I think everyone knows the Tom Hanks’ movie Cast Away! You know….Fed Ex guy in the plane crash who is on a small island for 5 years hanging out with some volleyball named Wilson! Everyone thought he was lost forever, but NO! He turns up, not really any worse for wear, and resumes his life. Well……..I have a kinda sorta similar story about Sweet Heat Gourmet, Michelle Mierwald’s State College, Pennsylvania’s work of love, who sent me sauces to review a looooong time ago. How long ago, you ask? Well, I ain’t sayin’, but it’s been a while! Not Tom and Wilson’s 5 years, mind you, but long enough. There’s a genuine back-story that comes with the delay – but that’s no excuse, and I am dutifully ashamed and embarrassed, and publically ask forgiveness. So here’s where I attempt to make amends!
Right after I received a generous sampling of her creations, I used them, abused them, played with them, made notes about them, enjoyed them, and never finished my formal review of them! Kinda like when, in Cast Away, packages never made it to their final destination…except one, at the end of the movie! Just like this post! (I know it’s a stretch, folks, but work with me a little, okay?!)
Sweet Heat has a great lineup of products. I thought it was especially cool that she sources some of her local ingredients in her online product descriptions, much like Tom gave credit to his ol’ straw headed buddy Wilson! So what was in those lost packages? What’s Sweet and what’s the Heat in the Gourmet?
I received the following: Honey Jalapeno BBQ Sauce, Habanero Peach Hot Sauce, Pineapple & Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce, and Moruga Scorpion Hot Sauce. I have a little left of all of them (testimony that I was saving some for the formal write-up), and they all still have a great fresh flavor and complex profile. Not a bad sauce in the lot! I found my notes, and here’s where it gets eerily similar to Cast Away…..just like Mr. Hanks was creative, ingenious, practical, and opportunistic with the ingredients he had to work with, so goes Ms. Mierwald and Sweet Heat Gourmet!
The Honey Jalapeno BBQ Sauce is fresh, and actually packs a little heat which is unusual for a jalapeno sauce. It has just enough soy and Worcestershire to give it some pop without being salty, a wonderful use of the pepper which you can feel and taste, and a spice compliment that worked well with pork, beef, and chicken.
The Habanero Peach played the cumin and ginger card nicely, creating a unique flavor profile to accompany the peaches and habs, a pleasant medium heat, and the black pepper created a nice earthiness that I really enjoyed. Think fish, veggie medleys, and a Sunday brunch frittata! The Pineapple & Ghost Pepper made a mean salad dressing, with that slow crawling, back palate bhut jolokia burn (but not too much!), and totally faked me out with the raisins, which added a fullness to the flavor profile! I really liked that one…a lot! And the Moruga Scorpion sauce was no-nonsense, front end hot! But not mind numbing hot…just a nice hot! A polite hot! A Tom Hanks nice guy, but tough as all get out to survive 5 years on a deserted island hot! I’m not a big scorpion pepper fan, as I find it a little harsh, but Sweet Heat blends the scorpion with other unnamed red peppers, tomato, a little sugar, and spices to create a Scorpion sauce I could use in chili, spaghetti, meat loaf, and on chicken. I’m sure it has veggie uses if you think about it. After all, Tom tied a raft up with VHS magnetic tape, for goodness sakes!
Short and Sweet – these are great products! They all get 4 Fiery Worlds, except for the Pineapple Ghost, which earns itself 4 1\2 Fiery Worlds!!!! After being lost in the back of my frig, my Sweet Heat Gourmet sauces are still very much present and accounted for! So go to their website and order some today! Or catch Sweet Heat March 29 and 30, 2014 at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo! Why, you ask? Because, It’s a Fiery World!
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!
After you finish your spicy revelry in Houston this weekend, folks, get yourself down to New Orleans for the Chile Pepper Extravaganza! I just got the schedule from the festival organizers and it’s going to be a great show! Click the link directly below to hear the radio spot playing all over New Orleans! And click the second link further down for the complete show schedule!
Click the link below to see show times, schedule, cooking demos, and more!!! Lots of great fun and demos along with some of your favorite spicy vendors! Come see Tracy Carter from Jacs Tailgaters, Johnny McLaughlin of Heartbreaking Dawns, Steve Seabury of High River Sauces and the New York City Hot Sauce Festival, “Cin” Cindy of Cin Cindy Chili fame, CaJohn Hard from CaJohn’s, Michelle Northrup of the Intensity Academy, blogger and renowned Hot Sauce Collector Vic Clinco, just to name a few, along with lots of other local chefs and celebrities sharing their knowledge and passion for food, flavor, heat, and spice! I hope to see you at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA September 27-29! Laizzes Les Bon Temp Roulet!
Check out my latest segment on Scott Robert’s web Weekly Firecast!!!! We talk festivals and how appropriate given Scott’s great interviews on this episode!!! So download and enjoy, and remember that Ken’s Fiery World is a regular segment on most every episode of “The Weekly Firecast”! And remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, “It’s a Fiery World!”
The Audio Weekly Firecast with Scott Roberts:
Weekly Firecast Podcast Episode #44 – Fall Fiery Foods Festivals Special with Carol Borge of the Houston Hot Sauce Festival and Rick McMillen of the Chile Pepper Extravaganza
It’s now the heart of the early Autumn Fiery Foods Festival season! During the Ken’s Fiery World segment, blogger and reviewer Ken Alexander chats with Scott about the plethora of spicy food shows and events during this Fall. Scott then features a double header set of interviews: one with Carol Borge of the Houston Hot Sauce Festival, and then later with Chile Pepper Magazine publisher Rick McMillen who discusses the upcoming Chile Pepper Extravaganza in New Orleans. Scott also reviews KFC’s Hot Shot Bites.
Links mentioned in the episode:
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