Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Hottest Hot Pepper

There's a new record for the hottest chili pepper:

Researchers at New Mexico State University have discovered the world’s hottest chili pepper. It's called the Bhut Jolokia, a variety originating in Assam, India.

In tests that yield Scoville heat units (SHUs), the Bhut Jolokia reached 1 million SHUs, almost double the SHUs of former hotshot Red Savina (a type of habanero pepper), which measured a mere 577,000. The result was announced today by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Let's put this in perspective. A jalapeno's Scoville rating is 2500-5000 depending upon the strain. The Bhut Jolokia is 200 times hotter than that. It's twice as hot as a Red Savina, and it's in the range of many extracts.

Military grade pepper spray is about 500,000 Scovilles. The civilian stuff is 100,00 Scovilles.

It's odd that this was grown in India since, while Indian food is hot, it's not hyper hot. The hottest food I've had in India was Thai food.

This reminds me of an old joke. The sun is 27M degrees F at it's core. If you bite into one of these peppers, you'll get an effect that is half as hot as that!

I wonder which vendor will be first to bottle a sauce based upon this pepper?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Operation Sauce Drop Feedback

Ok, if that isn't the the coolest picture you've seen in a long time there's no helping you.

Perhaps a reader can identify that aircraft for us? Looks like a Blackhawk to me....I think the No Survivors package on the dash sends to appropriate message to Al Qaeda!

Go ahead and take a look at the Operation Sauce Drop Feedback page. The troops are saying some truly wonderful things about this program. They really appreciate your donations!

Haven't made a donation yet? How about skipping a cup of coffee at Starbucks and putting a smile on a service person's face and a little fire on their taste buds? A $5 donation to Operation Sauce Drop will accomplish that, and more!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pork Loin and Sauerkraut in a Dutch Oven

Last year I was lucky enough to receive a Dutch Oven for Christmas. I've made a few things in it in the oven, but hadn't really experimented with it on a fire until last week. The results were amazing.

Cover the bottom of the dutch oven with sauerkraut. Place a pork loin on top of the kraut. Add one cup of liquid -- all I had on hand was water, but a white wine or a dark beer would be even better. Season with caraway seed, black pepper, and garlic to taste. Then cover with a liberal squirt of a spicy brown mustard.

Put the over on a bed of coals, with coals on the lid. Turn the lid a quarter turn every 15 minutes, and cook for one hour.

Slice the pork loin on the bias, and serve with kraut. I also threw in a few chicken sausages that I had grilled a few days before.

Absolutely wonderful. The pork loin comes out fork tender and juicy.

The only thing I would change if I was serving this to a group of people would be to garnish with some red cabbage, because otherwise it's a very yellow/white dish. And some diced apples in the pot would have had a nice effect too, but I'm still doing the low carb thing.

East vs West

I was in Jackson, NC with a friend this weekend and we discovered that it was Jackson Day. There were several pig cookers set up in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly, and they were offering samples of their barbeque.

My friend, who is from near Lexington, and I tried the Q. It was a typical chopped Q with vinegar and hot red pepper flakes, fairly common for the region. I rated it about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.

My friend was completely shocked as disgusted with the Q. She didn't like the pepper flakes in the meat at all, and thought there was too much vinegar. That makes sense, because she's from the center of the piedmont style barbeque world.

So the battle between east and west continues...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Junior's Long Island Pizza in Durham - Low Carb Hurricane Game!

Last night we went to Junior's Long Island Pizza in Durham to watch the Carolina Hurricanes dominate the Ottawa Senators. The Canes rocked and we had a great meal.

I've been doing the low carb thing the last month or so, and it's very hard to stick to it at a sports bar. Let's face it, most pub food is high carb. While I love onion rings, garlic bread, and fried calamari, they're just not on the menu right now. And I don't even want to talk about beer.

Junior's is located at the old Damon's location, and it's still a great venue for watching a game. 4 wide screen TVs in the dining room, and tons of other TVs on the walls. The added benefit is they have the remote sound systems so you can listen to the audio of your choice. That's much better than listening to the sound of a football game while trying to guess what Chuck or John would be saying about the Canes as you're watching.

