By Vivienne Pearson
It’s chilli harvest season! Here are other ways to get into the flavour of these brightly coloured packages of heat.
Byron Bay Chilli Co
Initially growing chillis in the Byron region 25 years ago, Byron Bay Chilli Co now sources their produce mainly from Central America. Their hottest sauce is their Heavenly Habanero but owner/director John Boland (who still lives locally) says that Byron Bay Chilli Co is not about extreme heat. ‘It’s about complementing food, not dominating it,’ he says. www.byronbaychilli.com
Byron Bay Chilli Co’s first label sketch from 25 years ago
Based in Billinudgel, Church Farm started making hot sauce accidentally. After using excess produce from their garden then being asked for more by friends, a bottle found its way to a distributor. Their sauce has a smoked flavour, with ingredients roasted over coals by Andrew Morris before being sauced. With ginger and turmeric among the ingredients, this one is a bit different. Mullum and New Brighton Farmers Markets or www.churchfarmgeneralstore.com.
Byron Bay Pepper Co
After first getting into hot sauces during his years in the US, Trent Costin started making them for sale on his return to this region. Trent grows all his chillis from seed and has added some appropriate ‘glamour’ to his sauces, going by names such as Voodoo Serum and Pineapple Inferno, by using 1950s B-grade horror-movie images on labels.
South Golden Beach Chilli sauce
Another new player on the block and in the tradition of naming a brand after where it’s created. Available from The Shop (South Golden Beach) and the New Brighton General Store. [email protected]
The Green Bistro
Nathan Sheehan is another who names his hot sauces so that the bottle labels have almost as much punch as the sauce within. Krakatoa and Is There a God seem apt names for sauces that Nathan describes as being for ‘hardcore’ chilli fans. ‘They’re 99 per cent pure chilli,’ says Nathan of his creations that are available by the jar or, for the right person, can be served up in house with a curry. Byron Bowling Club, www.thegreenbistrobyronbay.com.au.
As well as being the Earl of Preserve, Byron Steve is also known as the Raj of Relish and the King of Chilli. Following the trend of evocative names, Steve’s hot sauces include Deadly Toughie Pants, which despite its name is more about flavour than heat. The same cannot be said for his Hellish Relish. ‘If you know someone who has never had the hottest, this one wipes them off the planet,’ says Steve. A new item is his Troppo Harissa, a Moroccan chilli paste with dried mango, date and apricots ground through.
Byron, Bangalow, Bruns, Mullum, The Channon and Byron Artisan markets or 0410 109 993.
The Stockpot Kitchen
The crew in the kitchen at the Bangalow Bowling Club love cooking up their Big Red sauces. They have two fermented hot sauces. ‘A lot of southern-style hot sauces have a fermented element,’ says Graeme Stockdale (aka ‘Big Red’). ‘The chilli mellows and gives a sour-saltiness.’ People in the know (consider yourself one) can buy it by the bottle, though at times Graeme has trouble keeping up with demand! Facebook: The Stockpot Kitchen
Cooking up hot sauce
The Chilli Factory
This one is a bit out of our region but is worthy of a mention as they held the title for the world’s hottest chilli for three years (2011–2013) with the evocatively named Trinidad Scorpion Butch T! A rumour that they were developing a new variety to again challenge the title was confirmed by Alex De Wit, one of the owners. ‘We’re working on it but it’s nature so we don’t know 100 per cent,’ he says. ‘We need good weather. The previous two years had too much rain. This year is looking better.’ www.thechillifactory.com
Using the spelling most common in Latino cultures is a Facebook group that all chilli aficionados are welcome to join. It was created by northern rivers hot-sauce aficionado, Aaron Hargreaves, who also sells sauces (and custom-built smokers) under the same name. ‘It’s a co-op for chilli lovers,’ Aaron says. ‘We’re trying to build the chilli industry in the region.’ Given the current growth of chilli growing and hot-sauce production, I’d say this is an aim well on its way to being met.
Chilli Events: If you want to combine chilli eating with a holiday, check out Sawtell’s Chilli Festival (Sat 1 July) or Sydney’s Chilli Challenge (Sat 25 Feb).