Pick a Pepper

Speaking off the toque: Diana Ramos, chef and co-owner of Habanero Blue [1601 Commerce, (713)224-4468]. Recently, four scientists in India announced they had discovered the hottest chili pepper on earth. Naming the variety the Tezpur chili, after a remote region in the state of Assam, the scientists claimed the pepper tested at more than 800,000 Scoville units. In the January/February issue of Chile Pepper magazine, the previous record holder was described as a "1994 Red Savina Habanero" that had tested at "an astonishing 577,000 Scoville units."

Q: You obviously named your restaurant after the hottest pepper on earth. With the recent discovery of the Tezpur chili, the habanero stands to fall to second place, and who wants to name a place after the second-hottest pepper? Will you change your restaurant's name and the menu?

A: No, we're going to stick with the name Habanero Blue.In Mexico, we eat a lot of peppers, but there is also a lot of talk. Indians eat much hotter peppers and much hotter dishes.We're going to start making [bottled salsa under the Habanero Blue name] again in a couple of months. The superhot was our best seller. I would be interested in trying the Indian pepper in this salsa.

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George Alexander