When Hector Saldivar asked about sending me his brand new sauce to try, I have to admit I was busy and told him I only had time for a cursory review on Facebook or Instagram. But I was honest with him and he sent it anyway. And as you might have concluded, the impression it made was enough that here I am with a full on review! The box came quickly with 2 bottles of sauce, some stickers, and a purple hair roller! “Well that’s all kinds of random”, I thought when looking at the roller. Then I looked closer at the Tia Lupita label, then back at the roller, back at the stickers, then at the roller, then back to the sauce, then to the…..okay, enough! Turns out Hector named his sauce after his momma, Tia Lupita. And Lupita always had a purple roller in her hair! What a loving memory of his mom, and what a lasting tribute. So….it made me curious to learn more…Score a point for marketing! Then I went to the website and my heart was touched at the Tia Lupita backstory. Turns out that everyone calls Hector’s mom Tia (Spanish for Aunt) Lupita! And she would give Hector her old school, Old Mexico hot sauce to remind him of home after he moved to the states. And fast forward to everyone begging Hector to make them that sauce! And fast forward to Hector’s entrepreneurial spirit, and just like that, Tia Lupita was born! Born from a mother’s love for her son! (Can you tell I’m writing this around Mother’s Day?)
So, now for the quickie review – this sauce has instantly become one of my all time favorite Mexican style sauces! Holy Majolie is this stuff good! But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’re super busy, then the review is over. Go forth and buy and enjoy! But if you want a little more detail, read on!
The labeling is smart with a caricature of Hector’s mom on the label bearing her name, complete with signature roller. Nice graphics, easy to read, and the bottle is a short, 8oz squatty bottle, so plenty of product to enjoy in attractive packaging. Good descriptors on the side (non-GMO, Gluten Free, No Sugar, all natural, only 7 ingredients) and the website’s URL, www.tialupitahotsauce.com. The write-up on the label is fun, but a little long for a label and kinda hard to read with less than young eyes! I also enjoyed the hashtag lines, #makehotsaucegreatagain and #curlpower. Very catchy, but be careful making claims like “make hot sauce great again”! There’s lots of really great small batch, artisan hot sauces out there!
With only 7 ingredients, Tia Lupita tastes clean and authentic. Here’s the lucky 7: Red Chili Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Garlic, Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, and Cumin. A simple list of ingredients but it provides a full depth of flavor. The type of peppers aren’t specified, but I asked and my suspicions were confirmed: Tia Lupita uses fully ripened jalapeno’s. The flavor, combined with the black pepper and toasted spices like cumin, reminds me of a nice, earthy Arbol Chile, and that’s a very good thing!
Now for the good part! This sauce just tastes old school Mexico! Deep, rich, earthy, full-bodied with a nice texture. It’s a smooth sauce, but not watery. In fact, it’s a thick sauce, with a consistency similar to ketchup. I enjoyed the thickness, as it didn’t run everywhere, stayed where I put it, and coated very nicely. I am very sodium conscious these days and the low sodium content allowed me to hit the shaker and dial in just how salty or not I wanted the sauce, which I thoroughly appreciated. Tia Lupita says it toasts its spices, and the earthy, smoky flavor profile was testimony to that, since they aren’t using a chipotle pepper. The black pepper shined through and makes a great statement, and the oregano and cumin paired really well and provided a nice brightness that screamed, “Viva Mexico”!!! Of course, I tried it on eggs, and it has become my current go to for that breakfast staple! I also used it on chicken, pork, and steak. It worked extremely well with all of the meats listed. Ironically, I haven’t made tacos yet, but I have no doubt it will be superb on any traditional Mexican/Hispanic food choice! And of course, let’s not forget pizza! This sauce will be stellar on a good pizza!!!! The thickness and the toasted spice blend with the garlic and oregano will add great value to a basic pizza sauce.
So given that this post will be released around Mother’s Day, it’s very appropriate to celebrate the awesomeness that is Tia Lupita, as Hector pays respect and homage to his mom, Lupita. She shared herself, her family treasures, and love for her son when she sent him sauce to remind him of home. What a sweet thought and visual image of family and the love that so often revolves around our kitchens and the food we eat! I can almost see Hector spending time with his mom talking about life, food, his messy room, childhood memories, etc. etc .etc. My Mother’s Day wish for everyone is that you all have a Lupita in your lives. A special someone-mother, aunt, friend, or whoever- who loves us enough to share and sacrifice their talents and treasures so that we can smile and be happy and experience a little taste of home and family through the culinary cue cards embedded in our hearts and brains! All while rockin’ a big ‘ol purple hair roller!
You can find Tia Lupita on the web at www.tialupitahotsauce.com and at a few lucky, select locations in and around Marin County, California! This is an outstanding hot sauce! One of the best new sauces I’ve tasted in a long time! So get your hot sauce on! Tell Hector I sent you! And tell your momma you love her! And thanks to Hector for allowing me to share a little bit of my world with you, because we all know, Ladies and Gentlemen, that It’s a Fiery World!