November is Ocean Wise Month, and to celebrate sustainable seafood in the area, Vancouver Aquarium hosted the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown last week. Lucky for me, I got to check it out, so let me tell you all about it.
How does it work? As you enter the Vancouver Aquarium, you receive a wooden spoon and a plastic cup; and you just walk around with them to the 14 participating booths. You also have a ballot to take notes of each chowder and vote for your favourite.
Each of the 14 competing chowders was paired with craft beer. I was quite impressed to see that there were restaurants from Prince Rupert and Pemberton competing in this event.
Among the participating craft breweries, there was Samuel Adams, the only non-local craft brewery at the event. It partnered with Fable and Chef Trevor Bird not only in the beer pairing, but it’s also used in cooking of the halibut chowder. SA’s Boston Lager is darker than most lagers out there (has an amber-ish hue), yet it’s light and quite easy drinking; would be a good entry beer for most people and would make great pairing with rich food like a chowder or deep-fried goodness.
In addition to the People’s Choice Award voted by the general public, there were also 4 industry judges tasting all dishes to select the top 3.
3rd Place: Cacciucco Tuscan Seafood Chowder by Chef Atticus Garant at Giovane Cafe
– It had a nice hearty tomato and Tuscan flavours.
2nd Place: Ocean Wise Halibut Chowder by Chef Trevor Bird at Fable
– The use of dill added freshness to the soup. There’s halibut in every bite!
1st Place, as well as People’s Choice: Ocean Wise Smoked Black Cod “Chowda” by Chef Ned Bell at Yew Seafood + Bar
– Creamy, rich and I thought the addition of the cream puff reminded me of a hearty pot pie.
Best Beer Pairing: Smoked Sablefish & Chanterelle Mushroom Chowder by Chef Chris Whittaker at Forage
– I’m a sucker for sablefish so I quite liked this one. Chanterelle mushroom added an earthy tone to the chowder.
You can check out the rest of the competing dishes below:
That was such a fun event to see and taste the different interpretations of chowder, plus the opportunity to sample different craft beer. I thought each beer was able to accentuate the flavours of the chowder, so kudos to all chefs and breweries for putting the menu together — who knew beer could pair well with such a rich item?!
I would definitely recommend getting tickets for next year’s Chowder Chowdown! You can check out the rest of my collection of event photos on Flickr.
This is sponsored content. However, the views and opinions expressed in this post are purely my own.