Author Archives: Ken Alexander

Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce is out to Change the World and Burn it Up!

 

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Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce – Original Red sports the image of creator Dexter Holland!

When you first pick up a bottle of Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce, you see a fun image of a sombrero and sunglass wearing, very white (thus the Gringo part of the name, I assume), blonde, pistol packing, bandolier draped character carefully guarding the contents. What you may not know is that is the image of Gringo Bandito founder Dexter Holland, front man for the punk rock group The Offspring! What you may also not know is that Dexter developed and founded his sauce company in 2004 because it would “be cool” to have a hot sauce, and because people who are into hot sauce are passionate! Before taking the first taste, I already like this guy!  Luckily, I also liked his sauces!

There are three main sauces in the Gringo Bandito lineup- the original red sauce that features habaneros, jalapenos, and red Japanese chile peppers (more on this later),  and two offspring sauces – a green sauce with habs, serranos and “more” peppers,   and a Super Hot sauce with scorpion and jolokia (ghost) peppers. According to their website, there are limited release private reserve sauces that appear annually and a taco seasoning coming out in 2017. The original red sauce is a nice, smooth blend of the habs, jalapenos and the darker, earthier, “chile arbolish” Japanese chile, which is actually a native of Mexico’s Jalisco region. The Japanese Chile is a well known player in Asian dishes, especially Szechuan! How’s that for cultural diversity! With a nice front end playful heat, the red sauce makes very good use of black pepper and spices to enhance the earthiness and complexity of this signature sauce. I’d say it has a  low to medium heat and does justice to eggs, pizza, tacos, fish, chicken, black beans, and I’m sure lots and lots of other things. Given the complexity of flavors, it’s almost like Dexter used the recipe for some sort of doctoral research in Molecular Biology!

Next up is the green sauce, which pairs a mid palate pop of habanero pepper with the bright, citrusy front end annum style heat of the Serrano’s, and, according to the label, adds in the mysterious “more” peppers. What peppers are those? I really couldn’t discern any specific type, so we’ll just let more be less. And while this sauce has a light green appearance that isn’t the most appealing to me, it takes off on a mojo-induced, solo green sauce flight around the world, landing right in the center of my flavor runway! I loved this sauce!!! So much I could see myself getting on a private jet, flying to the Isle of Man, skydive down, and telling the first person I see that I give Gringo Bandito’s Green Sauce my Fiery World stamp of approval!!!!!

 

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Gringo Bandito founder and punk rock band Offspring front man, Dexter Holland

The last entry in this Rock trio of sauces is the “ridiculously rambunctious” (straight from the label) Super Hot! Made with Scorpion and Jolokia, or Ghost, peppers, each known for big hits of heat and flavor, I have to say I was genuinely surprised, as I was fully expecting some super charged, tubular, “nitro” induced blast of heat! However, the Super Hot came across my tongue in a wave of balanced flavor, heat, and spice! It was almost like I had just experienced the Housewives of Orange County- richly flavored, plenty spicy and wildly playful, but still grounded in suburbia!

 

All in all, of the two traditionally styled hot sauces, I have to give the valedictorian award to the original red sauce! I liked them both, but I especially liked the way Dexter used the blend of the earthy Japanese chile with the habanero, jalapeno, black pepper, and other spices. Don’t get me wrong-the Super Hot was also very good, and it had plenty of good heat that made you pay close attention to the ride. I compare it like this-You’re expecting that knock you off your surfboard big wave of heat, and instead it gives a fun, tricked out skateboard ride through the streets of Orange County! But the green sauce, pukey color aside, was a solid home run for me! I really, really liked it and I’m super picky when it comes to green, verde style sauces.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk a little about labeling, since that’s what draws people to a product on a store shelf. According to some random internet sources, Dexter’s choice of label art was a way to pay a bit of homage to a staple of the Mexican sauce world, Tapatio, which displays a similar image, albeit not the very blonde, Dutch looking white guy with punked blonde hair! Gringo Bandito sports a smart, clean, visually appealing label, each flavor with it’s own label color, making it easy to spot on a store shelf. And the witty banter they placed in the contents and nutrition info certainly brought a smile and soft chuckle to this fiery food aficionado. Now found nationwide in several thousand grocery stores, and online at www.gringobandito.com, Dexter Holland’s labor of passion and love is doing quite well for itself.

