Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Spicing up the weekend at the Chilli Festival!

This weekend witnessed the return of the 4th annual Chilli Festival at Frosts Garden Centre in Willington, Beds. I'm ashamed to admit that this year saw my first experience of the event, but I will certainly return next year.

An array of beautiful, chilli-laden plants greeted us on entering the outdoor area of the Centre, now festively adorned with banners, posters and the odd sombrero. An impressive crowd had already gathered, and the live band,  Andalus, (http://www.andalusband.com/) were in full swing.

We decided to make our way to the abundance of stalls, all displaying the their tempting tasty wares. I'm a self-confessed cheese-oholic, so we made our start at The Cheese Board stall. A selection of Windyridge's spiciest concoctions greeted us, ranging from 'Chip Shop Curry' flavour, to the (slightly terrifying sounding) 'Afterburn', all of which were being offered as tasters in bite-sized morsels. Having tested a few (would be rude not to...),    we settled on purchasing the mature cheddar with Mexican spices, a really enjoyable cheese with plenty of flavour. See their link below and view what they have to offer!


Moving on, we sampled chilli-based alcoholic beverages. Unusual sounding I know, but stick with me. Fallen Angel Brewery had on offer a selection of 4 drinks, all of which can be found on their website:http://www.fallenangelbrewery.com/Fallen%20Angel.html. Attempting the Scotch Bonnet Cyder with admittedly a little apprehension, I was pleasantly surprised! A lovely, full-bodied cyder, the chilli really came through, but with only a small amount of heat, making for a really delicious cold drink. Next up, feeling slightly braver, I was talked into skipping the next couple of heat-levels and leaping into a sample of  Black Death. This devil is a porter/stout style infused with Naga chilli, which after some research, has proven to be a ridiculously hot variety (had I known this previously, I'm not entirely certain I could have been convinced to drink this beer!). Again, I was surprised, happily, that, rather than causing me to run, tongue singed to the nearest water supply, it was an enjoyably spicy beer, lots of flavour with just a kick at the end of each swallow.

Further stalls visited resulted in the purchase of a gorgeous Spicy Apple Chutney produced by The Indian Orchard based in Bletchley, a product proudly championed as being based on a family recipe past down from generation to generation, and a lovely rich chilli mayonnaise from Chiltern Cold Pressed, a rapeseed producer who also make a delightful selection of flavoured oils, vinaigrettes and infusions: http://www.chilterncoldpressedrapeseedoil.co.uk/products/#product-range.

Having thoroughly exhausted the stalls (and ourselves), we took a seat and enjoyed and a nice cold drink while listening to the fantastic music.

This made for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon out, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what delights are on offer next year.
Adorable cacti display

Andalus in full swing!

The crowd enjoying all the delicious samples available at The Cheese Board stall.

A huge variety of different chilli plants were on display. I may have to include one in the garden!

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