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The Souper Bowl: Beantown vs. the Big Apple

New England and Manhattan face off with chowder recipes, Mario Batali shares a winning New York pizza and our editors pick 25 value wines for the match

Robert Taylor
Posted: January 30, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis brings football fans a highly anticipated rematch between quarterback Eli Manning's New York Giants and Tom Brady's New England Patriots. Along with it comes this year's Wine Spectator rematch of Super Bowl party foods and the wines (and beers) that pair with them.

New York and Boston offer an abundance of hometown specialties that make for some contentious competition—specifically soups, sandwiches and pies of every ilk.

When it comes to soup, New England and Manhattan both lay claim to signature chowders. We've got recipes from some of the best chowder house chefs in both metropolises.

Two of Boston's top oyster houses contributed offerings this year: Neptune Oyster on Salem Street and Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square. Neptune chef Michael Serpa crafted a more manageable version of the restaurant's signature New England Clam Chowder for Wine Spectator readers (the soup's various elements are made separately at the restaurant and combined to order). Owner Jeff Nace says the clam-driven chowder has a lot of minerality coupled with the fat from the bacon and cream. He suggests pairing it with a Chablis or white Rhône-style blend. (For the beer-inclined, he recommends Guinness or the local Harpoon Oyster Stout). He also says the Neptune chowder is a favorite among the Patriots themselves: All-Pro wide receiver Wes Welker is a Neptune regular and chowder aficionado.

Island Creek's chef and owner, Jeremy Sewall, offers a winter stew using another of New England's gifts from the Atlantic. The Island Creek Oyster Stew features oysters, slab bacon and Yukon potatoes poured over brioche toast. The restaurant’s recommended pairing is a sparkling Muscadet for its palate-cleansing lemon note and brininess, which complements the minerality of the oysters. Alternately, Champagne makes an excellent match. For beers, they recommend an artisanal rye such as Bear Republic Hop Rod.

There's another chowder in this fight, however, and its home is Manhattan. New York chef and chowder guru Ed Brown specializes in chowders of all varieties at Ed Brown's Chowder House across the street from Lincoln Center. The obvious difference between Manhattan and New England chowder is that Manhattan's version is a cream-free, tomato-based soup that also frequently features a spicy kick. He turns to Maryland blues for his Manhattan Crab Chowder. "It's lighter, but with bigger, bolder flavors," says Brown. "It's not heavy, so you can eat a lot of it—I like to eat a big steaming bowl of that with a gigantic piece of bread, and I would drink beer." Brown recommends Lighthouse Ale, made by Fire Island Beer Co. in Ocean Beach, N.Y.

Sandwiches are perfect accompaniments to soups and Super Bowl parties alike. New York's signature delicatessen, Katz's, has been around since 1888, and the overstuffed pastrami sandwich served on Houston Street is nearly enough to feed a party on its own. In Boston, the corned beef and Swiss cheese sandwiches served on pumpernickel at Michael's and Sam LaGrassa's pay homage to the city's Irish heritage, and Kelly's lays claim to the 1951 invention of the roast beef sandwich.

As for "pies," New York pies of the pizza variety are second to none (according to New Yorkers, at least). The City That Never Sleeps is home to some of America's most revered pizza institutions, each of which has helped craft the famed "New York"-style pie—large, thin-crust pizzas made with hand-tossed dough. If you live in New York, a few large pies from one of the "first-growths" of Big Apple pizzerias—Lombardi's in Little Italy, Grimaldi's under the Brooklyn Bridge, Di Fara's in Midwood, Totonno's in Coney Island and Patsy's in Harlem—will be hot commodities. And if those five are New York's Old School, then chef Mario Batali's Otto in Greenwich Village would have to be the New School super Tuscan or, more appropriately, super Neapolitan. Batali shares his recipe for Sausage and Peppers Pizza here for those who want to make their own.

