Saturday, April 15, 2006

We have a winner!

Every year in March, there's a seafood festival at Port Canaveral, which is near where I live, and among other things it features a "best chowder" contest. The competition among the local restaurants is fierce, because, as you might guess, first prize is an avalanche of free publicity. Many of the restaurants that compete have been in business for decades, and some of the chowder recipes go back for generations.

In Februrary this year, a new restaurant opened, named Coquina's. Although they had been open for only a month at the time, Coquina's entered their seafood chowder in the contest at the festival in March, and they surprised the heck out of everyone by taking first place. Since then, if you go to Coquina's, you can't help but notice that all the wait staff, without exception, no matter who they are addressing, universally refer to their seafood chowder, not as "chowder" or "seafood chowder," but "our award-winning seafood chowder." I'm sure that management has told them to do this, but they still say it with relish, and work it in at every opportunity, as in, for examples:

"A cup of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder is $4.99, and a bowl of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder is $6.99."

"You'd like a cup of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder? Great choice!"

"Here's some bread, and here's your cup of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder."

"Are you finished with your cup of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder? May I take it out of your way? What did you think of Our Award-Winning Seafood Chowder?"

I don't know why, but it makes me smile every time I hear them say it. They are so proud.

And so, you ask, have I tried the seafood chowder? Silly question -- of course I have. And how is it, you ask?




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