Monday, 27 February 2012

Arbol Peppers & Nutmeg

In our earlier experiments with cayenne infused in espresso, the peppers had come from my friend and ukulele enthusiast Marc's city garden. We liked the flavour quite a bit, but part of this whole thing is to make signature drinks that are commercially viable, not vulture back yard cultivations.

So, I took a trip up to Kensington Market to see what I could find. After speaking with a shop owner about his various pepper wares, I settled on the Arbol chili as a suitable substitute. Wikipedia agrees it was a good choice. I couldn't help myself and also picked up some Ancho and another smoky chile to make BBQ sauce with.

I removed the seeds of one pepper, ground it to a powder and measured it at half a teaspoon. Then grated a full teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, mixed them together, and headed to the Mad Bean for some mad science. It was a packed house, with standing room only, with the last few tunes of The Mad Bean Jazz Band being played. They were quite good, with a scat singer and an upright bassist playing a travel bass that comes apart with his mouth wide open in concentration. The guitarist and saxophonist were also quite good from what I heard. I'd hear them again without convincing.

After the band finished and the crowd subsided, we tried a cup. The pepper flavour came through, as did the nutmeg, but without the spicy intensity of the cayenne peppers. Brian felt it a bit on the tip of his tongue, but I was too much of a spice nut to notice that particular subtlety. We tried again with a higher concentration.

This time the pepper soared through on the trumpet with the nutmeg accompanying playfully on harpsichord. I never felt the spiciness, but the flavour was great! Perhaps the chilis I picked up were old enough for their spice to temper, or the seeds I removed contain most of the heat. Pepper, and necessarily coffee, lovers must visit The Mad Bean to try this unique combination once it is officially on the menu.

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