Simpsons Seeds

Matt Simpson from Simpsons Seeds has just had a few media visits, you may have seen him in the Daily Mail, well he was this morning on the BBC Breakfast show as well as lots of local BBC radio stations explaining how about a new chilli they are marketing called “Katie” and how he got it to grow so hot..

Katie - Simpsons Seeds

Katie was developed by a reclusive Chillihead called Naga Nick, who passed some seeds to Matt Simpson to grow, well to Matt’s surprise Katie’s provisional tests results puts her at 1,590,000 SHU, that is over 200,000 higher that any previous UK grown chilli and while still provisional it may even get to break the current world record holder the Carolina Reaper that clocks in at 1,569,300 SHU.

At the moment Matt is sure he has set a new UK record, but it may take a while and a few more tests before he can see if he really has a chilli that can take a new world record.

In the mean time if you would like to get in on the ground floor of growing this new superhot, you will need to contact Matt at Simpsons Seeds he has the seeds packaged up ready for sale, but be quick quantities are limited.

Nina Warhurst & Cameraman with Katie the chilli
Here is Nina Warhurst (BBC Breakfast) and Cameraman (V Sorry forgot your name) and Katie the chilli

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The heatwave will continue into the first weekend of August, the 3rd & 4th, when the third Great Dorset Chilli Festival takes place in the relaxed surroundings of the Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles Park in stunning Cranborne Chase. The Park will be steaming with chilli farmers and chilli sauce makers displaying their produce. Chilli experts give talks on chilli plant growing, local chefs demonstrate recipes using chilli. Competitions, music, beer and cider, talks, interesting food (it’s not all hot!) and activities for the children.

header_logoAnd we have a pair of tickets up for grabs, read on for more details.

Chilli Cook Off Heat:

New this year is the the Dorset heat of the 2013 Chilli Cook-Off Championships (Sunday only). The Chilli cook-off is run by the UK Chilli Cook-off Association and is becoming a national phenomenon, all run in aid of the CLIC Sargent children’s cancer charity. Teams of amateur chilli chefs compete to cook the best chilli over a 4 hour period, with the winner taking a £250 cash prize and securing a place in the grand final in September where the winner will be sent to Las Vegas to compete for £25,000 prize!. This is serious competition, and with 9 teams entered so far the heat will be on.

Each team’s combination of spices is a closely guarded secret, as is the method of cooking. Often a team will have a special secret ingredient, which may surprise you if you found out what it is.

The Chilli Plant competition:

Sponsored by chilli and vegetable seeds specialists Simpsons Seeds in Wiltshire has also been immensely popular, with over 70 people applying in February for a pack of free chilli seeds in order to germinate their plants in good time for the competition. There are two classes this year, an open class and a class for the Numex Twilight variety; a striking ornamental chilli developed by the University of New Mexico. Judging takes place on Saturday and the winner of each class takes home a handsome trophy. For many, the highlight will be the chilli-eating competition taking place each afternoon, where contestants subject themselves to rounds of increasingly hot chillies, with the last man, or woman, standing winning the competition.

Chilli plant exhibition:

We will exhibit over 30 varieties of prime specimen chilli plants which were recently exhibited at Hampton Court Flower Show by Joy Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds where she won a Bronze Flora award. Joining us at the festival for the first time will be local chefs Luke Stuart of White Pepper Cookery School and Julia Cotton of Julia’s Kitchen Cookery School who along with regulars Mat Follas of The Wild Garlic Restaurant in Iwerne Minster and Mark Hartstone of La Fosse Restaurant in Cranborne will be giving cooking demonstrations using chillies. Other speakers include Joy Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds in West Bexington who developed the famous Dorset Naga chilli, which was once crowned the world’s hottest chilli, and Matt Simpson of Simpsons Seeds.

Once again we will be running the chilli sauce competition for professional producers, judged by the public, which offers a small taste of the huge range of sauces, jams, chutneys and pickles on sale from the enthusiastic stalls holders.

Throughout the weekend there will be falconry flying displays, fire juggling, face painting, tree climbing, performances by Alfredo the Magician, bouncy castles and the opportunity to have your caricature drawn.

Other attractions include live musical performances by Big Joe Bone, steel band Pantasy, gipsy jazz with Petites Annonces and local skiffle band Quinns Quinny. Local beers and ciders will be on offer and hot food stalls have been selected to showcase the best of popular local and international cuisine.

The event is open from 10am to 5pm both days

Dogs on leads are welcome

There is no camping available

Reduced advanced tickets available online at www.greatdorsetchillifestival.co.uk before noon 29th July

Now we have a pair of tickets to give away to either day of the festival. To be in with a chance of winning these tickets, all I need you to do is comment on this article with your name, simple as that.

You will find that to place a comment, you will have to give a valid email address, this will be the email I will use to email the winner. It will not be visible on your post. The competition is open until next Tuesday 30th July at midday, and the winners email address will be passed to the organisers so they can email the tickets to you.

Email addresses given will not be used for any other purpose or passed on to any other organisations.

All those who add their name as a comment to this post will be put in a hat and a winner will be chosen by my 7 year old son on Tuesday. Good luck!

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Now I have very fond memories of the Isle of Wight, golden sands, long summers, coloured sands and dinosaurs slowly falling into the sea! The island was my parents holiday destination of choice through most of the 80’s, and I haven’t had the opportunity to return since, so when I heard that there was going to be a Chilli Festival there this summer I couldn’t wait to get on the ferry, and it seems all the movers and shakers in the chilli world will be there, selling their wares including Matt Simpson of Simpson Seed’s. Matt is now well known for tasty sauces and he now makes a special sauce for each big event in the chilli calendar, and for this event it is called Great Wight Bite.

