An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Feb 20, 2014
09:44 AMThe Connecticut Table
Mystic Chowder Cook-Off a Folksy Event With Gourmet Soul, 'Best Seafood' Participants
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Following the skim-coat of snow most of the state saw Tuesday, the milder weather that settled into Connecticut is taking a bite out of winter’s imposing presence. Still, all that cold and snow has left most of us longing for spring—and for some hot comfort food to warm up the chill that drilled down to the bottom of our bones.
A perfect opportunity awaits this Saturday in the form of the 11th Annual Cabin Fever Festival and Charity Chowder Cook-Off, running from noon to 5 p.m. at Olde Mistick Village, and benefitting the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center Emergency Food Pantry. It’s free and tickets are just $1 for each 3-ounce cup of chowder.
While the chowder cook-off comes across as a nice hometown event held within a cozy shopping village, the festival has gourmet appeal and merits the attention of foodies from beyond southeastern Connecticut (especially those with children, as nearby Mystic Seaport is celebrating schools’ winter break with by offering free admission for children).
In our Connecticut Best Restaurants 2013: Experts' Picks, Oyster Club was among the select honorees for Best Seafood—and that’s statewide—and right around the same time, the Mystic Marriott’s Octagon Restaurant took first prize in the Most Creative category at the 32nd Annual Polar Seltzer Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport.
And those are just two examples from a region, Greater Mystic, that is blessed with lots of great places to eat. In fact, according to a release from the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, 24 of the area’s finest restaurants and caterers will compete for awards.
“In addition to the three top People’s Choice awards, a team of media celebrities (Rick Koster, Dave Tranchida, and Elissa Bass) will be judging three additional categories of 1) Most Creative Chowder; 2) Heartiest Chowder; and 3) Best Use of Regional Ingredients,” the chamber says. “All of the awards will be presented by Senator Andrew Maynard and State Representative Diana Urban in the Meeting House in Olde Mistick Village at 5 p.m. on Saturday the 22nd.”
The 24 participants are: Ancient Mariner of Mystic; Bleu Squid Bakery and Cheese Shop; Casa Della Luce; Dog Watch Café; Flanagan’s Restaurant at Best Western Olympic Inn; Highland Grille-the Westerly High School Culinary Team; Latitudes 41-Coastal Gourmet Catering; McQuade’s Marketplace of Mystic; Mystic Boathouse; Mystic Diner and Restaurant; Oakwood Bar & Grill at Groton Inn and Suites; Ocean Blue Catering at Mystic Aquarium; Octagon Steakhouse; Oyster Club of Mystic; Pizza Grille of Mystic; Saybrook Soup and Sandwich; Seawell Seafood; Semolina Pasta Shop; Soundings at Mystic Hilton Hotel; StoneRidge Retirement Center; Stonington Big Y; Stonington Stop & Shop of Pawcatuck; Ten Clams, and the Restaurant at Water’s Edge Resort in Westbrook.
According to the chamber, each participant has a sponsoring shop in Olde Mistick Village, where space will be set aside to serve chowder. A map of the shops, restaurants and ticket locations will be available on the day of Cabin Fever throughout the Village.
Tickets are $1 for each 3-ounce cup of chowder, or guests may purchase 12 tickets for $10. Tickets will be on sale the day of the event at a locations throughout Olde Mistick Village.
Over the years the Cabin Fever Charity Chowder Cook-off has raised between $4,000 and $13,000, the chamber says in its release.
“Cabin Fever really brings the community together for a terrific event benefiting such an important organization,” Lu Lupovich, chairperson for the event said in the release. “In addition to our restaurant partners, I want to thank our corporate sponsors—Valenti Family of Dealerships, Liberty Bank, Go Fish Restaurant, Ten Clams Restaurant and the Olde Mistick Village Merchants Association. This year our additional sponsors are Vicki and Scott Anderson, Regan Enterprises, and the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.”
“The Chowder Cook-off is such an important event not only for the financial help but for the awareness it raises about hunger in our community—and the Emergency Food Pantry of PNC,” Vicki Anderson, executive director of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, says in a post on the chamber’s website. “Use of food pantries, nationwide and in our local community, is at an all-time high. Besides help with emergency food, the PNC offers emergency fuel assistance, free clothing, and infant essentials such as diapers and formula. The Center provides free transportation for seniors living within the service area of Stonington, CT and Westerly, RI as well as programs for seniors and people of all ages.”