Pittsboro Pepper Power

October 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Peppers

Invite a dozen local farmers to harvest more than a thousand pounds of peppers, pork and produce. Urge two dozen creative chefs, brewers and distillers to concoct special nibbles and swigs. Blend with live music and games.  Add in sun and blue sky.

Those were the magic ingredients that drew more than a 1,000 hungry, thirsty revelers to the seventh annual Pepper Festival. It was a memorable Sunday afternoon at Briar Chapel’s new Great Meadow neighborhood, and another opportunity to celebrate the heat and light sown by one amazing  foodshed.

That’s what the Pepper Festival is all about.  And Abundance NC, WUNC, Briar Chapel and other community sponsors delivered once again.

Pepper Fest originated in tiny Pittsboro as a taste test for new localized pepper varieties adapted by Doug Jones, the genius cultivator behind Piedmont Biofarm. The celebration has grown into an annual harvest, cooking and brewing rite. This year’s Fall ritual featured Jones’ Tobago, described as a “seasoning pepper, huge on flavor (not unlike Habanero), but tiny on heat.” In other words, delicious and digestible.

DougJones

Farmer Doug and his Tobago peppers

Tobago flavored the secret sauce pleasing palates all afternoon at food booths circling the meadow. We tasted peppers everywhere. We found them pureed, sauteed, chopped and blended. They seasoned pork and polenta, sausage sliders, beefy snacks, and spicy soups. Even the local brews, wines and spirits were pepper-infused, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Emcees Eric Hodge of WUNC Morning Edition and Bryan Welch of the Utne Reader kept it real on stage. Phil Cook and Christy Smith provided a mellow mix of live original tunes. And we applauded the new Pepper King and Queen (Phil Cook and Kristy Yule), for selling so many festival tickets.

As always, the real stars were the farmers and chefs who served up fresh, inspired fare, and the festival-goers who ate it up.

Thanks to:

Piedmont Biofarm, Bennett Farming, Dutch Buffalo Farm, Fiddlead Farm, Gladstone Acres, Granite Springs, Okfuskee Farms, Penny Lane, Dog Day, and Screech Owl Greenhouse. And 518 West, Angelina’s Kitchen, Cackalacky, CCCC Natural Chefs, City Tap, Cottage Lane Kitchen, Fair Game Beverage, Fearrington Granary, Fiction Kitchen, Galloway Ridge, Glass Half Full, Green Planet Catering, La Residence, Lilly Den, Little Hen, Lucky 32, Mystic, Oakleaf, Provence, P.G Werth, Small Potatoes, Top of the Hill, Tribeca Tavern and Vimala’s Curryblosson Café.

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