Last weekend’s outing was to Challock Chilli Fest at Victoriana Nurseries in Kent. We chickened out of Saturday’s rain, but last Sunday was gorgeously sunny. At a 140-mile roundtrip it’s a bit of a trek, but Michelle and I really do love our chillies.
Some other chilli festivals seem to be more about selling hot sauce/pickles/condiments/chilli ornaments than the actual chilli but Victoriana do it properly. There’s a tent with trays and trays of chillies laid out for tasting – typically with a few red-faced blokes at one end, choking and spluttering over tiny slices of a Jolokia or Naga.
It is a really good idea – you can taste or buy individual chillies for a charity donation, and there’s a tray of seed packets temptingly at the end of the table. I played in the shallow end with the milder to medium pain peppers, whereas Michelle was jumping off the 6m diving board in the ridiculously hot section, but she’s made of sterner stuff than I.
The chillies above were bought for friends who foolishly said they liked superhots. I think their heads need examining. L-R: Devil’s Tongue Chocolate, Devil’s Brew, Firecracker, Fatalli Yellow, Peach Bhut Jolokia (not ripe), Cheiro Roxa.
Behind the tasting tent is a polytunnel chock-full of seriously impressive plants so you can see what your plants could look like if they were in the right size pots, all warm and happy. (As opposed to mine which are shivering, probably peckish and in small pots) Plus it’s perfectly placed for replenishing the tasting tent.
All plants have eye-height labels – handy for noting new varieties for next year’s growing. I particularly liked Nosferatu, a dark-leaved plant with black chillies, and Aji Omnicolour (right), which are just beautiful and will be living in my greenhouse next year.
Through the far exit there are stalls of stuff and things. Mostly local, all friendly and enthusiastic. My swag bag filled up with tamarind paste, chutneys, relishes and marinades. No hot sauce though – I’ve more than enough chillies growing at the plot to keep us and possibly all my friends & family self-sufficient in hot sauce for the year!
Categories: Diary 2016