There were lots of low carb choices on the menu. I didn't feel like a salad, so I went with the chicken wings (not fried) as an appetizer. The waiter made a big deal about how hot the wings would be, but I don't think he realized who he was dealing with. They were a touch hotter than a Texas Pete based sauce, but certainly not in the Dave's Gourmet range. But very good.

I got creative for the main meal. I ordered three sides: sausage, meatballs, and Italian vegetables. The sausage and vegetables were excellent, but the meatballs kick it up another notch. I've had meatballs literally the world over, and these are on par with the best. I think you have to go to Mulberry Street in NYC to do as well.

The only downside is that we pretty much had a private dining room for the game. Except for the bar, which seemed to be doing a brisk business, we were the only ones there for most of the game. So come on Caniacs. Instead of fighting for standing room at the Ale House, cruise two blocks to Juniors and enjoy better food and a great atmosphere.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How To Market a Barbeque Sauce

This question was posted on Yahoo Answers a while back. I think the "best" answer deserves a fisking:

A lot of planning. First you need to perfect your recipe so you can make large enough quantities for canning/bottling.
Not completely wrong, but to not talk about the economics of the ingredients you're going to use in your sauce as part of the recipe phase is amateurish, at best. You can have the best sauce in the world, but if it costs you $7.00/bottle to make, you're not going to be able to sell it. And converting your recipe to 150 gallon batches is more than just simple math. And it can be rather expensive to mix up 150 gallons of something that turns out to taste bad.
Next you will have to rent a commercial space to make the sauce, because you can't make, for sale, any commercial foods in your house.
This is bad advice. True, you can't just mix it up in your house, but in most states you'll have to get a certification to even be able to rent a commercial kitchen. In North Carolina, it's pickle school. The chances that there is a kitchen with the right equipment near you are pretty slim, and the transportation cost of traveling to the kitchen is going to be a huge hit on your profit margin that doesn't apply to your competitors.

You're far better off just finding a co-packer. They can most likely produce your batch for less per bottle than you can do it yourself, and they've already covered all the legal hurdles.
Then hit all the local markets, not the chains and sample it out on one of those table stations. Also try selling to a restaurant or some food service company.
That's your best bet, but I'd add a few things. 1) You'll have to offer consignment terms to the local market. They're taking a huge risk by giving you shelf space (which they don't have much of), and there's no way they can afford to pay you up front for the sauce. Think about the economics of putting out a free case in every market you want to be in. If you can't handle that, it's not going to work. 2) The only way to sell an unknown sauce is to sample it out. The label won't sell it for you. People try things from companies they know. That's why Kraft Barbeque Sauce outsells Jim's Own Homestyle at the supermarket, even though Kraft is in the little leagues for taste and Jim's is Michael Jordan. It's not about taste. 3) Sampling is very hard work. You'll be giving up your Saturdays, working an eight hour shift to expose your product to 200 people, 20 of which may buy the sauce, and 2 of which will become repeat customers. And that's if your sauce is really good. With a margin of $1/bottle, you're making $2.50/hour. You won't quite cover your gas to get to the store if it's not close.
This list is very abridged and it is more expensive than it sounds.
Yeah, a lot more expensive. $20K is a standard figure just to get the first bottle onto a shelf. Add in the cost of your time for 3 years of blood, sweat, and tears to get a small business built. And in the end, you might have a job that pays $50K/year. Sure, there are some that make it to the big time. The Bone Suckin Sauces people have hit the big time. I even saw it for sale in London. But I remember them starting out in the early 1990s, and they had a huge distribution network behind them to get started (Ford's Fancy Fruits is a huge food distributor in NC), so they rolled out much faster than you will.
If you want more ideas, there are a lot of articles on the Internet, which is also another way to sell, get in touch with an Internet sales company and market it that way.
This is perhaps the worst advice offered in the article.

