Let's go to Bahston for chowdah

BOSTON, MA -- Cape Cod is a peninsula chock full of tourists in search of the perfect breakfast and ice cream. It used to be full of folks searching for the perfect clam chowder, but that changed in 1987.

Anthropologists cite that as the year the number of chowder contests and restaurants achieved perfect balance, thus allowing every eatery on the Cape to confidently claim its concoction was No. 1.

The same can be said of the Boston area. However, certain "chowdah" competitions there retain a strong cachet, so if you win the right one you're a major star.

Enter Ned Devine's Irish Pub. On Sunday, it won "Chowderfest" for the third time and has been elected to be enshrined in the event's Hall of Fame.

Manager Greg Springer credits New York City chef Sean Ryan's 20-year-old recipe.

The 28th annual Chowderfest was held as part of Boston Harborfest, a Fourth of July festival showcasing the city's heritage. Eight restaurants competed for the title of Boston's Best Chowder. Organizers says 2,000 gallons of New England's signature dish of clams, cream and potatoes were served to about 10,000 people.

Ned Devine's Irish Pub also won in 2004 and 2005.

The establishment, located in the historic Quincy Market building (a/k/a/ Faneuil Hall), is a two-story facility that includes Ned Devine's, Parris Lounge and the Parris Nightcluib.

It has a wonderful dress code it enforces from Labor Day through Memorial Day, and it is very straightforward:

No hats
No tank tops
No logo'd T-shirts
No athletic jerseys
No sneakers of any type
No work boots
No flip flops
No hooded sweatshirts

How very refreshing.
• Dining in Boston
New England Clam Chowder Recipes
• Qunicy Market/Faneuil Hall
Dowd's Guides

KY cooperage will begin welcoming visitors

LOUISVILLE, KY -- Brown-Forman announced today it is opening its world-famous cooperage to visitors for the first time in its history.

The barrel-making facility also has had its name changed, from Blue Grass Cooperage to Brown-Forman Cooperage. Brown-Forman created the facility in 1945.

Barrels are crafted there from American white oak for the aging of spirits owned by Brown-Forman, such as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Canadian Mist, El Jimador and Herradura. Brown-Forman is the only spirits company in the world to make its own barrels.

Tours must be arranged in advance online through Mint Julep Tours or by phone at (502) 583-1433. Mint Julep Tours also is offering an “All Woodford, All Day Tour” which includes transportation to both the Brown-Forman Cooperage and Woodford Reserve Distillery, a guided tour, admission to both venues, and lunch.

Is it worth the trip? Having visited Woodford several times as well as having a private your of the cooperage, I'd definitely say yes. The cooperage is a beehive of activity that turns out more than 1,500 barrels a day.

Here's a small photo tour of what I saw the last time I visited.

William M. Dowd photos

Workers known as “barrel raisers” assemble 32 staves into barrels.

As part of the process of a zero-waste manufacturing stream, some scrap wood is made into dowel pegs to hold together barrel headers.

Barrel headers are coated with beeswax, then run through a charring apparatus.

Finished charred headers are stacked up until the remainder of the barrels come off the assembly line.

Meanwhile, the barrels are “toasted.” Wood begins to ignite at 482°F, creating a controlled char of the inside of each barrel.
Once barrels are fully processed, they are put on conveyer belts and head for their final destinations.
Mint Julep Tours
Visiting Louisville
Dowd's Guides

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