Trouble With Toast

The Great Chowder Debate

July 6, 2006
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Nearly everyone has an opinion about which variety of chowder reigns supreme. For some, it is the mild, creamy comfort of New England clam chowder. For others, it is the complex, tomato-heavy Manhattan version. I bet that there are very few folks who list Minorcan clam chowder as their favorite. However, I am one of those people.

According to Linda Stradley of What’s Cooking America, the difference between Minorcan and Manhattan chowders is that that former uses the potent datil pepper. Grown only in the St. Augustine, Florida, area, datil peppers are hotter than jalapenos but not quite as hot as habeneros. They are green to yellow-orange, and a little bigger than a jalapeno.

Whatever it is about Minorcan chowder, it has always been one of the highlights of my past trips to St. Augustine (where my family has been vacationing for years, and where I will be heading on Saturday). O’Steen’s, a little hole-in-the-wall seafood joint on A1A, has the best bowl in town. It is spicy, but not overbearing. It has many ingredients, but the flavor of the clams always shines through. The broth isn’t thick, but it’s not watery, either. In short, it’s frickin’ fantastic.

Perhaps this trip I’ll snoop around for a good Minorcan chowder recipe (and I’ll buy some datil peppers, of course) and I’ll try it out when I return to DC. Stay tuned!

Where do YOU stand on the great chowder debate?

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