Our Top 10 favorites included:
Xan Confections – Tracey at XAN Chocolates makes tasty “guiltless”, all natural, gourmet and vegan chocolates in the most beautiful gem-shapes. Of course, my favorite is the alder wood-smoked and ancho chile caramel inside a pearlescent purple dark chocolate from The Jewel Collection.
Renfro Foods – We all turned red from the crazy heat of Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa! Renfro Foods managed to create a salsa with one of the hottest chiles in the world, the Ghost Chile or ‘Bhut Jolokia’. This salsa is well-balanced with onions, chiles, garlic, cilantro and spices; it’s delicious and didn’t leave us crying. Way to go, Mrs. Renfro!
Lillie Belle Farms – We love this company and their many spicy offerings. The lavender sea salt caramels are absolutely delicious. Lillie Belle makes a wide variety of spicy and beautifully decorated chocolates, including the Cayenne Caramel and Kent’s favorite, the Scovie award winning “Do Not Eat This Chocolate” bar which contains a fiery dose of Ghost Chiles that left him a little red and quite speechless.
Mama Lil’s Peppers – The brilliant colors of chile brought us to this booth; the taste of these wonderful products kept us there awhile. We all enjoyed Mama Lil’s signature product, the Pickled Hungarian Goathorn Pepper in Oil, a recipe from owner, Howard Lev’s, mother. We also recommend the Peppalilli Mustard Relish, derived from British Piccalilli, a type of Indian mustard pickle relish.
Hodo Soy Beanery: A new innovation in soy products, Hoda Soy Beanery takes the layer of soy that rises to the top during soy milk production and presses it into sheets. Then they cut the sheets into noodles called “yuba”. We were served a small dish of tender, piping hot yuba noodles covered in an oil-based sauce with big flecks of chile. When asked about the sauce, they said it may be an upcoming product… stay tuned….
Beaverton Foods – For 82 years and 3 generations, Beaverton Foods has produced horseradish and mustards. This year, they introduced 3 new Ingelhoffer brand mustards, including a Sweet Hot Pepper Mustard blended with chipotle, habanero and jalapeño peppers. Their experimental recipes from their newly acquired wasabi farm, Pacific Farms in Florence, OR, included a wasabi balsamic dressing, Thai wasabi sauce, a wasabi cocktail sauce and the spicy, hot pure wasabi sauce. These new fresh-tasting wasabi products are absolutely delicious and we can’t wait for their arrival.
Collier’s Powerful Welsh Cheddar – For the first time at the show, Wales was represented by several food vendors, including Collier’s. Their intensely sharp cheddar isn’t spicy, but after all that spicy food, we needed a little dairy to cool our buds. Collier’s Cheddar is available at Whole Foods Markets; be sure to ask for it.
Beanitos – We also tasted some unusual chips, such as these corn-free Black Bean Chipotle BBQ Tortilla Chips, made from all natural ingredients: whole black beans, whole grain rice, pure veggie oil, and sea salt. The chips are surprisingly crunchy, spicy and flavorful, and are perfect for people looking for corn- or gluten-free or high-protein, low glycemic foods.
Diane’s Sweet Heat is a brand new business from Humboldt County, California, launched at the show. Diane’s Habanero Jams are mildly sweet with a lot of fruit flavor, finished with a delicious hint of Habanero. Kim likes the peach best and my favorite is the mango.
Bacon Hot Sauce – Bacon was another of this year’s popular foods. We found it in a Torani syrup, vodka, chocolate and hot sauce! The bottle says the sauce is great for burgers and mashed potatoes. I used it in a spicy bloody mary. Get this sauce at Golden West Specialty Foods.
At the end of the day, we exited the hall, sated, with our mouths still tingling with the wonderful flavors of chiles, chocolate, wine, and relish. Only 364 days until the next time….