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!!!!!
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.
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!
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!!
At tonight’s Zestfest awards ceremony, companies from all over the country were awarded the coveted Golden Chile award!! Thanks to John “CaJohn” Hard for sending the list out to myself, Scott Roberts, and Al “Buddah” Goldenberg to spread to those waiting with baited breath to know if their spicy works of love made the judges smile, sweat, or whatever else judges do!! So look for your favorites, and maybe order something from a winning company and see if you agree!!! Why, you ask? Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s a Fiery World!!!!
Snack: Popcorn – Consumer Ready 1. Pam’s Market Popcorn – Triple X Columbus Mix 2. Pam’s Market Popcorn – Hannibal’s Hot Nutz 3. Pam’s Market Popcorn – Sassy Sweet Gooey Caramel
Snack: Salty Snack – Consumer Ready 1. Cajun Tex Salsa and More – Cajun Tex Spicy Cajun Chips 2. PuckerButt Pepper Company – Smokin’ Ed’s Hot Nutz 3. Jungle Heat – What Was I Thinking
Best Snack Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Spicy Pineapple Bread & Butter
Zesty Sweets: Candy/Chocolate – Consumer Ready 1. Texas Toffee – Gotcha Toffee 2. Anettes Chocolates – Chili Lime Tortilla Brittle 3. Poco Dolce Confections – Smoked Almond & Ghost Chili Salt Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles
Zesty Sweets: Cookies/Desserts – Consumer Ready 1. Katie’s Snack Foods – Spicy Brown Sugar Pineapple Jerky 2. Katie’s Snack Foods – Pina Colada Pineapple Jerky 3. Katie’s Snack Foods – Maraschino Pineapple Jerky
Zesty Sweets: Dessert Sauce – Consumer Ready 1. Texas Brew Salsa – Fire Roasted Mango Tequila Sauce 2. Texas Brew Salsa – Fire Roasted Pineapple Spiced Rum Sauce 3. Texas Brew Salsa – Stone Fruit Hatch Chutney
Best Zesty Sweets Texas Toffee – Gotcha Toffee
Cook-Off Food: Chile Con Carne 1. Texas Select Seasonings – Ghost Dust Chili 2. Texas Select Seasonings – Texa-Peno Chili 3. SuckleBusters Inc – Sucklebusters Comeptition Chili Kit
Cook-Off Food: Dry Seasoning/Rub 1. Black Swamp Gourmet – X-Hot Rub 2. CRC BBQ Enterprises LLC – Riley’s Smoky and Bold 3. Cowboy BBQ – Smokey Salty Bronc
Cook-Off Food: Table Seasoning 1. AmberFyre Foods – Amberger Jalapeno 2. BBQ’n Fools – Signature Seasoning 3. Mike’s Mojo Seasoning – Mike’s Mojo All Purpose Seasoning
Cook-Off Food: Asian Seasoning or Marinade 1. PuckerButt Pepper Company – VooDoo Prince Death Mamba 2. PuckerButt Pepper Company – Pineapple Ginger 3. The Spice Lab – Gourmet Bacon Rub-Asian Sesame Sweet & Spicy
Cook-Off Food: Jerk Seasoning or Marinade 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace World Tour Jamaican Jerk Seasoning 2. Donna’s Boston Bay Jerk Sauce – Donna’s Boston Bay Jerk Sauce 3. Rasta Bros – Rasta Bros Jamaican Jerk Marinade
Cook-Off Food: Pasta 1. Gorji Gourmet Foods – Gorji Gourmet Foods Arrabiata Diavolo 2. Gorji Gourmet Foods – Gorji Gourmet Foods Puttanesca 3. Gorji Gourmet Foods – Gorji Gourmet Foods Pomodoro
Cook-Off Food: Wing Sauce Mild/Medium 1. Hot Sauce Depot – The Flaming Chicken Hot Garlic Wing Sauce 2. Porky’s Gourmet Food – Historic Lynchburg Wild & Wicked Wing Sauce 3. Pepper Palace Inc – Wingmaster Garlic Parmesan Wing Sauce
Cook-Off Food: Wing Sauce Hot/X Hot 1. Demitri’s Gourmet Mixes – Demitri’s Chipotle-Habanero Bloody Mary Seasoning 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Wingmaster Smokehouse Wing Sauce 3. Hot Sauce Depot – The Flaming Chicken Scorpion Fire Wing Sauce
Cook-Off Food: Specialty 1. Demitri’s Gourmet Mixes – Demitri’s Chipotle-Habanero Bloody Mary Seasoning 2. The Spice Boys – Ragin Cajun 3. The Spice Lab – Smoked Ghost Pepper Sea Salt
Cook-Off Beverage: Bloody Mary Mix 1. Bloody Reolution Gourmet Bloody Mary Mixes – Bloody Revolution Smoked Habanero 2. The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix – The Murph’s Famous Hot & Spicy 3. Demitri’s Gourmet Mixes – Demitri’s Chipotle-Habanero Bloody Mary Seasoning
