Ten minutes into the Chile Pepper Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, I essentially lost my sense of taste. The Osborne Garden was filled with rows of tents showcasing hot sauces, salsas, pickles, and chocolates. In terms of spiciness, items fell all across the spectrum. Almost everything I tried brought tears to my eyes, as I discovered a low tolerance for heat unbeknownst to me.
The rain-or-shine event was held on Saturday, October 5th from 11am-6pm and featured “forty fiery food artisans.” Most booths offered free samples and had full-size containers for sale. I indulged with purchases of Mike’s Hot Honey, Spicy ‘N Sweet’s “Nonna’s Spicy Sauce,” and two mini bottles of A&B American Style hot sauce. I quickly filled up on small tastes, eating a weird rotation of pickle-chocolate-hot sauce-chocolate-salsa. My mouth was instantly ablaze after the Torchbearer Sauces–guess I should have known! Chocolate soothed my palate, although much of it contained chili powder. Additional non-spicy food (and beer) from the garden’s Terrace Cafe was available for purchase nearby, but you had to eat it in a designated area.
On the Cherry Esplanade Stage, four “sizzling” bands composed a diverse, upbeat set: performances included Dance China, Dende Macedo, Bio Ritmo, and Stooges Brass Band. I was unfamiliar with all of these groups, but many couples and families positioned themselves close to the stage to dance. The music I overheard had a Latin flair to it, which seemed an appropriate “spicy” fit!
Unseasonably warm weather made for a beautiful afternoon for adults and children alike. People of all ages set up blankets along the vast green near the stage to picnic and camp out for hours. My friend and I took some time to explore the actual gardens, as we had never visited this part of Prospect Park before. We milled about the fifty-two acre facility, wandering into the many sections of the conservatory. Everything was blooming and beautiful–perhaps I will consider a BBG membership after this perfect day!