You cannot sell a sauce on the internet that people haven't heard of. If they won't buy it in the store by just picking up the bottle and reading the label, there's absolutely no way they're going to purchase it on the internet. It makes a lot more sense to market through someone like Carolina Sauce, but even they can't perform magic if there isn't any demand for your sauce. The service the internet marketer is providing is the framework, distribution, and fulfillment end of things. They can quickly dominate the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for a given produce because they're an authority site. You can't put up your own web site and hope to compete with that. They can spread their costs across hundreds of products, and you've got just a few sauces. Nope, the internet for sauces only makes sense once you've started to build a demand.
If you really believe in it, it will be easier to sell. Good Luck.
Just remember, there are 1,000 other people that have the best sauce any of their friends have ever tasted trying to launch their sauce this year. 2 of them will be around in 3 years.
experience. I was going to sell an array of sauces, but I am going to wait until I get my on restaurant.
To paraphrase Mick Dundee, "That's not experience..." Take it from someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and worn it out. This is a vanity business. It's cool to see your name on a bottle, and you'll most likely build a small following of huge fans, but you're not going to get rich.

And from the other answers:
Word of mouth is the best way to advertise.Try entering some bbq competitions in your area. People will get to talking and then maybe that will help spread the word to someone who has a connection.
Yeah, sure. That will get you a few hundred loyal customers that purchase a bottle every month or so, if you're lucky. Can you live on $200/month?

As usual, the business value of information you get on the internet is worth what you paid for it. So go buy something from my Amazon store and pay for this advice! :}

The Tech Economy is Booming

It really feels like 1998. And I'm not saying that because I'm both a barbeque maven and a techie. I base that on my personal indicator of economic activity:

The Grilling Greg Restaurant Service Indicator -- GGRIS. When it's high (100) service is great, but nobody can afford to eat out. When it's low (0), service is terrible and the restaurants are full.

During the tech bust of 2000, restaurant service was fantastic. Lots of people that fancied themselves web designers ended up waiting tables, and were glad for the job. As things loosened up, they moved on to better jobs, but the overall quality of people available to fill the service positions was still pretty high. In general, there were more people than jobs, so restaurants could be a bit picky about who they hired. And there were less people at restaurants because the techies had less disposable income, so service wasn't so strained. If you were lucky enough to be able to ride out the tech bust with a good paying job, service at restaurants was downright great for a few years.

As techies become employed, they started to eat out again. And the pool of highly qualified people started to dwindle. Now we're back to 1998, where you're lucky if your waitstaff even speaks english in a comprehensible fashion. And the restaurants are full of techies with big salaries, so restaurant management could really care less that their service is terrible. Where else are you going to go for lunch in RTP?

I think the GGRIS is running about 10 right now. If you're a techie, I suppose you'd rather have a low GGRIS because then you can afford everything else. But until the tech bubble bursts again, I think I''ll just devote more time to making my own barbeque -- which is better than any restaurant can produce, but that's another post.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More Good things about Chili Peppers

Scientific American tells us that Chili Pepper Cocktail Blunts Pain
A key ingredient in chili peppers, chased with a local anesthetic, could be just the ticket for ending pain in the dentist's chair and on the operating table without the potentially dangerous side effects and all-numbing aftermath of traditional anesthesia, says a new Harvard Medical School study.

Researchers report in Nature that a combination of capsaicin (the ingredient that gives chili peppers their bite) and QX-314, a derivative of lidocaine (a local anesthetic used by dentists and to relieve inflamed, itchy skin), effectively silences pain-sensing nerve cells without disturbing other neurons that control motor function and other sensations.
So I guess there's something to the idea that you can get stoned on hot sauce!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Wacky Brits

The Telegraph has an interesting article on barbeque in the UK. Or more to the point, an interpretation of barbeque in the US from a British viewpoint.

It's full of gems. Such as:

Quite what you might be smoking tends to depend on the region. In the south east, barbecue refers to pork, Texans (not surprisingly) prefer beef, usually brisket, and Kentucky is known for mutton.
Kentucky mutton barbeque? Hmm, I'll have to try that.

Or how about:
Barbecue sauces One of the best US brands, Stubbs, can be found at Tesco and Waitrose stock the Bone Suckin' range of sauces and rib rubs. Paul Newman's sauces are also widely available.
Stubbs one of the best? I'll grant it's better than Kraft, but one of the best? And Bone Suckin Sauce has made it all the way to London? Say it ain't so!

Frankly, I don't see how they can possibly make barbeque in the UK. Think of how expensive it would be to ship all the North Carolina oak wood they'd need.