2015

Having followed the UK chilli scene over the past two years, I am often jealous at the abundance of fantastic looking chilli festivals across the country (especially the South Coast and South West), and whilst I plan to travel further a field and witness the Clifton Chilli Club putting people through pain in the flesh rather than on Youtube, it would be nice if there were some a bit more local to me. So it should be no surprise that I’ve had the 27th September pencilled in my calendar as soon as I heard there was going to be a chilli festival in London.

The Festival of Heat - London’s Chilli Festival - 27th September 2015

This year was the 3rd annual Festival of Heat and it took place Red Market Gallery on Old Street in London’s now trendy East End. Over the past few years chilli sauces have been given a similar cultural status to craft ale and beard grooming, and as a result are very popular with the subcultural group known as Hipsters (see this amusing Hipsta Cop cartoon for further proof http://www.thepoke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tumblr_no86n6IaRo1uvs95yo1_1280.jpg), therefore it was no surprise to see this festival taking place in this particular part of London.

The East End is also famous for being one of the most multicultural parts of London, so it should be no surprise to hear that this was reflected in the festival’s entertainment and food stalls.

Despite being late September, it was a bright sunny day (something my chilli plants could have benefited from in August, instead of grey clouds) and there was already a long queue to get into the festival prior to it’s opening at 12pm.

Once inside we had a stroll around the Festival Market area and got stuck into sampling some of the many chilli sauces on sale from over 18 different stalls. Festival regulars such as Burning Desire, Grim Reaper Foods and Mushemi Fire were present, alongside some local sauce makers such as Dips, Made in Hackney and Gifty’s Kitchen. Particular highlights for me were Dips BBQ bonnet sauce, Capsicana’s Brazilian cook sauce and #Piggate chilli Pork Scratchings sold by Mushemi Fire who either had insider information on rumours about our Prime Minister or had the packaging printed that week in time for the festival.

The festival was sponsored by Encona, who also had a stall and was selling their range of sauce for £1 per bottle. Whilst, in my view, their sauces are nowhere near as nice as those sold by the smaller sauce makers present at that festival, at that price I picked up a few bottles and was given a chilli chocolate cupcake for my troubles!

Around 1pm the festival stage area opened with live music including Bengali Folk and Bollywood dancing, which my two year old enjoyed dancing to as opposed to trying the chilli sauces (“Chilli sauces are too spicy Daddy!”),

The Festival of Heat1

The festival also had a Kitchen Area which hosted workshops of chilli sauce making, chilli oils, medicinal attributes of chilli plants and saving chilli seeds. I attended the ‘Rare Chilli Masterclass’ hosted by Pritesh Mody from World of Zing, a company who make sauce, spices and dried chilli’s. Pritesh spoke about the different varieties of chilli and their different uses in cooking, and passed a few dried chilli’s around for us to try. This included Aji Amarillo, Pasilla and Chinese White Chillies. To finish we were shown a demonstration on how simple it is to make a really tasty chilli sauce.

By 2pm the festival was heaving to the extent where it was hard to sample as many sauces as I would have liked, therefore the organisers may want to consider a bigger venue next year but overall we had a really nice day. The weather was great, the chilli sauce stalls were varied and with the live music and kitchen workshops meant there was something for everyone and I’m already looking forward to next years festival.

The Festival of Heat5

The Festival of Heat4

The Festival of Heat2

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Huy Fong Sriracha in the UKIt seems hard these day to praise the UK Supermarkets, but with prices coming down, and now thanks to that hero of the UK Hot Sauce scene Stuart McAllister from Hot-Headz UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is now stocking Huy Fong Sriracha in over 500 stores nationwide.

This is quite an achievement and follows many many months of work from getting the product through label compliance, to finally getting the stock listed and into the Sainsbury’s distribution system.

We have described this sauce as iconic and it is true star of the USA chilli market with a reported 20+ million bottles of the USA produced sauce sold per year. The taste is unique and if you ever run out of things to do with it there is always The Sriracha Cookbook we reviewed a while ago.

Now for the really good news.. Sainsbury’s is selling a bottle of this magic hot sauce for only £3.00 a bottle. I know where I am going tomorrow so I will see you in Sainsbury’s.

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Katie - Simpsons SeedsI have just had a request from my publisher, they are looking for some images for my new book, I just provided the text for this one.

The outstanding list of images is for the following varieties:-

  • Bubblegum 7 & Borg 9
  • Guntur Sannam
  • Sibirischer Hauspaprika
  • Diavolilli
  • Aji Punguita de Mono
  • Hinkelhatz
  • Beaver Dam Pepper
  • Jimmy Nardello
  • Tepin + Pequin

So if you have any god pictures of any of the above, please get in touch with me and I will pass on your details to them.

[contact-form to=’info@chilefoundry.co.uk’ subject=’Chilli Images’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone number’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Chilli Images Available’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

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Great British Sauce Co Hot and Sweet Chilli SauceThis review is for a hot sweet chilli sauce made by the Great British Sauce Co. I’ll admit that I wasn’t looking forward to this review having low expectations. You can buy a the old faithful litre of standard Chinese sweet chilli sauce at any supermarket and get it even cheaper at an Asian supermarket if you are lucky enough to have one nearby. However the Great British Sauce Co’s Hot and Sweet Chilli Sauce has been sent to me and as this is British product I couldn’t turn it down. Their website states “In our kitchen we are inspired to create products that celebrate our British cosmopolitan culture and we promise that we will always make them here in Britain” I can almost hear the national anthem playing in the background.

The label is welcoming and looks to me how a product of its type or a ketchup should look. Something I always do is check the range out to see if the labels match and I am please to see that the marketing flows through their range in a stylish way. But it’s not just about how pretty or clever the label is will the sauce be worth the packaging? On the bottle you will also find:

“At the Great British Sauce Company we’re passionate about creating delicious, properly made sauces and condiments. All our sauces are packed with
flavour and use the best ingredients we can find. Our Hot & Sweet Chilli Sauce carefully blends fruity sweetness with a serious chilli bite. Great in stir-fries, as a table sauce, marinade or dip”

Ingredients: Sugar, water, plum puree 12%, modified maize starch, salt, red pepper flakes, Habanero chillies 1%, concentrated lemon juice, garlic, citric acid, thickener: cellulose gum. May contain traces of wheat flour, soya, mustard or celery.

The sauce itself is clearly sticky and it smells sweet as you would expect, but different to the basic sweet chilli sauce this one has some hidden gems another aroma stands out and hints of the chilli hiding inside. The heat level is quite respectable too almost catching you by surprise. You get both an instant hit with this, one at the same time as the pleasurable fruity notes the Habanero brings to sauces, then a nice building burn to keep you interested. So far I have used the sauce as a dipping for dim sum style fried starters, as a basic sauce to pimp my burger and to make a basic frittata meal come to life. I have not yet tried as a stir fry sauce but you just know this sauce would work to perfection. Perhaps the British can teach the Chinese a thing or to you can even Visit the GB kitchen for more seasonal recipe ideas.

You can tell from the attention to detail that the co-founder Andrew puts his heart and soul into this sauce, and the others in his range, aspiring to have each bottle tasting as good as the original homemade version.

Having finished writing the review the final task was to look up the price, I was expecting a premium of around £3.99 – £5.99 with this product. However much to my delight when I was pondering ‘no matter how nice the product is I probably would still stick to the Chinese sweet chilli sauce’….. The price per bottle is a mere £2.00. So it’s tasty, spicy, British and reasonably priced. Would I but it again? YES.

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(4/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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