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Boston's Chili(ly) Takeover

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 25, 2016

I did say in my latest blog post that I would be talking about the 7th Annual Boston Chili Cup - so here I go. You may or may not have realized that part of my job here is to keep up with all things Boston. I need to constantly be aware of what's trending here, what's happening there - but I'm really not complaining. On one of my online expeditions to feed my foodie needs (oh, and also for work), I found out about the Chili Cup. I found it on eventbrite, so I really pictured it to be something small - something hardly anyone knew about. I was wrong (this doesn't happen very often, so listen up).

The Chili Cup was easily one of the coolest things I've ever been to in Boston. First of all, it was at Ned Devine's. If you're like me, you probably have no idea what Ned Devine's even is. Turns out, it's quite the bar. It's in Faneuil, but not just like every other bar there. It's inside Quincy Market, overlooking the food court from above - yeah, it's awesome. So yes, you do have to be 21 to attend the Chili Cup; if you're underage, it's well worth the wait.

So you walk in, show your ticket, your ID, and you immediately receive a spoon, a list of restaurants, and a chip. Not a potato chip - like a chip to place your vote for best chili. That's one of the best parts of this whole event, there isn't some superstar panel voting for the best chili. It's all on us. It's definitely not an easy choice though, with 18 restaurants competing for the title, it's pretty dire to hand it over to the right one.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't love all of them. At one point, all the chili blended together, and between the spices and the super rich pork, I couldn't really tell the difference. Just a quick PSA over here: if you're not a fan of spice, this might not be the event for you. I'm not obsessed with spicy food, but I can roll with it. Eventually, between the simultaneous gulping of fluids (props to the event for being sponsored by Corona) and fanning my mouth to get rid of the chipotle after taste, I found some I really loved.

Tasty Burger

Wow. Not only have these guys completely nailed the classic burger, but they're taking over the chili cheese dog market too. At the Chili Cup, the restaurant booths were all pretty similar, except for theirs. They had a mini hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog assembly line. Let me repeat that: they had a MINI hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog ASSEMBLY LINE. Just at first glance, I wanted to hide behind the cart and snatch all the hot dogs for myself, while simultaneously dunking my face into the vat of chili. But to not embarrass the friend I had gone there with (you're welcome Alex), I asked for "the works" dog, and awaited patiently.

When you picture a chili cheese dog, I'm sure you see chili flowing over the bun and cheese running down between your fingers. Well erase that picture, and place this one in its place. This dog had the perfect bun to meat to cheese to chili ratio. And instead of having a pound of cheese on top, swallowing the entire hot dog, they used powdered cheese. That powdered cheese is the same kind that you'll find in a Kraft mac and cheese box. Just let that sink in.

It's truly crazy that out of all the restaurants, I loved the one with the most common interpretation of chili. I didn't vote for the chipotle dusted, chocolate infused chili. I voted for your typical, run of the mill, chili cheese dog. But in my mind, if a restaurant can completely nail the most common kind of chili, and beat out the overly executed ones - they're doing it right.

The Living Room

I know I just threw some shade at the overly fancy chili recipes, but this place did it really well. Like Ned Devine's I had never heard of The Living Room. I remember sitting at the bar, eating away at my sample, and not being able to read what the name of the restaurant was. What a cool name it turned out to be.

Their sample came in a little hammock, with a small piece of cornbread, to pair perfectly with their mole-inspired chili. Mole, for those of you who don't know, is primarily made with Mexican chocolate. The chili wasn't overly chocolatey, and the cornbread wasn't overly sweet - so in the end, it wasn't their take on a dessert chili of some sorts (thank goodness).

Pier 6

Okay, so I didn't actually try this place's chili. First of all, it was labeled as spicy. When something is so spicy, they have to signal you before you try it - I just won't try it.

But, as much as it was spicy, and I didn't get a taste, I'm including it because: 1. it won the championship, 2. this was Alex's favorite. Their chili was different because instead of pork, they used lamb. If you're not a fan of lamb, or you just haven't ever tasted it, I highly recommend doing so. For years, I kept myself from tasting the sweet, gamey goodness that is lamb. If it's done right, which I'm assuming Pier 6 did, it's incredibly buttery and delicious. Although pork is my favorite cut of meat, lamb is quickly climbing onto number 1.

I'd say go to Pier 6, and try out their lamb for yourself. I kind of regret not trying it, so you'll probably spot me there, and at every other chili cup in the coming years. 


Boston Gets Marketed

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 22, 2016

If you haven't noticed, I'm a major foodie. In high school I had my own column in the school paper named "The Moodie Foodie." As you can tell, nothing has changed. I'm still moody, and I'm still a foodie. I try to explore Boston as much as I can, but this semester I've really stepped up my game. Thanks to my sister for always sending me tips and tricks to survive and thrive in Boston, I'd like to think that I'm pretty savvy when it comes to all things (mainly food) Boston. Seriously, it's all thanks to her. She basically keeps a file cabinet of events and restaurants in her brain, and just sends some my way when she finds necessary (always).

So because of my sister's ever evolving encyclopedia and my nonstop googling, I came to find out about the Boston Public Market - aka, my new favorite place, like ever. I found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and made plans to visit ASAP. Between my alarm not going off (or just my not setting it), and just being incredibly lazy, I hadn't made it there yet. Luckily, my friend and I attended the Boston Chili Cup (don't worry, I'll talk about this a little later on) on Thursday. The Boston Chili Cup was at Faneuil Hall, right off the Haymarket T Stop. Little did I realize that the Haymarket T Stop is basically the Boston Public Market. Had the Government Center T Station not been under construction (seriously, will it ever finish?), I would've missed my opportunity to visit the market. Now, we still had our event to go to, but to be completely honest, we were there for 45 minutes before we ran back to the market.