 

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The Gringo Bandito trio of sauces adorning my egg white omelet! So so good!

So there you have it! A punk rock inspired, three piece band of sauces – each instrument with a unique sound – kind of like a Gibson and an Ibanez, but when connected with a Marshall stack, they come together as a finely tuned symphony of flavor, spice, and heat. El Sabor Gringo Bandito is highly recommended by this blogger and reviewer , and I’m sure it will bring a smile to any hot sauce loving family of Offspring! And never, ever forget, ladies and gentlemen –  It’s a Fiery World!

 

 

 

Katie’s Jerky – Served Up Sizzlin’ and Upside Down!

katies-beef-jerkyWhen Katie Levesque asked me to review her line of jerky  I told her, sure, bring it on! And since I already knew something about Katie and Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky, having had it before, (spoiler alert!!) this will be a slam dunk, positive review.  Well, I was right about the positive part- the jerky is first rate! But not so much with the slam dunk part.  I wanted to be unique! Different! Unusual! Creative! A jerky reviewing master! I wanted to own the jerky and make it my…… well, okay, you get the drift! So I started thinking and decided that I didn’t want the usual, “take a bite, taste and review” review.  I wanted to show you, my It’s a Fiery World audience, what makes this jerky special, and so much more than the myriad of brands you see at the mega-mart. So yes, we’ll talk about the products themselves, but also about Katie, the company, and how I like to experiment in the kitchen.

First, the review. Katie has a full lineup of “original” beef and bison jerky, and flavored pineapple jerky. She uses an excellent cut of meat, lean and savory. But what I didn’t find is a lot of tough stringy, hard to eat, tendon and fat.  This stuff is easy to eat. It is slightly thicker than run of the mill products, with a very pleasing texture, so it feels good in your mouth. Regardless of flavor profile, the jerky is consistently tender without turning to mush in your mouth. This allows the flavors to escape evenly and fully, making your mouth happy, and your teeth not feeling as though they’d just gone 10 rounds with Clubber Lang! I have tried the original and several other flavors, and regardless of flavor (think  original, spicy, more spicy, extra spicy, and holy crap, this stuff has some heat! spicy), the underlying flavor of the meat is preserved, while taking advantage of the various flavors and heat levels. There’s just enough onion, just enough garlic, and just enough of Katie’s special spice blends to make anyone smile. And at around 250mg of sodium (give or take a little), it’s not overly salty, which is a big beef with me. I don’t want to wake up after a jerky eating fest with fingers and ankles that feel like they’re stuffed sausages! I also had the Bison Jerky, and I love that big, full flavor of good, lean bison meat. I actually like bison more than regular “cow”, so having that option is an extra treat! I do wish the bison was available in more flavors! And she has recently teamed up with the Sauce Goddess, Jennifer Reynolds, and added some new, exotic flavors to the jerky lineup, using the Sauce Goddess’s spice profiles! I tasted some in Arizona, and man oh man, was it awesome!

I wanted to play with Katie’s products, so I decided to transform them and use them in

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Marinating with Born to Hula Smokin’ Pineapple did a great job re-hydrating the tender beef

common recipes.  Let’s start with the jerky. The pictures give is away, but I first made fajitas with the original beef and bison jerky. And it was a super easy recipe. I took a couple of packs of jerky and cut the pieces into long fajita strips. Next, I dumped a bottle of Born to Hula’s Smokin’ Pineapple sauce (alas, no longer in production) all over the meat, put it in the frig, and let it sit all day.  By dinnertime, I had sufficiently rehydrated the meat and took in some of the flavors of the marinade, which added a little sweetness and smokiness that I enjoyed. Of course, you could use any vehicle for a marinade, so let your imagination and taste buds be your guide.   I sautéed up some onions and peppers, added the meat to heat it up and blend the flavors (it is fully cooked, remember), and voila! Fajitas were born. The

