Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival: We've Got the Winners and Our Own Judge's Take

Categories: Events

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Phoenix New Times
AZ Food Crafters' empanadas and Best in Show winner from Phoenix Public Market.
This weekend marked the second annual Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival -- and our own Minervaland correspondent Miranda Rincon was there to feel the heat as an official judge.

Check out our slideshow of the event.

When your mouth is filled with eye-watering heat, you eat sugar to relieve the burn, right? In the case of Slade Grove's Sweet & Spicy infused caramels at the 2013 Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival, the sugar is the burn.

See also: 17 Food Festivals in Metro Phoenix: Chow Bella's Fall Guide 2013

Grove proved that sweet and hot can go together perfectly at this weekend's Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival. It's just like a pastry chef to be a show off. His sweet-enough cane sugar, cream and butter caramels are given a pleasant and not so subtle kick with an infusion of dried habanero, hatch, chipotle and cayenne peppers.

The hatch and habanero heat came right through but we would have liked just a bit more smoke from the chipotle to balance out the flavor. Though perhaps you can blame that on our spice-exhausted tounge after eating eight other flavorful samples from this year's contestants. We were pleased that Grove decided against sending his ghost chile caramel for judging -- the Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale thoughtfully provided by the event's organizers for the tasting may not have been able to quench our thirst.

Other notable entries from this year's festival were the People's Choice Winner Jobot's pasilla and white bean chili with moist hush puppies, and the Café at Phoenix Market pork chile verde with corn bread, which took Best in Show.

We loved seeing the friendly folks at Welcome Diner making corn tortillas to order for the competition, but sadly we found their red mole (though very flavorful) to be just too sweet and decidedly lacking in heat when stacked up against the competition. AZ Food Crafter's spiced apple empanadas were also unfortunately shy in the heat department, but so expertly crafted that we loved them anyway.

Hey, there's always next year to bring up the heat.

As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduno Rincon makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. She's taking a summer break from farmers markets, but she'll be back in the fall.

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