Festival Review: Fort Worth heats up with spicy ZestFest competition in town

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    My eyes were watering. My ears were burning. And my nose was sweating as I sampled some “Nuckin’ Futs” hot sauce at the 11th annual ZestFest.ZestFest is a celebration of spicy foods and brings together some of the top chefs and manufacturers from all over the world.

    Porky’s Gourmet Foods’ “Nuckin’ Futs” won first place and overall grand champion at the Fiery Food Challenge in 2003, and in my opinion was the hottest, spiciest sauce I tasted at this year’s festival.

    Even though it was the hottest thing I sampled, there is no way I would ever consider buying a bottle – it would just sit in my pantry and never see the light of day.

    There were more than 100 booths at ZestFest, offering spectators the chance to taste foods ranging from barbecue sauces with mustard bases, Asian-style hot sauces, habanero candy and cheese-based dips among others.

    Some of the companies present at this year’s celebration include Almost Famous Foods located in Dallas and Z’s Creative Cuisine in Pottsboro.

    My favorite sample at the show was from German Roasted Nuts, which offered cinnamon-roasted almonds, pecans and cashews.

    ZestFest offered more than just a sampling of spicy food. It also had several cooking demonstrations from some celebrity chefs, including chef Rick Browne from Barbecue America.

    But not everything at ZestFest could live up to my fiery expectations.

    Cowboy Poet’s Salsa, based out of Montana, actually won three awards while at ZestFest – for its mild, medium and hot salsas.

    However, I was disappointed. I couldn’t tell the difference between the three, and it tasted like Pace Picante Sauce.

    ZestFest was presented by Chile Pepper Magazine and proved to be quite the surprise.

    Many of the products featured at ZestFest can be found at Alberston’s or Kroger.

    If you would like a list of all the winners, log onto zestfest2006.com.