episode 53 :: take the pain

Not a single bead of sweat managed to trickle down my face, instead pooling high atop my head. My ears were ringing. I had surges of tingling pain that came in waves maybe 45 seconds apart. For as delicious as the food was, the heat was unmistakable. But none of this mattered, because it truly didn’t hit me until I stood up.  It was then that I knew I was in trouble.

In this episode, I share the story of the hottest meal I have ever eaten. My years of idolizing the Habanero pepper as the king of “Hell on Earth” are now over. From here on out, it’s all about the Bhut Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper). And I doubt there will ever be a Thai restaurant that will manage to match the flavors and perfection that Chef Tui at Jitlada Restaurant brought to the table for us.

Things are much different now.


Listen to episode 53

In this episode:
• Le Merle Saison from North Coast Brewing
Odonata Beer’s first release makes RateBeer’s Top 100
• Burger King and Bud/Miller/Coors finally in bed together
• Eat It Before It Eats You – Shark with drunken caper sauce
• The hottest thing I’ve ever eaten, courtesy of Jitlada in LA
• elBulli closing in 2012
• “The Future of Food” documentary (watch it online)
• Local pride and the food mecca that is California
• Mail Box

Music in this episode from Sick Puppies. Download “You’re Going Down” from the iTunes store or directly from their web site www.sickpuppies.net

Read more about Jitlada at Jo’s blog My Last Bite.

NOTE: So, Jo corrected me on something today. Chef Tui is actually Jazz’s brother. I had no idea. What a brother and sister combo – restaurateur and master chef. Someone clone these Thai genes, stat! Gourmet Magazine even ran a piece on them, some time ago. Proving, yet again, why we need it back.

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21 Comments

  1. I am go grateful that I get to relive our eating escapades thru your podcasts! “Pussy Pepper” made me spit out my coffee!!

    Can’t want to see (taste) what’s next!!!!! x

    • Me either, Jo. It’s amazing how many new things I’m able to try because of you. Thanks again for an excellent experience.

  2. You are way too kind Phil – thank you for all the kind words about our brewery! You rock my friend!

    Cheers,
    Peter

    • I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I can’t wait to see where Odonata goes, Peter.

  3. Another ‘hot’ podcast, Phil! Love following your and Jo’s fiery eating escapades. I wish I wasn’t but I am quite sure I fall into the pussy category compared to both of you. I’m actually going with Jo to Jitlada this week but she’s already promised to ask them keep it on the cooler side. I am very excited, haven”t been yet. Also, your shark cooking demo sounded so good. I’m going to have to listen again so I can write it down. Great music once again. Cheers.

    • Do know that the “pussy” comment was a total joke. Habanero is still fiery hot. A raw Jalapeno can bring me to my knees a little sometimes. Hot is hot, no matter what.

      But you should definitely eat there with Jo. The food is fantastic. It’s not all about the heat. It’s about flavor and perfectly cooked fresh seafood.

      Thanks Charles!

  4. Can eating this Ghost Pepper replace a trip to the gym?? Perhaps we can just sweat out our calories! Love the music into….sets us up for the fire ahead!

    • Marla, if this were true, I’d be pounding peppers all day! 🙂 Thanks for checking out the show. It was great meeting you this week.

  5. HOT SHOW, PHIL! I would never eat that meal you had. At least not as hot as you had it. I like a good buzz too but it sounds like that was too much. I have never heard of a ghost pepper, but I’m sure I’m one of those pussies you talked about. I had a fresh jalapeno once and it hurt me badly.

    I really like the cooking segments. Makes me hungry listening to all of that sizzling.

    • Hey Leitch, I was totally joking about the Habanero. That’s still the hottest thing anyone’s going to tastes. The Jolokia is a rare pepper, and a different kind of heat. I honestly thought I was going to have over an hour to recover, but it went away fairly quickly. We ordered so much food too.

      Glad you enjoyed the cooking segment. Try it with swordfish sometime.

  6. Why would Adria close El Bulli at the top of his game? This makes no sense to me. Where do you get these stories? I really need to stay on top of this. I guess getting a reservation just got a little tougher?

    Loved your recap of the hot pepper experience. It would probably kill me, but I’d give it a try. It was great to hear that he cooked the seafood like you wanted it. I know what you mean about the scallops. It’s so hard to eat them when they’re overcooked.

