Sarah Wain, Gardens Supervisor, at West Dean Gardens has sent us some pictures of the chillies growing at West Dean this year and she reports that most of the plants are growing way nicely in 9cm square pots in one of the Victorian Pit Houses.
West Dean Chilli Plants
The West Dean chilli collection is second to none as a display of chilli varieties, and is a major reason for my annual trip to the Chilli Fiesta, I spend hours with my camera getting pictures.
You can visit the West Dean Gardens almost any-time, the gardens are beautiful and they host interesting events through out the year, including:
When I am going to taste a high quality dark chocolate, the first thing I test is how well is snaps, this may seem odd, but over the years I have learned that the better the quality the chocolate, the sharper and crisper the sound it makes when when you break off a piece.
I then let the chocolate melt in my mouth, cheap chocolate tastes oily or greasy as it melts.
Dartmoor Chilli Farm - Dark Chilli Chocolate
This chocolate passed all my tests, it was very crisp, with a nice shiny surface, it melted smoothly in the mouth with the lovely bitter/sweet flavour you only get from the best chocolate, followed by the warmth from the chillies. This is not a macho chocolate, where one piece is enough, this has a beautiful balance between the chocolate and the chilli neither overpowering the other.
The bars are made from chillies from the farm by Lessiters an independent family owned chocolatiers based in Woolmer Green, Hertfordshire.
March in the U.S. marks the completion of the 22nd Annual National Fiery Foods and BBQ Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the beginning of the growing season for chile peppers across a large section of the middle of North America.
Nurseries with a strong online presence such as Cross Country Nurseries and Pepper Joes are experiencing brisk sales as gardeners and chile lovers alike are ordering vast quantities of seeds. As expected, the number one seller at most outlets is the naga/bhut jolokia.
The Fiery Foods Show, the largest trade show of its kind in the world, had its largest attendance in history. According to show producer Dave DeWitt, over 15,000 people converged on the event over the three-day weekend of March 5 – 7. I was there everyday and overall I had a fun time seeing nearly 200 vendors, sampling the wares, snapping photographs and generally trying to report on what happened. I saw many old friends and met a lot of great new folks from every segment of the industry. Among them was the charming Rose Seymour, daughter of the UK’s own ChilliPepperPete, who gave me a one of CPP sauces to try – Dragon’s Blood. At home I have in my possession well over 100 spicy products to review, and it will take me a number of months to go through them all, but nonetheless I have moved the ChilliPepper Pete sauces near the top of my list as I am dying to see what they taste like!
What was the overall assessment from the show regarding products?
There was very little new when it came to hot sauces, other than a few debuting bhut jolokia products in the form of liquids and dry seasonings. What I noticed trend-wise was the enormous volume of spicy sweets and snacks. Everything from chile-infused chocolates and caramel popcorn to peanut brittle and jerky were for sale, and most were delicious!
One of the highlights of my weekend at the Fiery Foods Show was my interview with Mike Greening of Mike and Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen, makers of the popular Ring of Fire and Mad Anthony hot sauces. You can view my three-part talk with him here (I apologize in advance for the less-than-perfect sound quality):
One interesting occurrence during the show was me being hypnotized not to feel the burn from hot sauces. Yes, you read that right. I was put under hypnosis on Friday night, and tested a few ultra-hot extracts during the second day of the show Saturday morning. The results? My body still reacted with watery eyes, increased saliva and a numb tongue, but the burning sensation was buried WAY down. I’m still not convinced 100% that this works, but I think there might be potential here, and I would like to see further testing done with other test subjects and other sauces & chiles used.
And speaking of videos and ILoveItSpicy.com, the brand new website started by several well-known American chileheads, has gotten off to a rousing start by showing videos from the (pay close attention to the names to avoid confusion) smaller North Market Fiery Foods Festival in Columbus, Ohio and the forementioned, larger Fiery Foods and BBQ Show in Albuquerque.
Earlier this month I reviewed a pair of chile pepper iPhone apps – the South Devon Chilli Farm and Scoville. They both provide in-depth knowledge on-the-go without having to rely on a 3G phone connection, as all of their data is stored on the phone.
I gave away a large hot sauce gift pack this past month to coincide with the FFS. A respectable amount of people (51) entered the contest during the 2-day window it was open. I had my son help me with the drawing.