Boston's version of a savory pie is another Irish staple, shepherd's pie. The Druid in Cambridge is home to one of the city's most traditional and beloved. The exact recipe is a bit of a secret, but for those interested in taking a crack at it, the fundamentals are seasoned lamb roasted with carrots and parsnips, then topped with mashed potatoes and baked until crisp and golden brown on top. Other Boston favorites like Phoenix Landing and the Lir add cheese, but traditionalists would consider that an interloper.

For dessert, sweet pies are the order of the Sunday, be they Boston Cream or New York cheesecake. For a historical angle, chocolate chip cookies were invented at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass., and Jell-O hails from LeRoy, N.Y. Both Massachusetts and New York have official muffins as well—corn muffins for the Bay State (don't ask) and apple muffins for the Empire State (go figure).

For plenty of other Super Bowl party recipes (from wings and ribs to Roethlisburgers), check out all the links in the sidebar.


New York vs. New England Super Bowl Party Recipes

Neptune New England Clam Chowder
Island Creek Oyster Stew
Chowder House Manhattan Crab Chowder
Mario Batali's Sausage and Peppers Pizza


Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More value wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

Recommended Red Wine Values

QUIVIRA Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2009 Score: 91 | $20
Deep and well-structured, with smoky wild berry aromas and layered black cherry, cracked pepper and loamy earth flavors that are wrapped in ripe but firm tannins. Best from 2013 through 2017. 5,363 cases made.—T.F.

CHARLES SMITH Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Chateau Smith 2009 Score: 91 | $20
Supple and inviting, with complex flavors of dark berries and plum shaded with hints of bacon and star anise. The finish rolls along unimpeded by the polished tannins. Drink now through 2016. 10,000 cases made.—H.S.

TABLAS CREEK Patelin de Tablas Paso Robles 2010 Score: 91 | $20
Serves up a pleasing mix of ripe, vibrant watermelon, supple black and red licorice, wild berry, grilled meat and sanguine flavors. Full-bodied, complex and layered, with lots of berry flavors on the finish. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. Drink now through 2018. 4,900 cases made.—J.L.

MICHELE CHIARLO Barbera d'Asti Superiore Le Orme 2009 Score: 90 | $15
Sweet blackberry, plum and pomegranate fruit is fresh and vibrant as this red unfolds across the palate. Hints of flowers and spices intermingle, but this is more about the juicy fruit. Drink now through 2018. 19,000 cases imported.—B.S.

COLUMBIA CREST H3 Les Chevaux Horse Heaven Hills 2009 Score: 90 | $15
Firm in texture, with chocolate and leather overtones to the dark berry flavors, finishing with moderate grip as the flavors persist nicely. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best after 2013. 9,400 cases made.—H.S.

STEFANO FARINA Chianti La Ginestra 2009 Score: 90 | $11
Blackberry, violet and mineral aromas and flavors make this delicate and harmonious wine distinctive, with refined tannins that carry the spice and mineral finish. Drink now through 2018. 10,000 cases made.—B.S.

FOUR VINES Zinfandel Amador County Maverick 2009 Score: 90 | $15
Ripe and jammy, with an appealingly rustic edge, offering aromas of blackberry cobbler and cracked white pepper that lead to soft, supple black cherry and licorice flavors. Drink now through 2016. 5,175 cases made.—T.F.

ST.-COSME Côtes du Rhône 2010 Score: 90 | $16
This has lush, silky-textured layers of dark plum, anise and crushed blackberry fruit, woven with black tea and graphite notes through the finish. Impresses with its length and depth. Drink now through 2012. 11,000 cases made.—J.M.

KENWOOD Merlot Sonoma County 2008 Score: 88 | $14
Offers appealing cherry and eucalyptus aromas and nicely structured red currant, cedar and tomato leaf flavors. Drink now through 2014. 25,100 cases made.—T.F.

SYMINGTON FAMILY Douro Altano 2009 Score: 88 | $9
Wild plum and berry flavors are concentrated and well-rounded in this balanced, fresh-tasting red, which shows hints of chocolate on the finish. Drink now through 2014. 5,000 cases imported.—K.M.

VERAMONTE Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley El Caballero 2009 Score: 88 | $12
Wild berry, spice and game flavors mix in this fresh red, with dark notes of tar, sage and licorice filling the finish. Drink now. 13,000 cases made.—N.W.

BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS LA ESPERANZA Cabernet Sauvignon Uco Valley Finca El Origen 2010 Score: 87 | $10
Quite fresh and bright, offering a solid mix of boysenberry and currant flavors that lead to a note of hot stone on the finish. Drink now. 12,000 cases made.—N.W.

MEZZACORONA Pinot Noir Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2009 Score: 87 | $10
There's a pretty hint of aromatic violet weaving through the dried strawberry, fleshy plum, tar and tobacco notes in this lightly chewy, moderate red. Drink now. 40,000 cases made.—A.N.

Recommended White Wine Values

ROBERT OATLEY Chardonnay Mudgee 2009 Score: 90 | $18
Polished, lively and appealing for its sunny pear, cream, vanilla and lychee flavors, which slide smoothly through the long, elegant finish. Drink now through 2016. 7,000 cases made.—H.S.

SIMONNET-FEBVRE Chablis 2009 Score: 90 | $18
Aromas of oyster shell and wet stone overlay melon and ripe apple flavors in this round Chablis, which is open and supple, with a lingering, juicy finish that shows citrus accents. Drink now through 2014. 20,000 cases made.—B.S.

CHARLES SMITH Riesling Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2010 Score: 90 | $12
Vivid and distinctive, this white is immensely appealing for its juicy Winesap apple, apricot and citrus flavors, finishing with zing to balance the sweetness. Drink now. 64,000 cases made.—H.S.

AIRFIELD Chardonnay Yakima Valley Unoaked 2010 Score: 89 | $13
Lively and focused, this white is silky in texture and juicy with pear, citrus and floral flavors, which persist on the deftly balanced finish. Drink now through 2015. 2,390 cases made.—H.S.

BODEGAS RAMÓN BILBAO Albariño Rias Baixas Valiñas 2010 Score: 89 | $14
This polished white shows good density, with well-integrated flavors of pear, melon, grapefruit and mineral. Fresh and lively, leading to a mouthwatering finish. Drink now through 2014. 8,000 cases made.—T.M.

CUNE Rioja White Monopole 2010 Score: 89 | $13
This firm, focused white displays a solid structure, with supporting flavors of pear, ginger, smoke and herb. This is not a showy wine, but has depth and vibrancy. A good match with richer dishes. Drink now through 2015. 55,000 cases made.—T.M.

NINE STONES Viognier Hilltops 2010 Score: 89 | $13
Distinctively minerally, unusual for a Viognier, but this is spicy and vibrant. Pear, lemon curd and mayflower flavors linger effortlessly. Drink now through 2015. 5,000 cases imported.—H.S.

STONELEIGH Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2010 Score: 89 | $13
Fresh and bright, brimming with Key lime, guava and passion fruit flavors that are clean and refreshing. A touch of freshly cut grass and lime zest comes in on the finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases imported.—M.W.

DOMAINE DE LA FRUITIÈRE Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Cuvée Petit M 2010 Score: 88 | $12
This delicious wine has a good core of peach framed by lively citrus peel and herb notes. Drink now. 10,000 cases made.—J.M.

ALSACE WILLM Riesling Alsace Réserve 2010 Score: 88 | $14
A light-bodied, floral Riesling, with crisp, tangy acidity and pretty flavors of peach, apricot, Fuji apple and anise. A well-balanced crowd-pleaser, with a lingering note of lemon zest. Drink now through 2018. 20,000 cases made.—A.N.

AVELEDA Vinho Verde Fonte 2010 Score: 87 | $8
Crisp apple aromas and flavors give this white plenty of verve. Ripe citrus and white raspberry notes linger on the finish, with lots of spice. Drink now. 175,000 cases made.—K.M.

JEAN-LUC COLOMBO Côtes du Rhône White Les Abeilles 2010 Score: 87 | $12
This has nice weight, but it's also really fresh, with a creamy melon core and a blanched almond frame to keep the wine honest through the finish. Clairette and Roussanne. Drink now. 65,000 cases made.—J.M.

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