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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> entertainment



Yes, they eat chiles in Finland.  My friend Jukka Kilpinnen has reported on his his bonzai chile plants in Finland, and there's a Finnish Chile Association.  They recently conducted their Chile-Eating Championship that featured the deadly 'Naga Morich', a cousin to the 'Bhut Jolokia'.  Read all about it here!



Melanie Covers Garlic Fest!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

By Bay Area Correspondent Melanie Yunk

At the Gilroy Garlic Festival recently, Kent and I made our way through Gourmet Alley and all the various food booths to look for lunch. We found many incredible options: garlic artichokes (another popular local vegetable), stir-fry chicken, calamari, wild boar on a stick, garlic salmon, garlic hot wings and so much more. We finally settled on Louisiana Jambalaya, Beer-Battered Garlic Crab Fries, Roasted Corn on the Cob (with garlic, of course) and a sampling of a delicious paella from Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme Catering made on-site in their giant 4-foot pans.

Full and happy, we needed to move around to work off our lunch. Ice cold beers in hand, we meandered through the artists' booths and found many fun and creative crafts by artisans from all over the world.  

Michael Loffler from Seattle's Hatterdashery sat at his antique Singer sewing machine crafting his handmade garlic hats, a very popular item at this event.

The French Garlic Grater is a useful and beautiful little plate invented in France and produced in Spain. Malin and Dan of MalDan Industries demonstrated their product before a packed booth. Their plates cost $22 each and are available here.

The Woodkins' veggie, fruit and flower characters (including a chile pepper) are designed by Linda Lebedowicz and hand-carved by her husband. Linda travels throughout California, Nevada and Arizona selling her designs. These entertaining and reasonably priced carvings range in price from $15 to $50 and can be purchased on their website.  Our biggest surprise at the show was the framed Antique Seed Packets. These seed packets were hand-lithographed 100 years ago and were never actually used. They were discovered in a basement where they lived for 100 years, untouched. The packets depict the many varieties and colors of flowers and vegetables that are considered extinct today. Because of the lithographic process, the art under magnification is three-dimensional. Simply amazing and beautiful--and reasonably priced too.  They are available here.

And one of the most fun parts of the Festival was that I got to canoodle with celebrity chef Fabio!

By the end of the day, we left the Festival, full of garlic, beer, and memorable images from the Garlic Showdown. We're already plotting our trip to the 32nd annual event and can't wait for next year.

Flay was flayed in the Green Chile Cheeseburger Throwdown held at the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico.  Flay flavored his cheeseburger not only with green chile, but wine vinegar, olive oil, "gourmet cheese" (whatever that is) and pickled onions.  The two judges, chile specialist Stephanie Walker from New Mexico State University and margarita expert Al Lucero, owner of Maria's Restaurant in Santa Fe, were not buying it.  They chose Bobby Olguin's burger over Flay's.  The story made the front page of the Albuquerque Journal on July 23 and the show will be repeated on the Food Network August 2.

Who makes the best Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobby Flay or Bobby Olguin?  Or, maybe, just maybe, Gwyneth Doland and myself!  Tonight on the Food Network, on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," Bobby Olguin of the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico, goes up against Bobby Flay in a Green Chile Cheeseburger grill-off.  If you miss it, Food Network will repeat the show on August 2. That's Olguin on the left and Flay on the right.

In 2005, GQ Magazine rated the Buckhorn as having the seventh-best burger in America, so that gives some creds to Olguin, whose family has been doing this for many years. According to Olguin, his father, Mannie Olguin, built the Buckhorn in 1943. "Our liquor license dates back to 1918," he said. "It was transferred from my grandfather’s bar that used to be across the street."

While celebs like Flay get most of the attention, the Fiery Foods team just never gives up.  Click here to watch Gwyneth and myself grill Green Chile Cheeseburgers.  And click here for Gwyn's not-so-secret recipe.

