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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke

Buying chile pepper bedding plants.On Sunday, May 9, Marco and I worked the chile plant sale and food fair at the Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard (Stuard Agricultural Experiment Station) in Parma with his new products, Spirit of Habanero Grappa and the Habanero Nectar olive oil.  Mario Dadomo, the station director and the “Paul Bosland of Italy” had 442 different varieties of chiles to choose from, which was like having ChilePlants.com in one convenient greenhouse.  Mario asked me if he could be my "bishop"--har, har.  Marco and MauritzioThe public was there in good numbers to buy the plants and sample products both spicy and non-spicy.  A group of about 30 Italian chileheads showed up and I had my picture taken with them.  On one side of us was a honey producer and on the other side our friend Mauritzio was selling his jolokia products including the “Big Bang Powder,” so Marco joked that the public could choose from Paradiso (Heaven), Purgatorio (Purgatory), or Inferno (Hell).  This was an allusion to Dante’s Divine Comedy but I’m not sure that the Italians got the literary joke.  As a show producer, it was interesting for me to watch the flow of the crowd: in the morning there was a strong crowd then in dropped off to nothing during lunch and “siesta time,” and then was strong again after about 3pm.  Marco’s sales were good, which bodes well for the new products.  We closed down about 6pm, then drove to a winery with nearly vertical vineyards atop Monte Roma (Mount Rome), 350 meters above sea level.  Then, in typical Italian fashion, another 30-mile drive to dinner at an AgriTurismo (agricultural tourism) restaurant atop another “mountain.”  I loved the grilled sirloin steak served on top of a solid block of salt.  We got back to Marco’s house at midnight—16 hours of  hustle--but fun!

Mauritzio's Italian Jolokia Products

Spicy Italia 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Italian RainbowWhen we arrived in northern Italy, we were not expecting torrential rains and flooding, so we were relieved when the rains ended and we were greeted with a rainbow of color which symbolized a new direction for our travel: dry and warm.

Our trip was organized by Marco Del Freo, a food lover and chilehead who came out to the Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and invited us to visit his haunts and witness how Italians were learning to love everything hot and spicy.  First we visited the wine country of Lombardy, where we stayed in

AgriTurismo B&Ban "AgriTurismo" B&B and nearly got flooded out when the rains hit the area hard.  The first night, we and 60 other foodies attended a launch party for two new products developed by Marco that features spiced-up dishes that included seafood, rissoto, and even dessert.  With Marco translating, I gave a brief address to the diners at the restaurant associated with the Il Montu winery and grapperia.  Based on their applause, I could tell that not only were they impressed with the food, but with the products themselves.  Nettare Habanero, or Habanero Nectar, is a first pressing of olive oil and habaneros to create an aromatic and medium-hot olive oil that is used to dress foods such as salads, breads, and even grilled meats.  Spirit of Habanero is a delicious, award-winning grappa infused with

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil and Grappahabaneros by soaking them until a medium heat level was achieved to make a delicious--and spicy--cordial or liqueur.  You will see them at the left in an informal photo taken on Marco's dining room table.

Of course, while in this area, we were surrounded by vineyards.  Lombardy has the highest concentration of vineyards in the entire country, and although it was too wet to walk through them, they were truly beautiful right after the rain.  I particularly enjoyed the fruits of these vineyards in the form of an Il Montu Bonarda, a tasty and dry red wine.  After two nights at the B&B, we moved on to Marco's house and the rainbow.  Marco and his wife Maggie live on top of a small mountain near Parma in the agricultural village known as Salsomaggiore and their view is the valley called Bellacavalle, know for its incredibly tasty Parmesan cheese.  To be continued....

