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!