That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! Michele Northrup and Tom Was at Intensity Academy came out with one of my favorite new products in 2013, and if this was the 1930’s, I’d say it is the Bee’s Knees! I’m just now writing what I’ve known for months- that all the hype is for Honey Hype, Michele and Tom’s newest dry spice blend! I was introduced to it while in New Orleans at the Chile Pepper Extravaganza, and immediately fell in love!
So what’s to love? Well, it’s different. It’s not the normal salt based seasoning blend. And it isn’t just a sweet barbecue rub. It is unique, and I love unique. In an industry where there are so many products that are similar in taste, texture, and use, it’s refreshing to find one that creates a buzz that makes bees all over pollinate with pride!!! And Chile Bee pride is evident in the catchy label! I’m wondering just what Intensity Academy was hyped up on turning bees into flying chile peppers and using a hornets’ nest instead of a bee hive, but it looks cool and is in line with Intensity Academy’s high quality graphic standards. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a little dramatic license! But what’s behind that label is what matters.Honey Hype is some high quality stuff, folks! It uses turbinado sugar, a higher grade that is taken earlier in the refining process, so it keeps more of the dark sugar/molasses flavors. You can tell it’s there by the way that it gives an extra richness to the sweet layer. And what a cool name! Turbinado! Sounds like Sharknado for food! But unlike the bizarre, and cheesy, combination of tornados and killer sharks, the turbinado pairs extremely well with the savory components in Honey Hype- paprika, granulated garlic, and onion powder. And don’t forget the subtle additions of salt and “natural” spices to round out the ingredients! But what about the honey, Honey? (We call everyone Honey and Sugar down here in the South, so I thought I’d throw that in for cultural authenticity!) Well, Intensity Academy uses honey powder, that seems to just lay a blanket of smoothness over everything. And everything is right!
I have yet to find a dish where Honey Hype doesn’t work. From sweet potatoes (deeelish, as Ms. Ray would say) to Fish to pork or poultry, there is a lot to be hyped up about! The sugar and honey powder combo make a killer combo for a glaze, as it did on some pan sautéed tilapia filets. As you see in the picture, chickens are proud to wear a layer of the sweet and savory sharknado style attack, and I could go on and on! But I won’t! I’ll get to the point!
I’m giving Intensity Academy’s Honey Hype 4 1/2 Fiery Worlds! It’s close to perfect, but I learned that you have to keep it well sealed in a dry place or moisture can creep into the spice, making it clump ever so slightly (A common issue with turbinado sugar, and a small price to pay for higher grade and more natural). Don’t get me wrong- it’s not enough to cause problems using the spice, but I would like to see some instruction on the label. So there you have it, folks! Another winning entry by Intensity Academy! Go to their website, or you can get their products at the various shows or at www. iBurn.com. I’ve also done reviews for several of their wonderful products on the blog, so check out the archives! Why, you ask? Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s a Fiery World!
I’ve been craving Sushi lately! So today after church I stopped and picked up a Spicy Tuna Roll. I don’t often crave sushi, but I’ve had a really good reason….I needed a vehicle for Intensity Academy’s latest offering…..Saucy Everything! This spicy creation from Michele Northrup’s kitchen is a “mayoish” sauce that sends subtle messages like “Put me on Sushi!” And “Hey You! Miracle Whip?! Seriously?! Do your Ham and Cheese a favor and get lost!” Really…..I think I actually heard voices…..little voices…….okay, fine, it’s the medicine, but this stuff would if it could! And speaking of medicine, Saucy Everything has what ails ya!
Looking at the ingredients, it starts out sounding like Mayo….egg yolks, canola oil, lemon, etc. But then this spicy concoction spreads it’s fiesty little butterfly wings and takes off into flavor tow…….Oh wait, that’s the line the uber cool, spiky hair dude from Food Network uses…..so let’s say “Flavor Village”! Cause we all know it takes a village! Okay, I digress…… But it is the inhabitants of this Spicy, Saucy Village that makes Saucy Everything so special…..they veer off from the boring, middle class existence that mayo inhabits! With organic chai tea (one of Michelle’s signature ingredients), thai peppers, red jalapeños, rice wine vinegar, garlic, cane sugar, and other spicy villagers, this sauce offers so much more than almost anything you could pick up in the grocery store!
