At the recent Irish Vegan Festival held in The Europa Hôtel I stumbled across this amazing stand called Blackfire Artisan Chilli Sauces.
Initially I was very pleased as I’m a huge chilli fan but also sceptical as I’ve had chilli sauces before and have been disappointed by their taste and heat levels. When I tried the Blackfire sauces, in ascending order of heat, I was literally blown away. At last I’ve got to taste locally grown and manufactured chilli sauce with genuine taste and heat!!
I got chatting to the owner, Tim McCarthy and he told me that he grew 22 different chilli varieties at his home and made six sauces.
We arranged to meet up at his home so he could show me his labour of love. Yesterday was that day!!
Tim brought me into his very spacious and colourful living/cooking space which was also his finishing room for his maturing chilli plants. It was also well decked out with Halloween decorations courtesy of his two children!! Also he had all kinds of Vegetarian cook books.
We sat around his kitchen table and chatted about his love of chillis. Tim has been vegetarian since 1983 (as are his family) and his love of spicy food came from his mum. He experimented with chilli and spice growing up and during his school and University life (Tim is an accomplished street artist). Whilst working for BBC Tim had numerous long and exotic holidays which took him to West Africa, Vietnam, Mexico and Nepal (honeymoon) where chilli played a major role in cooking. This was really his stimulus to grow chillis and create sauces at home in Belfast.
Pride of place in the middle of the table was a bowl of fiery red Carolina Reaper chillis-the second hottest chilli in the world. Tim was telling me that this time of year is best for harvesting and the colours of the chillis are at their best.
The process starts with germination from seeds and then growth in heated polytunnel in garden.
The plants are then brought into the kitchen space to mature.
Above are (clockwise) Carolina Reapers, Jalapeños, mushroom and habaneros.
After harvesting Tim then preps the chillis and ingredients (natural and local including pears and dulce) for manufacture of his 6 sauces.
Sauces in descending heat from left to right. They are all made and bottled and labelled and despatched from his home (which has hygiene rating of 5 stars).
Tim presented me two bottles,his hottest sauce, The Belfastard and Hot House which I am raring to use!! Tim was saying that these sauces can be used as dips, relishes, in cooking and anywhere where heat is required!!
Tim is based in South Belfast, is Artisan so can be found in local markets and several artisan stores. His website is https://www.blackfirefood.com
A big thank you to Tim for his time, really looking forward to the sauce and watch out for new additions in the near future!!!