Friday, 28 February 2014

Tropical Sun - Caribbean hot pepper sauce

No idea what peppers are in this sauce, I guess 79p a bottle doesn't buy you much provenance on the label. 

I'm giving this Caribbean sauce a special mention because it's one if those rare sauces that nicely lifts any dish without imparting too much of its own character. This sauce is not bombastic, it's your friend rather than your attacker. 

This cheap little bottle is such a great taste tool that I carry a bottle in my guitar case for livening up pre-gig meals. 

Hot sauce & oil - the perfect leftovers lunch

For some reason members of my family appear to have an aversion to eating bread crusts, I have my suspicions about who it might be.  I reckon the culprits are the family members who have straight hair rather than curly hair like myself.

So half-stale crusts build up and need dealing with.  My solution is so fill a shallow dish with extra-virgin olive oil then drizzle in a bit of balsamic glaze and a few drops of hot sauce.  A sprinkling of freshly-ground pepper finishes off the dish nicely.

Then I hack up the crusts and dip till the dish is dry.  Lovely.  In retrospect I shouldn't have used Dave's Insanity Sauce for today's lunch.  I'm suffering a but now.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce - as a contraceptive.

Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce has been on 'must try' list since I was about 18 years old (some years ago) when I used to buy hot sauces from 'Hot Headz' mail-order service (pre-Internet!).  One of the reasons I hadn't bought this sauce before is that it's chuffin' expensive!  I recently received a modest royalty payment for one of my books so while at the Chilli Farm in Mendlesham (Suffolk) I decided to push the boat out and splash out on some Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce.

Last night I spotted the new bottle on my 'shelf of pain' (more on that later) and decided the time was right for a taste test-drive.  The meal used to test drive this sauce was Chilli con carne on jacket spud, which might seem like an odd choice but this is a Chilli cooked by yours truly taking into account the tastes of my wife and child, so it has almost no native heat.

I've learnt from previous hot sauce accidents to try just a few drops of anything new before generously sloshing it all over supper.  A drop or two of Dave's Insanity Sauce was quite divine, this sauce has quite a unique taste and is really quite moorish.  Because the test had gone well I added another drizzle to my food; not much mind you - this stuff is expensive!

Well the meal rolled on well enough but I was becoming increasingly aware that I appeared to be loosing a lot of water from my face.  I didn't quite reach total annihilation but I don't think I was far off.  This wasn't an intense or even unpleasant type of burn, it fact it was quite nicely rounded and only mildly incapacitating.  The sort of heat in your gob that you can nod and appreciate without any desire to intensify it.

About ten minutes after I had finished eating I had to resort to a glass of mild and a choc-ice to cool the flames, but they did subside and at no point was I in serious discomfort.  At least until this morning...

I feel like I've been dealt a blow to my lower stomach, I won't go into too much physiological detail but if this were a scene in a movie then I know which Jonny Cash song would be on the soundtrack.  The other unpleasant side-affect of this sauce is - and there's no polite way to say this - a feeling a bit like the one experienced around half an hour after crushing ones knackers, but this has been lasting for hours.

As I sit down to write this little review I've noticed that 'Dave' doesn't list which peppers go into this sauce but does declare 'hot pepper extract' in the list of ingredients.  Pepper extracts is something Tim over at East Coast Chilli Company once proudly told me he never uses, and if this is how they make your innards feel then I can see why.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Dissection of chilli heat anihillation

There are many videos on YouTube showing idiots eating hot sauces and chillies and suffering through the subsequent pain.  Don't watch those videos.  This hot sauce lark is serious sometimes, it can really damage you if you're not cautious.  So if have never been annihilated by a chilli watch this video by my friend George Juniper; he suffers so you don't have to.

George eats a Dorset Naga chilli then eloquently talks us through every aspect of the experience.  I wanted to show you this video because although you can see from George that despite the fact his body is clearly in distress he also talks about how good it makes him feel.  We don't eat hot sauces to be macho (both George and I are from a punk-background that has no interest in machismo), we eat these things because they're actually pleasant.  If you want to see the experience really kick in then skip to the 3 minute mark, but you'll be missing out on the interesting nerdy chilli-bit!


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pran Naga Pickle - the hot sauce that nearly killed me.

You may think that headline is a bit much, but it's possibly not too far from the truth...