Saucy Everything enhances and works with so many foods….. it complimented my spicy tuna sushi roll perfectly. The peppers, garlic, and vinegar combined to add a nice undertone to the tuna while at the same time rescuing the boring brown rice from itself! And on my ham sandwich, it brings out the savory notes in my sweet ham, adding to the satisfaction and announcing to the village that “no one boring lives here!” And on a BLT….OMG! Bacon (candy of the Gods), Lettuce, and Tomato never had a better neighbor! What kind of neighbor, you ask? Well, imagine if Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt moved in next door! Your neighborhood instantly added a layer of exotic beauty and spice that never existed before! That’s what I think of when I use Saucy Everything! Well, fine, it doesn’t take much to make me think of Angelina Jolie, but hey, the analogy totally works!
So, what’s the verdict!? 4 1/2 Fiery Worlds from this reviewer! It is another addition to the outstanding stable of products that Intensity Academy offers! So go out and get you some! I gave you just a few examples of Saucy Everything’s potential uses! Heck, use it for a dip! In your deviled eggs! Cole Slaw! Potato Salad! Yea, I’m going through the whole mayo stable of uses, but that’s the point! Send your mayo packin’! Add some Saucy Everything to that village you call a refrigerator! But why, you ask? Because, Ladies and Gentlemen-It’s a Fiery World!
Our collective Fiery World means a lot of things – usually, for me, it’s a fun tagline for my blog celebrating all things hot and spicy. But on a serious note, sometimes people live in a World filled with a Fiery challenge…an intense fight with great struggle and consequences. Such it is with Breast Cancer.
While I was in NOLA for the Chile Pepper Extravaganza recently, I spent some time with Michele and Tom Was, owners of Intensity Academy. I reviewed their Chai Sweet Chili sauce on Hot Sauce Daily early in 2012 and also re-posted here that May for a Mother’s Day special. To refresh your memory, the sauce is dedicated to Michele Northrup’s mom, Barbara, who lost her personal battle to cancer! On a personal note, I lost a sister-in-law to Breast Cancer, so it’s also very close to my heart, as well.
So, given that it’s one of my all time favorite sauces, and October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and Intensity Academy donates a portion of all sales of Chai Sweet Chili Sauce to Breast Cancer related charities, I’m running the review for a “third time’s the charm” to highlight a great opportunity to order a wonderful sauce, honor two wonderful women (and millions of others), and help fight the fight faced by so many. Please follow your heart, readers, and support the fight against Breast Cancer any way you can!
My original review of Chai Sweet Chili Sauce is re-posted below in Hot Sauce Daily’s style and format, where the review originally appeared in February, 2012.
Michele Northrup, who puts the Intense in Intensity Academy, told me I just had to try out her new sauce.
She proceeded to share that the sauce was dedicated to her mom, Barbara Northrup, who Michele lost not long ago. And even cooler still, Intensity Academy donates a portion of the profit from sales of their Chai Sweet Chili Sauce to cancer related charities. And then, later that night, this sauce won a Golden Chili in the Asian sauce category. And with that as our backdrop, let’s give Chai Sweet Chili a ride around the block and see what’s under the hood.
Ingredients: Organic brewed Chai Tea, Thai pepper puree, distilled vinegar, garlic, rice wine vinegar, tapioca starch and natural spices.
Texture/Appearance: – This is a medium thickness sauce with a nice, reddish hue that gives away its Thai Pepper pedigree. The texture is varied, believe it or not, due in large part to the pepper pieces and parts you get when you eat it. Now mind you, I’m eating spoonfuls of this sauce before and during my review, and the difference in texture wouldn’t really be noticed in regular application. Now, the fresh pepper flakes in your teeth might give your friends a feel for texture (not really….well, okay, one did make an ugly display between my teeth, but a quick water rinse nipped that little problem pepper in the bud!) The pepper puree and the tapioca starch give the sauce some body, which is useful when using it as a glaze for salmon, chicken, etc. And as you can see in the picture, the appearance of Chai Sweet Chili is attractive when mixed with the stir fried shrimp I cooked.
