Like all good food festivals, it's the best plan to go with an empty tummy and make samples your lunch. This worked well here, except for the very real danger of completely burning your tongue off. Several times I tried something way out of my comfort zone of heat and had to take a breather, but was soon back into it.
The above chilli peanut butter was a favourite, although I did accidentally nearly go in for the Bum Burner. I'm sure that's a mistake I would have regretted!
There was also a chilli eating competition, which I watched for a while. I will admit to feeling a bit let down by my fellow ladies when I saw the all-guy line up, but soon decided there was no way I'd be able to hack it. The challenge started with a jalapeno, and quickly descended into the world of habaneros and hotter!
It was also nice to be able to wander around the garden of Benington Lordship. Although I moved to the village in 2002, I had only been inside the grounds a handful of times and have probably seen it on more occasions on TV. It was great weather for exploring, and taking photos:
We rounded the day off with a nice walk back home past the old cottages:
Once home, we inspected our wares. I managed to leave with spices including ras el hanout, Jamaican jerk rub and smoky chipotle flakes, small jams such as blueberry and vanilla curd (for James' sweet tooth), green Goan curry sauce, chilli chocolate truffles, 6 cherry bomb chillies and a new plant - a Thai chilli plant, with fruits that apparently have a citrus-y flavour.
The following day, we had the cherry bombs for dinner stuffed with Philadelphia and basil, which turned out really well.
So far I'm searching through Pinterest to find what I should use my new spices for, so keep an eye out for my discoveries. Until next year, I don't think I can buy any more chilli plants... My windowsills really can't take it.