I found this Naga pickle in a local 'International Food Store', we have loads of them in Ipswich and they're more prevalent that the long-dead corner shops ever where, and have a much better range of foods (especially hot sauces).  When I bought this jar of pickle the fella behind the counter picked it up and looked me squarely in the eye, in much the same manner as one might eye someone who tells you he plans to rob the crown jewels wearing nothing but the front-half of a pantomime horse costume.

"Er, have you had Naga before?"

I thought this was the sort of question that might result in the item being withdrawn from grubby wanton mitts.  I replied that indeed I have had Naga before.  This is true, I love Naga, although the Naga Vodka I made possibly contravenes the Geneva convention (more on that another time).

As with a lot of hot sauces I buy I gave this Naga Pickle a trial by cheese and cracker.  On first taste this Naga pickle didn't seem too harsh, just a very clean toppy (and slightly zesty) burn.  I smeared another incredibly thin amount on a generous chunk of cheese and popped into my pie hole whole.

It was around the fourth cracker that I started to develop suspicions that the burn from the first cracker was still building.  Then I got the 'creeping dread' - that feeling that rises slowly from the heart of your torso and spreads throughout every fibre of your being.  It's a feeling that things are bad now, but they're about to get a lot worse.  It's a runaway train of pain.  I fell out of a second story window when I was a teenager and I can remember thinking (as I fell through the air) that the few seconds before I met the ground might be the last I would ever experience without pain.  I was thinking back to the moment before that first cracker entered my smacker in the same way.

Then it really hit me.

Every part of the taste trauma to this point had been a tickle on the cods compared to the studded boot that was about to grind into my soul with the brute force of a petrol-engine powered genital discourtesy.

I've 'achieved' aural-annihilation this intense a few times before, well 'nearly' this intense.  This grew, and spread until it consumed me.  When us fellas get a thwack in the crackers it's a pain that grows tendril-like throughout your body until each tendril tightens and rips through nerves in your body that are normally left to slumber.  Machine gun bullets of agony force blacked bile into every cell of your corporeal crap-house.  The Pran Naga Pickle was worse.

It did not stop.
It would not stop.
If felt like the end would never come.
I wanted the end to come, if that's what it took for the pain to stop.

In the past when I've accidentally scarred my innards with hot sauce the abatement of the pain brought with it a sweet and tender release, a feeling so good and calming that it was almost worth the accidental overdose in order to revel in the sweet relief after the agony.

It did not stop.
It would not stop.
If felt like the end would never come.
I wanted the end to come, if that's what it took for the pain to stop.

I woke up several times throughout the night, alarmed and terrified into a waking nightmare when my tongue found a microscopic section of my mouth that I had failed to scrub clean, a microscopic section harbouring hell in pickle form.

A few weeks later an entire section of the side of one of my teeth fell out, I seriously think it may have been weakened by this Naga Pickle.

I spent the entirety of the following day either sitting on the crapper fighting back meaty tears or curled up cradling my stomach, which felt like it had been kicked by a horse.  I have never experienced discomfort like that brought upon me by Pran Naga Pickle, and I speak as someone who once fell out of a car doing 50mph and landed on my face.



All being said this jar is still in my cupboard and I quite fancy a quick spoonful...


P.S a little research has revealed that this Naga Pickle is on a banned foods list in Scotland on account of containing a potentially carcinogenic food colouring.  Lookie...

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Chilli Farm mild salsa review

During a recent stocking up trip to the Chilli Farm in Suffolk I was handed a free jar of salsa; on further inspection I was probably given the jar for free as it's very close to the declared sell-by date.  But hey, I'm all for free stuff and like to do my bit to reduce food-waste.

I 'tested' this salsa using some of my favourite Cottage Delight dipping crackers, which have a bit of pep themselves, so I suppose this isn't a clean fight (so to speak), but hey, I offer nothing if not subjective-testing with no 'control', so here goes.

This salsa is very zesty and is cheerfully lacking that vinegar tang that some supermarket brands wreck passable salsas with.  The chilli hit is indeed mild, but is very much there with a nice smokey after-taste.  I just knocked through about half a jar and only got a very mild mid-tongue tingle, so this would be a good party salsa, or one to share with friends who aren't as enthusiastic about tooth-enamel-damaging hot sauces as you are.