Great Wight BiteMatt’s sauces all have very simple labels, white label and black font. Some may say that it they are too plain but I view it differently. If a company produce their own labels, I would rather 90% of the love, care & effort go into the recipe and the making of the sauce to ensure the taste is great instead of flashy shiny labels. After all what happens to the bottle in the end? It goes in the recycling.

So on to the sauce itself, it is a nice orange colour with a few flecks of seed here and there. The label tells me this is a very hot Habanero Chilli Sauce but I also see Bhut Jolokia in there too along with Turtle Claw… Turtle Claw, yes you read correctly. Now don’t worry, Matt hasn’t started adding endangered species to his creations, the Turtles Claw is actually another variety of Chilli, a member of the Chinense family, and looks a bit like large insect grubs or indeed turtles claws!

Once the bottle is open I can smell the Chillies straight away and the vinegar which get the taste buds flowing.

Ingredients:

White Onion, White Wine Vinegar, Fruit Juice, Grapefruit, Turtles Claw, White Habanero, Bhut Jolokia Chillies (20%) Salt.

Bottle kindly supplied by Simpson’s Seeds

The sauce is fairly runny which is no bad thing so pours really well on the spoon. It has an initial sweetness which then gets overtaken by the chillies, I can definitely pick out the Bhut flavour but I have never tasted Turtle Claw before. The heat builds nicely and for me is strongest on the throat and tongue. This is quite a hot sauce for Matt.

It’s nice to see another sauce which is not overpowered by the vinegar, and as it is the second ingredient on the list is no mean feat. There is enough sweetness to balance it up nicely.

I can taste the onion and the sweetness fights it’s way back as the burn levels out. Be under no illusion, this is no sweet chilli sauce! There is no sugar added other than the natural fruit sugars.

The heat stays for quite a while which should be no surprise considering the chillies chosen, in fact 10 minutes after tasting, I’m still feeling the heat, it is not uncomfortable but for the uninitiated in the chilli world, this may be too hot. It certainly has ‘Bite’ !

Potential uses for this sauce are endless, drizzled on salads as an instant dressing or in wraps. I think this would go well as a baste/marinade for roast chicken.

So in summary, a great all round sauce with another classic name. This is going to be available from this coming weekend at the Isle of Wight Chilli Fiesta, and then at other events if there is any left as Matt only makes his sauces in small batches.

I expect the price to be £4 for the 140ml bottle so if you are coming to the Island this coming weekend grab yourself a bottle and I will see you there.

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

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I look forward to any event which is hosted at a chilli farm or nursery. I’m not sure if it’s the intrigue of someone else’s growing setup or just the sense of awe at seeing row after row of chilli plants.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the first events on the 2013 chilli calendar; the Simpson’s Seeds Day of Fire and Spice. Simpson’s Seeds occupy a walled garden nursery in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Horningsham. The village forms part of the Longleat estate which is famed for its large country house and safari park. Historically, a team of gardeners at the nursery produced flowers, fruit and vegetables for the house. The grape vines and peach trees may be long gone now, but the raised beds help the nursery maintain a traditional feel.

The Walled Garden Nursery

This event has been running for a few years now and is coordinated by proprietor Matt Simpson. It’s primarily a plant sale, but Matt also invites a handful of guest stallholders along to sell their chilli products too.

The event kicked off at 11am, although a few eager chilli-heads had arrived earlier in the morning to ensure that they got their hands on some of Matt’s more unusual chilli plants. Two of the more interesting varieties were Gibbering Idiot and Goats Weed – a Capsicum Annuum variety which is thought to originate from Venezuela.

The Gibbering Idiot is a new Habanero variety which is being developed by Simpson’s Seeds and was only available in limited quantities on the day. Needless to say they were all snapped up very quickly!

 Gibbering Idiot

In total, there were over 30 varieties of chilli on offer in the glass house. These were complemented by a wide range of sweet peppers, herbs and tomatoes too. During the day, Matt was on hand to give customers expert advice and insightful recommendations. Matt has written books on both chillies and tomatoes and really knows his stuff.

Outside in the sunshine were stands from Deer’s Leap Chillies and the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company. The Deer’s Leap Chillies stall had a lovely selection of condiments including a delicious lime pickle and a spicy Sicilian style sauce that I am looking forward to trying later this week.

Matt Simpson with Sarah Gratton of Deer’s Leap Chillies

The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company stall was manned by a few members of the Clifton Chilli Club. Customer favourites included their Megalodon and Oak Smoked Chipotle sauces, the latter of which sold out just as I arrived at the event.

 Matt checking out the range of sauces from the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

Inside, there was a vast array of seeds from the Simpson’s Seeds catalogue and a selection of Matt’s “Yummyliscous” sauces too. The sauces included the award-winning Horny Goat and the humorously named Sillius Soddus which took pride of place on the “Nutters Table”.

The “Nutters Table”

After a steady stream of visitors, the event drew to a close at around 4pm. Several had travelled from as far as Birmingham and Swansea but had been rewarded with the fantastic range of plants and chilli products that were available on the day. A few growers from other southwest chilli farms were also spotted throughout the day which just goes to show how friendly the chilli community is.

Last to leave were a few members of the Clifton Chilli Club who decided to film a video review in the glass house. The backdrop of “Nutter’s Corner” seemed particularly apt as they sampled a new chilli extract product from Bristol-based Dr Burnorium.

Clifton Chilli Club reviewing a product in “Nutters Corner”.

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