boloco_people_collage

From top, clockwise: Happy Boloco people, Inspired Burritos, My buddy Matt hard at work, Happy Bloggers – me, Cheryl and Greg from CrankyCakes)

This week I attended my first foodie event in our new (again) home state of Vermont! Again and again I am reminded in subtle ways why we moved back to this great state, and this was no exception.

Pairing is Caring was held on Monday, August 16th and joined the forces of Boloco Inspired Burritos and Magic Hat Brewing Company . I was invited as part of the press pack on behalf of PMG Public Relations. PMG stands for People Making Good. PMG is not your typical PR firm, they are local to Vermont and focus on healthy brands. Brands that care about the environment, culture and responsibility. PMG has core knowledge of issues, goals and philosophies behind socially and environmentally responsible business and their targeted audience. So thanks PMG for a great night out!

The proceeds from Pairing is Caring went to icouldbe.org, a leading online e-mentoring program that matches middle and high school students with adult mentors from all over the country. Funds raised from this event will be used to implement an icouldbe.org mentoring program in one of Vermont’s public schools. It is easy to become a mentor with icouldbe.org – it takes about an hour a week to connect with your “mentee” but can make all the difference in the world to them and the path of their lives. It all takes place online, making it all the more manageable for people with busy schedules. So check it out today!

We had the chance to sample all eight varieties of Boloco burritos as well as 4 Magic Hat brews – the goal was to see which pairings of burritos and beer were a match made in heaven.

Boloco is not just a burrito shop, it is a business that cares about people, both customers and workers. It cares about the environment by serving drink and food in corn cups and bamboo bowls. It’s about naturally-raised meats and organic tofu. It’s about composting and recycling and reusing building materials. CEO John Pepper in his presentation to kick off the night, discussed many of the goals for his shops. Mostly centering around being part of the community and about changing the face of the fast food world, where customer opinion matters and where employees can make a real living, and even career with their jobs.

This philosophy really shines through when you talk to the servers, the people behind the counter. Like my new friend Matt, who gave me the full menu run down, after I told him that this was my first time eating at Boloco. Matt was very well informed about the flexibility offered on the menu and clearly passionate about the ingredients and food philosophy of the restaurant. In one simple word, he was inspired, just like the burritos. I mentioned to John, the CEO towards the end of the night how impressed I was with Matt. He wasn’t surprised. He knows his employees and works closely with them to make sure that each person at Boloco is true to the vision. This is not your average fast food establishment, people.

As for the beer, well anyone who loves a good microbrew should be familiar with Magic Hat, whether you are in New England or not. Magic Hat is one of the pioneers of the microbrew movement, and has achieved much acclaim.

Now on to the Food and Drink section of this blog post! So as I mentioned, we were able to sample all 8 varieties of Boloco Burritos as well as a special burrito just for the event and 4 Magic Hat Brews.

boloco_foods-collage

BURRITOS AND BREWS

Burritos:

Buffalo Chicken
Memphis BBQ
The Summer
Bangkok Thai
Teriyaki
Yucatan Habanero
Cajun
Classic Mexican
Spicy BLT (this was created just for the event, and will be featured on the menu in the coming months – it features local bacon, cheeses and veggies).

Brews:
#9
Hex
High PA
Odd Notion

My personal favorite pairings were as follows:

Memphis BBQ and Hex
Buffalo Chicken and Odd Notion

Disclaimer: I did not personally try all 9 burritos or all 4 beers. I didn’t sample Bangkok Thai or Teriyaki burritos since both had soy products in them, tofu in one and soy sauce in the other. But those who did try them really liked them. I also did not try High PA as I am not a fan of IPAs and I didn’t drink #9 either, since I am already familiar with the beer, and although I like it, it is not my favorite of the Magic Hat varietals.

The Memphis BBQ burrito was my over all favorite of the night. It was filled with all natural pork carnitas, sweet bbq sauce, cole slaw, pinto beans and rice. It had a wonderful bbq flavor and the pork was melt in your mouth tender. Not to mention it has coleslaw in it – and I am a known cole slaw fanatic. I have never met one I didn’t like, and that is the truth.

The Buffalo Chicken was nice and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. If you like buffalo wings and all the traditional accoutrements, this would certainly satisfy the craving and is a lot less messy.

I also believe that the Yucatan Habanero is worth mentioning – filled with grass-fed humanely raised steak and pickled onions, with a spicy habanero sauce, it satisfied my spicy tastebuds. Although for some it was too hot, so bear that in mind when ordering.

As for the beer, I really loved Hex, and could see myself buying it. It is a seasonal beer, amber in color with hints of toffee, caramel and smoke, all flavors that I am looking for in my beer. I also enjoyed the Odd Notion, a Belgian style beer with flavors of coriander, bitter orange peel and a hint of green apple. This brew was really refreshing, and just a bit odd – in a really good way!

So to wrap up, all in attendance had a great night at the event – the food and drink were really good, and the passion of the people involved in all aspects of the event, from the hosts, organizers and charities it was funding, was infectious. What I brought away from the night is that people have a lot of choices when you find yourself out and needing to eat at a restaurant. So why not support the local ones who also support the local food shed, and the people they work with to make your dining experience unforgettable? Spend your dollars wisely. We all have a choice, and we can all make a difference by making small choices that add up. There are inexpensive places to enjoy food that not only tastes good, but is also trying to make the world a better place, one burrito at a time.