Cook-Off Beverage: Margarita Mix – TIE 1. SlimRitas – Slim Hatch Chile Rita 1. What The Chuck Mix – What The Chuck Mix for Margarita
Cook-Off Beverage: Other Beverage/Cocktail Mix 1. Smokin’ Texas Gourmet – Votew 2. Race City Sauce Works – Snake Oil Love Potion 3. What The Chuck Mix – What The Chuck Mix for Michelada
Best Cook-Off 1. Hot Sauce Depot – The Flaming Chicken Hot Garlic Wing Sauce
Best New Product Consumer Ready Food 1. Georgia’s Sweet Peppers – Candied Habanero 2. Texas Brew Salsa – True Blue Love Confit 3. Feisty Parrot – OUCH!
Best New Product Cook-Off 1. SlimRitas – Slim Hatch Chile Rita 2. Gorji Gourmet Foods – Gorji Gourmet Foods Arrabiata Diavolo 3. Jenks Specialty Food – Sugar Britches BBQ Sauce and Glaze
Marketing: Label 1. Primo’s Peppers – Swampadelic Sauce 2. Race City Sauce Works – Snake Oil Gold Digger 3. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – Diá del Perro
Marketing: Logo 1. Primo’s Peppers – Primo’s Peppers 2. AmberFyre Foods – AmberFyre Foods 3. Little Bar Double R – Little Bar Double R
Marketing: Product Packaging 1. Cajun Tex Salsa and More – Cajun Tex Spicy Cajun Chips 2. Ana’s Foods – Ana’s Salsa Restaurant Style Medium 3. Chicks and Salsa – Virgin Mary by Chicks & Salsa
Best Overall Product / Best of the Best Race City Sauce Works – Seven Pepper SrirachaH H
Barbecue Sauce: Mild – Consumer Ready 1. High River Sauces – Rattler BBQ Sauce 2. Woody’s Bar-B-Q Sauce – Woody’s Hickory Mild B-B-Q Sauce 3. Southern Belles BBQ – Original Belle
Barbecue Sauce: Medium – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – Manhattan Black Cherry Bourbon BBQ 2. CRC BBQ Enterprises LLC – Riley’s Triple R Sauce 3. Full Boar BBQ – Full Boar BBQ Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce
Barbecue Sauce: Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Smack LLC – Pepper Smack Pepper Q 2. Full Boar BBQ – Full Boar BBQ Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce 3. Southern Belles BBQ – Southern Heat
Barbecue Sauce: X Hot – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – Manhattan Black Cherry Bourbon BBQ HOT 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Black Rock Scorpion BBQ Sauce 3. Cobra Chili – Carolina BBQ Sauce
Barbecue Sauce: Fruit Based – Consumer Ready 1. Southern Belles BBQ – Blueberry Blues 2. Sweet Heat Gourmet – Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce 3. Southern Belles BBQ – Hot & Sassy Peach
Barbecue Sauce: Mustard Based – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – South Carolina Mustard Style 2. KW’s BBQ Sauce – KW’s BBQ Sauce Sweet & Spicy 3. SuckleBusters Inc – SuckleBusters Mustard
Barbecue Sauce: Tomato Based – Consumer Ready 1. CRC BBQ Enterprises LLC – Riley’s Triple R Sauce 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Cayenne BBQ 3. Full Boar BBQ – Full Boar BBQ Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce
Barbecue Sauce: Vinegar Based – Consumer Ready 1. SuckleBusters Inc – SuckleBusters Original 2. Woody’s Bar-B-Q Sauce – Woody’s Original Hot Bar-B-Q Sauce 3. YT’z Trading Company – YT’z Carolina Shark Byte Sauce
Barbecue Sauce: Specialty – Consumer Ready 1. CRC BBQ Enterprises LLC – Riley’s Triple R Sauce 2. Frog Bone Cajun Sauces – Bayou BBQ 3. Woody’s Bar-B-Q Sauce – Woody’s Marinade and Baste
Best Barbecue Sauce AmberFyre Foods – Manhattan Black Cherry Bourbon BBQ
Condiments: Horseradish – Consumer Ready 1. PuckerButt Pepper Company – I Dare You Stupit Horseradish 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Nasal Napalm Horseradish 3. PuckerButt Pepper Company – Blazing Hot
Condiments: Jam/Jelly – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Smack LLC – Pepper Smack Habanero Pepper Jelly 2. Diane’s Sweet Heat – Peach Habanero Jam 3. Rasta Bros – Jamaican Pepper Jelly
Condiments: Ketchup – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – DeVille Cayenne Garlic Ketchup 2. Grumps Burgers – Grumps Jalapeno Ketchup 3. The Karma Sauce Company – Curry Kats’up
