Chowderfest: Marlborough, MA

Photo: Horatio Alger Street Fair entrance

This weekend Ali and I headed off for to Marlborough, the town in which her father lives, for some fall festivities. That’s right autumn is upon us and chill is in the air. The leaves here are beginning to change color, but we haven’t reached the level of leaves like embers on the tree that looks aflame. A few more weeks and the whole area will be alive with “leaf peepers,” at least that is what they call them here. Everything was in place for a beautiful experience of Marlborough’s Horatio Alger Street Fair.

Photo: Ali at Horatio Alger Street Fair

Our primary purpose for attending the event was so I could experience a native New England tradition. It was to be my inaugural Chowderfest. For a mere $2.00 Ali and I embarked on a gastronomic treat that delivered the local flavor. This odyssey would mean the consumption of about eight cups of the New England nectar, all in the name of proper adjudication. Judging from the crowd gathered, I discovered it is calling for patriotic pride and this is civic duty welcomed by nearly all citizens. I am happy to say that not one of these samples was a bucket of paste that can sometimes find its way to your palette. It was a close call, but both of us agreed on our “best–of–the–fest.” Tasty Home Cooking/Corner Pub delivered a delectable dollop of a magnificently spiced stew–like soup, complete with large chunks of clams and potatoes. Although a restaurant called Seafood Coral proved a serious contender, they couldn’t edge the previous “People’s Choice” champion. You can not go wrong with either pick. As it turns out, we were on target with our choices. However, the official results proved to have our order reversed. So, if you’re ever in the greater Marlborough area, located in the far western suburbs of Boston, give them a try.

Photo: German Folk Band

After a large lunch of chowder, we then aimed our sites on the Nashoba Valley Winery for another fall annual occurrence, Oktoberfest. Just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, we’re all German for October. Beer and Brats were the order of the day and the locale was teeming with revelers, willing to take the challenge. My favorite aspect was the traditional folk band, playing oom-pah-pah classics. There were even a few lederhosen to be spied on this day. I have to say, it’s hard to resist a little hoch-und-spitz tunage. Our bellies were pretty full from the chowder, so consuming more cuisine was approached with caution. We did, however, sample the beer, of course. That was a given. It was a lovely locale and the place was packed. Perhaps, if the lines were not so long, I could have forced myself to knock some wurst down. Although, I think my guts are more grateful for the abstention. Even Ali cast a weary eye on the fest fare, but managed to find room for a caramel apple, which she amazingly shared with me.