BWL Chili Cook-Off

13 06 2008

I made it to MIS this morning for some interviews and got home before one o’clock, so I was abBWL Chili Cook-Offle to get a quick nap in and not be too worn out to make it downtown for the BWL Chili Cook-Off.  I picked my girlfriend up from work and we headed to the Lansing Center for her dinner break.  I was exepcting them to move it inside because of the rain, but by the time we got to Michigan and Cedar, it was pretty obvious things were still outside.  We found on-street parking then got in line to get our wristbands and get inside.

Our plan of attack was simple.  Start at the end and work our way down booth-by-booth.  That worked for about five minutes.  You could tell which ones were really good because of the lines.  We skipped over a few thinking we’d come back later. 

Let me back track a little bit here and say this is a great event.  I was complaining on the way downtown that Lansing doesn’t get a lot of concerts like our old hometown gets.  She was quick to point out that what Lansing lacks in concerts they make up for in community events.  A few weeks ago, we took advantage of the Be a Tourist In Your Own Town and tonight’s Chili Cook-Off was better than we could have imagined. 

The thing that surprised me was the portion size.  I figured you’d get one of those little plastic shot glasses full of chili that would be mostly a bean with a little of the gravy.  Instead, you got a pretty good portion size.  I would call it a small ice cream cup size.  As much as I wanted to eat the whole thing, I ended up taking a few bites then tossing the rest so I didn’t fill up too fast.

BWL Chili Cook-OffI like hot chili.  The hotter the better.  Lots of places had the option of a spicy or mild while some just went straight out for the spicy.  There were some vegetarian options and some that didn’t rely heavily on tomatoes.  I’m not a huge bean person when it comes to chili which I know almost eliminates me from having a valid opinion.  When I make chili at home, the only chunks are meat, but I make a thicker gravy.   Just about everything I ate had beans which is fine….it’s not a deal breaker, but again, I didn’t want to fill up, so I picked around a lot of the beans to go straight for heat and flavor.

The first booth that we stopped as was the Lansing Center’s booth.  They were one of the ones that had a choice of spicy or mild.  Both my girlfriend and I took the spicy and it was spicy.  Besides just being hot, it was a tastebud scorcher.  I thought this might be a tough one to beat and was really hoping that it didn’t ruin my mouth for the rest of the night.  I had to make a quick stop at the drink counter and grab a couple Pepsi’s.  I wonder how come they don’t sell milk? 

The next notable one was The Firm Food & Spirits.  Again, another spicy offering which a thicker gravy and more meat.  I was really looking forward to trying the amateur chili’s, but unfortunately, we were too late for a lot of them.  We didn’t get there until after seven and most of the amateur’s had run out.  Amy from Runs With Spatula was not one of those.  She was still serving up her sweet chili wearing her “Vote For Amy” t-shirt just like she said.  Her chili was really unique compared to all the others.  It was much sweeter.  My girlfriend said she thought she tasted cinnamon, but I thought it was ancho chili powder.  Either way, it was really good and something much different than the other offerings.

The last notable offering for me was just around the corner from Amy’s.  AJ’s Rib Experience provided a chili that really took me by surprise.  I took a bite and though “eh”  Then I swallowed and the heat just snuck up…and there was a lot of heat.  I felt that one in my throat for a long time.

We walked around for another fifteen minutes or so sampling other offerings.  My girlfriend’s mouth was on fire, so we tried some fresh squeezed lemonade and soft serve yogurt to try to cool things down.  I am really glad we decided to go.  This was a great event and introduced us to some new restaurants.  Most of the participants don’t actually serve chili at there establishments, but you can tell a lot about a place by the effort and uniqueness in their foods.  People watching was fun too.  The thing that just really got me were all the people walking around with muffin tins.  This was an ingenious idea because the chili cups were just the right size, so you could hold multiple cups of chili at one time plus your drink.  This will become a yearly event for us.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s BWL Chili Cook-Off




7 responses

13 06 2008

I am glad you got to try my chili, but wish you would have introduced yourself! I am not sure if I served you or not. I had quite a bit of help and we took turns going to try other chilis or take a break. For the tie breaker…ding ding ding…your girlfriend wins. Their was definately cinnamon in the chili, along with a couple more not so typical ingredients. I am now officially home and exhausted and need to meet my pillow for a good long night…

16 06 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

Damn! I hate it when she’s right. 🙂 We both thought you had the best amatuer chili.

You guys looked busy when we were there and I’m not really an outgoing person. My girlfriend was trying to get me to say hi too.

16 06 2008

Amy…busy? You’re kidding? Amy had about 10 “helpers” with her and by 5:30 she was seeking out the nearest beer stand, sampling other chili, and hanging with the Plumbers & Pipe Fitters in the booth next to hers. I can’t tell you how many times someone asked “so which one is Amy?” to which our reply was “she’s out drinking beer somewhere!”

I can attest to the fact that Amy is *never* too busy to talk food or restaurants, isn’t that right Amy?

BTW…Amy is also a close-to-coming-out-of-the-closet NASCAR and IRL fan. We spent the Sunday before Memorial Day watching the Indy 500 and then the Coca-Cola 500. She would dump me in a second for Dario Franchitti or Helio Castroneves…

16 06 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

We didn’t get there until after 7:00. Everyone in the booth looked busy, so I just assumed Amy was one of them.

That’s funny. My girlfriend wasn’t really a racing fan until we started dating either. I have tickets to the spring Bristol race and asked her if she wanted to go this year. She was hooked. She’s spent pretty much every Sunday since on the couch watching races with me.

16 06 2008

And and that’s funny because you would leave me in a minute for Helio’s dance partner from Dancing with the Stars- Julianne Hough!

16 06 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

Would not…I can’t believe you said that 🙂

2 12 2011

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