STILL THE BOWL STANDARD: Many a savory dish has recently found fresh life as a frosty, end-of-the-meal treat. Look to Thanksgiving turkey, which recently showed up in ice cream at a posh Los Angeles scoop shop, and look at bacon, which has graced everything from milkshakes to chocolate bars to donut glaze. But soups and stews have not yet made the leap into the realm of a meal's sugary final note, even though hearty bowl fillers like chowder are on the creamy side. ("Creamy" very often leads next to into some sort of cakey, whipped filling. Not always, but often.) But we're pretty sure we don't want chowder to debut as the liquid center of next year's trendy cookie. It performs most excellently when in a small bowl, topped with crumbled crackers, and served with a spoon (or without, if the spoons count be found; sipping chowder from the lip of a bowl is nearly as tasty as going the traditional utensil route). You'll find plenty of foodies willing to engage in "what's next for chowder?" ponderings on the final Saturday of January around Bodega Bay. Yep, the salty, gulls-and-glorious-sunsets burg does chowder well every single day, but Jan. 31, 2015 happens to be Chowder Day.
TURN YOUR CAR FOR THE TIDES... Tides Wharf, that is -- and hop out to sample the chowder being cooked up by competitors going ladle-to-ladle for glory. The site for Chowder Day says it can take "2-3 hours to taste all the chowder," which, you probably can guess, is a substantial amount of time. Meaning? You'll find many a savory sample throughout the afternoon. A ticket is ten bucks, and if the chowder pots run dry, well, they run dry. Time to go watch a gull, or a dinghy, and ponder whether chowder could ever leave its quintessential vessel, the bowl, and enter the unusual dessert pantheon. As adventurous as we fancy ourselves, we rather like chowder remaining a creamy, zingy meal, rather than the sticky-sweet after-course. Let bacon and turkey try their hand outside of the main entree, but we like our chowder classic, clammy, and enjoyed by a beautiful bay, if possible.