John “CaJohn” Hard has given me the exclusive announcement just now that the North Market Fiery Food Festival from years past has now changed it’s name and the venue and looks like it is now back and bigger than ever. It was the thing to do each and every year on President’s Day Weekend until the new management at the North Market decided that it was not important enough and rented out the top floor of the Market for the next 3 years. So after missing out this past year it was a blow to the faithful vendors and chileheads who made it to the event. When CaJohn inquired about the availability of such a premium venue and downtown Columbus location as the Bluestone, (which is an old church that has turned itself into a place to hold concerts), the promoters at the Bluestone jumped at the opportunity to host it. ILoveItSpicy is the first official sponsor of the new reinvigorated Columbus Festival at the Bluestone and we are very proud to have been asked to be a part of it as we have been in past North Market Festivals. Thank you CaJohn for the honor.
So now, please get your cell phone and PC calendars updated for President’s Day Weekend in Columbus. February 13-14, 2016 is the dates now. Anyone else looking forward to having the Festival back as well as the Fiery Asian Dinner? For more information and available vendor spots, please contact CaJohn, but you better do it tomorrow because the celebration has begun with some new tasty Scorpion Beer!
I have much much fun traveling to all these special shows, but I do not think I feel more at home than when I visit Columbus’ North Market for this show. Maybe it is how welcome I feel when I see my good friends CaJohn & Sue Hard in their element. Their show, their home and they really do bring the hospitality. Especially with their Annual Open House event. I know it isn’t just me they welcome with open arms, but everyone that comes into their spicy lair. They have treated me so much like a family over the years I get all warm and fuzzy when I see them and get a empty feeling in my belly when I leave. Of course the tummy issue could be a result of the fiery imbibing throughout my stay that has incinerated my innards. I am no Doctor, but I swear it is from leaving all my chilehead friends behind, not just the Hards, but I think I miss them the most.Read more
This is Stephanie Wilt, and she is the 2010 North Market Hot Sauce Champion. I do a quickie interview with her. Congrats Stephanie!Read more
Sorry it took so long, but I am still learning how to edit video, and I am doing a lousy job so far. It is plenty choppy because of my camera skillz. The jalapeno and wing eating videos will be coming up next.
The show was a lot of fun, but it is always a good time when surround by such a great group of people. Before the show, we had a gathering at CaJohn’s Open House. There was some very delicious food, highlighted by an Orzo Shrimp Etoufee and some scrumptious chicken wings. One of the new vendors that came in from Upstate New York, Johnny and Nicole of Heartbreaking Dawns came bearing brownies. Long after they had left, those brownies became the signature dish of the evening. Using some of CaJohn’s peanut butter on top of the brownie, mere words could not convey the pure heaven that erupted in our mouths. Once the word got around by yours truly, the brownies were devoured in mere moments.
Beyond the food, CaJohn’s factory was still in the works and was not completed yet. So another Open House will have to take place as always the Monday following Weekend of Fire, first Monday in August. We got to sign our names on a wall in the main part of the warehouse. I got an additional honor by CaJohn and got to sign in front of a doorway, that John entitled the “Buddah Room”. No, it wasn’t to be a future bathroom. I was truly honored, but I am afraid the honor was bestowed via beer goggles. Nevertheless, Sue aka Wicked Wanza, aka John’s better half, informed me that paint would take care of my autograph all in due time.
It was fun hanging and chatting it up with some of my Chilehead friends, but the event the next day was what we all came for. My video only offers a small look at some of the people behind the scenes. There were 3 amateur contests- salsa, hot sauce(I was a judge in this one) and chili. The chili also had a professional level as well. There were 2 eating contests- a jalapeno eating contest which I will show a video of soon after this video, and likewise for the spicy wing eating contest soon after the jalapeno one is up.
You will notice in the video that I said I was not going to enter my hotel made salsa, but I decided to anyway. I figure if I was going to spend the time and money trying to make it, then why not at least get some feedback. I had a lot of issues with making it. I forgot to bring the jalapeno hot sauce I usually use, although I did have a worthy substitute from CaJohn’s Fiery Foods. I also bought a garlic press, and forgot to buy the garlic. I did get some minced garlic at another store later on. The worst part was the cilantro I thought I bought ended up being parsley. At the North Market green grocer, they put both leafy herbs together, and they look very much alike. I smelled the one I chose and it smelled like cilantro. I guess if you place it next to cilantro that might happen. When I opened the bag at the hotel, it only slightly smelled like cilantro. With midnight closing in, I had no choice but to use all the basil that I was using instead. It went from Mexican style to a weak Italian. The score I got was a lot more than I expected. In fact, one of the judges gave me a perfect 20 score. I don’t think whomever that was knows salsa, but who am I to argue? Maybe next year I will be better prepared.
The hot sauce judging was fun. By the time I had the last hot sauce, offered by the Chilehead legend, Jon Passow, I had a nice endorphin rush going on. Yet, with Jon’s sauce, it was quite over the top heatwise and I heard cursing amongst the judges. I honestly thought it was the worst tasting of all the sauces, mainly due to the unripe peppers he used, but I did love the heat. It was too thick for me and way too bitter.
There was some very tasty sauces, but I think most of the top ones still needed some minor tinkering with the recipes. The same could be said with the salsa competition. Our friend, Sandi Kraft took home the grand prize in that one. A mango cilantro entry was quite a fresh experience, even with the black-eyed peas that didn’t seem to fit texture-wise. I was too busy battling Passow’s burn to get any names of the winners from the hot sauce contest. I am sorry for not listing those. Hopefully someone that remembers will stop by with the info.
I will have more wrap-up with the jalapeno and wing eating contests videos. So look for those in the upcoming days.Read more