Photo Credits:  Top, J. Clarson; Right, Sergio Salvador



10 tons of beef ... 4 tons of pasta ... 4 tons of calamari ... 2 tons of scampi ... plus 2 tons of fresh Christopher Ranch garlic ...More information here.

WHO Gilroy Garlic Festival

WHAT The 31st Annual "Ultimate Summer Food Fair"; three days of incredible food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and cooking demonstrations.

WHERE Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy CA

30 miles south of San Jose off Highway 101


WHEN Friday, Saturday and Sunday
July 24 - 25 - 26, 2009 - always the last FULL weekend in July
Hours - 10:00am to 7:00pm with gates closing at 6:00pm each day

HOW Tickets -

Adult General Admission $12, Children (ages 6-12) $6 (under 6 - free), Seniors (60+) $6

Tickets: one per person, per each day attending.

Cash only is accepted at the gate. ATMs are available at most gates.

Advance tickets available online after June 1st at tickets.gilroygarlicfestival.com


The festival is held in a park. It is all outdoors with mostly turf and some compact dirt and asphalt walkways. There are natural shade trees, and many shade tents with tables and benches.

The admission price includes parking, musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and a children's area. Festival guests purchase food and beverages from the vendors. Prices range from $2 to $12 depending on the item, which is a full-size serving, not a sample.

Lodging, camping, and RV sites: www.gilroyvisitor.org

Parking is Free with a shuttle running from the parking lot to festival grounds.

Free secure bicycle parking is available on Miller Ave. at Yorktown Dr. just 1/2 block north of the levee.

Public transportation: www.vta.org

Gilroy is serviced Monday through Friday by CalTrain Commuter Service only. The train leaves Gilroy in the morning and does not return until the evening.

The Garlic Express Train sponsored by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum will not run in 2009.

General Aviators - If flying in to the area:
South County Airport, (E16)
13025 Murphy Ave., San Martin, CA 95046
(408) 683-4102 www.magnumaviation.com

For your comfort:
Wear comfortable shoes - walking on lawn, compact dirt, and asphalt.
Dress in layers - mornings could be foggy, afternoons are sunny.
Sport hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen - there's lots of garlic sunshine.

Handicapped and disabled access:
The parking lot is a graded agricultural field. Ask the lot attendant for directions to handicap parking. From there, guests will be shuttled to and from the gate. The festival grounds are mostly lawn, compact dirt, and asphalt. There are handicap restroom facilities in the parking lot and at the many restroom areas throughout the park. There are many shade tents with tables and benches throughout the festival grounds.

Please remember: Shirt and shoes are required.

Christmas Hill Park rules prohibit bringing the following items on Festival grounds:
◦ Alcohol of any kind
◦ Bottles, glass and cans
◦ Coolers - large or small
◦ Frisbees and water projecting devises
◦ Pocket knives and weapons of any kind.
If you bring any of these items listed above, leave them locked in your car.

Please be advised that the City of Gilroy park rules prohibit dogs and other animals from being brought into the park, except Guide Dogs, Seeing Eye Dogs & Service Dogs.

There are no kennel facilities available at the park.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a celebration of food, fun and family. It is the Garlic Festival's policy to provide a safe, family-friendly atmosphere for all Festival patrons and volunteers. Therefore, the Garlic Festival refuses entry or admission to anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating or signifying membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club. This policy is applied equally to all persons, regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition.

Which pairs best with soft cheeses like brie and camembert: red or white wine? What about harder, more mature cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan? Which cheeses will please those who prefer a beer or cocktail to wine?

Now it's fast and easy for you to find drink matches for 219 cheeses, plus thousands  more pairings for appetizers, main courses and dessert in this comprehensive food and drink mobile application. The new Drinks Matcher from Nat Decants is available now for your smartphone. It's like having a personal sommelier and a bartender at your side. Natalie MacLean, creator of Nat Decants, the wine web site here, has teamed up with the software developer bitHeads to create an application that works on your iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Curve.