In summary I'd say this is probably too flavoursome to chuck on nachos, but works just lovely as a dipping salsa.

More here - http://www.chillicompany.com/



Sunday, 16 February 2014

I went to the Chilli Farm and in my bag I put...

I love popping into the Chilli Farm in Mendlesham (on the A140) in Suffolk, it's the most exciting stock of Hot Sauce I've seen in one place since the 'Hot Headz' mail order catalogues I used to get circa 1994. 

There are some 'must have' sauces I always pick up from here (like the Cottage Delight Naga) but on the whole I most love popping in to find something new. This time I treated myself to some 'Dave's Insanity Sauce', which is a sauce I've been meaning to try for nearly twenty years!

There are other treats I always pick up at The Chilli Farm, some things that can be found in any Suffolk farm shop (like the chilli crackers) and some that I never see anywhere else (like the salsa-verde). 

The liquid smoke is something that I see in many American recipes but never see for sale in UK retail outlets. 

I used to really enjoy one of the Chilli farm's own sauces that was a really deeply fiery chipotle ketchup; I've not seen it for a while but am hoping the 'extra hot smokey ketchup' shares common ground. 

All in all it's a great haul, and the cherry on the cake was a free jar of salsa the gave me!



Habanero and Lime - Essence

By East Coast Chilli Co.
150ml

I'm planning to focus a bit more on East Coast Chilli Co. in a future post, partly because they're located less than a mile from my house, but also because their approach to creating hot sauces intrigues me.  But for now I wanted too give thier Habanero and Lime sauce a quick mention on account of its versatility. 

This sauce is described as being 'medium heat' (or three tridents out of five according to the label) and my first impression was that this was being a little generous as to it's power.  The first hit is of lime, although that quickly subsides and is replaced by a smooth, lingering habanero burn. It's a mild heat, but these things are always subjective, and unlike a lot of hot sauce commentators I never claim that hotter is better.  I want taste.

When I bought this sauce I had cheddar on a Carrs cracker in mind, but the more I use it the more versatile it appears to be. The lime is so deliciously fresh (without being overpowering) that this sauce can give almost any food a nice lift, imparting personality without overriding the 'native' taste of the dish; last night I had it on homemade chilli, this morning I had it in a bacon and omelet toastie. Gorgeous. 

So that's why this sauce gets a special mention; it might just be something special in the hot sauce world - a hot sauce that goes with anything. 

You can buy this sauce online here - 

East Coast Chilli Co. are on Twitter with the handle @chilli_co


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Certain death ultra hot chilli sauce

Made by Norfolk Heatwave.
150ml

I discovered this quite annihilating hot sauce a few years while visiting Holt in Norfolk. I found it on the shelves of Budgens in Holt and haven't yet found it for sale anywhere else (not even online), which is why I bought three bottles when visiting Holt yesterday. 

I've tried searching for more information about the creator (Norfolk Heatwave) but to date haven't found anything at all. 

The heat from this sauce is a really clean and fruity high, small amounts are blissful, ingesting slightly too much results in a billowing long-ringing zing that is such blissful sweet agony. 

Contains mango (sweet) and two top-of-palate style true-fire chillies - namely scotch bonnet and bhut jolokia. This sauce also contains mustard, which I'm slightly wary of as in my opinion it's sometimes used in hot sauces as a short-cut to annihilating heat, but it's quite subtle in here, as it the garlic. 

This sauce ranks as 'essential', meaning that my life would be less joyful if I didn't have at least one bottle on my shelf. 

Works a treat on fried eggs. 

Costs £4.95 a bottle, if you can find it!

Welcome aboard hot sauce lovers.

The first post on a new blog is always loaded with excitable hyperbole about how the author will frequently and passionately post about their favourite topic. The next post is usually dated at least a year after the first and will contain an apology for not posting. 

I can't promise this blog will be frequently updated, factually accurate or even intelligible but it will exist. Yeah, I think I've set the bar low enough there. 

I will be writing about hot sauces, which have been a passion of mine for as long as I've been able to masticate. The 'UK' in the title denotes that I live in the UK, so if you also reside in these sceptered isles you should have access to the same sauces as me.  I thought this important as many hot sauce blogs I find are very USA-centric and discuss sauces that are hard to find here in the UK. 

FYI my main blog is over at www.lawsie.com