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Katie’s Beef Jerky Fajitas

hardest thing about it was cutting up the onion! So hard it made me cry! (sorry…couldn’t resist!) My wife and my youngest gave me a big thumbs up, and I gave Katie’s beef and bison an even bigger thumbs up!  Actually using the jerky in recipes helped me to appreciate the quality and inherent tenderness in the cut of beef and bison Katie uses. By the way, this is a great recipe to use for extended camping or backpacking trips.

Now for the pineapple. I know what you’re thinking- how is pineapple jerky different than plain ol’ dried pineapple?  Cause that’s what I thought. But here’s the thing- regular dried pineapple almost always has added sugars that turn it more into candy than simple dried fruit, and I’m not into all that extra sugar. So Katie’s pineapple, available in brown sugar and a myriad of other fun flavors (orange, pina colada, and cherry were the ones I tried), is a great, sweet snack alternative.  Katie takes great care in getting the pineapple to a nice texture and consistency. It may be a little chewier than regular dried fruit, but I didn’t have any problems, and I don’t consider that a negative in the least. But it’s also more tender than some fruit leathers, and it’s not blended into a mush that is dried almost hard.  Simply put, I really like it and it has lots of uses!  What uses, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked, cause we’re going to take a journey into my culinary creative side.

katie-jerky-cupcakeI needed to make a dessert for a work Christmas party, so I made pineapple jerky upside down cupcakes with a cinnamon cayenne brown sugar butter creme icing!  I didn’t rehydrate anything, and used a pineapple upside down cake mix, and a brown sugar and butter mixture. I lined the bottom of the cupcake tins with the brown sugar/butter mixture and then added a piece of Katie’s spicy brown sugar flavored pineapple and a piece of cherry flavored pineapple. Add in the batter and top with a few diced pieces of the orange flavored pineapple jerky, and bake like normal! Delish!  I added the icing and my co-workers devoured them!  One take away for next time – the jerky wasn’t rehydrated first, so it was chewier than i would’ve liked (it is jerky, after all), so I would dice the pineapple and simply add it to the batter. I’d still get the desired flavors while getting a better texture and pineapple bite with each cupcake. But that’s a minor thing. I had a lot of fun playing with Katie’s beef, bison, and pineapple, and have nothing but praise for Katie’s lineup of products. They are rock stars in the world of jerky!

In closing, let me speak briefly about Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky as a company. Her back story is inspiring, and I don’t have time here to give you all the detail, since this article has already run pretty long (couldn’t help it- I had too much fun and enjoyed the jerky too much to just write a brief, “Spark Note” review).  But long story short, she started like so many artisan, small batch, food entrepenuers, making jerky for her own pleasure and for friends. She received so much encouragement that she started selling, and fast forward a bunch of years, and here we are- a hard-working, passionate woman with a vision and a great product selling her passion full time! It’s fun talking with Katie, as her passion and excitement for her products and her company show in every conversation, whether it’s in person, or via email or text.

So go to www.katiesbeefjerky.com and load up! You won’t regret it and tell them I sent you! Because, we all know, that food is meant to be fun and yes, Virginia, it is a Fiery World!

Screaming MiMi Award Announcements 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDecember 29, 2016

2017 Screaming Mi Mi Awards

If You Want To Be The BEST Then You Have To WIN The BEST

The NYC Hot Sauce Expo is pleased to present the 2017 Screaming Mi Mi Awards Show on April 22nd. Each year hundreds of hot sauce companies from around the globe compete and try to win the most esteemed and most admired award in the hot sauce industry. Past winners have been featured on TV, national magazines, newspapers and blogs which has lead for their product distributed by wholesalers and national retail outlets. 

