In honor of National Clam Chowder Day, here’s a comparison of the clam chowder available at across-the-road rivals in Valley Ford on the Sonoma Coast. I was out there three weeks ago to check out the new Sonoma Coast Fish Bank and hadn’t been to the area for a couple years.
Pulling up to the venerable Valley Ford Market (home to Batemon’s sausage), the seafood prices posted prominently on the storefront showed the new spirit of competition in town.
The market’s housemade clam chowder, $4, was thick and potatoey. It had pieces of bacon, but the flavor was completely leached out of them. The potato chunks were mealy and falling apart, and few clams could be seen or tasted. The chowder was curdled and the oil had separated. Too thick for my taste, this chowder could stand up a spoon. http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
The same size of clam chowder is $4.99 directly across the street at Sonoma Coast Fish Bank. You help yourself from a self-serve counter. I enjoyed it outside on the redwood picnic bench. This had a more complex taste with lots of herbs, but also an odd sour cream note. More clam flavor but also considerably more bacon, too much for me. Only slightly thickened, the inserted biodegradable spoon fell to the side and didn't stay standing upright, which is my preference.
In this duel, I have to declare Sonoma Coast Fish Bank the winner. Yet, I’ll have to say that Spud Point a little further north in Bodega Bay would best it.
However, despite this loss in the local chowder taste-off, Valley Ford Market still makes good sausage. And new to me, pretty good pies priced for a song. The all-butter crust is tasty and light. These are some of the homeliest pies I’ve seen, but I guess that adds to their handmade, homestyle allure. Lemon meringue, chocolate cream, pumpkin, or various fruit pies, a surprisingly large selection. I opted for the peach pie, and once reheated at home, I was glad I shelled out $2.50 for a piece.
National Clam Chowder Day, Thursday, February 25, 2010
Boudin Bakery 2-for-1 clam chowder bread bowl coupon
Sonoma Coast Fish Bank
Valley Ford Market
14400 Highway 1, Valley Ford, CA