Friday, February 2, 2007

Chili Cookoff at Work

Yes Virginia, you can work at a huge law firm these days and still be surrounded by great folks who enjoy fun little events in the office from time to time. In honor of the big game on Sunday, today we had our annual chili cookoff. It's actually not only a great opportunity for everyone to feast on hearty, homemade cooking, and to catch up in a casual setting, but also a contest as each person votes for his/her favorite, and prizes are awarded for the chilis that place first, second and third. I didn't input the cookoff in my calendar, but no matter, as soon as all of the crockpots started to heat up, the wonderful and rich aroma of chili filled the air on the several levels of the building we occupy. Even a coworker who did dinner last night at Fogo de Chao, and who said she was still full from that, could not resist. There were a dozen or so offerings, and I managed to sample just a little of most of them. Interestingly, each really was unique, and had it's own main as well as lingering flavors. My favorite was a rich, beef chili with a dark brown and almost mahogany color, made with kidney beans, black beans, cubed beef, and stewed tomatoes all swimming in a deliciously rich and smokey sauce. I think cumin probably contributed to the smoky aspect of the flavor, but it's hard to tell what other spices and other flavorings were in the dish. There also was a more gumbo-like chili with andouille sausage and quite a kick of heat and salt, as well as some more "tomatoey" versions that were more red and less brown in color and which contained other vegetables such as corn and green beans. Another offering had very little sauce and almost looked like ultra moist pulled pork with a dark brown sauce. One of the chilis had lime crema to be served on top as a garnish, and it was a delicious accent which added a fresh and zesty bite to the dish. There was plenty of cornbread to round out the meal as well. I managed to fit in a few carrot sticks and ended by cleansing the palate with a nice chunk of herbed Havarti cheese. I am definitely glad I skipped breakfast this morning, as I was able to enjoy a hearty and fun lunch.

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