Day 5: 12 Days of Southern Food Gifts

To represent the 12 Days of Christmas (which start the day after Christmas but I’m doing it earlier so you can give these as Christmas gifts), I’m showcasing 12 days of delicious artisanal food treats from the American South.  These are hand-picked by me, Dina, because I’ve tried them and they are delicious.

Vesta

Day 5, Raleigh, North Carolina: Benny T’s Vesta dry hot sauce

What is dry hot sauce, you ask? Creator Ben Tuorto has the answer. It’s a topping made to enhance the flavor of food, not overpower it with heat. With Vesta, you can taste the flavor of the chiles. After moving to North Carolina, Ben discovered chiles at the state farmers’ market downtown and began experimenting with them. Now, Ben makes four varieties of Vesta. Hot and very hot are available all year long while ghost and moruga are seasonal because they are made with superhot chiles that are grown in season. Ben’s favorite variety is very hot. “I put heat on everything,” he says. And when I caught up with him at Gather‘s grand reopening party and Made by Men market last night in Raleigh, he was eating a slice of pizza with a sprinkle of Vesta on top. (Gather is a super-cool gift shop that also has crafting classes.) I like my Vesta hot and my favorite way to eat it is on a crostini with ricotta.

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