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Dave's Fiery Front Page

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Cookstr logo

I am pleased to be Author of the Day on Cookstr on January 10. It's nice to get a little recognition every now and then! Katie Workman, the editor-in-chief of the site, describes it this way: "Cookstr.com is a new cooking site dedicated to providing our users with great recipes from the best chefs and cookbook authors. It’s still early days for us, and we’re adding more chefs and authors – and more recipes – all the time. We’ll also be adding new features over the next few months. But in the meantime we’re excited to share with you thousands of recipes from cookbooks you know and love, and help you discover wonderful new books and cooks."  I just did a search in their recipe section for "chile pepper" and found 275 recipes, so they're doing an excellent job in our field of interest. "Barbecue" yielded 107 recipes.


European Heat

Posted by: Dave DeWitt


A Pungent PastaheadWe are busy planning our May trip to Italy and England to promote The Complete Chile Pepper Book, which makes me think about how much both of those countries have heated up chile-wise in the past two decades.  Chile pepper growing, both commercially and as a hobby, has exploded, particulary in Italy.  In England, formerly the Land of the Bland, curry has taken over the culinary world and is the primary source of spicy food.  My good friend Pat Chapman, the King of Curries and I are planning an event called The King of Curries Meets the Pope of Peppers, and I will post more information as soon as the details are firmed up.  Meanwhile, I though you might enjoyed some stories and recipes about those two countries and their favorite spicy foods.  See the articles on spicy Italy, here and here and our 12-part series A World of Curries is here.



Cross Country logo

I spoke over the weekend with Janie Lamson, owner of Cross Country Nurseries and chileplants.com, the largest seller of chile bedding plants with 500 varieties.  She told me about her best-selling varieties from last year, and of them are in the species Capsicum chinense, which has the hottest varieties in the world.  She also told me that her tomato bedding plant sales grew 37%, which doesn't surprise me since chilehead gardeners also also love tomatoes, since they are so compatible in cooking.  Here are Janie's top 5 best sellers.  Order these varieties for April delivery at the link above.

'Bhut Jolokia'
1. 'Bhut Jolokia'
'Red Savina'
2. 'Red Savina'
'Trinidad Scorpion'
3. 'Trinidad Scorpion'
4. 'Fatalii'
'Chocolate Habanero'
5. 'Chocolate Habanero'


2009: The Food Year in Review

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: humor

Food Police BadgeWith a tip of the hat to Dave Barry...

January: The Food Police declare that food is carcinogenic and urge people to eat cigarettes.
February: Valentine's Day candies are banned by Iran and North Korea.
March: “Chile” is the most tweeted word in Argentina.  Chile responds by recalling its Food Ambassador.
April: In honor of Rachael Ray, April Fool's Day is extended to a week.
May: A resurgent Tang outsells Budweiser.
June: Low-fat wedding cakes are introduced by Weight Watchers.
July: Congress declares pork barbecue as the official food of Independence Day, ousting hot dogs.
August: To avert bankruptcy, the state of California levies a property tax on vineyards in Oregon.
September: The “Top Chef” Chef of the Year is awarded to the late Colonel Sanders.
October: The Food Police order that Halloween candies be replaced by toasted pumpkin seeds.
“Turkey” is the most tweeted word in Greece.  In retaliation, the Greek parliament suspends grease shipments to Turkey.
December: Spam sales rocket for Christmas after a vaccine is developed for swine flu.



Food Cartoon

Horseradish VodkaHere in New York, the temperature has taken a nosedive for the winter, which makes me wonder, is that why I'm seeing so many scorching hot cocktails around town these days? As a major hub of mixology, I’ve noticed that Manhattan’s finest bartenders have been flirting with habanero-infused vodkas, rare chiles and even hot-sauce in their newest cocktail concoctions. These peppery tipples have been popping up on diverse drink menus around the city. I think I’ve spotted a hot trend.

At Mari Vanna, the gorgeous NYC outpost of the chic Moscow-based dinner club, more than 15 vodkas are infusing behind the bar at any given time, including a scorching hot pepper vodka along with a sinus-clearing horseradish infused vodka (pictured above). "We infuse Mari Vanna's pepper vodka with a ton of red jalapeño peppers and the horseradish vodka with a bunch of sliced horseradish roots.  The ingredients sit in the jar of vodka for seven days to really soak up the flavor.  One sip of either of these spicy infusions, but particularly the pepper one, and any cold or flu should be wiped away!  It'll clear you right up," said Tatiana Brunetti, owner of Mari Vanna.

Could super-spicy infused vodka cocktails kill the common cold? I pondered this very question over a Piquant Bloody Mary at Brooklyn’s newest Southwestern-themed restaurant, Piquant. Made with house-infused orange habenero vodka, tomato juice, cilantro, horseradish, fresh lime juice and plenty of hot sauce, this slow-burning bloody managed to spice up my brunch routine. I'm not sure if it managed to kill any viruses I may have been harboring, however.

Piquant Bloody Mary

At La Esquina, the no longer ‘secret’ Mexican speakeasy-style eatery, a shockingly refreshing, beer based cocktail has appeared on the menu. Called the Michelada, this chill drink is made with Mexican beer and chipotle puree, served over ice with a dash of lime and a salted rim—adding a subtle kick to your refreshing pint.

Bar PleiadesEven some of Manhattan’s most upscale hotels—including the Surrey—have a spicy cocktail to offer. Bar Pleiades (pictured), a luxe black and white lounge located on the ground floor of the recently refurbished hotel, offers a spicy/sweet cocktail called the Southern Fashion created by Canadian mixologist Cameron Bogue. The Southern Fashion is “a bourbon based drink that I infuse with Espelette, a chile from the northern Basque region in France [that] is a favorite to many chefs as it packs quite a bit of flavor without being too hot,” noted the passionate-about-peppers Bogue. Whether you like a little, or a lot, of heat, super-spicy cocktails are sure to warm up imbibers this winter. Cheers!

