Sunday, June 23, 2019

Mac's Fish House Ranks High in Our Quest for PTown's Best Clam Chowders

The chowder at Mac's Fish House is clearly among the tastiest in Provincetown.
About three weeks ago I decided to launch a serious "quest for the best" by pledging to taste every single clam chowder I was able to find on a PTtown menu this summer. 

Since I'm sampling each chowder I come across, it was the first thing I ordered when a friend took me out for a nice dinner at Mac's Fish House the other night. Since there are now over 100 assorted eateries in Provincetown during the height of the season. It's quite a challenge for me to attempt to taste something at every restaurant, clam shack, takeout, deli and diner every year. I do well to make it once, all the way around the town, during each year. In fact, I hadn't made it back to Mac's Fish House since my visit there last September.

Anticipations were high, The last time we were at Mac's together, quite some time ago, this same friend had said this was the best chowder she'd ever had, and I remembered liking it very much, too. Well, we weren't wrong. Mac's is among the very best clam chowders that PTown has to offer.
It's a little less thick than many, with a velvety consistency and a bit of the bright flavor of the natural juices from local sea clams, together with potatoes, leeks, onions and thyme. There's no flour thickening it as you'll find elsewhere, so this one is also naturally gluten-free. I find it to be one of PTown's smoothest, most flavorful chowders, and I'll be back again for more, just as soon as I can manage it.

I hesitate to label something "the best," because folks all have such different ideas of what the best is to them. Some want their chowder ultra-thick, like a stew, someone else wants more potatoes, someone's mother made it with lots of celery, some like it thinner with more of the briny flavor of the clams, and I actually once heard a friend say there were "too many clams" in the chowder she was eating. What the...?
Of course, folks who've lived in Provincetown all their lives will say you simply can't make a respectable "chowdah" without a chunk of salt pork simmering in the pot, since that seems to always be part of any traditional New England (or maybe Portuguese?) chowder recipe.

I suspect I'm going to find more than 40 restaurants in town serving some version of clam chowder, and I expect to like most of them to varying degrees, and of those, I expect to find about 10 or 12 that really stand out for me.
I'm pretty sure I'll end up with several thick ones, thin ones, briny ones and creamy ones that I'll want to return to again and again. And, yes, one or two of those will likely contain a chef's own, quirky combination of herbs, or, heaven help us, "too many clams."
I don't expect to come out of this with a clear-cut favorite for myself, and I won't presume to say which one you should like the most, but over the years, literally hundreds of people have asked me who makes the best clam chowder, and there are still a dozen or two that I've never gotten around to tasting.

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I intend to taste every chowder in town this summer, take a photo of each one, describe its character for you, and name all of the ingredients I can identify, or get the chef to divulge. And that way, I hope to encourage each of my readers, whether visitors or Townies, to go out and taste at least a couple of these great soups in a restaurant they may never have thought of before.

And there you have it, dear readers... Two down, and at least 40 to go. Bon appétit!


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