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Taste 'Buds'

Hot Luck food event
is a popular spring festival

Thomas Family Winery has cultivated
a following for its ‘Hot Luck & Fiery Foods’

Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(April 2012) – “Hanging out with the ‘chili-heads,’ getting new recipes and stocking up on supplies – that’s what it’s all about,” says Jennifer Lake.
Better known as “Tiki Jenni,” Lake is one of the featured vendors at one of the “hottest” events in Madison, Ind. Each year she joins vendors from throughout the region to turn Thomas Family Winery into the Hot Luck and Fiery Foods Marketplace.

Steve and Elizabeth Thomas

Photo by Brandi Worrell

Steve and Elizabeth Thomas
opened their winery in 1995 in
a building that once housed a
White Star Bus Station. They are
now adding an outdoor seating
area with the recent purchase of
the parking lot next door.

The 16th annual Indiana Hot Luck and Fiery Foods Marketplace this year brings culinary adventure to Madison on April 13-14. The Hot Luck begins at 7 p.m. Friday. The Fiery Foods Marketplace runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.
For the past 16 years, Thomas Family Winery has awakened both locals and tourists to the hot side of favorite foods. Conceived as a display of favorite chili recipes, the event has grown to include dishes from breakfast jellies to main dishes to after-dinner treats. Participants not only sample specialties from neighbors’ kitchens at the community pot luck, they also glean new ideas from the chef demonstrations occurring throughout the market day.
Even better – do you already have a favorite spicy recipe but have trouble finding the ingredients? The Marketplace features vendors specializing in spicy peppers, sauces and other essential for creating your unique dish.
Thomas Family Winery opened in 1995 and has become a favorite gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Steve Thomas, 56, operates the winery with his wife, Elizabeth. Together, they offer a cozy, welcoming gathering place for the perfect date night or to catch up with friends and sample a range of wines and ciders accompanied by bread and cheese. Each Saturday night you can also enjoy live music with your wine from groups as diverse as Davis and Deavitt to the Scottish-Irish Louisville band, Highland Reign.
Last year, the couple bought the adjacent parking lot and have been working to convert it into an outdoor seating and entertainment area. They plan to have the area completed in time for the April event.
Once a year, they turn the winery into a marketplace to explore, taste and learn to prepare spicy foods.
Are you unsure whether spicy foods are to your taste? Do you love fiery foods and want more ideas? Come Friday night for the Hot Luck Pot Luck. The winery transforms into a fire-breathing buffet, where participants grab a plate and sample specialties from the kitchens of other attendees. Admission is a fiery, covered dish of your own concoction plus several copies of the recipe for all those who want to duplicate your masterpiece in their own kitchens.
Once you have recipes in hand, plan to return Saturday for the Fiery Foods Marketplace to buy all the necessary ingredients. Chile growers, sauce makers, spicy food purveyors exhibit a wide variety of necessary but hard to find foods to ensure your recipes turn out right. Exhibitors also offer cooking demonstrations throughout the day introducing participants to new dishes or new twists on old favorites.
Tiki Jenni said she looks forward to seeing fellow vendors each year and making new acquaintances as the Marketplace grows. She encourages both fellow vendors and friends alike to come for the whole weekend. Friday’s pot luck gives time to visit, catch up and explore different recipes. On Saturday she gets “down to business” demonstrating her wares and educating attendees.
This year, Jenni offers demonstrations of various fruit garnishes you can add to “spice up” drinks. You can get a sneak peek on her Facebook page www.facebook/tikijenni. If you want to get a personal sample, she will add a garnish to your purchase from the winery.
Jenni also brings a variety of salsas for the Marketplace. A Marketplace favorite features pineapple as the main ingredient and offers a sweeter taste than traditional salsa.
She notes many people enjoy cooling their taste buds on this salsa as a contrast to the spicier versions.
Other vendors include local favorites: Paradise Cove Catering, Madison Fudge Factory, Marion’s Greenhouse, Dattilo’s Produce, and The Galena Garlic Company. Vendors from across the state also come to show their wares. They include Capshew Cellars Vinegars, Hoboken Eddie’s Hot Sauces, TFW Outdoor Food Co., Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses and The Chile Woman. Stroll the aisles to ask questions, sample their wares or see how the pros pull together the perfect balance of spice and sauce.
The Marketplace winds down just in time for Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett to take the stage for an evening of music. The duo played together for years singing songs that blend folk, country, blues, rock and roll, and bluegrass in the unique Americana tradition. As they set people’s thoughts to music, they found their own love song and married. After your day of shopping, order a glass of wine or cider and relax to their music.
You may want to enjoy that glass in Thomas Family’s new outdoor patio. Saturday, the patio will be full of vendors. By evening the patio returns to a relaxing eating area to enjoy the scenery of downtown Madison. Still a work-in-progress, the patio promises to be a favorite place to take a break from downtown shopping or to meet friends for the weekend band.

• For information on the festival, call Thomas Family Winery at (812) 273-3755.

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