Lombardy Vineyards

Founding Foodies Launches November 1

Posted by: Lois Manno

Tagged in: books

Peanut HarvestSourcebooks, my new publisher, has announced November 1 as the launch date for my new book, Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine. Shockingly, this food history doesn't concern chile peppers and fiery foods, but there is a subchapter about early barbecue.  It took me 3 1/2 years to research and write the book, but it was a lot of fun because I got to return to my Virginia roots in a lot of it.  The illustration at left is entitled "Peanut Harvest, Virginia, c. 1870" and illustrates a chapter partially about the African-American influence on colonial and post-colonial food.  Isn't she cute?  For a sampling of the book, go to my new blog, Founding Foodies.  The launch party is scheduled for October 21 at City Tavern in Philadelphia--join us for a lot of fun!

Pat ChapmanSoon we will be in London for another event with Pat Chapman, England's King of Curries, on May 15 (read all about it, here).  Pat and I go back a long ways.  He's come to Albuquerque several times to make appearances at the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show and once created (with wife Dominique) a gigantic Indian feast at our house for about a dozen friends.  They still talk about that night.  Mary Jane can't forget it because she had to clean every Turban Davepot, pan, dish, and utensil in our house!  Then, we took a culinary tour of India led by the Chapmans, which involved about a dozen Brits, two Yanks, a bus, and some of the best food we've ever eaten.  There was also the incident of me in a turban and a camel.  You can read about that trip here. Then, on a trip to England to visit the Chapmans, Pat, a former RAF jet pilot, drove us around Cornwall at nearly supersonic speeds on the left hand side of the road, which is always disconcerting to Americans.  We went to Land's End, the Eden Project, Mousehole (pronounced "Moussel"), and stayed at some great B&Bs with wonderful food (lamb shanks in wine and currant sauce, yum).  We might have had a few beers and some scotch--I forget!  And then there were the Indian restaurants.  Pat, as The King, was comped at every single one of these he took us to, and they were spectacular--the decor as well as the food.  Read all about that trip here.  So you can imagine how much we anticipate our upcoming visit.

Jaipur Restaurant in Milton Keynes



Barbados in Zagat

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Dining at Sandy LaneWhen I read that the only Caribbean island with its own Zagat Restaurant Guide is Barbados, I flashed back to our trip to that highly civilized country that is run like a business.  The Barbados Tourist Authority wanted MJ and I to experience the best their country had, so they bought us dinner at the restaurant at the Sandy Lane Resort, one of the most exclusive places in the entire Caribbean.  Needless to say, it was wonderful.  We also ate at less fancy places, where we dined on Caribbean specialties like Fried Flying Fish and Crab Callaloo, a wonderful dark green spicy soup.


The link to our article is here, but in the meantime, try this recipe:

Fried Flying Fish
Flying Fish Engraving

There are a great number of variations on this favorite Bajan specialty. This is probably the favorite version, as described in John Lake’s book, The Culinary Heritage of Barbados. Flying fish is sometimes found frozen in Florida markets; if it’s not available, substitute any mild white fish, such as flounder.

  • 8 small flying fish fillets

  • Bajan Seasoning as needed (see recipe)

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • Bread crumbs and flour, mixed

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • Lime slices and parsley for garnish

  • Bajan hot sauce, such as Windmill or Lottie’s

Rub the fillets with the Bajan Seasoning, then dip them in the beaten eggs, then the bread crumbs and flour. Fry the fillets in the butter until lightly browned, turning once.

Serve garnished with the lime slices and parsely. Sprinkle hot sauce over the fillets to taste.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Varies

Bajan Seasoning

This version of the famous island seasoning is from Ann Marie Whittaker, who noted: "This is found in almost every home and is the secret to the success for many mouth-watering Bajan dishes." One of the favorite uses is to place it between the meat and skin of chicken pieces before grilling, baking, or frying. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

  • 1 pound onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 5 ounces green onion, coarsely chopped

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 bonney peppers, seeds and stems removed, or substitute habaneros

  • 2 ounces fresh thyme

  • 2 ounces fresh parsley

  • 2 ounces fresh marjoram

  • 1 1/2 cups vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauces

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons salt

In a food processor, combine the onions, green onion, garlic, and bonney peppers and process to a coarse paste.

Remove the leaves from the stems of the thyme, parsely, and marjoram. Place the leaves and the vinegar in a food processor or blender and liquefy.

