Our First Chili Crawl
Posted by wendiwendy
We went to a chili crawl downtown on Sunday, a first for me and Dave. The weather was colder than the day before, when we went down to check out the Hunter Ice Festival. On Saturday it was in the low 40s, which is really quite a heatwave for this time of year in Michigan. When we stepped out of the house on Saturday to go to the car, it felt rather warm and I thought I’d be overdressed in my hat, gloves and pea coat. I actually carried a scarf outside with me and then changed my mind and tossed it back into the mud room before we shut the door.
Big mistake! Once we got downtown we realized it was very, very windy and we had a long walk against the wind to Main Street. I ended up buttoning my coat up to the neck, and I was very glad for my hat and gloves. As we walked around looking at all the ice sculptures, the wind died down a bit and it was a really pleasant day – the sun added just the right amount of warmth.
They were selling Hunter ice cream, a special recipe just for the festival that was a close replica of the vanilla flavor sold by the Hunter family at the turn of the century. At first I couldn’t imagine walking around outside in January, eating a scoop of ice cream … but then we couldn’t resist. And it was delicious! (If you’re curious about the back story, here’s a short article: http://www.leaderpub.com/2014/01/17/hunter-ice-cream-a-tasty-tradition/ )
When we walked up, the line was about 40 people deep and Dave wanted to wait until Sunday (when we went back for the chili crawl) to get the ice cream. I talked him into waiting, though, because the weather wasn’t bad and I really couldn’t imagine walking around eating ice cream AND chili at the same time. It’s a good thing we decided to wait, because on Sunday the ice cream was already gone.
We happened to be behind a guy with a service dog, a big fella (maybe a German Shepherd?) who I could tell Dave was dying to pet. He had on his vest with a big DO NOT PET emblazoned on the side, so of course Dave refrained. It didn’t stop others though, and we watched as a few people cooed and petted the dog. I was a little irritated on the guy’s behalf, but Dave mentioned later that the guy had told the people it was okay. We were both trying to figure out what service the dog was providing – the guy could obviously hear (he turned in response to sound) and had no hearing aids or CIs, and he wasn’t visually impaired; I know there’s a whole array of services that the dogs provide so it must have been one of the many others, something not obvious/visible.
But back to Sunday, and our first-ever chili crawl. I wasn’t even sure what this was, but basically it was a walk through town where various businesses/organizations had their chili available to taste. It was just $5/person for 15 tastes, and we each got a manila envelope with tickets, a map/score sheet, a napkin and a spoon. (We realized we had no pen or pencil with us, so we had to jot notes at the places that had pens near the cash register.) We followed the map and stopped in each business, where we received a small cup of chili. And I do mean small – it was basically the size of the cup you get for pumping ketchup at Wendy’s or Culver’s, if you’ve ever seen those.
We really enjoyed getting to visit so many different places downtown, many of which we’d never been in. We definitely had our favorites as far as the chili went (Dave’s favorite won people’s choice first place!) and we’ve found at least four new restaurants we want to try. We got to meet lots of nice people, get some exercise, and also try a wide variety of chili. Some were actually gumbo, a couple had rice as an ingredient (which I found I really liked), one was more like a soup, quite a few were not the deep red color I’m used to, and one guy mentioned that he used no chili powder – the heat came from ingredients he brought back from his travels to Jamaica. (That actually was my favorite.) Most of them, if not all, had beans, I believe – I was wondering if we’d get any chili without beans because I know some people feel strongly for or against beans in chili. (I like them.)
A couple places gave us bigger cups, and I think that worked in their favor. There are so many ingredients in chili and the beans are fairly big, so with the teeny tiny cups there just wasn’t room to get all the different elements in there. I actually voted for the place that gave us the biggest cup, and Dave’s vote went to a place that gave a bigger cup too (which was tied in my mind with the place that got my vote … I went with them because they were a little more unusual).
The place that got first place from the judges was okay but way too salty for me, and I am someone who loves salt a little too much. (I think I have a salty palate so I try to be careful and not over-salt when I cook for other people.)
Even with the colder, more dreary weather (a bit of rain and snow, no sun), it was a fun day – the chili warmed us up and we had a good time talking about the merits of each taste. I wouldn’t hesitate to do another food-type crawl around town!
About wendiwendyI'm a real-life bionic woman.
Posted on January 21, 2015, in Not Related to Hearing Loss and tagged chili, chili crawl, chili tasting, Hunter ice cream, Hunter Ice Festival, southwest Michigan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.