Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hot Sauce Tasting

I love hot sauces and use them frequently, on scrambled eggs, in tuna salad, on burgers and leftover meat sandwiches and in a millon other ways. So when I heard about Austin, Texas-based Tears of Joy Sauces, which sells hundreds of hot sauces from around the world, more than a year ago, I decided to order a bunch of them. This month, I finally took the plunge.

Hot Sauces from Tears of Joy Sauces
But what do you do with 14 bottles of hot sauce of varying strengths and tastes? Have a hot sauce tasting party, of course. So today, four friends and I tasted the 14 new sauces, and some of us also tried my old standards - Tabasco hot, chipotle and jalapeno and Rooster Brand Sriracha - by way of comparison.
The Old Standards
We had great fun. Our methodology was to try the sauces in ascending order of hotness (based on Tears of Joy’s excellent product descriptions) with tortilla chips, matzohs, flatbread, corn crackers and, best of all, thin slices of brioche bread brought by one of the participants, accompanied by lots of beer. After we had been through all 14, with some of us tasting the supermarket standards for comparison, we had some relatively mild turkey chili with additions of selected sauces. Our conclusions, developed as we cooled down and chatted over spicy, but not crazy, Chile Bear Jams Spiced Chipotle jam on brioche bread:
  • There was no single winning hot sauce, although certain sauces garnered quite a bit of support and a couple were generally disliked.
  • Almost everyone loved Liziano Salsa, a Colombian all-purpose sauce that is spicy but not particularly hot. I definitely recommend that you get this one, which is probably not that hard to find.
  • The sauces varied more than you might think and they all have more character (not necessarily better) and brighter flavors than supermarket hot sauces like Tabasco and Frank’s. Nevertheless, I still like Tabasco's Chipotle Sauce and consider Sriracha to be an essential and versatile condiment.
  • The hot sauces that most of us liked were Marie Sharpe’s Green Habanero Sauce, Trinidad Habanero Hot and Lottie’s Yellow Hot Pepper Sauce (see pictures above). I will probably buy a few bottles of these and give them as gifts.
Afterwards, each participant got a bottle of his or her favorite sauce to take home and, surprisingly, there were no conflicts that had to be resolved. So go to Tears of Joy's website and go a little crazy. Bobby Jay

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