Condiments: Mustard – Consumer Ready 1. The Karma Sauce Company – Cold Process Mustard 2. AmberFyre Foods – Verona Cayenne Garlic Mustard 3. The Karma Sauce Company – Chipotle Mustard
Condiments: Relish – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Red Bell Pepper Relish 2. Pappa Perrys Pepper Products – Pear Chow Relish 3. Cottage Lane Kitchen – Give Me A Switch Spicy Pepper Relish
Condiments: Salad Dressing – Consumer Ready 1. Frog Bone Cajun Sauces – Remoulade Sauce 2. Stagecoach Salsa – Sheriff Mike’s Spicy Salsa Ranch 3. Pepper Palace Inc – Cherry Balsamic Sauce
Condiments: Steak Sauce – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Spicy Steak Sauce 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Steak Sauce 3. Geno’s Food Friendly Sauce – Geno’s Spicy Sauce
Condiments: Specialty – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Smack LLC – Fire Lime Sriracha 2. Jake’s Famous Foods – Jake’s Famous Chipotle Mayonnaise 3. PuckerButt Pepper Company – VooDoo Prince Death Mamba
Best Condiment Pepper Palace Inc – Red Bell Pepper Relish
Hot Sauce: Asian Style – Consumer Ready 1. High River Sauces – Foo Foo Mama Choo 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Tsunami Asian Style Hot Sauce 3. The Karma Sauce Company – Curry Karma Sauce
Hot Sauce: Caribbean Style – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – Mango Suave 2. Scorpion Gourmet Hot Sauce – Scorpion Gourmet Hot Sauce XHOT 3. High River Sauces – Tears of the Sun
Hot Sauce: LatinStyle – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – Xoxoctic 2. Pangean Foods LLC – Chantico Pepper Sauce 3. Race City Sauce Works – Deadwood
Hot Sauce: Louisiana Style – Consumer Ready 1. AmberFyre Foods – Livingston Parish 2. Todd-Sik Sauce – Todd-Sik Garlic Hot Sauce 3. Pepper Palace Inc – Black Rose Hot Sauce
Hot Sauce: Chipotle – Consumer Ready 1. High River Sauces – Hellacious 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze Hot Sauce 3. Hot Sauce Depot – Irazu Volcanic Pepper Sauce Chipotle
Hot Sauce: Fruit Based – Consumer Ready 1. Sweet Heat Gourmet – Pineapple & Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce 2. Jungle Heat – Caribbean Heat 3. Jungle Heat – Mango Heat
Hot Sauce: Pepper Blend – Consumer Ready 1. Scotty B’s Hot Sauces – Ghostly Garlic 2. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – Pink Label 3. Chicks and Salsa – C & S Original Roasted Reaper-Habanero
Hot Sauce: Mild – Consumer Ready 1. High River Sauces – Tears of the Sun 2. Race City Sauce Works – Deadwood Eulogy 3. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – Green Label
Hot Sauce: Medium – Consumer Ready 1. Chicks and Salsa Virgin Mary by Chicks & Salsa 2. Consuming Fires Specialty Foods – Consuming Fires Smoked Jalapeno Sauce 3. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – Orange Label
Hot Sauce: Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – Black Label 2. Smokin Texas Gourmet – Angry Twist 3. The Karma Sauce Company – Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce
Hot Sauce: X Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Race City Sauce Works – Seven Pepper Sriracha 2. Chicks and Salsa – Scary Bloody Mary by Chicks & Salsa 3. Scotty O’Hotty Hot Sauce – The Ghost Sauce
Hot Sauce: Ultra Hot Pepper – Consumer Ready 1. Chicks and Salsa – C & S Signature Roasted Reaper-Habanero 2. Primo’s Peppers – Swampadelic Sauce 3. Born to Hula – Reaper of Sorrow
Best Hot Sauce: Race City Sauce Works – Seven Pepper Sriracha
Fresh Salsa: Mild – Consumer Ready 1. Ana’s Foods – Ana’s Salsa Original Mild 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Jack’s Special Mild 3. Olympus Fare – Olympus Fare Salsa “Aphrodite”
Fresh Salsa: Medium – Consumer Ready 1. Citas Salsa – Red Rage 2. Olympus Fare – Olympus Fare Salsa “Zeus” 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Jack’s Special Medium
Fresh Salsa: Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Citas Salsa – Fiery Fiesta 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Carolina Reaper Hot 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Jack’s Special Hot