Habanero Nectar, Part 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Olives and HabanerosMy friend Marco del Freo, who lives in northern Italy, is embarking on a fascinating adventure.  Marco, who owns vineyards, a winery, and olive trees, also grows chile peppers (peperoncini in Italy) and he is now making a habanero-infused extra-virgin olive oil by pressing the habaneros with the olives.  Since any olive oil that's infused with any other substance can't be legally called olive oil, he has decided to call it Habanero Nectar.  In anticipation of assisting him in importing it, I have formed a division of my company called Sunbelt Food Reps.  More on that soon, but here's the process.  At left are the olives in the background and the habaneros in the foreground.


Olives and 'Fatalii'

They are mixed together (he uses both red habs and 'Fatalii') and ready for the pressing.

On the Conveyor Belt

On a conveyor belt and headed toward the press.

The Habanero Nectar

The final result after pressing.  To be continued....

Audubon's American TurkeyThanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday of the year.  Reasons?  There's no baggage associated with it, like religion, gift-giving, or dressing-up.  And it has all the things I love most about a holiday: family, good friends, food, drink, and football.  So, the feasting team here at the SuperSite is serving up the following Thanksgiving articles with recipes:

A Barbecued Thanksgiving, here.
Spiced-Up Thanksgiving Trimmings, here.
Holiday Sizzling Stuffings and Leftovers, here.
A Chile Lover's Mexican Thanksgiving, here.

2010 Scovie Awards Winners Posted!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: Scovie Awards , new content

Scovie Awards logo

We have posted all the winners in the various categories of the 2010 Scovie Awards here.  Congrats to all the winners, and especially to Grand Prize--Tasting Division, New York’s Pleasant Valley Kitchen Company for their Sugar and Spice Sweet Sauce.  Despite the mild sounding name, the sauce won its division in the Habanero Hot Sauce category as well as the Grand Prize!  The top award in the Advertising and Marketing Division went to Toluca Gourmet for their Toluca Gourmet Salsa Casera packaging.  In about a week, we will be launching a new website devoted completely to the Scovie Awards and the business of fiery foods and barbecue.

RIP Dave Lutes, 1950-2009

Posted by: Dave DeWitt


Dave LutesDave Lutes, owner of Hot Shots in Charlotte, North Carolina passed away on October 22, 2009 at the age of 59. Dave was born on June 3, 1950 in Dayton, Ohio. Dave and his wife Cathy founded Hot Shots, a fiery foods distribution company that ships products worldwide, in 1983. His longtime employee, Mike Cates, wrote to me: "A compassion for the industry and his fun nature and outgoing personality helped him grow the company into what it is today.  Big Dave fought his battle against pancreatic cancer with courage, passion and a positive mental attitude.  We'll miss you always, Big Dave."

Dave and his wife were longtime exhibitors in our National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show, and Hot Shots will continue to exhibit with us.  Dave was a perfect customer—loyal, fun to talk to, never complained, and was always positive, as Mike pointed out.  After I was told Thursday, I could not sleep for many hours, thinking about him.

Harald Zoschke comments:
Many fiery-foods manufacturers and vendors that we know owe a good portion of their success to "Big Dave" and his Hots Shots business.  Early 1997, Renate and I moved to Florida for our hot sauce adventure.  We started with two sauce products and basically no one to sell them to.  Until we met Dave Lutes, that is. Dave helped us out with advice, and more importantly, he picked up our products and got us started, allowing us to develop and add more sauces, which he sold. When we started our retail hot shop on the St. Petersburg Pier, he also became a trusted supplier, and it stayed that way when we took our "hot" business to Germany in early 2001, until the very present. While traveling the U.S. last week, we had a chance to briefly talk to Dave. He was already very weak, yet the first thing he said to us was "thank you for the order" (which we placed had a week before). He tried to stay on top of things until the very end.  We met Dave almost every year  at the Fiery Food Show, and besides business, we always had a good time with him. His generosity and great sense of humor will be missed.  It is somewhat ironic that Dave was always very lucky when playing blackjack, and now life has handed him such a bad hand of cards.


Rare 'Trinidad Scorpions'

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile varieties


Trinidad Scorpions on a pepper plate.Hydroponic Grower Jim Duffy reports from San Diego: "Well I have to say, Dave, that my 'Trinidad Scorpion' crop was not the amount I wanted to produce. But sometimes you have to look at the silver lining. The 'Trinidad Scorpion' is a rare chile all by itself. Very few supply seeds and only this year did more than just a few people grow it here in the good old U.S.A. So when one of my potted plants produced a yellow pod, I was excited. This plant is an isolated plant and yellow Scorpions would be nice to have in my seed bank. But it was the only yellow pod the plant produced. Then I started seeing more pods turning yellowish. And then it happened. Every pod on that plant except the first yellow one were turning bright orange! Now I have heard that there is an orange Scorpion but never found a pic on the Web. Now my entire plant was going from green to orange. Not one red pod to be found. Sad to say the plant is dying but most pods will turn before I pull it up. So here is a treat for your readers. A pic of red, yellow and orange 'Trinindad Scorpions' all together! No Scorpion bumper crop this year, but I will take one rare plant over 50 common ones any day!"

I never saw this variety during my two trips to Trinidad, where the 'Congo Pepper' is so dominant, for good reason: its extreme heat and extreme size.  Look at this one in Mary Jane's hand.  When I cut it open to get the seeds, the fumes drove us out of our room at the Kapok Hotel in Port of  Spain!
Congo Pepper in Trinidad


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