Peperoncino Festival 2006, Part 2 of 2

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   By Harald Zoschke

… and even more Chile Peppers

Pepper Pods for Sale

Pods of all sorts of varieties were also available from Miceli, a nursery from the town of Scalea, just north of Diamante.

Pepper Bouquet

Their talented staff also created wonderful chile bouquets, showing off the potential of ornamental peppers. The pepper twigs were assembled in florist’s foam.

Viva Habanero!

Besides countless concoctions made with Calabrian peperoncini, we also spotted an increasing number of habanero-powered products this year.

Francesco (Dolci)

Our long-time business partners Dolci just got their brand new chocolates ready, filled with habanero cream. They’re delicious and really, really hot. Of course we instantly added the product to our  Pepperworld Shop which will offer the product exclusively in German-speaking Europe.

Palmino Raffo

Sabbia d’ Oro restaurant, known for its hot & spicy gourmet creations, dished out “habanero-perfumed tuna”. Tuna is a local catch here, fresh, tender and full of flavor. Sabbia chef Palmino Raffo could hardly catch up with demand.

 De Bondt

The same is true for a new bittersweet chocolate made by De Bondt. Normally chile chocolate bars are made by adding powder to the cocoa mass in its liquid state. De Bondt adds candied habanero chunks to the choc bars’ bottom instead. Crunchy, hot and tasty. 


Tuna Tip

“What’s the house specialty?”
“That would be me, Sir!”

Peppery Products …

Blue Pill Replacement?

In Calabria it is often pointed out these days that peperoncini may be helpful for lovers. We just hope that this vendor of peperoncino products won’t run into trouble with the manufacturer of those popular little blue pills 😉 

Calabrian Lanzelotti company presented honey and extra virgin olive oil. (With the above love potion, where the heck do they find all those extra virgins? OK, lame joke.)

Hot Honey




At Magnifici del Mezzogiorno’s booth, longtime Calabrian friends and business partners of ours, Renate discovered various new chile-spiced pasta varieties, a hot & spicy bruschetta mix and a fine Olio Santo (chile-infused olive oil). During nightly brainstorming, we also came up with various new “hot” product ideas.

 Magnifici del Mezzogiorno, Renate

… and Peppery Pendants

In previous years it was difficult to find decent chile pepper jewelry. A different story this year – stores in town as well as festival booths offered a wide variety in “hot” accessoires, with a price range from just a few Euro to several hundred Euro. Here are just a few examples. 

Pepper Jewelry      Pepper Jewelry

Pepper Jewelry

 Pepper Jewelry


Chile jewelry for every taste and budget.

Pepper Jewelry        Pepper Jewelry         Pepper Jewelry

… and Peppery Party Ideas

While strolling the festival, we found some cute ideas where we said to ourselves: “Selves, why don’t we try that at home, at your next party!”

Party Idea

Peperoncino jam is quite commonplace in Calabria, and we also sell it at our shop. We even have our own brand manufactured in Italy, using oranges, habanero and ginger, another one with red hot peppers and strawberries. So if you happen to have a hot & spicy spread, jam or marmalade, why not use it the next time you fix crepes. Should also work great with Dave’s Sweet-Hot Mulberry Jam recipe.

Party Idea

Next time you prepare bruschetta bites or cheese cubes for your party, why not serve them on a pumpkin – inexpensive, neat and handy!

Party Idea



We also liked this decoration idea by “Ristorante Al Rudere”: If you scoop a water melon (red inside) as shown, you’ll get this attractive pattern. Decorate with hot peppers and use the removed melon parts for a refreshing sorbet or habanero melon salsa.

Now, what does the ultimate party vehicle look like?
This is what it looks like. A Moto Guzzi based trike,
equipped with two barrels (pardon, barriques) of
Calabrian red wine.

We were wondering though how this trike would behave in curves at 100 mph, with half empty barrels. Which also brings up the question about the open container law.

When gazing at the “Moto Gusti”, the owner gave me a bottle of the wine he was promoting. Nice!


Restaurant Recommendation

Our restaurant recommendation this year is the
Osteria dei Murales in Diamante, Corso Garibaldi 5. Just a few steps from the Lungomare, you can’t miss their menu – at least during the Peperoncino Festival (in general, off-season down here is a different story. Many restaurants are closed then, or their offerings are limited).

Stuff we tried and liked: Penne al Arrabiata (hot and tasty), Parmegiana (a delicious eggplant gratin – order a day ahead), Baccala (dried and rehydrated fish), and tagliatelle with mussels and porcini mushrooms (sounds like an odd combination but tastes great). Their Vino rosso de la Casa was great, so was their service. We went here three times within one week.

 Osteria dei Murales

Mural (Wall Painting)

Since 2005, smoking is strictly prohibited in all Italian restaurants, with stiff penalties for both hosts and guests for violations.

In our opinion, particularly the Mediterranian cuisine with its fresh ingredients and terriffic wines can be enjoyed much better that way, without annoying secondhand smoke.

Regarding smokefree environments, Germany will probably stay Neandertal for a couple more years to come, that’s why we like traveling Italy (and the U.S., for that matter) even more.

The Murales in the restaurant’s name refers to the murals, the wall paintings Diamante is well known for (see also here). Unfortunately, those precious pieces of art fade quickly in the salty sea breeze, but every year, new murals appear, making strolling historic old town Diamante always interesting.

Capsicum Art

Capsicum Art

Various Italian artists work with chile peppers, including watercolor paintings. The festival managers assembled an impressive number of beautiful aquarels dealing with capsicum species, and exhibited them in a shopping district’s passage. Here’s just a small sampling of what we saw.

And finally… the Chile Eating Contest

As every year, the Peperoncino Festival wouldn’t be complete without the Campionato italiano mangiatori di peperoncino, the Italian Chile-Eating Championship. Held on Diamante’s Municipal Plaza, the event drew a bigger crowd than ever and was broadcasted on national TV.

We already reported in detail about a previous contest (see here), and this year’s competition wasn’t much different: A dozen leather-stomached fire-eaters munching down fiery-hot chopped chile peppers, sweating, and suffering silently but witnessed by the crowd on a big screen.

“Chief” Gianni Pellegrino


As every year, the contest was hosted by the highly entertaining Gianni Pellegrino.This year he appeared with an impressive Indian chief’s headgear, made completely from fresh chile pods.

The first two contestants surrendered after eating just 20 grams. Wimps! The rest of the fearless gang kept on munching til the bitter end, and eventually, the winner, Aurelio Schiavo (pictured right), had consumed 500 grams — still 55 grams less than Mauro Ciocca, the 2005 champion.

As always, we wished all contestants a pleasant “day after”.

Pellegrino and 2006 Winner Aurelio Schiabo

Gianni with 2006 Winner Aurelio Schiabo

Peppers in Parma

Dr. Mario Dadomo

On our way back home we stopped in Parma to visit another good friend that we met through the mighty pod: Chile pepper and tomato breeder Dr. Mario Dadomo (see also here). Mario’s specialty are ornamental peppers, and here’s just one of the many chile varieties we saw in his hacienda’s pepper fields, an incredible flash of colors at this time of the year.

Ornamental Pepper Plant

Ciao, see you next time…

Now it’s about time to rush home,
work is waiting.

Hope you enjoyed our little road trip
to Bella Italia.

–Harald & Renate

.Going Home


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  Story and Photos by Harald Zoschke



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