I had my first dreamy seafood chowder, when I was in a bad mood. It was a clam chowder that placated me, over twenty years ago near the start of my longest ever bike-camping trip over 1,000 km. long in the Canadian east coast Maritime provinces. I was fuming desperately after only
cycling 40 km. in 35 degree C summer morning humidity in Nova Scotia. I was weak, ready to collapse. I had barely eaten any breakfast after we arrived cycling to our campsite the previous evening during a rainpour. Then mosquitoes came out which made dinner consumption for me unbearable. I hid in the hot tent during that summer evening, away from the voracious mosquitoes.
Exquisite Clam Chowder Calms Collapsing Cyclist: Nova Scotia, Canada
I can still remember the creamy light soup at a tiny cute bistro. The soup must been made with a pat of butter since there were some buttery yellow droplets in the soup. There were wonderful chunks of clam and finely diced potato that didn’t distract from creamy clam heaven.
Since then, I’ve been underwhelmed by seafood chowders. Usually there was too much potato-veggie filler or too much flour-starch thickener which makes any chowder, a gluey mess.
Lipsmack Goodness of Thick Wild Salmon Soup: Vancouver
However, a few months ago, we dropped by a soup place at Granville Market in Vancouver, BC. We were pleasantly rewarded by a smoked salmon soup. Though not cream based, this consommé soup was thick in salmon chunky goodness, some barley, split peas and modest portion of chopped veggies. I am partial to consommé soups, if they are properly executed in rich broth. This one was lipsmack-on right in taste with lots of salmon flavour.
Then the next day, we boarded the Amtrak train with our bikes for Seattle where we cycled over to 2 places with memorable seafood chowder variations.
First-Time Raw Oyster Sampling, Perfect Oyster Chowder: Seattle
Initially we wondered about dropping by Taylor’s Shellfish, a local chain of restaurants and shellfish distribution. They listed their products without menu prices. We cycled over to their sleek, new Queen Anne neighbourhood location. A worker was carefully cleaning and finely slicing a fresh geoduck clam stick.
Just last year. I had my first raw oysters in their shells for the first time. Each fresh oyster in shell, was festooned with generous drops of champagne vineagarette and fresh lemon juice. Strange I was raw oyster newbie, since I like sashimi and sushi. Like Taylor’s chalkboard credo: eating fresh seafood was akin to kissing the mouth of the ocean. Delicate, very fresh oyster meat slipped into my stomach all too quickly. My oyster chowder was unlike all chowder liquids I’ve had in the past: no hint of starchiness, smooth non-fatty milk creaminess and pure fresh oyster flavour with many chunks of freshly cooked oyster. I wish I had a double bowl.
Pike Market Favourite for Diverse Chowder Picks
On the same day, we headed over to Pike Market Chowder Place after bike-wandering among outdoor art sculpture at Olympic Park, by the Seattle waterfront. This Seattle market institution often has long lineups of customers,
looking for their chowder fix. This place offers several chowder variations. Though I was tempted by the day special of crab and lobster chowder, I nixed the idea with the chalkboard’s claim “with lots of good veggies.”
So we both settled for smoked salmon chowder while sitting outside on a balmy November afternoon. A true Pacific Northwest coast comfort food after a day of city cycling along Seattle’s Burkeman bike-pedestrian trail, browsing a Saturday farmers’ market and getting lost cycling up and down hills in Seattle wealthy neighbourhoods.
Do seafood chowder soups turn your crank? What’s your favourite type of soup?