Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm Headed To The Austin, Texas Hot Sauce Festival Competition & Food Bank Fundraiser With My Entries!

In years past I've entered my *red* hot sauce and my *salsa verde* (green sauce) in this hot sauce competition, with not even so much as a nod from the judges. Believe it or not, I was surprised. I was also disappointed and heartbroken (I was younger then, okay?), so I decided to not enter for several years. In the meantime, the festival and judging have undergone some much needed changes. Once I learned of the changes, I submitted my entry fee and form, and I leave Saturday morning for the Sunday competition down the road in Austin, Texas.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not just in it for the possible contract with some big company to make my sauces commercially. Of course, that would be perfectly lovely, wouldn't it? But there is more to this festival than the competition. Proceeds raised from the entry fees go to The Austin Food Bank, as do all the cans of food requested as entrance into Waterloo Park, where it will be held. It is what literally allows the Austin Food Bank to survive yet another year. And, I'm not talking about feeding those in Austin who sell flowers on street corners. Those people have it made. I'm talking about all the families and individuals that have fallen upon hard times due to whatever misfortune has befallen them. They also invited restaurants and those who commercially produce their sauces, made in Austin, to offer mass tastings of their products. Trust me when I tell you that it is Hot Sauce Heaven.

In addition to the commercial producers, there is also a tent where the public is invited to try all the entries into the competition. But, this makes the competition a three tiered affair.

There are categories for home salsa makers (red, green & specialty), a restaurant category, and a commercial hot sauce makers category. This affords the judges a wide range of expertise and tastes. In the midst of all this going on, there are hawt Austin bands playing their music on the stage throughout the day. There are beer and wine vendors, as well as plenty of water and soft drinks vendors. It's a day of great fun and camaraderie among hot sauce fans, so if you live in the Austin area and have nothing better to do, get yourself over to Waterloo Park (located @ 12th & Red River) on Sunday.

The festival opens their gates to hot sauce competition entrants between 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM, when they must drop off their forms and their sauces. The festival is open to the public from 11:00 AM until 5:30 PM.

I've been making hot sauce for Christmas gifts all week, so it just happens to be the perfect time. I visited the organic Farmer's Market and loaded up on tomatoes, habanero peppers, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, and bell peppers. Since there wasn't enough of every ingredient, I also went to Sam's Club to finish getting the ingredients I would need. Throughout the week I've tried different (new) ingredients to enhance my almost perfect sauce, and yes, my friends and relatives will be the *guinea pigs* for all of my experiments this week. They've never yet complained, so I guess it's all good. Although I'd be a complete & utter moron to tell you my recipe at this point, I can show you a few pictures of the process. I'll let you know the outcome when I return.

Meanwhile, please keep your fingers & toes crossed or perhaps send a little prayer my way, if you can. And if you live in the Austin area, then be sure to get yourself down to Waterloo Park for the festivities! Hope to see you there...