Sweet Heat: California Hot Sauce Expo

How far do you like to push the Scoville scale? Find out, in Long Beach.

Is hot sauce A) a condiment or B) a full-on food or C) its own cuisine category or D) a way of life or E) on whatever delicious dish you're consuming at this very moment?

The answer would normally be F) — all of the above, natch — but hot sauce is such a superstar, and so obsessed-over by its true-heart fans, that one feels badly if letters G through Z aren't included, too, somehow.

If you're a blast-of-heat buff, look what's back for its second go-around: the California Hot Sauce Expo.

Where's the scene for all of the delicious Scoville scale action? Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach. When's all of that heat-a-tude going down (or up, since we equate heat with rising temperatures)? Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17 are the dates.

There's also a Guinness Book of World Records face-off happening, and you best pour yourself a glass of ice water before you read what it is, exactly. It involves the eating of incredibly hot reaper peppers, and how many of those peppers can be consumed in a minute.

On second thought, push the glass of water away, as every hot sauce aficionado knows that water sipped immediately after a pepper can only stoke the fire. Hold off on that sip for a minute or so.

Bloody Mary mavens will also want to take note that The Bloody Mary Mix-Down, presented by Stoli, will be a centerpiece of the wickedly tongue-toasty weekend. Burritos and tacos, too, will have their challenges.

Should you just want to shop among the vendors, and take your saucy finds home for your own cooking, that's cool — er, hot — too. Bocas Hot Sauce, Cobra Chilis, Flavors of the Sun, and Humboldt Hot Sauce are expected to show, among the many purveyors of liquid heat.

Tickets? They're ten bucks a pop, and, yep, you will enjoy samples at the expo. There's a craft brew package, and a VIP package, too, so explore your choices.

We'd recommend keeping a bottle of water handy, but, again, every hot sauce expert knows that the peak heat can sometimes only be further encouraged by a too-quick sip.

You know your palate, your taste, and your obsession for hot sauce. Proceed with flavorful caution, and pepper-powerful joy, as you go for the hottest sauces around at the California Hot Sauce Expo.

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