Posted October 3, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Events

BBG Chile Pepper Fiesta A Bust

This weekend the wife and I headed out to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for their over-hyped Chile Pepper Fiesta. I started getting a bad feeling about the whole trip when we realized we would have to take a subway shuttle (aka bus) from Atlantic to the park since the tracks between Atlantic and Prospect Park are under construction. Getting jammed onto a bus with a bunch of smelly people is never a fun thing. Nevertheless as soon as we got to the park, the greenery & trees immediately eased my concerns and made the trip to Brooklyn worth it (sort of).

We paid $10 to get in and shortly after entering the wife & I high tailed it to the food section. Set up in the Cherry Esplanade section of the Gardens was a large stage flanked by 8 food booths. 8 booths but only 6 food options: Green Thai Chile, Beef Bratwurst, Brooklyn Chili, Gumbo, Chips & Salsa and a booth proclaiming the “Best Beef Burrito” in town. There was also a dessert booth but they were only selling plain Apple Pie & Chocolate truffle cake. This being the Chile Pepper Festival I was expecting Jalapeno Apple Pie at the very least.

Stuck with such limited choices the wife and I both decided to take our chances with the “Best Burrito in Town”. I’m not sure this place was run by anyone with any cooking experience; they didn’t even roll the burritos for us. But at least that allowed me to get a good shot of the mess.

The server made it a point to assure me that the peppers weren’t hot; turns out they were only roasted red peppers. What a rip off! I didn’t come to the Chile Pepper Festival to only eat those damn roasted red peppers from the can. It’s a good thing the beef part of the burrito was at least marginally good.

Jonah from the Burrito Blog is probably shaking his head at this disaster called a burrito. Oh well, out of all the food choices it was probably the best one. The Thai Green Chile looked as though it was made with Green Peas and the Brooklyn Chili was no better then that Stagg Chili from a can.

The African-American Drum & Dance Ensemble was very entertaining, probably the best out of the entire festival.

After watching the African Dancers we decided to cut through the Japanese section of the Garden and hit the visitor center where more informational and tasting booths were supposed to be set up. The turtles were sunning & enjoying the nice weather.

The remainder of the festival was not much more exciting then the food section. Inside the visitors center I did happen across Sugar Works LLC who make these precisely detailed candy chile peppers. I bought a habanero looking one for $1.50 – I’ll let you know how it tastes when I do eventually eat it.

There were only two hot sauce tasting booths set up: & Guyank Brand. I chatted briefly with the folks from Guyank – we met at the NM Fiery Food Show meanwhile the wife managed to get through the mob to try a bit of HaHa’s Pyro Pineapple. Coincidently, JD just recently contacted me about doing a review of his products here on HSB. Unfortunately since there were only the two tables set up, they were completely swarmed and I couldn’t get wedged in to speak with him. JD – if you’re reading this, nice tattoo & after hearing the wife say the Pyro Pineapple was tasty, I can’t wait to give it a whirl.

There was also a spice mixing table and a booth run by the “Chile Goddess” from . But neither of the booths offered any chile pepper tasting or anything close to it. We also managed to catch the tail end of a cooking exhibit with Chef Francisco Guzman from Besito. He whipped up a “hot” salsa which had half the crowd gasping for air when they tried it, but it left the wife and me wondering where the heat was. But it did convince us that we need to try Besito’s one of these nights.

All in all the Brooklyn Botanic Garden threw a Chile Pepper Fiesta without the Chile Peppers. It may have been a fiesta (due to the music & dancers) but they definitely need to add more chile peppers. I would like to see chile pepper tasting booths, maybe a jalapeno eating contest, more cooking exhibits, less book exhibits and maybe even a few booths were folks can buy chile peppers & plants. Not to mention more hot sauce and salsa tasting booths.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog