Back on the table: Kampot Pepper
We arrived at the Vine Retreat, a small pepper farm and guesthouse located in the mountains behind Kep and Kampot, after bouncing up the dirt road in our jeep, ready to prove or disprove the claim of best pepper - or at least sample enough of the local cuisine to try. Sithat, one of the staff at the Vine Retreat, offered to take us around the pepper farm than ran along side the main building and explained that Kampot Pepper was so renowned because the combination of soil, climate and rainfall mixed with largely organic farming techniques. It produced pepper that could range from robust to light and floral but the wow factor came from how long the flavour lasted. We taste tested the pepper in various stages of maturity right off the tree - the unripe juicy green, the half ripened almost sweet reds and the dried and bitey black - and learned how best to pick them.
Kampot Pepper, before the Khmer Rouge came to power and diverted all farming to rice production amongst other things, was once world renowned. It has slowly and justifiably earned its stars back having been recently awarded the prestigious Geographical Indications (GI) certification for products that have special or specific qualities that come from the region they are produced in like Champagne from the Champagne region of France and Idaho potatoes from Idaho in the USA.