Monday, May 6, 2013

4th Street Arts Annual Chili Cook-Off

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Today, we are taking a brief interlude from the "Healthy Living Series" on Food Judicata to talk about more important things -- Chili!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine and spicy chili at the Fourth Street Arts Annual Chili Cook-Off in Jersey City.  And the timing was quite fortuitous, not only was it Cinco de Mayo, but the weather was sunny and perfect to be outside for a chili cook-off!

For $5 per person, we each got a bracelet to  get to sample over 20 different types of chili prepared by individuals and local restaurants.  The cook-off was judged by local "celebrity" judges.  The spectators also got to vote for their picks for for Best Restaurant Chili and Best Individual.  

Here were my picks:

Best Restaurant - LITM - Spicy Lamb Sausage Chili

One thing I noticed about my own chili preferences is I prefer chilis that have different meats in them other than just ground beef.   I like that the different cuts of meat provide a different, more complex texture to the chili. As you can see here, there was a big ball of lamb sausage in this chili. Here's another look at the chili with the ingredient list.

 Best Individual - Jim's Chili

This one was so popular that they ran out before I could take a picture! Here's the ingredient list:

Once again, I preferred the chili that didn't use plain old ground beef as the featured meat.  What I liked about this chili was that they used beef short ribs, which had smoky chunks of tender beef as opposed to crumbs of ground beef. Not that I have anything against ground beef, but I found that other meats stood out in my memory better.  Which is important when you are tasting 20 different types of chili!

PJ Ryan's a local pub in Jersey City, also had an intriguing chili entry.  When I first saw their table, I saw they had the longest line of people! I thought, "Wow, they must have the best chili!"  Which is odd, when you think about it, because I don't think of an Irish pub when I think of great chili.  But as I got closer to the front of the line, I saw why the line was so long!

They were giving out shots of Jameson as a "palate cleanser"! No wonder they were so popular.  Here's a shot of J. getting his chili and whiskey shot.

If PJ Ryan's was trying to curry favor to the judges and tasters, it certainly worked! PJ Ryan's won both the Judge's Choice and tied with LITM for "People's Choice."  (Though, I still think they had a bit of an edge in the competition!)

Overall, I had a great time tasting different chilis at the Chili Cook-Off and can't wait until next year!

Related links:
The winners of the Chili Cook-Off on the Fourth Street Arts Facebook page
Article featuring the Chili Cook-Off winners on The Star Ledger
Fourth Street Arts

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