I was lucky enough to be invited to this year’s Tabasco Harvest Party in London, this year being hosted at Carousel and organised by Hunter PR. Tabasco sauce started back in 1868 on Avery Island by a chap called Edmund McIlhenny and it’s still produced on the same site with pretty much the same process to this day.
McIlhenny was originally given seeds of the Capsicum frutescens peppers from Central America and those were the ones he first planted. To this day they are still picked by hand and it’s after the harvest where they have the great harvest party both in the US and London to celebrate the wonderful year they’ve had (hopefully).
The fresh peppers are first picked then mashed and mixed with a small amount of salt then placed into oak barrels. The pepper mash is aged for up to three years in the warehouse then it is inspected carefully before blending with distilled vinegar once all approved. We were able to try some of this very mash on the night which was great, a pleasant hot tingle working through the lips after trying a spoonful.
Then it is stirred and all the pepper skins, pulp and seeds are strained out before it is bottled to become the well regarded ‘Tabasco’ sauce. Each year Tabasco partner up with local chefs in London who are rising stars in the industry to cook some special dishes for the evening. This year was the wonderful Elizabeth Allen, formally at Pidgin and the equally great John Chantarasak from Som Saa.
They put on an absolute feast with the real highlight being the whole smoked goat which was just heavenly. Tender, moist meat and a real treat for everyone there. Upstairs was Carousel’s very own head chef Ollie Templeton who was cooking up the rather fun crayfish. Luckily bibs were provided as things did get a little messy.
The night was a real success with great games throughout to keep you entertained and wonderful food to try, all of course with tabasco on the side.
I can now officially say I’m a tabasco convert and shall be using it a lot more in my cooking at home.