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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke


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....

Distasteful Solutions to Gnawing Problems

Posted by: Lois Manno

Tagged in: science , Capsaicin

Destructive pets chew all kinds of objects.

You gotta love a company that names its most popular product Repela.TM According the the company’s website, this is “a combination of denatonium benzoate and natural capsaicin. Denatonium benzoate is a compound that is extremely bitter–so bitter in fact, that just a few grains put into a glass of water would make if absolutely undrinkable by a human or an animal. Add to this a highly concentrated extract of the hottest peppers in the world, and you have a product that animals cannot endure chewing.” The site is interesting because many of the natural ingredients upon which Aversion’s products are based are described in detail, including traditional holistic applications.


Destructive pets chew all kinds of objects.


chemical makeup of cocaine

Twenty-six cases of people in the 1990s who died unexpectedly while in police custody after being doused with pepper spray might be explained by a toxic reaction caused by capsaicin in the spray. It seems that pepper spray intensifies the effect of cocaine and other psychostimulants, resulting in death. All the victims had either cocaine or another psychostimulant in their bloodstreams. Laboratory tests on mice support the evidence that mixing capsaicin and cocaine makes for a very bad high. Read more here.


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.

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