Just as the weather is cooling off, Pittsboro is heating up. The town will host its annual Pepper Festival from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Briar Chapel Community Park in Chatham County (briarchapelnc.com).
The event will feature more than 150 varieties of sweet peppers, in addition to some hot versions. Twenty-five chefs will use those peppers to create dishes for sampling, including yeasted corn bread with roasted peppers from Chicken Bridge Bakery of Pittsboro; butter bean paté with pickled peppers and local lengua with pepper chow chow from Lucky 32 of Greensboro; and jalapeño-mango Italian ice from Bobby's Water Ice of Raleigh.
Many breweries will offer pepper-oriented beverages, too, including Fullsteam and Triangle Brewing Co., both from Durham. In addition, Stevie's Booch of Pittsboro will serve Kung Pow Hot Pepper kombucha, while Starrlight Mead, also of Pittsboro, will pour a cranberry orange mead spiced with chipotle peppers.
Tami Schwerin, one of the event's organizers, says the pepper festival is expected to double in size this year, to 1,000 attendees. The festival's increasing popularity prompted organizers to hold it at Briar Chapel, rather than in its former home at Piedmont Biofarm, where farmer Doug Jones grows approximately 100 varieties of peppers. Since the new location is technically located outside of Pittsboro, Schwerin says future events will likely be dubbed the Piedmont Pepper Festival. "It's a regional kind of thing," she says.
Lonnie Walker and Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes will perform during the festival, which will also feature kids' activities.
Advance tickets are $25 on the Abundance Foundation's website (theabundancefoundation.org). Tickets can also be purchased at the event for $30.
Sandra Gutierrez offers ideas for cooking with peppers in The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. Released by UNC Press earlier this month, the book combines ingredients and traditions from Latin America and the American South. For example, Gutierrez includes a Latin take on pimiento cheese with chipotle chiles and adobo. Beyond a recipe for that simple spread, Gutierrez suggests other uses for it, including chiles rellenos and pimiento cheese butter and chimichurri. Other recipes from the book include slow-cooked pork with a citrus-based sauce, and empanadas with collard greens.
Gutierrez has scheduled several book signings over the next several weeks: Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. at A Southern Season (www.southernseason.com) in Chapel Hill; Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Flyleaf Books (www.flyleafbooks.com), also in Chapel Hill; Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. at McIntyre's Books (fearrington.com) in Pittsboro, followed by a 4 p.m. reading at the Barnes & Noble at New Hope Commons (barnesandnoble.com) in Durham.
Visit the UNC Press website (uncpress.unc.edu) to learn more about Gutierrez, The New Southern-Latino Table and upcoming events related to the book.