Taste/Flavor Straight Up: – While the first taste might lead you to believe that this is a normal asian style stir-fry sauce, the Chai tea quickly jumps up and says, Hey You!! You taste me!? That’s right! Chai Tea is in the house! Do we have a problem? I swear that’s what I heard! Okay… not really, but it could have been. However, the Chai tea did not come in as the upfront flavor. That distinction came from the sugar and spices, who won the footrace to be first flavor out the bottle. The cool part of this sauce and its hipster Chai Tea influence is that the tea is almost an afterthought flavor… a middle note surrounded by a chorus of flavor. But you can hear it, loud and clear, and it’s a clean note-fresh, unassuming, and amazingly bright. I tried this sauce on my home made stir-fried shrimp and veggies, and it tasted as good as the accompanying picture looks. I put it on fish, veggies, and started to drink it on the rocks, but then I remembered about the pepper flake in the teeth incident, and decided to back off of that idea. The Thai pepper influence, however, is apparent, but in a subdued, muted horn sort of way. You’d expect something a little different, which brings us to heat.
Heat Level: – Please don’t take this rating as a negative, because this sauce wasn’t designed to be hot. But on a 5 star scale, I can’t muster more than a level 2 in heat. And that’s what is kinda neat and unique about it. One of the major ingredients is Thai Pepper puree, and while it gives a fun little zing that hits your taste buds on a slight delay, it’s a muted zing. And no zang. And definitely no zowee! Go back to that muted horn thing. Here you have a huge horn section (work with me here- thai pepper is a major ingredient that equates to a large horn sec… oh never mind… you get the picture), and you’re expecting hot Thai Pepper notes that sound loud and bold like a good Chicago tune. But no – the heat is subtle, muted, and blended seamlessly into the other flavor profiles that I enjoyed so much.
Label/Graphics: – I liked the label, and loved the little write up on the side about Michele’s mother, Barbara. It is inspiring and pleasing, and I liked the pink background mixed with the grass and muted sun. The peacock on the label is a great representative for this sauce, and not just because it is a beautiful bird on a sauce honoring a beautiful lady. If you know anything about Peacocks, you know that they are loud and fearless and will get up in your face if you threaten them and scare the beejeezus out of you. They weren’t used to guard palaces for nothing, you know! I can’t help but think that this is Michele’s tongue in cheek trophy to her beautiful, protective, strong mom, Barbara.
Overall Impression: – This is an excellent asian style chili sauce. I would even call it fun. That’s partly why I infused some fun into my review. It just seemed to fit this sauce and Intensity Academy overall! If you know Michele Northrup and her husband Tom, you know that these folks have fun with their products. But they’re all business when it comes to flavor. This sauce can be serious on stir fry, casual on plain green beans, classy on fish, and always fun. While I don’t know for certain, I have to think that when Michele created this sauce, she was in the kitchen reminiscing about her mom, and thinking about how Barbara Northrup could be funny, serious, classy, not so classy (hard to be classy running after kids, wiping dirty noses, and cleaning bathrooms), and look as good in jeans as she did in sequins. I never met Michele’s mom, but that’s the image I get. How cool is that? And how cool to create something unique, fun, and amazingly tasty. Chai Sweet Chili is just that cool. Get you some. Enjoy. And if you’re blessed to still have your momma, call her up and tell her you love her.
About the company: Intensity Academy opened for business in 2007 in the Tampa, Florida area. According to their website, they have won multiple awards for their diverse line of sauces, including Scovies, Golden Chiles and Fiery Food awards. Check out their website at http://www.intensityacademy.com and be greeted by a school motif (the name is Intensity Academy, after all). Use the contact info on the website for questions that the site doesn’t answer.