October 2015

Challock Chilli Festival is a small local chilli festival which takes place annually at Victoriana Nursery Gardens in the Kent village of Challock. The nursery grows over 100 different varieties of chilli from mild varieties to the Carolina Reaper. The festival had the usual food stalls you expect from a chilli festival, alongside a number of craft stalls. However, what drew me to the festival was the opportunity to look at all the different chillies they had growing in their poly tunnels and the opportunity to try them.

The number of different varieties they grow is incredible and for a £1 charitable donation we were able to try as many fresh chillies as we wanted. I literally had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming.

Challock Chilli Festival

Naturally they had many different varieties of Jalapeños, Habaneros, Cayenne etc. but also had many rare chillies that, not only had I never heard of, but had never had the opportunity to try. This include Holy Mole (a Mexican chilli), Purple Tiger and Tokyo Hot to name but a few. We tried quite a few different chilli’s including some I’d like to grow next year.

Challock Chilli Festival

In terms of food stalls, we got to sample sauces from Karimix UK who, not only had their own sauces and preserves to try, but also had some products from Byron Bay Chilli Company and Kankun.

We also brought some fresh Pakora’s made using Aji Lemon chillies for lunch which were simply delicious.

There were a number of craft stalls which all appeared to have at least one chilli related product including chilli fridge magnets, chilli glassware, chilli tea towels and chilli balloons, and for those with a competitive streak, a chilli tossing competition.

Challock Chilli Festival Polytunnel

I’d never heard of Victoriana Nursery Gardens before and I was really impressed by the sheer number of chilli plants they grew. They sell seed for many of the plants they grow and sell seedlings in the Spring. As a very local business, I will certainly be looking to support them by purchasing some seeds for next years grow.

Whilst only a small chilli festival the focus on the actual fresh chillies made this a unique experience and I look forward to attending next years festival to tick a few more chilli varieties off my list.

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We review this West Indian Pepper Chili Sauce called Voodoo Mango made by Angus & Oink. With this stye sauce we are expecting some great strong flavours and looking at the colour of it it certainly looks good, so what did we think? Would we buy it again?

Ingredients: Mango Pulp(40%), Onions, Garlic, Chillies, Ginger root, Malt vinegar (from barley), Turmeric, Mustard, Cumin, Coriander powder, Golden syrup & Seasoning.

Made & available from: Angus & Oink
Also check out their recipe page using this sauce: http://www.angusandoink.com/recipes/

Priced at: £4.50 for a 250ml bottle (Price correct at time of publication)

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Something I was not expecting to receive to review but was most welcomed, a product kindly supplied by Seggiano, their Crema di Peperoncino Chilli Paste.

Reggiano Crema di Peperoncino Chilli PasteSeggiano is the name of the small hilltop village on Monte Amiata in southern Tuscany, where Peri Eagleton and David Harrison have farmed organic olives since 1985. Twenty years ago they started selling their local Olivastra Seggianese extra virgin olive oil and a selection of artisan foods from small family food producers. This quickly grew into their brand today ‘Seggiano’, named in honour of the village where the story started.

Italians have a passion for food; I should know my girlfriend is Italian! Often the food is simple and made with the finest ingredients one can source to create a wonderful taste experience. That said there is a lot of bad Italian around where people do not follow these rules, just churning out any old pasta dish and charging the public for the privilege. Seggiano appear to have stuck to their principles and although clearly doing well, exporting far and wide, keep the honoured traditions alive and haven’t gone too mainstream. Indeed their website states “When we say handmade, we mean handmade. Our artisan food is freshly prepared in small batches using current harvest ingredients”

Ingredients: Fresh Calabrian Chillies 80%, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wine Vinegar, Salt.

The packaging is not eye-catching and more that of an ingredient of basic food stuff you keep in the cupboard ready. Italians though not known for keeping things quiet and understated often let their food speak for itself. However I feel I am being a little harsh as this is not a hot sauce but a quality ingredient so perhaps it is well labelled.

The jar is beautifully packed full of chilli’s with a deep red colour, you can see the whole chilli is used with all the seeds packed in too. The Naso di Cane is a variety of chilli or peperoncino, which is specific to Calabria. The name derives from the entertaining fact that the small angular shape of the pepper is undeniably reminiscent of a dog’s nose. Its robust, yet rounded flavour has an unusual depth, which is impossible to find in your average run-of-the-mill chilli sauce. The aroma is sweet, mellow and peppery and does not give away any expectation of heat. The texture is that of a roasted sweet pepper with the seeds adding in a bit of variety. Initially no heat hits you but then gently and unexpectedly a wonderful warmth fills your mouth. The actual flavour is a little difficult to describe, it is not one I am familiar with from my experience off so many chilli’s. I am likely doing the chilli a great disservice by saying this but to help you imagine a flavour it is a little like a peppadew you can purchase from any deli counter in the UK, however this has a much more sophisticated depth and warmth of flavour. So far I have tried this product straight on top of bruschetta, stirred into Bolognese, and as the main source of heat in a crab linguini every time this produce performed. Seggiano have done a great job and provided a true quality ingredient.

If you like the product enough you can even holiday on their farm if you wanted to. Then you can not only taste the dream but live the Italian dream too!

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(5/10)
Packaging
(4/10)
Value Prices will vary for this product depending on where you source it
Overall
(7/10)

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Chillilicious, A mother and daughter team from deepest darkest Fife and Scotland’s 1st Chilli farmers, started making chilli chutneys back in 2011 when they decided to try and grow the spicy fruit on their 2.5 acre farm, which has since grown to include 2 large poly tunnels, where they nurture over 4000 chilli plants, farm shop, glass art studio, a commercial kitchen and a biodiversity pond walk that serves to express and compliment their core values of fresh organic local produce.

Monkey Punch from ChilliliciousThe family team have won numerous awards since then and travel all over the UK to chilli festivals and specialist markets selling their creations.

Having tried a few of their products in the past I was looking forward to trying a new one, Monkey Punch harks back to the company’s beginnings being a chutney full of hearty chunks and deep rich flavours.

The name derives, I guess, from the use of banana as the main ingredient but rather than being the base flavour it acts as the fragrant after-note of the onion and sweet vinegar you’d expect from a more traditional chutney.

Ingredients: Bananas, kiwis, lemons, apples, dates, onions, allspice, salt, tumeric, white wine vinegar, sugar, jalapeño extract, lime extract, cayenne chilli.

Rather than being a mushy condiment as you may think you’d get from a banana based product, Monkey Punch has been expertly crafted and not over cooked so the texture of the apple, onion and other ingredients gives a satisfying bite that would work wonderfully served with a cheese board or plate of cold meats.

Heat wise the label promises an “explosion” but is, for me at least, a gradual warm glow that’s builds with every bite to a comfortable lingering finish, the chutney uses a jalepeno extract and dried cayenne, both of which are masked by the other ingredients so only provide the warmth. Although Chillilicous have hotter products in their varied range, their ethos is to concentrate on producing a well balanced and flavoursome accompaniment to food rather than trying to melt the face of the most hardened of chilli heads.

The packaging of Monkey Punch still has the homemade feel about it and the labels look like they could still be applied by hand, the printing isn’t glossy but a honest attempt and a fun design. (This may be a 1st run jar and the labels may improve during production as the company has recently been tweeking the brand design).

As with their other products you can choose to purchase a small 40g test jar for £1 (great for creating gift hampers) or the full size 270g jar for £3.95 which should last you one dinner party or a month of ordinary meals.

Gluten free and Vegan friendly

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(2/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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