Best Clam Chowder in New England…

…is in Provincetown, Massachusetts at Bayside Betsy’s.

I have had a lot of clam chowder in my life, but this is the absolute best. A bowl is $6.95 and worth every penny.

The chowder doesn’t skimp on the clams, has plenty of potatoes, and does its artery-clogging job by tasting heavily of cream and bacon.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Ye Old Chomping Grounds

Yes, I’ll admit it. I grew up in New Jersey. Why the shame, you ask? Because there is typically a gritty pride assigned to those of us raised in the state often referred to as “the armpit of America.” But I don’t get to take part in that. Because I grew up in Princeton.

Princeton is a little enclave of anti-Jersey. Everything is beautiful and clean. Instead of malls and mega stores, there is a carefully manicured downtown, full of locally owned stores and products that cater to the kind of clientele that would think twice before going grocery shopping in their gym clothes. Spillover of students, faculty, and staff from Princeton University means that most of downtown is brushed with a sheen of academic snobbery and Ivy League pride. Here and there, you can find pockets of alternative life, in the famed-yet-still-grubby Princeton Record Exchange, for instance, or the on-the-verge-of-another-health-code-violation-but-still-irresistible Hoagie Haven, but generally most stores and eateries in Princeton are picture-perfect.

And while yes, it is a rather bougie place, with its oh-so-trendy-yet-earthy local microroaster/cafe Small World Coffee, its new versus traditional ice cream cafes, and its hip-and-tasty brewery, at least you have the chance to eat well. And eat well I did. On weekend mornings, while average New Jerseyans might have whipped up some pancakes, my European-transplant father would often go out and pick up something from our nearby bougie food store. Baguettes, croissants, bread—we had a love of European carbohydrates in my family, and Princeton was always there for us.

So was it a surprise when I read on Serious Eats that the best croissants were in Princeton? Mais, non! But I was surprised at the store commended for its flaky, buttery, crafts of perfection—The Little Chef. A tiny store that only arrived after I’d moved away, they apparently make the absolute best croissants ever. Not just in Princeton, but apparently in all of New Jersey. In fact, they’re apparently so good that they beat out all the best croissants in The City. (Apparently, they may be America’s Best Croissants, but honestly? Once you’ve beat out The City, nothing else matters.)

Perhaps it’s time to visit the old chomping grounds again.

The World’s Best Appetizer

When I die, there’d best be a plate of these in the waiting room for heaven:

Tri-Color Yum

Ingredients: sundried tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, fresh basil, & french bread

You can get sundried tomatoes in jars at your local grocer, or buy at a fancy food store. Slice the mozzerella as thinly as possible and top with fresh basil leaf. Toothpick optional. It’s important to put the sundried tomato on the bread first, as it sops up all the delicious juices very nicely.

There is a spoon. And it is bent.

Sweet basil and goat cheese with strawberry creme fraiche (Photo by SeriousEats)

Once, when I was on a group trip to Italy, my friends and I decided to undertake a small experiment: Which town had the best gelato? After seriously investigating, sampling, licking, tasting, analyzing, discussing, and evaluating gelati from Firenze (Florence) to Venizia (Venice), we found the most heavenly scoops in the small city of Ravenna. It tasted so good we had trouble walking.

Back home in the US of A, we doubted being able to find those same fresh, creamy flavors. But our home town of Princeton, NJ surprised us. Though it had multiple thriving local ice cream stores already (see Thomas Sweets and Halo Pub), a new one opened: The Bent Spoon, which serves its fare out of Euro-style shallow tubs.

While it would be an appropriate (and catchy) name for a regular ice cream store, The Bent Spoon’s name is actually ironic— rather than the hard, packed ice cream available at other stores in town, theirs is soft, slatherable gelato. Their flavors are equally unexpected— strawberry ice cream with fresh berries in it, chocolate that melts you into ecstasy, and a vanilla so good that Bon Appetit calls it “standout.” They have more unusual flavors as well— including a vanilla with fleur de sel caramel that is unexpectedly addictive.

The icing on the, er, cone, is that The Bent Spoon strives to use as many locally grown and organic products as possible. No wonder it tastes so good; it’s full of sustainability!

At $3 for a small, the pricing isn’t cheap, but hey—it’s cheaper than a gallon of gas, and so much better for the community. Not to mention your taste buds.

Cider Donut Fantasy

It is a crisp fall afternoon. A clear blue sky reigns overhead, as a brisk wind blows around your ankles, warning of winter.

The leaves are in piles of colors around your feet, and give a satisfying swunch when you walk through them.

You find yourself longing for something sweet and tart. Suddenly your nose picks up the smell of something frying. You follow the scent and find yourself in front of a man and a small frying machine.

The machine cranks, and a circle of dough falls into the boiling oil below. It floats for a moment, then flips over to reveal a sizzling golden brown exterior. A few seconds later, the man has scooped it into a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. He coats the donut, puts it in a bag, and hands it to you.

Before you have time to think, the donut is already in your mouth. The tart apple flavors mix with the sweet and crispy outside, and it is a fall fantasy on your tongue.

Candy canes have nothing on this.

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Find the taste of fall at Wilson Farms, Lexington, Massachusetts.