Scott Roberts – Chilli Letter from America

by Scott Roberts on December 20, 2009 · 1 comment

in General Information

Scott RobertsHello everyone! I’m thrilled and honoured to be able to bring you news and info from the U.S.A. This time of the year the major spicy foods and hot sauces shows over here are done and we set our sights on activities next year. We also plan for Christmas, where hot sauce manufacturers have many specials chilliheads are taking advantage of to get the goods they want at reduced prices.

Hot Sauce Weekly Podcast

Although there are dozens of good cooking and culinary podcasts of nearly every ilk, there has never been one devoted to hot sauces until now. Brian Meagher of hosts a weekly audio show that showcases a spicy recipe, features an exclusive interview with someone in the fiery foods world (primarily American hot sauce and fiery foods manufacturers), and has a hot sauce review from me in most episodes.

The Complete Chilli Pepper Book

The “Pope of Peppers” Dave DeWitt and Dr. Paul Bosland had collaborated on The Complete Chilli Pepper Book (which was reviewed a few months ago on The ChileFoundry). I have to agree with Hot Juan’s recommendation. It’s a great read and an excellent resource.

After I had interviewed DeWitt for the book, he generously donated a copy of the book for me to give away. So I’m holding a trivia contest. A random winner will be chosen out of everyone who gets all four questions answered correctly and will receive the book. I will ship the book to anyone in the world, so everyone in the UK and beyond can feel free to submit your answers and enter the contest! You have until 31 December to enter.

Peppers and More Debuting Blog

One of the top U.S. chilli pepper/hot sauce forums had evolved into a blog format this month.

Trinidad Scorpion Undergoing HPLC Testing

Dr. Paul Bosland and Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute

Dr. Paul Bosland and Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute

Everybody’s wondering if anything will surpass the Naga/Bhut Jolokia as the Guinness-certified world’s hottest chilli. When I last spoke to Danise Coon and Dr. Paul Bosland of the Chile Pepper Institute in Las Cruces, New Mexico, they had told me that were in the process of giving HPLC testing to the infamous Trinidad Scorpion chilli, one that many believe tastes even hotter than the Naga/Bhut. Results have not yet been released.

Chile Pepper Industry Looking To Increase Production

U.S. Researchers, leaders, and growers are looking for ways to reduce labour and harvesting chile crops and to reclaim lost acreage do to overseas competition.

Dave and Mike of Hot Shots Hot Sauces Pass Away

Hot Shots Hot Sauces, a popular Charlotte, North Carolina-based reseller (and maker) of hot sauces, has been hit with very sad news the past few months. Owner Dave Lutes passed away in October after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Employee Mike Cates died of a brain aneurysm just a few weeks ago. Both were a fixture of many hot sauce shows here in the U.S. and were well-liked and respected by everyone who met them. They will be missed.

Heat & Spice Invade U.S. Snack Market and Fast Food Chains

Ten years ago, it was difficult to look at mainstream American supermarket shelves and find any chips (what you call crisps) or other snack food items with a hint of chilli-induced spice. You couldn’t find many offerings at fast food chains that pleased chilliheads, either.

Today, the choices are many. You can find buffalo wing-flavored this and chipotle-flavoured that. The largest burger chains such as McDonald’s Burger King and Wendy’s have at least one “spicy” chicken sandwich or hamburger of some kind. Chipotle and Qdoba, two large Mexican food-based chains that serve spicy sauces and salsa (including a good one made from Habaneros), have both entered the list of the top 50 quick service restaurants (QSR) here in the States.

Many of these aforementioned products may seem relatively tame and mild to us heat seekers. But the proverbial foot is in the door and the general populace is becoming more acclimated to hotter food items.

Being an on-again, off-again eater of junk food and fast food, I’ve tried my fair share of the stuff. I flew out to Taco Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, California to cover their Volcano Menu and their Lava Sauce; I had Subway’s Buffalo Chicken Sub face off against Domino’s Sweet and Spicy Chicken Habanero Sandwich at see if either contained good flavour and heat; and I’ve munched on snacks like Pringles Extreme Flavors Kickin’ Cheddar Potato Chips and Jalapeno Pepper Doritos.

Thanksgiving Holiday Over and Christmas & New Years Coming

For Americans, this time of year may be the most difficult to diet. Thanksgiving is a long-standing tradition that takes place the fourth Thursday of every November where family and friends gather for a huge feast and to watch American football.

The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal has long been an oven-roasted turkey with side dishes of mashed potatoes and other typically “bland” foods. While it may be a long way from being known as a chillihead’s dream, I am seeing more adventurous methods of cooking the turkey and more exotic spices used in the overall meal, even in as little as the last five years. This may be another good sign that people are opening themselves to a broader range of cuisines.

And with the Christmas season comes holiday parties and office parties. Jalapeno poppers, buffalo chicken dip and a pepper jelly/cream cheese and crackers combo are various spicy dishes frequently found at these gatherings Stateside. And the Christmas cookies! I’m the furthest thing from being a great chef, but I’ve recently come up with a white chocolate chip Habanero cookie recipe that I’ve fallen in love with, and I’ve gotten good reviews from everyone who’s tried the sweets. Looks like that diet will have to wait until January…

And at this point as I close out, I would like to wish everyone the best of what the season offers. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I will see you all again in 2010.

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