    • Hi Bill

      Yeah, reservations were hard to come by to begin with. You can forget it now. I think you really have to know someone to get in there. I’m sure elBulli will return harder and stronger when they re-open.

      True about the scallops too. These weren’t raw, but they were just cooked enough. I loved them, and I can’t wait to eat there again.

  7. I was thinking it may be interesting to try a dish made from Jolokia. I hear a lot of people grow them but what do they do with them? This food you had it with sounds interesting, but maybe not that easy to prepare. As you said, it has to be cooked a certain way.

    I can’t really eat hot peppers anymore due to a medical condition. Poblanos are about as hot as I can go and not be hospitalized. Still, I had such luck with my garden peppers I was thinking of growing some just for the fun of it and giving them away to chili heads. Unless of course they are dangerous to pets who might get too close.

    • Thanks for your comments, Drew.

      We used to take my mother-in-law to this local Mexican restaurant that she loved to visit. She’d order the same thing every time – Chili Rellenos. They’re made with regular Anaheim green chili peppers, but for some reason the last 3 times we took her there, these things were horribly hot and she wasn’t able to finish them. I wondered if she lost her ability to eat the heat. So I tasted it and GOOD LORD was it brutal. I think sometimes these peppers have a life of their own, and can be hotter than the same peppers grown elsewhere.

      Stick to what you’re comfortable with. No shame in eating the mild stuff, if that’s what you like.

  8. Really interesting show, Phil. It seems you get a lot of mileage out of your eating adventures with Jo. It’s great that you guys can experience so many things in LA.

    A neighbor of mine grows jolokia, but I am not willing to try it. While I like hot peppers, I am more into flavour, contrary to other pepper fans whose motto is the hotter the better.
    My choice is purrira and pulla which I grow on my balcony. The hottest pepper I grow is Jamaican hot chocolate. While the JHC is extraordinary tasty, I also find it too
    hot for my preferences.

    The Habanero is way too hot too. I do agree that it has more a fruity quality to it. Also, great segment on Shark. We can’t get that here, but it sounds great to hear it sizzling in your kitchen. EAT IT!

    • Thanks for your comments, G. Appreciate your input.

      Brad at Should I Drink That was one of the first people to tell me about the Ghost Pepper. He said 3 times that he was going to grow them but I don’t think he ever did. It was one of those things I thought I’d never get a chance to taste. Glad I did.

      My friend Mark once gave me these seeds for a heatless Habanero. It looked like a habanero, tasted just like a habanero, and had zero heat. I mean zero, as in none. I would eat a whole one in front of someone and not flinch just to screw with them. They’d be freaking out. I wish I could remember what they were called. Best prank in the book, ever.

  9. I have never tasted Shark before, but for swordfish we soak our steaks in milk for about 20 minutes. Drip dry for a few seconds, season with salt and pepper and put them on an oiled grill. I like to serve them with a mango salsa spiked with a little fresh ginger and mint. Of course, we have this in Summer in Florida when we’re overloaded with mangos. You can’t swing a dead cat without getting mango all over it.

    Loving the music this year. I just bought that Sick Puppies album on iTunes. Thanks for the tip.

    – Ray Ray

    • Great tip, Ray! I love mango salsa. It’s perfect on fish in the Summer. Thanks for listening, and for your comments.

  10. the cooking audio has been a great touch lately. sounds fantastic and gets the drool factory going, man.

    quick bhut jolokia story— a friend of mine who deals in the spice world carries a ampoule of ground bhut jolokia with him at all times. #1 for that heat fix when the thai place doesn’t believe that you can handle the 4 star heat. #2 for self defense in the city. seriously. apparently, like habaneros, pepper spray is for pussies. HA!
    🙂

    • Nik, that is funny! Jo told a similar story about Jaz (the owner of Jitlada). She said they’ll be out eating somewhere, and she’ll reach into her purse and pull out this baggie of tiny dynamite peppers to put in her food to bring the heat level up. It’s amazing how much heat some people can take. I don’t think I could handle a consistent level of heat all of the time.

      Glad you enjoy the cooking segments. I appreciate your feedback, as always!

  11. You are brave to be able to stand such heat! I wish I could, but I am a wimp. ;0


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