Combine the onion paste, vinegar mixture, and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover, transfer to the refrigerator, and allow to sit for 1 week before using. The seasoning will keep in the refrigerator for at least 6 months.

Yield: About 2 to 3 cups

Heat Scale: Hot


Man with chili signJust to get you ready for all the fun chili con carne cookoffs, here's our rather complete series of articles on what many people call:

The Most Popular Fiery Dish!

I explore the origins and history of chili, and then detail how it captured the imagination of amateur cooks around the country. In four chapters, I cover how to create cook-off winning chili, from the chiles to the meat, to the other ingredients, and finally the cooking and serving techniques.

All chapters have appropriate recipes. The next three chapters document the history, with recipes, of the two major chili cook-off sanctioning organizations, as well as the upstart chilis from states other than Texas and California. In the final chapter, I present my collection of chili philosophy and humor.  It's all right here.

Big Flavors in the Big Apple

Posted by: Dave DeWitt



While in New York with Mary Jane, I gave an address about the new book to the Horticultural Society of New York and autographed some copies while everyone was eating spicy burritos. That was fun, of course, but even tastier were some of our restaurant adventures.  I was on a seafood binge at first, dining on grilled octopus and Loup de Mer (wolf of the sea=seabass) at Milos, here, a Greek seafood place on W. 55th.  Later, at a Brittany-style French brasserie, Maison, had a bucket of Prince Edward Island Mussels Provencale, which were incredible.  Last night I switched to Indian food at Bay Leaf Indian Basserie, here, and had a very spicy Lamb Vindaloo while our waiter was warning me: "It's hot, sir, very hot."  I told him not to worry and finished every bite over Rice Pillau--outstanding!  MJ had Chicken Tikka Curry, which also was delicious.  Today we bought curry leaf at Kalustyan's Market, here, probably the most diverse and fascinating international specialty food market ever at Curry Hill in east Manhattan.  And we're not done yet!  On to Philadelphia...to be continued.

Book Tour Continues

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Complete Chile Pepper BookMy book tour continues with appearances in New York City, Milan, and London.  On April 8th at 6:30pm I'm giving a multimedia presentation, "Growing Chiles in Containers" at the New York Horticultural Society, 148 West 37th Street. Details are still being worked out for the Milan appearance, but it will most likely be at a cooking school.  And on May 15 in London, it's "The Pope of Peppers Meets the King of Curries" at Cafe Spice Namaste, 16 Prescott Street. At this event, which runs from 10 am to 3 pm, Pat Chapman and I will both give multimedia presentations on chile (chilli) peppers, with Pat discussing chillis in Indian cuisine while I will discuss, as usual, chile gardening. The event includes a superb luncheon.  See here for more details on the London event.  It will be great to see Pat and Dominique again, as it's been years since they hosted us on our tour of England--mostly Cornwall. Read about that trip here. And here's a shot of me with chilli plants in the Temperate Biome at the Eden Project, one of the largest greenhouse complexes in the world.


Dave at Eden Project

Nat Decants Smartphone App


Ever wonder which wines go best with "green food," such as asparagus, chile peppers and peas? How about other fresh vegetables that we'll enjoy this summer and fall?
"Green foods are the problem children of the wine world," says Natalie MacLean, editor of one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com. "But as a stubborn hedonist, I've found some terrific wines to drink with them."

Natalie has just launched a new mobile application for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. Developed by Cerado, this app builds on the success of her Drinks Matcher and includes all the pairings in the original app, plus thousands of wine reviews, recipes, articles, blog posts, glossary definitions, cellar journal and winery directory. You can access the new app at www.nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp.

In the spirit of going green (and giving back green), the new app is free. With the Nat Decants Mobile App, you can find the right wines, whether you're in a restaurant or at the liquor store restocking. It's like having a sommelier in your pocket.

Dave Made a "Hero of Sweden

Posted by: Dave DeWitt


Flag of SwedenApparently because of all my work over the years on chile peppers, the Swedish government has made me a "Hero of Sweden."  You can watch an inspiring video of the announcement here.

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