I popped down to West Dean this weekend to check out their annual Chilli Fiesta (9-11 August 2013) There was plenty to see, buy and eat. Plus the music and sunshine were perfect accompaniments to get the visitors into the latin vibe.
As expected there were stalls galore selling various chilli jellies and condiments. I was particularly drawn to Lily’s Chillies Ketchup (partly because they are a local company). The following morning my boys confirmed this sauce with it’s warming glow was great in a sausage sandwich. Breckland Orchard also won me over with their refreshing Sloe Lemonade and Ginger Beer with Chilli.
Cocoa Loco surprised me with their very hot dark chocolate with chilli. Innocently sweet at first the heat builds on your tongue to a fiery crescendo.
“We call it our diet chocolate,” said the gentleman on the stall. “One or two squares is all you need.”
There was no denying that this chocolate was indeed very hot (it would work well in my firecracker brownie recipe).
But for me the stand out product of the event was a cheese. Each year Say Cheese develop a flavoured cheese just for the Chilli Fiesta. This year it was a soft Slipcote ewes cheese with lavender, a strong almost medicinal flavour but one which works surprisingly well with the creamy cheese. Sadly, you can’t buy this cheese outside of the show unless you want an enormous quantity. I have a small pot secreted in my fridge to eat later which I suspect will go rather nicely with some griddled courgettes and toasted sourdough. In amongst the wide variety of cheeses they had at the show they also had Cypriot ewe’s cheese coated in aromatic mountain herbs which also has temporary residence in my fridge.
If you didn’t get a chance to make this year’s Chilli Fiesta it will be back again in 2014. Whether you love chillies or not it’s well worth the visit so put the date in your diary now.