Fresh Salsa: Fruit – Consumer Ready 1. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Mango Habanero with Ginger & Honey 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Mango Peach 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Mango Pico de Gallo
Fresh Salsa: Specialty – Consumer Ready 1. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Tomatillo Salsa 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Fire Roasted Tomatillo 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Fire Roasted Black Bean & Corn
Best Fresh Salsa: Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Tomatillo Salsa
Salsa: Mild – Consumer Ready 1. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Tomatillo Salsa 2. Daniel’s Fire Roast – Medium Black Bean & Corn 3. Cajun Tex Salsa and More – Cajun Tex Hickory-Smoked Salsa Picante
Salsa: Medium – Consumer Ready 1. Damn Good Heat – Jalapeno Garlic Salsa 2. Cajun Tex Salsa and More – Cajun Tex Hickory-Smoked Salsa Picante 3. Casa Morales Inc – Casa Morales Restaurant Salsa
Salsa: Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Damn Good Heat – Habanero Garlic Salsa 2. Daniel’s Fire Roast – Hot 3. Holmes Made Salsa – Marty’s Roasted Green Chile – Red
Salsa: X Hot – Consumer Ready 1. Silverleaf International – Scorpion Salsa 2. La Familia Salsa Co – XX Red Scorpion 3. PuckerButt Pepper Company – I Dare Your Stupit Reaper Salsa
Salsa: Bean & Corn – Consumer Ready 1. Sweet Slap’n Salsa Company – Medium X 2. Daniel’s Fire Roast – Medium Black Bean & Corn 3. Holmes Made Salsa – Spicy Black Bean w/Corn
Salsa: Chipotle – Consumer Ready 1. Daniel’s Fire Roast – Medium Black Bean & Corn 2. Stagecoach Salsa – Smoke and Fire 3. Daniel’s Fire Roast – Hot
Salsa: Fruit – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Peach Salsa 2. Sweet Slap’n Salsa Company – Strawberry Medium 3. Chehalem Ridge Brands – Blues Berry Fruit Salsa
Salsa: Exotic Blend – Consumer Ready 1. PuckerButt Pepper Company – I Dare You Stupit Reaper Salsa 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Manzano Salsa 3. Deception Salsa – Oink
Salsa: Verde/Tomatillo – Consumer Ready 1. Texas Select Seasonings – Tomatillo Avocado 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Avocado Tomatilla 3. Pepper Palace Inc – Roasted New Mexico Green Chile Salsa
Best Salsa: PuckerButt Pepper Company – I Dare You Stupit Reaper Salsa
Snack: Cheese – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Queso Blanco 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Cream Cheese & Salsa 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Mexicali Dip with Cheddar
Snack: Chips – Consumer Ready 1. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Moe & Joe’s Tortilla Chips 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Original Tortilla Chips
Snack: Jerky – Consumer Ready 1. Katie’s Snack Foods – KT’s Original Beef Jerky 2. Oregon Trail Jerky – Sweet Habanero Jerky 3. Just Jerky U.S.A. – Just Jerky USA Chipotle Cayenne
Snack: Pickles – Consumer Ready 1. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Spicy Pineapple Bread & Butter 2. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Horseradish Pickles 3. Pepper Palace Inc – Pepper Palace Habanero Chunk Pickles
Snack: Pickled Other – Consumer Ready 1. Smokin’ Texas Gourmet – L’il Gems Candies Jalapenos 2. Shaggy Dog – Shaggy Dog Spicy Pickled Asparagus 3. La Familia Salsa Co – Candied Jalapenos
Snack: Prepared Dip – Consumer Ready 1. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Guacamole Zesty 2. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Mexicali Dip with Cheddar 3. Garden Fresh Gourmet – Garden Fresh Gourmet Artichoke Jalapeno Dip
At this spring’s New York City Hot Sauce Expo, John Hard (aka CaJohn) came up to me and said, Ken, I have a new sauce I want you to try. I think you’re gonna like it! Well, I don’t know if there’s been a creation from CaJohn’s Flavor & Fire that I didn’t like, so it was a safe bet. But I didn’t expect to be enchanted!!!!
