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Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> personalities

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 just received the July, 2009 issue of Saveur, my favorite food magazine, and it's a special Texas issue which is really a fun read with great recipes.  I was delighted to spot friends of mine as contributors, including Sharon Hudgins and Robb Walsh.  Sharon and Robb were two of the three great writers ("The Triumvirate," I used to call them) who I depended on for quality content when I was editor of the original Chile Pepper magazine from 1987 to 1996. (The third member of that group was Richard Sterling, who lives in Berkeley and Vietnam and isn't a Texan.)  In this Texas issue, Sharon writes about chuck wagon cooking and Robb covers chicken-fried steak, oysters, mesquite, and vaquero (Mexican cowboy) cooking.  To see them in this issue brought back fond memories of all the fun we had in the "old days" (remember the first Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Robb?)  Also making appearances are three New Mexicans I know and like, Deborah Madison, probably the most accomplished writer on vegetarian subjects, and Cheryl and Bill Jamison, who were kind enough to write a cover blurb for my upcoming (September) book with Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book.  Congrats to all of you for a wonderful special issue of Saveur.


Ed  Avalos, currently marketing director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, has been nominated by President Obama as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Ed has 34 years experience in agriculture marketing including the on-going 12-state green chile pepper promotion which yearly generates over $26 million in retail sales.  I helped Ed, along with El Pinto Restaurant and Salsa, create the World's Largest Chile Ristra that was displayed last year at the New Mexico State Fair.  In the international arena, Ed has worked in Mexico, Japan, China, Canada, and Latin America.  In the 1990's, pecans were exported to Japan and the Pacific Rim and most recently, the marketing team successfully established a pecan market in China.  The SuperSite congratulates Ed on his continuing success in promoting New Mexico agricultural products.

"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!

Rick Browne Joins SuperSite

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , personalities , new content , grilling , books

Rick Cracks Up Gwyneth at the Great Grill-Off

Barbecue expert Rick Browne is teaming up with us here at the SuperSite to strengthen our coverage of grilling and smoking.  For the past seven years, Rick has produced and hosted "Barbecue America," which is shown on PBS and reaches 230 markets in the U.S.  A writer, photographer, pitmaster, restaurant critic and consultant, he is also a Doctor of Barbecue, holding an honorary Ph.B (Doctor of Barbecue Philosophy) bestowed upon him by the prestigious Kansas City Barbeque Society for his expertise and commitment to barbecue. He is the author of ten books, including the recently-released The Best Barbecue on Earth (Ten Speed Press).  Personally, I'm thrilled by this development because Rick, in a short period of time, has become a good friend of mine, and we share like views on a number of subjects.  "Peas in a pod," is how Lois Manno, our art director, described us.  Here are Rick's articles so far on the SuperSite:


New TV Spot for Show

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

--Watch the latest video masterpiece from Wayne Scheiner & Co. here.
--Check out the Great Grill-Off at the show here.

Big Bob Gibson BBQ Book is Great!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , personalities , books

I received an advance reading copy of Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, and I've read most of it.  Chris is an acquaintance of mine, and I watched him demonstrate his technique for pulled pork at Kingsford University in Arizona a few years ago (article is here).  I expected his book to be good--after all, he is a 10-time world champion--but the book is more than just good, it's utterly fascinating.  Chris tells the story of Bib Bob Gibson and his famous BBQ joint in Decatur, Alabama from the 1920s to the present, interspersing the history with Southern BBQ tips, recipes, and lore.  The chapter "Racks of Ribs" is possibly the best single chapter in any book on 'cue, so it's appropriate that ribs are on the cover.  Interestingly, pork ribs were not served at Big Bob Gibson's until the late '70s.  I took a look at Chris's recommended reading and was pleased to see Rick Browne's The Best Barbecue on Earth, Ray (Dr. BBQ) Lampe's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook  and Dr. BBQ's Barbecue Road Trip (which I helped on--see article, here).  And I was flattered that he also selected Barbecue Inferno, which I wrote with Nancy Gerlach.  Chris's book will be released May 12, 2009, and it should be a part of every barbecue aficionado's library.


More than 16,000 buyers jammed San Francisco's Moscone Center in mid-January to taste new food products from all over the U.S. and three dozen nations around the world at the Fancy Food Show.  "Despite near-historic economic challenges, our industry is showing resilience," noted Ann Daw, president of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the show's owner. "Consumers are eating at home more, and they are purchasing specialty items to liven up their meals."
The sold-out National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show supports Daw's theory and from my observations, business is still strong in our sector. Harald Zoschke, owner of Germany's largest online hot shop, Pepperworld.com, agrees, and notes: "January 2009 orders are up 50% from 2008 at the Pepperworld Hot Shop."
One of the more interesting displays at the Fancy Food Show continued the competition of who has the hottest hot sauce.  Dave's Gourmet introduced "Ghost Pepper" Jolokia Private Reserve, which Dave Hirschkop is calling the



world's hottest sauce. It's hand signed by Dave, numbered, vintage dated, and laid to rest in a wooden coffin wrapped in caution tape. A 5-ounce bottles are available for $35 each.


Blair Lazar, of Blair's Sauces and Snacks, begs to differ and points out that he was first with a Jolokia Pure Death Sauce. The battle rages on.

Killer Bee Mustard

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

 You know you're going to like a guy when, asked how he got started in the honey business, he answers, "I started keeping bees because I drink."

Reed Booth, otherwise known as the "Killer Bee Guy," is a home-brewer and mead (honey wine) maker. More than fifteen years ago, after settling in Arizona, Booth was joking with his friend that he ought to have some bees on hand for the mead-and shortly thereafter, the friend, who just happened to be a bee inspector, called up to say that she had a bag of the bugs for him. And so, to Booth's surprise, it began.  Story continues here.

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