This was a smaller crew, which ended up being great since my place doesn’t have a whole lot of counter space that isn’t reachable by my dog. He did manage to get a few pieces of toasted bread out of our first dish of the night, Laura’s Spicy Shrimp in Cream sauce. We all groaned when she announced that she made shrimp since that is our perennial winning dish, but of course we stopped groaning when we tasted it. While it wasn’t a bit spicy, the shrimp was delicious and we all appreciated having the bread to soak up that delectable cream sauce as well. Laura won a prize, just not the Iron Chef title. She came the closest to guessing how many hot tamales were in the jar! (Answer: 488)
Our second appetizer entry was from Kristy and ended up taking home the runner up title. She made Indian Spiced Pinwheels that were tasty little bites of pastry with curry and other spices inside. Sort of like a savory mini cinnamon roll. Kristy always thinks of great presentation tricks, and this time she included bits of apple carved to look like leaves. Very creative! And it’s always nice to have edible decorations.
We moved on to the sides next starting with Chelyen’s Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese. I mean, every single one of those words sounds like something I want to put in my mouth immediately. She even made it into convenient little cups using muffin tins that were a perfect portion, and a technique I’ll definitely be stealing. As was the theme for the night, it wasn’t as spicy as she had hoped, but that didn’t stop us from having seconds and thirds (or was that just me?).
Around this time, someone smelled something burning, and it turns out it was my side dish: Goat Cheese Tamales with Spicy Mole. Well, it was actually just the bamboo steamer that was burning, luckily. I was pretty disappointed in the tamales… they seemed pretty gummy and bland to me, although everyone else thought they were ok. The sauce was nice, although again, not as spicy as it had seemed earlier. This was my first attempt at tamales, so hopefully I will improve in the future!
We only had one main dish for the evening, but it turned out to be the only one we needed. Emily’s Spicy Pork Tacos won the night, and they were also the first actually quite spicy dish of the meal. She was inspired by Richmond’s own Boka Truck and recreated this dish based on what she had tasted in their spicy Asian tacos. They not only tasted great with a pleasant kick from sriracha and guajillo peppers, but they also looked gorgeous. Congrats to Emily!
We ended the night on a spicy note, with Cara’s Chocolate Cayenne Ice Cream and Spiced Walnuts. And when I say spicy, I mean hot, hot, hot! My love of cayenne is well documented on this site, and even I couldn’t take the heat. It was a fun combination though, with the chocolaty cool ice cream and then the heat in the back of your throat. I think that with a little balancing, this creative dish could be a great one.
There you have it! All in all, as always, we enjoyed each other’s food and each other’s company, and nobody went home with heartburn, as far as I know. I’ll call it a success!