Monday, 4 January 2016

Hot Burrito Sauce - Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd

While ambling around the fabulous Bakers and Larners (proper old-fashioned) department store in Holt (Norfolk) I found a small range of chilli sauces by a Hitchin company called Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd.  As I looked down my nose at the range (they were on a high shelf, I wasn't snobby) I saw the usual stalwarts like Chipotle and favourites like Bhut Jolokia.  My wife politely pointed out that my stocks of chilli sauce are already breaching the shelf that has been assigned to them, so did I really need more sauce?  Silly question you may thing, but she has a very valid point.  Then I spotted this 'burrito sauce' and I stopped agreeing with her and bought a bottle.  The other reason I bought a bottle was that on first glance I thought the company name was 'Capicana Chilli Cola Co.', and anything that strange will always pique my interest.

What the hell is burrito sauce?

Part of the reason I bought this sauce is that I don't see how anyone can claim to make a sauce that suits all burritos; a burrito can contain a mixture of a bewildering variety of ingredients.  How can one sauce suit a creamy refried bean burrito AND a Jamacian Jerk burrito?  A bold claim indeed, and one that I needed to put to the test.  Unfortunately the evening after I bought this sauce there was not a burrito in sight (I was actually on holiday!) so I had to try this sauce on nachos made with ingredients from the local Budgens store.

Thin sauces really bug me, and that's a theme that will no-doubt repeatedly reveal itself as this blog matures.  I gave the bottle a shake and cautiously took of the lid and gently shook it over my nachos.   Nothing happened.  This was actually a good thing, if a sauce is good and thick it has already scored some plus points with me.  I tapped the bottle.  Nothing happened.  Okay, so I like thick sauces but I like to be able to actually get the sauce from the bottle to the plate.  I gave the bottle another shake and that's when disaster struck - the dreaded chilli sauce bottle airlock effect!  Not the fault of Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd, more the fault of my own for being so hungry and keen to try the sauce.  BLOB, went the sauce in abundance.  Oh well.

Enough of my culinary clumsiness, on with the chilli sauce review!

The label on the bottle promised lime-based zing, and while it was certainly present it was a little obscured by the Habanero hit, obscured but quite well complimented.  Overall the sauce has quite a dark taste, not as dark as a Jerk sauce, but definitely containing a nod in that general direction.  Slopped with no particular finesse over my nachos it greatly improved the dish, but didn't burn for long enough to overpower the other tastes in my supper.  This sauce is a bit like that type of person you sometimes see at a house party who is a bit loud and likes the sound of his own voice, the type of person whom after spending time with and getting to know you'll probably end up being best friends with for life.


Ingredients - Hot Burrito Sauce - Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd


  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Blended chillies (6%)
  • Sugar
  • Habanero chillies (2%)
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Lime
  • Salt
  • Stabiliser (xanthan gum)



Chilli sauce stats


  • Heat - 80%
  • Lingering burn - 60%
  • Presentation - 30%
  • Humour - 20%
  • Versatility / overall joy - 40%


Pros

  • Good with rice stirfry
  • Good with burritos
  • Good with chilli con carne
  • Good with nachos
  • Good with cheesy dishes


Diced chili chipotle - Cool Chile Co

Now this product clearly isn't a sauce, but there's more to this world than chilli sauces!  This gorgeous little tin was bought for me as a gift and other than the dried chilies I'd previous bought (then not really known what to do with) I'd not seen chilies prepared this way before.  Curiously there is no ingredients list, mostly likely because there is only one ingredient - the chipotle chillies!

I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to find when I popped the lid on this cool little tin, I had no idea if the chipotles were going to be big wet chunks that would drop out of the can onto my kitchen floor, or whether the tin would contain a fine powder that I'd be likely to accidentally inhale.  So after carefully removing the lid I tentatively peered into the tin and (with some trepidation) lifted the tin to give it a sniff.  Oh my!  What a smell!  These finely chopped dried chipotle chillies smell exactly the same as hand-rolling tobacco like Old Holborn!  I mean that in a very good way, I'm not a smoker but the smell of tobacco is gorgeous!  The aroma pouring from this tin brought back childhood memories of elderly relatives smoking aromatic pipe tobacco.  Smells can invoke wonderful memories, and these diced chipotle from the Cool Chile Co. is worth buying for the smell alone.  It really is quite remarkable.

Diced chilli chipotle - what does it taste like?

I'm guessing the Cool Chile Co. put a ton of effort into sourcing these peppers, and that hard work has really paid off.  The label cites Mexico as the source, but have a look at Mexico on a map, it's HUGE.  If you have a reasonable tolerance to chilli heat then you'll be able to tolerate trying a flake or two straight out of the tin; they're hot, but not intolerably so.  But that's not really the way this product is designed to be consumed, it's much more of an ingredient than a garnish.  If you can risk it I'd recommend trying at least one flake straight out of the pack, it's really the best way to wrap your chops around that amazing smokey taste.  As soon as you add some of the chilli flakes into a dish you're going to lose some of that smokey clout, that's not a criticism, it's a cold-hearted scientific fact.

