Jalapeño eating contest at Cinco de Mayo festival comes with $100 prize

Think you could consume more than 20 jalapeños in a single sitting?

That’s about what you’d have to down to win the jalapeño-eating contest at this year’s Cinco de Mayo festival in downtown Grand Junction.

There must be an iron-gut out there who can beat this record and claim the $100 prize. That could be pizza money for a starving college student ready for a real-world challenge and some serious heartburn.

The festival, on Colorado Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, will be celebrated on catorce de Mayo, May 14, because the Jazz Festival has dibs on the May 7 weekend.

Contestants usually go through a case of hot peppers, donated this year by the City Market in Fruita. Contestants have six minutes to complete the task and are allowed no milk or beer to stop the burn, only water.

Competitors — Anglo and Latino — rarely sweat or turn red, according to Eileen Archuleta, who is in charge of this year’s competition at the 29-year-old festival. Most of them are men but a few women are beginning to trickle into the mix.

Food booths will include the standard festival fare, but, more importantly, some local ladies are preparing their recipes of homemade tamales, green chili, fajitas and other Mexican favorites. The festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

IT’S ABOUT TIME: When I started writing this column, I immediately contacted the Colorado Restaurant Association to get on their mailing list.

At the time, they had little in the way of public outreach, but that has changed.

Together with the Colorado Tourism Office, the association has launched an online dining guide.

Check out http://www.colorado.com (under eat) and you’ll find a guide to restaurants, wineries, breweries, festivals and fresh produce markets in Colorado.

The listings include city, price, name, map, cuisine and description. Under Grand Junction, 50-plus restaurants are listed. Because the enhanced site is newly launched, it is not yet complete.

A reader who planned a trip to watch the sandhill cranes in Eckert this spring asked if I knew of any places to eat in the tiny spot in the road, and I did not. Now, I could tell her there’s a steakhouse and a winery.

The website lists Restaurant Six 89 in Carbondale, a place with such good reviews that people in Aspen drive down the hill for a visit. Or, someone might want to try the Ska Brewery in Durango.

At the rate restaurants come and go, I’d call ahead before you bank on it.

WINE AND DINNER PAIRINGS: All but the last two of the 17 regional Italian food and wine dinners by Il Bistro Italiano and Planet Wines have been sold out.

The two that remain: July 18 features the Emilia-Romagna region and Aug. 28 is reserved for Basilcata.

Reservations are available through the bistro or the wine shop. Planet Wine’s special this month is Finca El Tesso — a tempranillo from western Spain — for $12.99.

HAUTE CUISINE TO THE EXTREME: Chef Ferran Adria’s elBulli, a three-star Michelin restaurant in the Spanish Mediterranean town of Roses, is ending its 50-course dinner to give the staff time to rejuvenate, the Associated Press reported.

The $385 meal, not including tax, tips or drinks, is ending July 30. Food critic Daniel Woolls calls it the Mount Everest of haute cuisine. Each course is but a bite or two, and sometimes requires directions from the server on how to eat.

Delicacies included white shrimp brains with ginger Thai sauce, tuna bone marrow and ham wontons with Ecuador-grown rose petals.

Woolls was so punch-drunk by the puzzling array that he nearly ate a “fuzzy white cylinder,” until he realized it was a hand-freshening towel.

QUOTE: “I’ll have a double cappuccino, half-caf, nonfat milk, with enough foam to be aesthetically pleasing, but not so much that it would leave a moustache.” — Niles Crane on “Frasier”

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