February 13, 2007
The Champagne of Cholents
Once again, the Shmooze contingent exited the O-Minyan's Iron Blech competition Saturday afternoon without an apron on (the apron being this year's trophy). Normally, I feel slightly effeminate by donning an apron, but if I would have won that coveted smock, I would still be wearing it now.
"I guess the tastebuds didn't respond the way we hoped," Shmooze cholentier Ian Robinson said following the competition. "I also don't think the barley mixed the way we were planning."
After debuting in the top five of last year's competition, the Shmooze Club found itself in a similar spot this year. Although some of the more experienced judges in the competition gave Shmoze their spoon, this year's cholent couldn't gather the popular support needed to win. The consistency in this year's batch was a little, I don't want to say soupy because it wasn't, but it was a little looser than a championship cholent should be.
Shmooze came in the top five behind the champion Allen Weiss' Buffalo-sytle Cholent (champion), Aaron Potek's Average Shmoes: An Underdog Story and Naomi Zaslow's Gangsta Cholent.
Since most of the competitors are in college, the Shmooze Club decided to explore how adult beverages could be used to enhance the cholent with his Chai Life cholent (we won the unofficial context for best name for a cholent). The final ingredient added to this year's batch was 12 oz. of Miller High Life. In his explanation of the cholent, Ian explained that after a night of hanging out with friends, there is the one beer that no one else wants to drink. So, you put it in the cholent.
"Normally, I put the High Life in at about 10 a.m. on Saturday," Ian said. "But since I couldn't tamper with the cholent after Friday afternoon, I had to let it cook overnight. That might have hurt the consistency."
On the whole, the Shmooze Club was pleased with how smoothly this year's event ran and even noticed that some of the reforms we lobbied for were instituted. Namely that they held to the stated starting time and every table got enough of every cholent for each person to make an informed decision. I must say that I went into the event anticipating that I would be hungry upon exitting. But much to my surprise, I was satisfied and ready to start studying.
One suggestion for next year: Have every body present their cholent at the beginning of the event. I understand the need for anonymity but there were a few cholents that might have needed an explanation so people knew what they were getting into. The one that comes to mind is Mr. Weiss' vegan cholent that didn't have potatoes. If people would've have known this going in, they would have been able to judge on a different scale.
One other reform that will never be implemented but we be complained about at every Iron Blech: separate meat and veggie divisions.
I want to congratulate all the competitors on the entries. I hope to update this post with a quote from the champion and the titles of all this year's entries.
Shmooze will capture that elusive blech. I promise you that.