Inside Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual Chile Pepper Fiesta

Last Saturday, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden held their annual Chile Pepper Fiesta, a mix of music, dancing, beer, chocolate, and, best of all, chile peppers. Being a hot sauce junky myself, I was really excited for my quest around the numerous kimchee and spicy pickle stalls to try to find something that would really make my throat burn.

While the event hosted various educational lectures on green living, gardening, and cooking, the real fun here was the samples. Various spicy dips, vegetables, condiments, salsa’s and more were dispersed around the gardens, allowing for a picturesque setting while you (willingly) set your mouth on fire. Although I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn’t enjoy trying, my top pick for tasty and spicy sauces was Grace Foods. They sell a line of Caribbean-style products, and their Grace Jerk Hot Seasoning, which has hot peppers from Jamaica as well as Scotch Bonnet peppers, was flavorful while creating that intense but enjoyable spice that creeps up on you at the end. Karma Sauce also had an array of sauce flavors to sample, including Good, Bad, Curry, Smokey, and Catsup. The Bad was actually really Good, tasting like a sweet red pepper and then slowly bringing on the heat. I was definitely thankful for the live bands at the event and the beer tent to be able to relax and reset my palate.

While sampling the savory sauces, drinking pumpkin beer, and watching Caribbean dancers made for a great day, the real highlight was in Osbourne Garden, which had been transformed into a Chile Chocolate Wonderland. While I always put hot sauce and peppers on my meals, the concept of mixing chiles with desert was new to me. However, after sampling the various spicy cookies, chile-infused chocolate bars, and pepper-flavored truffles, I was instantly addicted. I also learned there is a demand for spicy chocolate in Brooklyn, New York, as there were tons of chile-chocolate connoisseurs at the event. My absolute favorite treat in this area was, without a doubt, Tumbador Chocolate’s Hot Hot Chocolate. For $1 you could buy a small Dixie cup of the stuff, which was thick and creamy and, of course, spicy.

If you’re in Brooklyn, New York, and want to sample some spicy chocolate of your own, here is a list of excellent places to try:

Tumbador Chocolate
34 34th St., Brooklyn
(718) 788 0200

nunu chocolates
529 Atlantic Ave., between 3rd and 4th Ave., Brooklyn
(917) 776 7102

The Chocolate Room
86 Fifth Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn
(718) 783 2900

269 Court St.,Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 246 2600

Liddabit Sweets
Check out the Brooklyn Flea Market on Saturdays for their stall at 45 Main St., Brooklyn

Mast Brother’s Chocolate
105A North 3rd St., Brooklyn
(718) 388 2625

Top 5 festivals in New York this weekend

New York is known for its many cultural, artistic, and just downright fun festivals. If you are looking to experience some of the unique events that the city has to offer make sure you’re in town this weekend, October 1-2, 2011, for five must-attend festivals of the Fall.

Chile Pepper Fiesta
When: Oct 1, 11AM-6PM
Where: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

For those who love anything spicy (including your music!) the Chile Pepper Fiesta is a must. The event will include 8 bands from sizzling regions, hot salsa, tingling kimchee, zesty pickles, and other fiery foods. There will also be a Chile-Chocolate Takedown contest where you will be able to sample and vote. Along with musical entertainment there will also be circus-style performances such as chile pepper juggling and fire eating.

New York Burlesque Festival
When: Sept 29-Oct 2
Where: Varies by performance

If you want to see the sexier side of New York, come check out the New York Burlesque Festival. Friday night is the premier party with some of the top names in the business in attendance. Hosted by Scotty the Blue Bunny at Brooklyn Bowl. Saturday night, Murray Hill hosts a bed-supper-club style party with a stage of beauty queens at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Sunday is the last day of festival as Miss Astrid hosts an Oscar-like award ceremony for Burlesque at the Highline Ballroom.

New York Wine and Food Festival
When: Sept 29-Oct 2
Where: Varies, but mainly in the Meatpacking District

Not only can you enjoy delicious cuisine and sample local and international wines at the New York Wine and Food Festival, you can also give back to charity, as 100% of the net proceeds to to the Food Bank for New York City. Television chefs such as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay, culinary experts, wine makers, and cocktail connoisseurs come together to give demonstrations, tastings, panels, classes, book signings, and more.

Art in Odd Places
When: Oct 1-10
Where: Along 14th Street, from Ave C to the Hudson River

While visiting art galleries in New York is always an enlightening experience, being indoors all day, especially with the beautiful Fall weather, can feel a bit cramped. Art in Odd Places allows people to experience an open-air art event, including visual and performance art with a ritualistic theme.

New York Film Festival
When: Sept 30-Oct 16
Where: The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center

The New York Film Festival is a must for any film lover, especially if you want to find unique films from around the world with interesting perspectives that you usually would not find at your local movie theater. The festival aims to create and enhance an understanding of the art form of film. Some titles to lookout for include The Artist, Sleeping Sickness, Footnote, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, and My Week With Marilyn. Ticket prices and show times vary.