(I apologize for the terrible quality, I was just too excited)

I can't even put into words how absolutely amazing this place is - especially for a foodie like myself. Now , whenever I picture heaven, I picture the Boston Public Market. Look, it's not like I've never been to a market before. I've been to the Ithaca Farmer's Market, I've been to Chelsea Market, but I'm telling you, this place beats them all. Yes, Chelsea Market is great because who doesn't want a Sarabeth's Biscuit while walking across the High Line? But I honestly think I may be in love with the BPM.

I'm going to start with the simple fact that the BPM is basically a high end Costco. No, you can't buy in bulk and go home with 300 rolls of toilet paper. But picture Costco on Sundays. Samples galore, right? Well yeah, that's the BPM always. But instead of sampling frozen pizzas and mini pigs in a blanket, you're sampling true Italian mozzarella (pronounced  moz·za·rel·la with a thick Italian accent), local IPA, and Swiss style pretzels. I had just come from an all you can eat chili competition, and I couldn't control myself. I was lightheaded from all the spice and beans I had just gobbled down, but I made room in my poor belly for all those samples - that's how good they were.

If you go on their website - go ahead, you know you want to click it - you'll see a lineup of not only all their vendors, but also their cooking classes. So before you buy all the ingredients and burn your apartment down - make sure you know how to use them. The classes range from mixology to Baking 101, but let me go ahead and talk about their vendors. They have a total of 38 vendors and they're all great. You can get the freshest kale ever while munching on a mini cider donuts, all at the same time. I stopped and looked at all of them, but I can't go on and on about all 38 (you'll probably stop reading) - so I'm going to talk about a small few that you just can't miss. Seriously, if you miss them, I'll come hunt you down.

Nella Pasta

I take my pasta very seriously. I come from a pastavorous (not pictured: dinosaurs eating pasta) family, so I know when it's not done right. I can't even tell you the amount of times I've eaten out, and sent my pasta back. So when I put a pasta vendor at the very top of my list, I mean business.

This weekend my sister was visiting (yes this is my encyclopedia of a sister), and I knew I would be making her pesto pasta on Saturday. So when I walked past Nella's booth, I did a double take and admired from an incredibly close stance. I'm sure the vendor grew concerned by my wide eyes and drool, so she asked me if I wanted to try a sample. This pasta is so fresh, she could literally give me a piece of it without cooking it. She gave me the lemon pepper pipe rigate and the sriracha radiatori (told you I took my pasta seriously). Needless to say, I took a pound of both home.

(I took this with my phone - isn't it beautiful?)

On Saturday, the pasta couldn't have been more of a hit. My pesto was obviously great too, but the pasta itself was the star. I like spicy food, but my sister loves it. So while I devoured the lemon pepper, she did the same with the sriracha variation.

Nella Pasta you are the pasta gods.

Soluna Garden Farm

Not to be basic, but I love my chai lattes. I have one almost every day. But seeing as I live by not one, not two, but three Starbuckses, I tend to get my lattes from there. For a true chai lover, this is sacrilegious. Their chai is the tutti frutti fake stuff that shouldn't even be called chai. Yes, it's sweet and creamy - but that's not what chai is supposed to be. Chai should be spicy and subtly sweet. So if you're a chai fiend like me, then look no further. Soluna Garden Farm is your new go-to.

I had the Smoky Vanilla Chai, and I haven't been able to appreciate any other chai latte since then. I remember seeing my barista pull out her homemade chai blend, and being in awe. Didn't chai blends come from boxes? It took around 6 minutes for her to make my latte, but it was totally and entirely worth the wait. I should've gotten more than one.

swissbäkers

For some reason that is completely foreign to me now, I hated pretzels when I was a little kid. I don't know if I was delusional or just missing out on the world's greatest snack food, but I just didn't like it. Thankfully I've come to my senses and absolutely love pretzels now. Soft, hard, stuffed - I eat all of it. Well, wake up pretzel fanatics - and run on over to swissbäkers.

My parents lived in Zurich for a year and a half, and I was lucky enough to go visit them for a week. I ate a lot, walked a lot, and came to a sudden realization: Swiss pretzels are literally God's gift to earth. They are oh so chewy and not overly salty - truly the perfect pretzel. Swissbäkers has those pretzels. We're not even in Switzerland, and somehow they've managed to replicate the mind blowing experience I had there.

I was just perusing the aisles, when they made the mistake of putting out their sample tray as I walked past their booth; I singlehandedly finished the entire tray. Somehow, they were totally cool with it, and put out some more. Again, I devoured them.

My suggestion is to eat a few samples, and take some pretzel rolls home. And hey, leave some for me!

These are just a few of my favorites at BPM. But like I said, they're all great. Besides the ones I've highlighted, you can grab some Union Square Donuts, and have a bite of the spicy Taza chocolate. If for some reason you feel like you might enter a food coma, there are stands with fresh produce - that'll probably ease your overly stuffed stomach.

Any place that offers an enormous array of food and closes on Mondays (because really, who does Mondays?), is a place to be.

Now go be there. 



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