dreaded Patriots are closing in on the NFL playoffs tomorrow–but I never turn down a good, hearty soup, and the creamy, chunky clam chowder is definitely one of them. Being raised in New York City, I never actually had New England’s cream-based version of the chowder growing up–I was strictly loyal to the tomato-based Manhattan version (which will have its day later on in the year, don’t you fret!) I never had it until I moved upstate for college, where New England chowder was the only option available. New Englanders, much like their football, are serious about their chowder: in 1939 a law passed in Maine banning the use of tomatoes in clam chowder, making the cream-based soup the official New England clam chowder.
You can get yourself an authentic bowl of the chowder you pronounce with an “ah” at the Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village. The broth is made from cream, not milk, so it’s rich and flavorful, not watery like many New England imitations. The soup not only comes with an abundance of clams–a necessity in clam chowder, naturally–but also comes with bacon, a traditional soup ingredient. (The onions of a traditional New England Clam Chowder are usually sauteed with some bacon in bacon fat before adding them to the soup!) While chef and owner Rebecca Charles comes from Maine and still has a great love for the north, the restaurant is “all New York,” and also has a variety of popular comfort seafood dishes, like their signature lobster roll.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St (between 4th St & Bleecker St)
“This much-emulated restaurant expanded from its original confines to the space next door. So now twice as many people can elbow up to the bar on a bleak winter’s day and slobber down restorative bowls of clam chowder made with country cream and double-cured bacon.”–NY Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Having lived in Boston for 5 years, it’s impossible not to form an opinion about CHOWDA! I am a fan of New England chowder, but have always been suspicious about chowda outside of Boston..nevertheless, I think I might have discovered the secret place – Pearl Oyster Bar! This cute little restaurant in West Village has one of the best clam chowder and fried oysters I’ve tried in Manhattan.”–Pam L.
“The clam chowder is a must have. It is prepared when ordered. Not sitting in a soup crock all day. Combining the ingredients at the last minute lets each component stand out on its own.”–Micah S.