Go steady with this product if you've got family members who aren't as into aural annihilation as you are; I've put as little as a third of a teaspoon in a stew-for-four and had complaints from sweat-drenched family members.  Adding a fingernail's worth of these dried chipotles to any tomato-based dish I'm cooking has become something of a no-brainer.  I've also used these flakes instead of chorizo a bunch of times, the taste really is that good.

Chilli stats

Heat - 70%
Lingering burn - 40%
Presentation - 90%
Humour - 10%
Versatility - 80%

Pros
Goes well in chilli con carne
Goes well in almost any tomato dish
Goes well in spaghetti bolognaise
Tastes great on pizzas
Tastes great straight out of the tin!

Cons
None, make sure you read about our ratings system - a low number is NOT a bad score!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

I went to the Chilli Farm (again) and bought...

A couple of weeks ago myself and my good lady razzed up the A140 in search chuckles and whatnot in Norfolk, as is LAW in this house the journey demanded a stop off at the Chilli Farm in Mendlesham.  We decided to grab some lunch from the awesome Deli restaurant and while we waited for our grub I bipped over to the sauce shop for a stock up.  Before we get onto that I thought you might like to see the menu board at the restaurant.


The selection of chilli sauces available at the chilli farm seems to be expanding all the time, so I had to make some fairly arbitrary choices, based more on whim than anything else, but I'll do my best to try and explain my actions anyway.


From left to right...

Korean Crackers
I have no idea what these actually are, but they're really nice, and have a heat that doesn't catch you until you've stuffed about ten of them in your cake hole.  Not ten at once.  Maybe.

Biltong
Total wild-card this one, it looks like some snake meat that I tried when I was a teenager (and loved) but it also looks like leather.  This might have to be an end of a beery evening type snack.

Salsa Verde
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before on this blog, it may look like snot but combine with some dipping crackers and you've got a damned fine snack.

CA Johns Reserve Apple Smoke Bourbon
This was partly bought because there's a whole lot in that bottle for the money it costs!  There's not much heat to this sauce but it's deliciously smokey, absolute bliss on a burger.

Chilli Farm Smoky Chilli Sauce
This was on clearance, and is worth much more than the quid it cost me!  It's not my favourite chipotle type smokey ketchup but for a quid you really can't go wrong. I think this sometimes pops up in supermarkets.

Blair's Original Death Sauce
Much like 'Dave's' sauces 'Blairs' sauces come in a bewildering array of varieties so it's hard to know which to try first.  Well at least it would be if the producer wasn't kind enough to have a bottle named 'ORIGINAL'.  This Death Sauce has really swiftly become a favourite of mine, I can't yet put my finger on why, but when I do I'm sure I'll blog about it.  This sauce came with a neat little skull keyring as a freebie.

After lunch had arrived and had been consumed I decided I couldn't resist another quick look at the chilli sauce selection, and that quick look resulted in a second haul of goodies.


So here we go again, in a roughly left to right order:

Chilli bread mix
My wife has just got a bread maker, which we LOVE, so chilli bread mix was just too tempting.

Dave's Temporary Insanity Sauce
Dave's 'standard' Insanity Sauce is a concoction that I really shouldn't like as much as I do, partly because it contains chilli extracts (to boost pain) and also because if I have more than two or three drops on anything I spend the next day feeling like I've been kicked in the guts by a donkey who I've wronged in some way.  So I decided to try out the milder version, and I'm glad I did!  I can eat this one without my eyes bleeding and getting a loud buzzing noise in my ears.

Dave's Insanity Sauce
I bought this as a gift for a friend.

Dipping crackers with hot pepper
I really love these crackers, and after all, I needed something to dip in the salsa verde I bought in my first haul!

Cottage Delight
This is a standard must-have sauce in my house.  I won't rattle my gums about it here, but if you want to find out why I love this so much then go HERE....

The Cambridge Chilli Sauce Company - Smoky Chipotle Chilli Sauce
This was another store cupboard essential I was stocking up on.  This chipotle sauce is so good I could pretty much drink it straight from the bottle!  Full review here...


So there you have it, all in all another very successful visit for every reason other than my diminishing bank account!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

I met a chilli sauce hero at Hyde Hall!

Today I dragged my ever-tolerant family to the Chilli weekend at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex, my wife is a professional gardener and Royal Horticultural Society member so I have to be honest and admit the idea was hers entirely.  She knew the fact they had a chilli weekend would lure me out of bed on a Saturday morning and so there I was, half-asleep being transported down the A12 with the promise of chilli related fun.  Fun and 'early morning' are not two words I usually associate with each other.

When we arrived at what I thought was a 'chilli festival' but turned out to be a 'chilli weekend' I found a few marquees and a live band punting out passable versions of the kinda songs we all like to tunelessly mumble along to.  Because we were on hallowed horticultural ground I was expecting the exhibitors to be a mix of plantsmen (and women) and chilli sauce sorcerers, which they were.  Sort of.

