The Great Clam Chowder Debate

New Englanders take serious pride in their New England clam chowder, which you can easily find being slurped up at lobster shacks and roadside diners as well as top-rated restaurants. The famed cream-based soup has been around for a long time, being served in Boston in the early 1800s at the Union Oyster House (one of our country’s oldest continuously operating restaurants).

But the rivalry started when a Manhattan version was created in the 1930s that was tomato based. It caused such an uproar that in 1939, a bill was introduced in Maine to ban the use of tomatoes in clam chowder. It did not pass and has been an ongoing debate ever since.

clam chowder

The difference is visible—there’s no mistaking the two. Both are delicious and have the briny, sweet flavor of clams. The New England version tends to be richer and thicker whereas the Manhattan chowder is more vegetal with a lighter, more brothy base. I love that both styles can support my habit of using plenty of hot sauce and oyster crackers!

This month, our Seafood department will be making both New England and Manhattan Chowders (available in the hot soup well located by the Seafood department and in the soup grab ‘n go area). Come in and try our take on both styles of clam chowder. Then, we want to hear what you think! Take our Great Chowda Debate poll on our Facebook page.

Food Explorer

EXPLORE NEW ENGLAND EATS

New Englanders have a fierce loyalty for their home towns and their patriotic history. Between the cordial quirkiness of the small towns, the buzz of big city Boston, old fishing ports, stunning architecture, plus the great outdoors—road tripping through New England is a must, especially as the beginning notes of summer are starting to play in May. We get it—miles and miles of gorgeous coastlines, picturesque lighthouses, quaint towns, and tons of outdoor activities. But let’s talk about the food—think succulent seafood from the land of lobster, as well as plump, briny oysters and clams for days. So many lobster and clam shacks, so little time! You’ll also find a plethora of local farmers’ markets (and Maine blueberries), renowned cheesemakers, breweries, and bakeries with whoopie pies piled high. What’s not to like? As we gear up for Lobstermania, May 29, we’ll be celebrating New England foods and recipes all month! So come get a taste of how delicious summer can be with these New England eats.

>Get our New England Eats checklist here!

Vermont Fromage Bliss

The U.S. is teeming with amazing cheesemakers from coast-to-coast who have been getting worldwide attention, as they’re making cheese that rivals the great fromage traditions of the “old world.” Many of us think of American cheese coming from the stalwarts on the coasts, such as Cypress Grove, Tillamook, and Laura Chenel to name a few. However, as we started to turn our taste buds toward the New England area, all things fromage seemed to bring us to Vermont!

fromage from vermontMODERN MAKERS MEET TRADITIONAL MAINSTAYS

Vermont is a state rich in agriculture, specifically dairy farming with a number of seasoned producers celebrating 100+ years of tradition. Then, there are newbies like the Kehler brothers of Jasper Hill Farm. Andy and Mateo Kehler bought the farm in the late 1990s with the goal of creating opportunities for Vermont’s working landscape with the concept of value-added agriculture … making milk into something more valuable before it leaves the farmer. They even take leftover whey from the cheese-making process and feed it to the Heritage breed pigs of Jasper Hill Farm Charcuterie. Having cheese aging caves below their barns helped them early on when their neighbors, Cabot Creamery, called needing aging space in these caves. You see, the Kehlers were making a name for themselves with clothbound Cheddars and European-style cheese that need space dedicated to cultivating natural rinds. In contrast, Cabot Creamery, a fantastic coop founded in 1919, had warehouses focused on keeping surface mold away from cheese!

FROMAGE TO LOOK FOR: Jasper Hill Farm Harbison (a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic, bloomy rind and wrapped in spruce cambium), Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue (made from the farm’s high quality whole raw milk, its dense texture has a toasted nut sweetness), Jasper Hill Farm Cabot Clothbound (produced in partnership with Cabot Creamery, these wheels are coated in lard and a layer of cloth to ripen and are constantly brushed, turned, and monitored), Cabot Smoky Bacon Cheddar is filled with crispy bacon bits and hickory smoke making it a super nibbler cheese.

WORLD-CLASS WONDERS

As you continue this cheese trek through this beautiful state, you’ll come to Vermont Creamery, started in 1984 by Allison Hooper and Bob Reese with the goal of making world-class products from goat’s milk. They exceeded their wildest expectations, and in addition to the many medals for their cheese, Allison is a James Beard Foundation winner. The Creamery, upon the founder’s retirement, continues under the ownership of the farmer owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes. Grafton Village Cheese Co. founded in the historic town of Grafton, Vermont, in 1892 is also world class! It started like many cooperatives of the time—by dairy farmers who needed to turn surplus milk into cheese in the days before refrigeration.

FROMAGE TO LOOK FOR: Grafton Village Cheese 1 Year Aged Cheddar (a classic New England Cheddar profile, comforting, lightly tangy, and rich), Vermont Creamery Bijou Goat Cheese Crottin (a stunning hand-shaped button cheese that’s perfect with Rosé), Vermont Creamery Coupole Aged Goat Cheese (aged goat’s milk cheese with a wrinkly, edible rind and a bright, fresh cheese taste).

Ship the New England Cheese Flight via shop.dorothylane.com to get a sampling of a variety of Vermont cheeses.