2013

Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd love chillis and world cuisine including Mexican. Their sauces are handmade in small batches. The sauce I have to test is the ‘Hot Burrito Sauce’ which claims to use ‘a unique blend of premium quality, authentic Mexican chillies for a rich and delicious flavour’.

To my friends combined annoyance and amusement, I am often highly critical of restaurants and products claiming to be Mexican and being far from it. I checked out their credentials on their website and I am pleased to say theses are not just claims, Capsicana Chilli know their Mexican. Bring on the authentic Mexican tasting!

First of all, I think the label looks great, nothing over fancy trying to lure you in with pictures. It is eye-catching, stylish and basic; doing everything it has to do very well. The heat scale of chilli pictures is also a nice touch. This style flows through their range too making the set look very nice together on a kitchen shelf.

The label also provides useful information on the flavour to be expected helping you choose your sauce. The Hot Burrito sauce claims to be ‘rich and zingy’ and in this hot version of the burrito sauce it is noted ‘we’ve added a habanero for extra heat’.

Uses listed on the bottle are always welcomed. Capsicana suggest the Hot Burrito sauce can be used ‘as a flavoursome table condiment, cooking ingredient, seasoning & marinade for meat fish and vegetables’. I was a little surprised that ‘in burritos’ was not listed but guess the clue is in the name.

On opening the bottle the sauce is of a perfect consistency, not too runny or thick. Just enough to pour over food while stick to it at the same time. The aroma draws you in invitingly with a sense of a Mexican street food café.

Ingredients:

Vinegar, Tomatoes, Onions, 6% Blended Chillies, Sugar, 2% Habanero Chillies, Garlic, Coriander, Lime, Salt.

Bottle kindly supplied by Capsicana Ltd

The sauce tastes rich and deep in flavour, almost smoky without the smoke. You can taste the habanero chilli which gives nice warmth but thankfully does not overpower this sauce. The burrito sauce is meant for cooking and dipping, overpowering the heat would defeat the purpose in my opinion so Capsicana have the balance right.

I am curious what the other 6% blended chilli are, is this the secret Mexican ingredient? There are certainly a number of staple Mexican ingredients in the list above. I checked with Capsicana and this 6% is a blend of ancho, guajillo, habanero and chipotle meco. Impressive and probably why I am having flashbacks to my time in Mexico while tasting this sauce.

Not content with just dipping and tasting this bad boy became a marinade for some pork fillet kebabs on the BBQ placed into a tortilla with guacamole. After cooking on flames the depth of the flavour only increases, love this sauce.

You can check them out at www.capsicana.co.uk and @capsicana

A 150ml bottle will set you back £3.80

No artificial ingredients. Gluten free. Suitable for vegans

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(6/10)
Packaging
(8/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8/10)

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At the beginning of July, the North East saw one of the biggest Chilli events return for it’s 2nd year, the suitably named North East Chilli Fest. Seaton Delaval once again become the backdrop to weekend of sunshine and spicy fun, courtesy of organisers Mark & Shelley Deakin who run Hot Stuff Chilli Company.

The couple are both passionate about all things spicy, they set up their company after realising that their was nobody catering for Chilliheads in the North East of England. They soon progressed to organising the festival for the same reasons. The majority of Chilli Festivals traditionally are located in the south of the UK, but this is changing. Next year the Deakins are also jointly organising The Lakes Chilli Festival which promises to be a hot event too.

Seaton Delaval Hall on a regular day

The North East Chilli Fest 2012 was an event I had really wanted to attend, but due to the 700 mile round trip, I felt it was a little too much, but then I heard nothing but great things from those that attended, including Phil Palmer from the Dartmoor Chilli Farm who was quoted as saying “If Carlsberg did Chilli Festivals” (and had an 800 mile round trip!) I knew I had missed something special.

The Hall transformed

So this year I was offered a lift up to the Festival with one of the traders in return for helping them during the two days.The Festival opened at 10.00am both days and offered a park & ride scheme for visitors, which I think worked really well as last year the front lawns were utilised as car parking, potentially limiting space for vendors and entertainment. So this year there was a large area for visitors to sit and eat their food from the many hot food vendors, and generally relax in the sunshine with a pint of beer or cider.

