Well, I gotta tell you it feels good to be in the review mode once again! And it’s fitting that my first written review in a while comes from my backyard – Cajun Country!! The Rougarou lineup of Louisiana style sauces from the new startup company Bayou Blend, from Napoleonville, Louisiana did not disappoint.
Let’s start with the foundation of their lineup, Cajun Cayenne, since it appears that the Cajun Habanero builds on that profile. At first, this appears to be a pretty straight forward, cayenne based sauce, but it has some pleasant twists. It has a simple ingredient list – cayenne peppers, garlic, onion, vinegar, and spices. It’s a thin sauce, with maybe just a bit more consistency than another very well known Louisiana based sauce, but with a tad more texture. It has a very appealing look, where you can see the fresh spices suspended evenly throughout. I credit the textural difference to those visible flecks of spices and black pepper swimming around in the sauce, kinda like the beady eyes of a gator in the swamp, which is their label and logo mascot. In fact, the black pepper is a fairly dominant player on Cajun Cayenne’s flavor team. I could pick up the garlic and onion notes, and much to my liking, not a lot of salt! I really am not a fan of super salty sauces. Most traditional Louisiana style sauces are simply peppers, salt, and vinegar, and this sauce ( and the other 2 in the lineup) took a nice, bold step to break that mold! At only 40 mg of sodium per teaspoon, there’s lots of room to guage your own saltiness needs in your food, so the sauce compliments, rather than competes, with other ingredients being used.
The heat level is a mild to low medium for the average person, and a definite very mild for the Chilehead, with that quick pop of heat you’d expect with a cayenne pepper based sauce, accented by the vinegar on the front end, with a lingering zing and a playful heat tang. It pairs well with all the staples you’d think with a Louisiana style sauce- eggs, pizza, a “cajunized” bloody mary mix, etc. and with the way the spices are blended, it could easily compliment any sauce or dish.
The Cajun Habanero shares most of the above comments, with the following additions: It obviously adds a layer of heat from the habs, as well as that nice fruity, “citrusy” note that I enjoy from a habanero. The layering of heat with the cayenne is done smartly for this medium heat sauce. You get the quick up front palate pop, then the mid palate heat takes over, which lingers much longer than the cayenne sauce, as would be expected. And for both of these sauces, the vinegar is noticeable, and after all, it is a Louisiana style sauce, but it works well in the overall flavor profile.
These sauces are respectable, if not too, too remarkable and would work well with all the usual staples, as well a companion to lot of other dishes where you want a fairly mild, but somewhat zingy punch of flavor and heat.
Bayou Blend’s Luzianne Red Habanero is a straight up, Louisiana style sauce made of red habanero peppers, salt, and vinegar. It’s thin, red, with a big vinegar front end and a fairly mild habanero heat. I like a nice,traditional Louisiana style sauce to mix with ketchup, add to soups, beans, and eggs. The added heat from the habanero is a nice deviation from either tobasco or cayenne peppers, the stalwarts of Louisiana sauces. And speaking of heat, I would say that even though this is a Hab sauce, it’s only a mild heat, or possibly a medium heat for the faint of heart!
Now if you remember, I love me a good label, and Bayou Blend gets an A+ on their graphics and label design. it’s clean, catchy, not too busy, uses a really catchy font, and just has a great, marketable look about it. Their brand logo of the gator with the name embedded is really clever and eye appealing. And if you’re a sauce maker competing with lots of others on a shelf in the store (where folks buy on looks and impulse, cause they can’t taste it!), then your label is everything! Great job, Bayou Blend!
I’m gonna give Bayou Blend’s Cajun Cayenne and Cajun Habanero both a solid 3 Fiery Worlds, which is above average in my world. They had great flavor, a nice heat balance, and would pair well with most anything. I’m giving the Luziana Red Habanero an average rating of 2 1/2 Fiery Worlds, since it’s really not any hotter than most readily available Louisiana style sauces currently on the market. If the folks at Bayou Blend go back and truly do justice to the habanero’s heat potential, I’d rate it at least 3 Fiery Worlds, since I haven’t seen too many true Louisiana style hab sauces true to the flavor profile with enough heat.
Even though these sauces haven’t made their way to Bayou Blend’s website, bayousnacks.com , I’m sure they’ll be there soon. I’ve tried their original jerky, which is tasty, with great flavor and texture. They have several jerky flavors available, so go check them out. And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen – 3 sauces from a bayou state newcomer to the scene. I encourage you to order some and try them for yourself, and do your own review. I’m just one man with a unique palate and an opinion. And there are lots and lots of tastebuds and taste prefenences out there! Why, you ask? Because we all know – It’s a Fiery World!!