Sunday, 22 September 2013

Burd's Eye View of Chillies

What have I let myself in for?  Phil loves chillies and so does our friend Dominic Burd.  I on the other hand have a wary appreciation of them.
We met up today at the chilli festival at the Eden Project.  Dom brought us a big bag of chilli goodies - a selection of chillies from his first ever home grown crop.  It was more than enough to make Phil's eyes go wide with wonder whilst I carefully scanned Dom's very meticulous tasting notes that accompanied his hot property.  Straight away I had a firm favourite - the Mulato Isleno Poblano  - on account of the words 'mildest' and 'faintest piquancy' being featured.  Even the name sounds positively angelic compared to the 'Devil's Rib', 'Turtle Claw' and 'Hot Scotch' that also featured in Dom's crop. 
Dom's chilli treats clockwise from top right - Orange Habanero, Turtle Claw, Bengal Naga, Hot Scotch, Dorset Naga, Jamaican Jerk Habanero, Isleno Mulato Poblano, Devils Rib and Early Jalapeno (in the middle)
Dom's enthusiasm for chillies was however infectious.  So much so that I found myself wandering off unattended at one point and trying of my own accord a chilli mash made by the Bad Boy Chilli Company based in Lostwithiel here in Cornwall.  Phil was amazed I had done this as I am not known for my experimentation with spicy food any more than Phil is for taking a big bite of garlic bread.  I tried the Bird's Eye Mash on account of the fact that I thought it would be less hot than the red coloured Scotch Bonnet Mash next to it.  I was wrong on two counts; the first was picking up quite a cocktail stick's worth in one go and the second was that Dean, one of the Bad Boys, informed me that in fact the Scotch Bonnet Mash had a little less of a hit not so much due to it's 'heat', as in fact that is more, but more due to its flavour.  He was right, as I discovered when I timidly approached it with a smaller sample this time.  I was learning in the 'baptism of fire' style.

Michael and Joy Michaud in the Dorset Naga seed crop tunnelLearning was very much part of the day, particularly so when listening to the wonderfully entertaining and informative talks given by Michael Michaud from Sea Spring Seeds in Dorset.  Michael runs Sea Spring Seeds with his wife Joy and it is where Dom sourced his chilli plants from. 

Even after one years growing he swears by them and given the knowledge and enthusiasm exuding from Michael, I can see why.  It was great he had a chance to meet Michael face to face and tap into his expertise and Phil and I will certainly make Sea Spring Seeds our 'go to' company now for next seasons vegetable seeds as a result too.  For us, word of mouth and personal experience go a long way when it comes to doing business with people.

Eden could have made so much more of the chilli festival than they did to be honest (the advertising and information on the website was minimalist to say the least).  That said, a good day was had by all.  We had a chance to catch up with Dom, a pleasure we don't do nearly as much as we should, and we all furthered our knowledge of growing and eating chillis. 

Now it was time to start experimenting in the kitchen with Dom's crop.  Watch this space......I predict a heat wave in the coming months!

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