The festival in full swing with views out to sea

This new format was a great idea as it really added to the festival atmosphere. The grassy area accommodated the main entertainments marquee where bands played and also diverse acts like Chris Cross, the human contortionist performed to the crowds.

The main chilli vendors were in the courtyard of the main building, with an outer and inner square which created a circuit to guide visitors around enabling them to stock up on their old favourites and new products.

The layout meant that no trader was hidden or missed, most of the traders were under supplied market style stalls which gave the area the vibe and feeling of a busy market. It was good to see the likes of Mr Vikki’s, Grim Reaper Foods, Chilli Junkies, Fire Foods, The Chilli Pepper Company, A Bit Chilli!, Bims Kitchen, Chilli Pepper Petes, Crazy Fred’s, Edible Ornamentals and Capsaicinoia plus m any more.

The sun shone and Mark assured me that he had ordered the weather to be nice and sunny, but not too hot! and he got it just right. When I took a walk around, it was great to see families sitting in the sun, soaking up the festival atmosphere.

A highlight of any Chilli Festival has to be the Chilli Eating competition and the two this weekend highlighted just how hot the locals like their food!, with local boy Dan Prinn from Mr Vikki’s winning on the Saturday.

Chilli eating competition winner Dan Prinn (right) with Host Rob Dumbrell

One thing that struck me, being from down south, was how friendly the people were. This also added to the festival feeling.

So thanks to Mark & Shelley for pulling out all the stops and making this years festival even better than the previous year. Here’s to 2014 and their other venture, The Lakes Chilli Festival 2014 which is being held at Dalemain Hall in Penrith on the 2nd & 3rd August.

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Here at Chilefoundry, we have quite a big workload, and with more and more companies requesting a review of their products, this workload is increasing. Whilst we would all love to review full time, we all have real jobs to pay the bills so reviewing is our hobby and passion. So to try and share the load I would like to introduce and welcome James Fowkes, or Jamopepper as some will already know him on Twitter, to the writing team, and here are James’s own words on his chilli history and why I got him involved.

“I was never a fan of food when I was younger, but my first curry was a vindaloo then I discovered nacho’s with jalapeno at the cinema. After that chillis became a regular part of my life and I am now a well travelled adventurous eater.

Its not just about finding the hottest pepper for me, if you want heat its easy to find and not too hard to make. I am a complete foodie and appreciate the full taste experience and balance of flavours, as well as that endorphin rush from a good chilli hit!

For over a decade I have also grown chillis, starting from my kitchen window to several chilli grows and a larger plot in my garden. In partnership with growing I have been a regular attendee at the Westdean chilli fiesta for nearly 10 years in a row now, even help out on some stalls at other events like the Fiery Foods Festival and Shoreham Chilli Fest.

My love of travel has led me to some interesting places and spicy discoveries. I have spent 2 months living in Mexico tasting and testing chillies as part of my fascination and fondness for Mexican food and culture, including good tequila! Travelling across places like South East Asia and Costa Rica has further introduced me to not just hot chillis but the variety of spicy cuisine which I bring into my own cooking at home.

As a result, my regular chilli stash has representation from many small UK producers and well as several international and authentic Mexican products. I have also been very lucky to be involved in pre launch hot sauce tasting and product design for a few producers too.

My chilli community and obsession continue to grow and now I am happy to be invited into the ChileFoundry review team. You can also find me on twitter @jamopepper”

So there you have it, James has already been hard at work and his reviews will be published soon.

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Many thanks to the people that took time to enter the Great Dorset Chilli Festival Ticket Competition.

My 7 year old son Toby picked a name out of a hat and the winner was Helen R, I have contacted her tonight and hopefully she will follow the instructions given to her, otherwise the prize will go to the next person in the draw.

I will be there on the Sunday as I am judging the heat of the UK Chilli Cook Off so I may see you there.

To those that didn’t win, it is still an event worth visiting to stock up on your chilli supplies and enter some of the competitions although I have heard from the organisers that they have enough silly people willing to put themselves through the pain of the Chilli eating competition!

Please watch this space as we will have another competition very soon to win a skull edition version of the new 20 minute burn from the Chilli Pepper Company

 

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