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Saturday, July 14, 2012

TASTED: Copperpot's Candied Jalapenos @ Upper Eastside Farmers Market

I spent last Sunday afternoon turning all of those mangos I'd received from friends, relatives, strangers on the street, etc. into chutney. After an excruciatingly long and intense 10 minute bout of research I settled on a recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Feed blog, mainly because it utilized ripe mangoes of which I had plenty. I like America's Test Kitchen for its straightforward and partially scientific approach to recipes; however, it comes at the price of stripping away the art of cooking. ATK recipes will be the best version of "X" that you'll ever have, but not the most innovative or even the most authentic. The prep instructions for the recipe carried what turned out to be a warning I should have heeded: "Most traditional recipes actually call for unripe mangos". There's a reason for that. My epic afternoon of mango chutney-making with this recipe, which took about three hours between prep and a two step cooking process, resulted in pie filling. Too much sweet, not enough acid or spice and basically the consistency of baby food.

So with this debacle fresh in my mind, and a newfound respect for makers of jelly, jam and chutney, I came across Copperpot's tent at the Upper Eastside Farmer's Market on Biscayne and 67th. I'd heard about Copperpot's jams and jellies from appearances at Williams Sonoma's artisan days (which I've never been able to attend but have heard good things about) and our paths finally crossed. At the tent were more than one type of mango jam which I couldn't bring myself to try - so much was I still reeling from my own mango fiasco. What did catch my attention was a jar of what look like pickled jalapenos. Turns out these were candied jalapenos, dubbed Sweet 'n Spicy, made in a fashion similar to jamming but not enough to break down the jalapenos. The result is a sweet-in-the-front, spicy-in-the-back hit of flavor.

I talked to the gent at the tent, regrettably forgetting to get his name, and he told me the story of how Copperpot's name came about. After experimenting with large batches of jams and jellies, none coming out right, the solution was simple but time consuming: make small batches. Each batch yields about 4 to 6 jars. That's a lot of batches needed to make the number of jars I'd seen at Copperpot's tent, but you can taste the care in each jar. Copperpotman gave me some tips on uses for the Sweet 'n Spicy, including using leftover juice as a great marinade. Getting to the leftover juice may take a while because these Sweet 'n Spicys are pretty spicy.

The Upper Eastside Farmers Market is getting better every week. Along with Urban Oasis (who again had calabaza flowers) and Proper Sausages (who I have to fight the urge of buying from every week if only to control my cholesterol) and Copperpot's there's been some other additions I hope to get to soon (including novae gourmet's jerky). It's easily the most community-oriented and friendly market I've been to in Miami (Pinecrest's offerings are great but it can get a little overcrowded and some of the shoppers are a little rude, inane or both). These guys on Biscayne and 67th deserve your support.

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