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The 10th Annual Hot Pepper Awards Winners Announced!


Member Since 09 Jul 2010
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Spicy Hard Cider

05 January 2017 - 07:56 PM

We received a couple bottles of hard cider for Christmas. The first: Seattle Cider Company Three Pepper cider. The link will take you to the home page, if you choose to look, then the Three Pepper version can be found under the Limited tab.
Their description:
APPLES: Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala
TASTING NOTES: A small batch, limited edition cider available only at The Woods. Featuring an aroma of fresh, green jalapeños paired with a unique flavor profile, combining the taste of poblano, habanero and jalapeño peppers, this cider offers a kick followed by a subtly sweet finish. 
ABV: 6.9%
BRIX: 2.6
Our impression:
You will like this cider if you like monterey jack cheese. Seriously, it tastes a lot like the cheese, especially at first. In case you are thinking "apple", slow down. This doesn't taste strongly of apple. In a way it reminds me more of a nice sauvignon blanc with a bit of sparkle to it. The label has a slider bar as a scale from dry to sweet and the mark is set 3/4 of the way towards sweet. I don't know that I would rate its sweetness that high; I'd place it at half way, max, though others might disagree. I didn't really get "sweet" out of it until I was done drinking, so the label's description of "a subtly sweet finish" is pretty accurate.
Three peppers.... If you are a true chile head, your first couple of sips will leave you wondering where the chiles are. Eventually, though, you will pick up on a very mild heat. Unlike some chile-infused beverages, this doesn't really build as you continue to drink, but stays very mild. However, I think it is the pepper flavor that shifts it more towards monterey jack cheese than cider, in terms of flavor. At the same time, the pepper flavor itself isn't all that strong, either. 
Overall this is a light, crisp beverage, delightful to drink as long as you aren't demanding a strong apple flavor and nor a strong chile flavor or heat. It's easy to share with non-chilehead friends, though some might still find the heat intolerable. I can see buying it, myself, as a light summer drink. I do like a good sauvignon blanc, so this rates well with me.






EDIT: While their website states that this is available only at The Woods, the bottle I received was purchased at Jungle Jim's in the Cincinnati, OH area.

Any Tips for Cutting Hard Squash?

19 September 2016 - 04:33 PM

I like to get pie-size pumpkins, slice them thinly, then dehydrate the slices. But this year I've rather met my match with a pumpkin that was hard as a rock. I could not make a dent in it with my sharpest knife, and the veggie peeler simply complained loudly and let me know it was going to break if I continued with it. Ok..... so I finally boiled the thing for a few minutes, turning it in the water from time to time. Fine. Dandy. I managed to get an ultra-fine sliver of the peel off after this. Next step - boil it again. Long story short is that I was ultimately able to cut the darned thing into quarters. And I managed to do so without damaging the cutting board, the counter, or myself. The knife may be duller, but the sharpener will take care of that.


Still, the cured rind is still attached. I can slide my thumb (with difficulty) between that and the flesh and break off small pieces. But frankly, only so much. I finally decided that we are having pumpkin with hot peppers as part of dinner. The heck with getting the rest of the rind off - this baby will be nuked. I've been at this for an hour and a half, fuggetaboutit. 


Do any of you have tips or tricks for cutting open a particularly-hard pumpkin? Yes, it must still be edible at the end of the process!  ;) Yes, I seriously entertained the idea of using the table saw or the miter saw, but nixed those options already. Hmm.... maybe my Dremel with a fresh cutting disc on it..... 

Rojo Mexican Bistro, Rochester MI

15 August 2016 - 09:20 PM

Website: www.rojomexicanbistro.com


This restaurant/bar gets a mixed review - some aspects were very good, others, not so good. Rojo is a locally-owned restaurant with four (current) locations in Michigan. 


Atmosphere - Located in trendy downtown Rochester, it has a trendy feel to the decor so it fits right in. One entire wall was end-to-end windows so daytime diners have a good amount of natural light. We arrived at about 6pm so it was still daylight outside. 


Food -


Appetizer - Like most Mexican-style restaurants, this one serves chips and salsa as soon as diners sit down. What is brought to the table is a mild tomato-based sauce but the waiter/waitress will offer two additions - habanero and verde. We requested both. They were brought to the table in separate small condiment cups and the waitress advised that we could mix them in with the larger bowl of salsa as we chose. The habanero salsa was almost more of a habanero puree. While I don't personally care for habanero (due to its peculiar after-taste), I would rate it very good for those looking for habanero flavor. As expected, it had a habanero heat level. The verde was probably a mix of jalapeno and serrano and was decidedly my favorite. I did not mix it into the tomato salsa, but just ate it straight up. My son did mix the habanero into the tomato salsa and liked that mixture. I liked the salsas enough that I was really looking forward to our meal order.