Okay, so I’m making a little play on words here. If you’ve looked at the picture, you know I’m referring to Enchantment, a mole’ style sauce and one of CaJohn’s most recent culinary creations! I’ve had this sauce since the week after the show (thanks to Sue Hard, who graciously boxed up and shipped my hot sauce booty for me, since it’s kind of hard to take 40 bottles of sauce and products through as a carry on!) and it has become one of my go to sauces for anything Mexican or Latin, or anything I want to highlight with the flavor or Old Mexico!
If you know CaJohn and Sue, you know they love New Mexico, and they pay homage to their affection in the label write up of the sauce. They reference their enchantment with the state (get it? Nice word play, CaJohn!) and wanted a sauce that created a fusion of North American Indian, Spanish Mission, Mayan, and Chuck Wagon styles in the tradition of the old Mexico Mole Poblano sauce made famous in the mountain city of Puebla, Mexico (there’s some controversy about the origin of mole sauce, but I’ve been to Puebla, and those folks are pretty darn convincing!). A traditional mole sauce has a pile of stuff in it, from various roasted nuts, to dried bread and fruit, and a finishing of dark chocolate, and cooks for hours and hours. This sauce celebrates that richness, but uses a different flavor and ingredient profile.
Enchantment uses several different peppers: New Mexican chile, Ancho, Guajillo, Chile de Arbol, and Pequin. Add in distilled and cider vinegar, garlic, agave nectar, cumin, salt and oregano, and you have a dark, rich, complex sauce that masterfully layers its flavors and it’s oh so subtle heat. This is not a hot sauce to me. It is a finishing sauce for meat, or a base to slow cook and simmer pork, chicken, or beef. And it took my Spanish omelet to a whole new level! If I have any suggestions for CaJohn based on my using it these past few months, is that my batch is really thick and doesn’t always want to easily pour out of its flask style bottle. But that is a small issue, and after all, a mole is supposed to be thick. Another thing I learned while playing with it is that it doesn’t always play well with others, and mixing it with other powders, spices, rubs, etc. could alter the flavor profile enough to mess things up. So for those that like to use multiple sauces, powders, rubs, etc. in your dishes, don’t be surprised if you’re not thrilled with your results. In other words, make your life easy and don’t use anything else- it’s not necessary.
Now I’m sure there are those of you that are much more skilled in the kitchen than yours truly, and can use it with other spices and products, but I appreciated the stupid proofness that Enchantment gave me. And like I said, while it’s not a true mole sauce (CaJohn will be the first to tell you that it’s a mole “inspired” sauce), the deep, earthy tones of the Arbol chile, combined with the mildly acidic guajillo and New Mexican, the sweetness of the ancho (I think they’re sweet, anyway!), and the playful heat of the pequin combine in masterful fashion to provide my taste buds and smell buds (do we even have smell buds? Remind me to look that up!) with a trip to old Mexico!
So Enchantment earns itself a full 4 Fiery Worlds from this author. I enjoyed the cool way it uses so many different peppers so smartly, the simple list of other ingredients that celebrates the flavors without muddying it all up, and the fullness and richness that makes the sauce “mole-like”. Add in a first hand appreciation for John and Sue’s love for New Mexico and I wish I was on a mesa in New Mexico watching a beautiful sunset, chowing down on some slow cooked pork wrapped in a homemade tortilla, smothered in Enchantment! Ahhh….some enchanted evening that would be! And why, Ladies and Gentlemen? Because…….It’s a Fiery World! (Note: At press time, I didn’t see Enchantment listed on Cajohn’s website, so you may need to inquire as to availability)