What do you think of when you hear the words "Chilli Fiesta?" And where do you think you would find such one? I will tell you about a fantastic one, and we found it not so far away from Sweden, where we live. To be more specific, in the southeast of England.
The location was the West Dean Gardens, just outside the city of Chichester. It’s a very beautiful place, with restored Victorian Kitchen and Fruit Gardens. It was the 6th year for the Fiesta, and it is always held the second weekend in August. It attracts 3000 to 4000 visitors per day, and is a big event for chilliheads.
When Blaise, our Internet chile pepper friend, invited Patricia and me to the Chilli Fiesta, we did not hesitate for two seconds. We had never been to the fiesta before, and it was also the first time we met Blaise in person, so this added extra spice to the adventure!
We had only had e-mail and postal contact, exchanging chile pepper growing experiences and seeds. Blaise lives not far away from Chichester, and it was the first time he had visited the fiesta as well.
Entering the garden area, we immediately noticed many rows of chile plants for sale. For example: Firecracker, NuMex Sunglo, and Super Chile. Each plant was £3.50, and they were very strong and healthy. Many people bought plants, so the most popular ones disappeared quickly. There was even a crèche where you could leave your plants for tender care while visiting the Fiesta. Those who wanted to grow their chiles from seed could select from many different seed varieties.
It's not only growing chiles that is an art. We even found real chilli art at the Chilli Fiesta.
Look at all these dried chiles: New Mexico red, Pasilla, Ancho, and Piquin. And we could also buy chile powder – New Mexico Red, Pasilla, Ancho, and Chipotle, among others. It was not easy to choose which ones to buy. So many colours, sizes and they all smelled wonderful.
Hot sauces! We burned our tongues tasting some of these sauces. But they were really good! The habanero flavour cannot be mistaken for any other chile.
If anyone needed some fiery pottery, they had a great opportunity to buy it at the Fiesta.
Other items for the home or for gifts was also for sale.
The burn from tasting the hot sauces was now gone, so it was time to sample new food.
We tried this wonderful green curry paste and it was the best one we have had outside Thailand! It really shocked our tasted buds. After trying the sauces and this paste, it was definitely time for a beer and apple cider break.
Having cooled off with the beer, we were ready to enter the beautiful greenhouse with the chile pepper exhibition. As you can see, it was really a fiesta in many different colours!
It was with these colourful images in our minds that we left the West Dean Gardens after a great day with lots of activities and new experiences. If you happen to be near West Dean Gardens, there are many more events to come. The second weekend in September 8 and 9 is their tomato event, where more than 100 different tomato varieties will be displayed. There will also be cooking demonstrations.
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