There was a fine selection of folk to advise those who wish to grow their own chillies, a few curry spice suppliers (who sadly I didn't have time to visit) but there was just once stall selling hot sauce.  It was a little disappointing from the perspective of a chilli sauce fan, but the fantastic surroundings made it almost impossible to be disappointed with anything at all.  When I saw who the sole sauce seller was there was absolutely no way I was anything other than chuffed daft!  So who was the only fella there selling chilli sauce?  Read on my friend...

Hyde Hall Chilli Weekend.

I met the master of bhut jolokia death!

In my long and mostly mundane past I've met a few mainstream famous folk, interviewed them, worked for them etc etc etc but I've never been terribly starstruck.  Today I met the man behind Norfolk Heatwave, creator of the ESSENTIAL ' Caribbean Certain Death Ultra Hot Chilli Sauce'.  This is a sauce that I hold in such high-regard it's almost a little embarrassing.  Norfolk Heatwave are all over this blog like a cheerful rash, and today I actually got to meet the man behind one of the best chilli sauces on the planet.

Sadly I didn't get much of a chance to chat - I've run exhibition stalls many times myself in the past so I was very aware that it would be very unfair to take up too much of his time.  Instead I just gushed about how brilliant his Caribbean style bhut jolokia sauce is, told him about how every time I visit Holt in Norfolk I buy up every bottle Budgens has on sale, then shuffled off a little red in the face, apologising for being a bit 'stalkerish'.

I did get a chance to try a new sauce the man himself had on sale, and no doubt I'll blog about that at some point in the near future.  I did manage to snap a cheesy photo though!

Check out Norfolk Heatwave at http://www.norfolkheatwave.com/

Poor fella must have been thinking 'who is this freak?'

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I went to Raja Stores in Ipswich and I bought...

On of my favourites sources (sic) for chilli sauces is Raja Stores in Ipswich.  Here's my little haul from today's visit:



Lets go at this left to right:

  • Sriracha, I've got plenty, so this is for my brother-in-law.
  • I never know what brand of coconut milk to buy, so I buy a variety!  This is for a lovely Brazilian chicken recipe I've been making recently.
  • I'm SO pleased to find this brand of pickled Jalapenos at Raja Stores, it's one of my favourites, and a store cupboard essential.
  • This paste is called 'Mr Naga', which was reason enough to buy it.  I'm hoping it's not as brutal as the other Naga product I bought at Raja, which nearly did me in.
  • I LOVE Aunt May's Bajan pepper sauce, I can't really describe it really well, but it's great on a rice stir-fry.
  • Minced ginger - I only picked this up because I'm fed up of scraping my knuckles when grating ginger.
  • I picked up some tortillas, although I was hoping to find some a LOT larger.  It's a constant bugbear of mine that in the UK it's impossible to buy anything other than silly little tiny tortillas, they're CRAP for making burritos!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Chilli Sauce - local boy done good!

This was supposed to be a post showing you my new improved 'shelf of pain', and while I'm still keen to show you how the recent subsidence repairs on my house have allowed me to install a larger shelf of pain, I'd rather tell you about the local chilli sauce company who have just one an award for one of their sauces. Right, first of all let's get this shelf pain photo out of the way.


Look at the sauces in the middle.  If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know how much of a fan I am of the chilli company who are just a mile down the road from me, the marvelous 'East Coast Chilli Company'.  I've long troubled anyone who would listen, going on and on about how great this Suffolk company are and how their sauces deserve a special place in everyone's heart...

Anyway, even although I knew I wasn't alone in my fandom of their wares they've now been officially recognised as hot sauce geniuses by the folk at 'Great Tastes'.  If you're reading this from outside the UK you might not be familiar with the 'Great Tastes'.  Well here in the UK if foodies (and other folk with good taste) see that little Great Taste logo on packaging it's a sign that the food within is GOOD!

So well done East Coast Chilli Company!

Go see what's so great about the the sauce that won the award...

Friday, 15 August 2014

Smoky Chipotle Chilli Sauce - The Cambridge Chilli Sauce Co. does it again!

Good chipotle sauces are not that easy to get right; they're either utterly pointless (like the Heinz 'effort') or a bit too dark in taste, and backed up by too much heat.

This Smoky Chipotle sauce from The Cambridge Chilli Co. hits the spot perfectly.  It's good and thick, has just enough pep and is subtle enough to be wonderfully versatile.  There are no freaky ingredients and red onions that are quite prevalent in the ingredients list don't over-mark their presence at all.

I do like the hilariously optimistic 'consume within two months' of opening stated on the label - if these bottles contained a couple of pints (instead of 150ml) this chilli sauce would still only last about a fortnight in this house!

I've only tried a few of the sauces on offer by The Cambridge Chilli Sauce Co. but if the rest are as good as this then I really hope I can find more of the range!