Monthly Archives: March 2014
It was a cute little jar. All pretty and unassuming. It’s gold top gleaming at me, anonymous due to the lack of any labeling – filled with the creamy spread inside that called me…..Kennnnnn…….Kennnnnn…….I’m creammm cheeeese….…..I’m smoooooth…..I’m sweeeet…..I’m……..REALLY FREAKING HOT!!!!!
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, was my introduction to one of the most awesomely unique and delicious products I’ve tried in a while, Zane & Zack’s International Society of Culinary Pyro’s currently unnamed and unrated Reaper Cream Cheese Spread. Unveiling it’s formal name and debuting at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo on March 29th, 2014, this is a gourmet, artisan cream cheese spread laced with the Guinness world record holder Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper, recently dethroned but still insanely hot Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Habanero, and other “select” peppers! And I was told there are “other super hots” in the spread as noted in the “select pepper” ingredient list!!! Bwahahahaha!!!!
Sam McCanless’ masterful blend of spices and ingredients make this a gourmet quality product – cream cheese, Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper, select peppers, lime juice, fresh garlic, vinegar, minced onions, red chile flakes, and salt. And I can tell that salt is not a main ingredient, as it doesn’t overpower the sweetness and allows the natural slight saltiness of the cream cheese to shine through. He limited the ingredients so each flavor has identity so not to make any one flavor overpower the other. Even the peppers are layered nicely, hitting me at different times and in different ways and places, like a savvy prize fighter picking his punches for purpose and effect. A quick Habanero jab to the face, a hard Scorpion right cross that instantly hurts, and then the steady body blows of Carolina Reaper.
Speaking of a prize fighter, the as yet unnamed Reaper Cream Cheese Spread kinda reminds me of a boxing match. It packs a pretty stout punch, but it’s not a knockout punch. Not the “I’m gonna rip Evander Holyfield’s ear off” angry Mike Tyson punch, but more like Rocky and Apollo Creed’s post Clubber Lange victory fight punch. The punches sting…okay, downright hurt, but just for a minute, then you’re ready to take on another round. And you’re smiling! And you like it! You like it a lot! A whole lot!
The International Society of Culinary Pyros have done themselves proud with a gourmet quality cream cheese spread that earns 4 Fiery Worlds from me. I can’t wait to see it officially at the 2nd Annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo, March 29 and 30, 2014. Check out the Expo website for more details and check out Zane & Zack’s website for more fine sauces and products from Sam and Tina McCanless! You can also find their products from the fine folks at www.iburn.com. So beware the unassuming jar with the gleaming gold cap! Why, you ask? Because ladies and gentlemen, It’s a Fiery World!
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! Michele Northrup and Tom Was at Intensity Academy came out with one of my favorite new products in 2013, and if this was the 1930’s, I’d say it is the Bee’s Knees! I’m just now writing what I’ve known for months- that all the hype is for Honey Hype, Michele and Tom’s newest dry spice blend! I was introduced to it while in New Orleans at the Chile Pepper Extravaganza, and immediately fell in love!
So what’s to love? Well, it’s different. It’s not the normal salt based seasoning blend. And it isn’t just a sweet barbecue rub. It is unique, and I love unique. In an industry where there are so many products that are similar in taste, texture, and use, it’s refreshing to find one that creates a buzz that makes bees all over pollinate with pride!!! And Chile Bee pride is evident in the catchy label! I’m wondering just what Intensity Academy was hyped up on turning bees into flying chile peppers and using a hornets’ nest instead of a bee hive, but it looks cool and is in line with Intensity Academy’s high quality graphic standards. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a little dramatic license! But what’s behind that label is what matters.Honey Hype is some high quality stuff, folks! It uses turbinado sugar, a higher grade that is taken earlier in the refining process, so it keeps more of the dark sugar/molasses flavors. You can tell it’s there by the way that it gives an extra richness to the sweet layer. And what a cool name! Turbinado! Sounds like Sharknado for food! But unlike the bizarre, and cheesy, combination of tornados and killer sharks, the turbinado pairs extremely well with the savory components in Honey Hype- paprika, granulated garlic, and onion powder. And don’t forget the subtle additions of salt and “natural” spices to round out the ingredients! But what about the honey, Honey? (We call everyone Honey and Sugar down here in the South, so I thought I’d throw that in for cultural authenticity!) Well, Intensity Academy uses honey powder, that seems to just lay a blanket of smoothness over everything. And everything is right!
I have yet to find a dish where Honey Hype doesn’t work. From sweet potatoes (deeelish, as Ms. Ray would say) to Fish to pork or poultry, there is a lot to be hyped up about! The sugar and honey powder combo make a killer combo for a glaze, as it did on some pan sautéed tilapia filets. As you see in the picture, chickens are proud to wear a layer of the sweet and savory sharknado style attack, and I could go on and on! But I won’t! I’ll get to the point!
I’m giving Intensity Academy’s Honey Hype 4 1/2 Fiery Worlds! It’s close to perfect, but I learned that you have to keep it well sealed in a dry place or moisture can creep into the spice, making it clump ever so slightly (A common issue with turbinado sugar, and a small price to pay for higher grade and more natural). Don’t get me wrong- it’s not enough to cause problems using the spice, but I would like to see some instruction on the label. So there you have it, folks! Another winning entry by Intensity Academy! Go to their website, or you can get their products at the various shows or at www. iBurn.com. I’ve also done reviews for several of their wonderful products on the blog, so check out the archives! Why, you ask? Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s a Fiery World!