This year the Screaming Mi Mi Awards have partnered with Peppers.com, Fuego Box, Chile Pepper Magazine and the Scott Roberts hot sauce blog. These companies are the most respected and leading outlets within the hot sauce community. “I wanted to maximize the profile of the winners and there is no better way than to partner up with these amazing companies” states Seabury organizer of the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. “I want spicy connoisseurs to have easy access to the BEST Hot Sauces in the World and the BEST are Screaming Mi Mi Award winners” adds Seabury.

Screaming Mi Mi Award winners will be selected via blind taste test by New York’s finest and brightest in the culinary industry. The panel consists of celebrity chefs from FOX, CBS and Food Networks, food critics from magazines, newspapers, bloggers, hot sauce retailers and some of NYC’s top chefs. The Screaming Mi Mi Awards has 16 different categories and 1 Grand Champion making this the hardest award to win in the hot sauce industry.

List of Categories:

Asian Style

Caribbean Style

Chipotle

Fruit Based

Fruit Based Hot

Habanero

Jalapeno

Louisiana Style

Pepper Blend Hot

Pepper Blend Mild

Carolina Reaper Pepper Sauce

XXX Hot Sauce (Non Extract)

Best Label Artwork 

Sub Category:

Chicken Wing

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Spicy Salsa

GRAND CHAMPION: The Hot Sauce with the highest total score from the panel of Judges will be deemed the 2017 Grand Champion.

Grand Champion winner will receive the following:

50 Case purchase from Peppers.com distribution

Hot Sauce featured in June subscription of Fuego Box 

Full Page Ad in Chile Pepper Magazine

1 Year of Free banner advertising on the official Scott Roberts website: http://www.scottrobertsweb.com 

Free 10 x 10 Booth at the 2018 NYC Hot Sauce Expo (or another High River presenting Expo) 

ENTRY DEADLINE: April 3rd, 2017.

If you have any questions or comments please email Steve Seabury at: info@NYCHotSauceExpo.com

To download the official 2017 Screamin MiMi entry application, go to the NYC Hot Sauce Expo website, listed below. 

Official Website: www.NYCHotSauceExpo.com


  
 

NYC Hot Sauce Expo to Celebrate 5th Anniversary!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENovember 27, 2016

The NYC Hot Sauce Expo Celebrates Its 5th Anniversary

New York’s own High River Sauces proudly presents the 5th Annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo on April 22nd & 23rd 2017. The NYC Expo will feature up to 45 artisanal hot sauce makers from all over the United States and as far as Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand and South America. The NYC Hot Sauce Expo has grown into an International Hot Sauce celebration. Witness the action packed event with hot sauce tastings, eating challenges, spicy food vendors, craft beer, spicy cocktails and plenty of odd ball entertainment for the whole family.

The NYC Hot Sauce Expo will feature the Bloody Mary Mix-Down National Championship. Winners from AZ, CA & the Portland Hot Sauce Expo’s will be flown in to compete again NYC’s top mixologist in this ultimate Bloody Mary Mix-Down. Winner will receive $2500 cash and the beautiful Stoli Vodka Bloody Mary trophy.

Think you have what it takes to be crowned the Guinness Book of World Records – Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper Pepper Eating Contest, the World’s Hottest Pepper. The 2016 NYC Expo we witnessed Wayne Algenio smash the record by eating 119 grams in 60 seconds. Now the current record is held by Greg Foster when he ate 120 grams at the AZ Hot Sauce Expo on November 13th. Will the record come back to NYC?

The 5th Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo

April 22nd & 23rd

Brooklyn Expo Center 

79 Franklin Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11222

www.NYCHotSauceExpo.com

For more information about the New York City Hot Sauce Expo please contact Steve Seabury: steve@highriversauces.com  

Official website: www.NYCHotSauceExpo.com 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewYorkCityHotSauceExpo

Instagram: www.instagram.com/highriversauces 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nychotsauceexpo

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