Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Chilli and the hippie feel

Or should the title read: I lost that loving feeling?

I stopped writing about chillies almost totally, some time ago, you must have noticed. Not for no reason no, but I got sick of it all loosing the hippie feel. After 4 of my articles about the-race-for-your-best-chilli-or-money, I got dragged through the mud, to say the least. In facebook discussions all the hard data was pulled up in doubt, and questioned. In discussions, I was quoted with comments as being a self-righteous sob or even a bigot as claims that my interpreting of the cold hard numbers were false.
Endless discussion about average heat in records, being average high, and not average mean.
Weird enough I was accused of gaining in some sort of financial way even though I am not in the chilli business, by spreading lies about real numbers that are not mine but from the official institutes like the chili pepper institute in New Mexico.
Smoke and mirrors, as the only ones contesting the cold hard numbers, were commercial growers.

Even though I am in the Netherlands, I started getting calls from the US, from growers telling me the “real” story mostly jabbing about why others should not have had the Guinness worldrecord for the hottest chilli. Point to another, for yourself not to be seen is not good I tell my kids. Divide and conquer, to win in the market?
Low and behold I thought it was an American thing hyping chillies and never getting a record, but a few weeks later a Finland grower started telling he had the next record winning chilli, without showing proof.
Not seen any since my last article about the race months ago.
But, maybe the fight in the market is shushed down for a good few weeks, as Ed Currie has got the new Guinness worldrecord for the hottest chilli with his Carolina Reaper. I would say congrats Ed for your endless work to get it through Guinness.

So I lost the love, for the chilli scene, nothing to do with hippies but just cold hard cash. And don’t tell me that is not true; I read an interview from one of the commercial growers, making about a million US dollars a year.
After getting more and more mails, telling yet another time a different story of what really happened, I got sick of it. I banned every commercial grower that tried to sell me shoe laces for leather belts. I don’t react on any accusation made to my address; I don’t give a rats arse anyway, as I so lost the love.

Sure, some of my old real friends tried to pull me back in the hippie side but every time I say anything about chillies, I start getting this rotting smell up my nose again. Buy this, buy that, we’re better than others and others are better than. . . .
I even have a chilli group on facebook, I started to avoid and when I did drop in, I saw loads of advertisement. No, no, it is just a taste test video naming a certain website a zillion times. . .
Right, and my name is Conny !
Well, first thing I did was toss out the overly pushing their seeds down your throat kind off sellers, then I started to interact a bit again.

At the other hand, I am working my arse off trying to start up a care farm for challenged people, so I don’t have time to interact that much. “De Groeistek” (Eng= place where you can grow) will be a place where we grow heirloom foods, together with our participants giving them the support they need.

When friends got the news where I was working for, I got a load of support, overwhelming and heart warming. Loads of links were shared, and a lot of attention throughout the world. Friends started sending me special chillies, telling me to use the seeds at the farm and make some money from them. Catharina send me loads, Chris Fowler that makes excellent sauce send me a load, Ivor Davies told me he would sponsor the farm with seeds as well. I am starting to feel. . . .

You know, if I could learn to be hard and start promoting on the “I will shove those sees down your throat” kind of way I could really make a buck. I am allowed to put a 150 m3 greenhouse there, I could make more, maybe even. . .
I could make a million too, even with a care farm, if I only start promoting as. . . .

Noo, as I start feeling the love! And, I don’t want to bloody taint it!

Cheers Bart

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Preparing for a dessert recipe.

Some time ago I was asked to write a different recipe with Sichuan flower pepper, the Spice the west forgot to steal. Now that, is not an easy I have to say.
To help me make it up I tried various brands of flower peppers. Getting back to the flower pepper from Jenny Song I tasted the richness and got some ideas.

It is hard to come up with a recipe if an ingredient or spice is that new, and most of all that rich in flavour. Sure, I made a great fish soup recipe with it, but I was looking for something totally different. So I called Jenny Song for a brain session, and that gave us some ideas. I came up with an idea to make a great dessert and a small fish dish. I won’t reveal all, but you will have to start prepping with me now, in order to make a great dish fit for an Emperor in 14 days.

You will need a good bottle of grape brandy or Weinbrand, ripened on French oak, such as the Majestät Weinbrand from Germany made by the Schwarzwälder Edelbranntweinbrennerei in Bimmerle. These are available in the Lidl, but I am sure another good grape brandy will do too.
Now poor a cup of brandy in a pot or bottle that you can seal, add 6 teaspoons of sugar and 6 teaspoons of flower pepper to it.
Close the bottle and leave it closed for 14 days at least, no peeking or smelling.
In the original bottle, add ¾ of a cup (120 grams) sugar and 1 table spoon of Sichuan flower pepper. Close this bottle again, and let it sit for 14 days at least.
What you will see the colour off the flower pepper faints, while it enriches the grape brandy.
What you will smell and taste is a fantastic Grand Marnier like liqueur but with the taste of mandarin orange and herbs. . .

More to come in 14 days.

Enjoy looking at it,

Cheers Bart