Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off

Last weekend, I went to the 25th Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off with some coworkers. It’s about an hour away. Before going, I didn’t have much expectations. I didn’t think that I would be able to discern the difference in good clam chowder. I love clam chowder so I figured they would all be good.

When we got there, we bought Tasting Kits for $7. The kit included a paper soup cup, spoon, 5 taste tickets, voting ticket. I could count about 5 tent booths so I thought we would get to taste everything. It turned out there were a lot more booths down the boardwalk… almost 60, in fact.

With so many options, it was hard to decide where to use one’s tickets. To help make the decision for us, we chose the winner from last year’s competition. The line was ridiculously long for it. It was so worth the wait. I think it was called Mom’s Clam Chowder.

I’m not sure how we chose the second one to try, but I could easily tell the difference between the two. The first one definitely tasted like a winner. The second one was too pasty, like there was too much flour or whatever is used for thickening.

All of us clam chowder-philes preferred New England (white) clam chowder. We didn’t think we would like the Manhattan (red) chowder but we decided to use the third ticket on one. Our theories were correct. It was still worth it to try something different, and at least it was good in its own right. Just not as good as New England clam chowder.

After we used up our tickets, we wanted to see if we could get a full-sized serving of our favorite but it wasn’t an option. That’s a shame.

I got one of my favorite fair foods, Funnel Cake with strawberries/apple and whipped cream. It was so good because it was fresh. People were envious of what I was eating as I walked across the billboard. I’ve learned that I should just get half a cake next time, or share one with someone else. One whole funnel cake was too much for me.

After that, we hung out on the beach and played in the arcade. Santa Cruz is a pretty cool place for this type of event. It’s a one-hour getaway and once we’re done, there’s so much to do.

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