I arrived in Jacksonville about noon, just in time to catch my girlfriend, Lisa, and her work crew painting and working on her home. She gave me the full tour, and what a garden she has grown in the back – over 80 pepper plants of a number of varieties (casabella, habanera, datil, chili, cayanne, jalapeno, banana and bell peppers) plus cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, chives and arugula, along with a few other lettuces! I was greatly impressed!
Lisa and her significant other, Robert, have started a new adventure with the peppers she has grown in her garden. They made some pepper sauce from their first crop of peppers, were excited about what they had created, and decided to sell it. To better promote their new line of sauces they have been conducting “blind taste tests” with their pepper sauce blends and receiving feedback. I got to participate in this study when she had me sit down to taste test their seven different pepper sauces.
I’m a bit of a wus when it comes to hot sauces – my tongue was not indoctrinated to hot peppers at an early age, so appreciating them has been a learning experience and a taste I’ve been trying to acquire in my older years. With bread, cheese and water standing at the ready, I tried the first one – mmmm, now I LIKED that!
I wrote down my opinion (very favorable) on the tasters comment sheet, and tried the next sauce. That, too, was highly flavorful and tasty. This was getting to be better than I’d anticipated. Then I tried number 3. It was getting a bit hotter on my tongue, but I could still savor the flavor. Between 4, 5, 6 and 7 I had a hard time trying to distinguish the flavor from the hot, but that is only because I have an untrained, naive and tender tongue, and my whole mouth was so on fire that it couldn’t process info anymore. But they were ALL delicious and LIGHT YEARS BETTER than Tabasco – unbelievably unique and tasty.
To check out these yummy sauces, see Lisa and Robert’s business website: http://redthroat.com
One of the peppers they use is quite special – it is the datil pepper. I had never heard of the datil pepper until Lisa enlightened me. It turns out that the datil pepper is an indigenous species to the Northeast Florida area and was cultivated in the 18th century by the Minorcan community living in St. Augustine. Speculation has it that the datil pepper may have originated in the Caribbean, though today they grow only in Florida. Datil peppers are highly popular in Florida and are used in St. Augustine specialies such as clam chowder, pepper relish, and chicken or sausage pilau. There is even a Datil Pepper Festival in St. Augustine every year! Now THAT is one popular pepper!
That night at dinner, Lisa made a fresh salad from her garden, and the trout was fresh caught that morning by Robert – it was an amazingly delicious and healthy dinner! Thank you, Lisa and Robert!
Lisa even makes her own dogfood! Now that’s a woman I can relate to, having made my own dog, Brandon, most of his dogfood, too 🙂
We had a wonderful visit, and late that night when everyone else was asleep and I had finished working on my blog, I quietly went out to my truck and headed to Daytona Beach International Airport where my Craigslist ride would be picking me up in the morning fairly early. I was quite nervous that I would sleep so soundly at Lisa’s that I wouldn’t wake up in the wee hours soon enough to be able to drive that far and still catch my ride – I was afraid I’d miss it! And it was a very long ride – too long to miss! Mark, my ride, was moving to Seattle, WA, and was going all the way west to San Diego to see his Mom before turning north to Seattle. He just HAPPENED to be leaving Florida on the very day I was due to turn in my rental car. It was my intention to ride with him all the way to Medford, OR, to retrieve my truck that I left in storage two months ago, and return south the Palm Springs for a month during the Holidays.
I left Lisa and Robert’s home about 2 a.m. and drove almost two hours before pulling into a rest stop to sleep in the back of the rental car. The dawn woke me with just enough time to drive into Daytona Beach International Airport, clean out and return the car, organize my belongings outside the Airport, and within 10 minutes, Mark arrived! What perfect timing, and a good omen for a very long dash across the continent again. The second time in as many months!