"Wine and cheese is a classic for fall and holiday entertaining: delicious and simple to prepare," MacLean explains. "But we're all busy during the holiday season, so we don't have time to spend researching information online. We want to do a quick search while we browse in the liquor store, do our Christmas shopping or order from a restaurant menu."

You just choose a match on your mobile device and then you can find the top drink picks either in your local liquor store or on the restaurant menu. Unlike MacLean's popular pairing widget on her web site, this new tool doesn't require a connection to the Internet and so can be used in remote locations.

We Love 'Cue in NYC!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

 Alexis Korman reports:  New Yorkers may be famous for a lot of things--bad attitudes, dazzling skylines, and high rents--but not necessarily the nation's best BBQ. But the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, set against the lush greenery of Madison Square Park, set out to prove that Manhattan can turn out mouthwatering barbeque to the masses.

What began in 2003 as a small-scale block party designed to introduce city dwellers to the nation's best regional ‘cue is today a barbeque festival on a super-sized scale-over 100,000 people turned out to taste juicy BBQ from some of the nation's top pit-masters over the weekend.

And taste they did. On June 13th and 14th, 15 grilling stations lined several blocks near Madison Avenue, and included tents from BBQ champions like Mike Mills (17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysville, IL/Las Vegas, NV), Garry Roark (Ubon's ‘Champion's Choice', Yazoo City, MS), and Chris Lilly (Big Bob Gibson BBQ, Decatur, IL).

Among the best dishes on offer were the tangy pulled pork shoulder topped with crunchy coleslaw from Blackjack BBQ (Charleston, NC), juicy beef brisket with sausage from The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood, TX), and expertly spiced Kansas City-style ribs and pickles from local favorite, Blue Smoke (New York, NY).

Other New York-area BBQ restaurants also represented their skills on the grill, including Hill Country, Rack & Soul, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which had a line stretching half-way around the block.

Making the wait for lip-smacking barbeque worthwhile were several excellent performances by toe-tapping blues, rock and soul artists, including SaRon Crenshaw, Howard Tate, and Junior Brown.

Despite insanely long lines and overcast skies the city's biggest barbeque event was nothing less than smokin'hot.

Alexis Korman is a NYC-based freelance food and wine writer. You can visit her website here.


"I Kissed a Salsa"

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

The Salsa Twins, John and Jim Thomas of El Pinto Restaurant and Salsa, star with Katy Perry in her new music video, "Waking Up in Las Vegas."  Katy's big hit so far is "I Kissed a Girl."  This video was shot at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.   Coming soon to a hand-held device near you!

Harald Zoschke reports from Deutschland:  "Wow, whatta show.  Hard to believe it was already the twenty-first one! It still felt fresh and unique. The fun part is, besides all the interesting new products, the diversity of people you meet there, all united by the mighty pepper. Take Ralf, Klaus, and Uwe, for example. For these Germans who own a restaurant and a hot sauce factory, it was their first time at the Fiery-Foods & BBQ Show. The trio dressed up as 'German Chili Police,' complete with 'To Protect the Chilis' badges. They even made Cajohn their deputy--here they pose with John and Sue Hard. More soon in my upcoming 2009 show report, as soon as we're caught up here...."


In this pic from Pace Foods, crowds pour into the show, overwhelming the Pace booth at the very entrance.  Chris, at lower right, of the Pace test kitchens, looks unfazed at the onslaught of hot-stuff-craving fans.  See Pace's photo coverage of the show, here.  Rosa Linda Roman, who produces the NewMexicast web broadcasting site, did a great job covering the show, including an interview with me, and you can watch it here.  Here's a Pace shot of me interviewing Rick Browne of PBS's "Barbecue America" at the Great Grill-Off, with Gwyneth Doland to his right.  Boy, was that show fun, or what!

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