After trying countless spoonfuls of chili, the subtleties can really start to evade your palate. Notes of nutmeg and tamarind, at first fresh and fragrant, are soon lost amidst the whirlwind of flavors; hints of coffee and chocolate no longer round off each bite, but instead take refuge behind the lingering heat of poblanos and other hot peppers of the like. Appreciating the nuances of chili can prove a pretty tricky task, but wrapping one’s palate around the subtle differences between competing bowls of the hearty stew, eaten one after another? Nearly impossible. Unless, that is, the entries are as varied as they were at this past weekend’s chili showdown in New York City.
Held in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, NYChilifest 2012 featured an eclectic list of competitors, including fine-dining establishments like Gramercy Tavern, younger, trendier spots like Roberta’s and even popular Mexican destinations Tacombi and La Palapa. No less eclectic were the competing chilis, which ranged from straightforward ground beef and bean-stocked vats, to short rib-studded, spicy green varieties. We rounded up some of our favorite spoonfuls, as well as a few sights and sounds from Sunday’s chili cook-off.