Entree - Both of us ordered carne asada. Rojo's carne asada is boneless ribeye, cooked to order. I am a big fan of the ribeye cut... most of the time. The meat was cooked to my desired doneness (rare) and I did not care that the waitress failed to bring steak knives to the table, as it was easily cut with a butter knife. The piece of ribeye given to my son, however, was extremely disappointing. Every foodie knows that "fat means flavor", but that is only true up to a point. After that, fat is just fat. There was such little meat that I gave my son some from my dish. Additionally, the meat was barely seasoned. As already stated, I am a big fan of ribeye, but simply roasting such a cut does not make it carne asada, in my mind. If the meat had anything on it besides a little bit of salt, I could hardly tell. What's more, the traditional sides of beans and rice weren't as expected, either. The beans were undercooked and barely seasoned. The rice was hardly more than high school cafeteria-style white rice with some cilantro thrown in. I only had a couple bites of each and was glad the chips and salsa were so good - that along with the carne asada was filling enough for me.


Drink - This place should bill itself as a tequila bar as its primary business. They had almost every kind of tequila sold in the U.S. on display and available for order. The margarita was outstanding. Ok, plural - the margaritas were outstanding! The first glass of tea I received was nice, but the refill had either been over-brewed or sitting too long. But hey - we didn't go there for the tea!


Service - I've already mentioned that no steak knives were brought to us, and that was a good example of the level of service we received. Our orders were timely enough but the waitress had a just-doing-my-job type of attitude - polite but not friendly, and around just often enough to keep one from grumbling - not outstanding and not what one expects from a trendy restaurant in a trendy neighborhood.


Overall - Go for the drinks, chips and salsa, but go elsewhere for the main meal. In looking at restaurant reviews after returning home, I found most rated Rojo between 2.5 and 3 stars. (We had intended to go elsewhere but changed our minds after finding our original destination full of college students.) I would say the reviews are pretty accurate. One review site averaged 4 stars, but it had a low count of reviewers and I would not give Rojo that high of a rating. 

St. Mayhem White Wine

21 June 2016 - 07:37 PM

What's on the front label:



White Wine Aged On Habanero and Jalapeño Peppers


Back label:


This wine is not what you think... it is much, much more. We took fruit from some of our favorite vineyards and made an aromatic, complex and flavorful wine. Then, we aged this wine on fresh cut habanero and jalapeño peppers. Yes, it is a little spicy - ENJOY NOW, while the heat is perfect. 


Be warned... this wine WILL make you hungry.

To learn more... www.stmayhem.com


Vinted & bottled by St. Mayhem, Ukiah, California

art/farm wine - Napa, California

13.5% ABV, Contains Sulfites


Ok, now it's my turn. First up, aroma. The strongest scent is jalapeño, followed by a likely sauvignon blanc/reisling mix. However, the jalapeño is not overpowering. There is only a subtle hint of habanero. Sip, and I get the idea that there is some chardonnay in here, too, and maybe I was mistaken about the reisling smell. Again, the jalapeño flavor comes through more strongly than the habanero flavor. For me, this is good. I find habaneros to have an after-taste that I don't like, but I get none of that from this wine. The wine is light and crisp. It has a pleasant burn; not so strong as to deter from enjoying an entire glass or two for the average chile lover. Yet it is still hotter than likely the average midwesterner can handle. I like a crisp white wine and I like jalapeños, so this wine gets a big thumbs up from me. 

Every Try This as an Organic Garden Insect Repellent?

24 April 2016 - 10:47 AM

I heard a discussion on the radio a few days ago and promptly forgot it after arriving at my destination. But I remembered it this morning and got to wondering if anyone here has tried this and what the experience was. The premise is that bugs in your area have plants that they are attracted to and plants that they intentionally stay away from. Often, the plants they stay away from are considered to be weeds, while they're very attracted to your garden. So take some of this weed, make a tea of it, then spray down your garden plants with the tea.


I am thinking the possibility exists that they'd be going after some of the weeds if your garden didn't exist, that they're just less attracted in some cases than in others. But the possibility also exists that they are actually repelled by some of the weeds. 


I am aware of the theory that you should just plant bug-resistant plants near your desirable plants (a.k.a. "companion planting"), but that's not what I am asking about here. What if, instead of planting, say marigolds, you just made marigold tea and sprayed your desirable plants with them? I am not fond of marigolds at all, and had no luck when I attempted companion planting with them a number of years ago, so planting them is not an option I would even consider at this point. But I would consider buying some marigold plants just to make tea with, as an example.