Monday, July 23, 2012

Hometown Hot Sauce

by L
Recently, I returned to my hometown for some quality family time. As I’ve mentioned before, I had not eaten a lot of hot sauce experience prior to this blog. I come from a very large extended family that is very dedicated to meat and potatoes... very lightly seasoned. Occasionally, we spice things up with some freshly ground pepper! That’s about it. I hail from Fairfield, Connecticut, USA. You may have heard of Connecticut; you may even have heard of Fairfield. However, you have probably not heard of it in association with spicy food.

What is Fairfield known for? Being a large suburb of NYC, being burned down during the Revolutionary War, being home to the headquarters of General Electric and Bigelow Tea, being the setting for “Who’s the Boss?”, John Mayer, James Blake, and Meg Ryan. Historically, it was also known for exporting globe onions and carrots, but there aren’t many farms now. What is Fairfield not known for? Hot sauce. Well, that’s going to change with this hometown hot sauce review!

But first, the tale of hot sauce discovery: I went shopping for fresh produce with my sister and her two small children in neighboring Easton, CT. As I picked my way through the apples, my sister called me over to look at something she had found. Bottles of hot sauce from Fairfield! A local brew! She bought it for The Hot Sauce Diaries to try.


Sauce: Holy Hannah
Manufacturer: Holy Hannah
Chili pepper: Habanero  (Capsicum chinense)
Country/Place of origin: Fairfield, CT, USA
Score: 7/10, definitely recommended

Holy Hannah’s website shows what a careful operation the sauce-makers run, with pictures of beautiful peppers along with photos of the onions, carrots, and garlic that make the base of the sauce. The ingredients are habaneros, distilled vinegar, onions, carrots, garlic, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and canola oil. These people are not messing around with unnecessary additives and ingredients that don’t belong there. It’s truly homemade style. As for the taste, it is delicious! The habaneros pack a LOT of kick, so go gently at first, but you can still taste the fruity sweetness of the peppers and the carrots and the citrus zing of the lime juice. The carrots also lend a rich, orange color to the sauce, along with a hometown farm touch. Remarkably, you can taste the contributions of each ingredient, and the sauce adds up  to more than the sum of its parts. Our only complaint? A label typo: there’s no tilde in habanero.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oh Canada!

by L

When we think of our neighbor to the north, we think of many things:
1. Great moments in hockey
2. Maple syrup
3. Maple leaves
4. Toronto Maple Leafs*
5. Snow
6. Poutine
7. Tim Horton’s (the coffee shop, not the person).
We do not think of spicy food or hot sauce. In fact, when your esteemed authors first queried the token Canadian of the lab, he said it would be quite difficult to find Canadian hot sauce. Maple syrup? Easy. Something with more kick? Not so easy. We were not optimistic about trying to get a sauce from each homeland of all of our coworkers covered, in part because of Canada.**

But then, a miracle happened. I received a phone call from my best friend, who is familiar with our quest despite living four hours away. She was just back from a business trip to Ottawa, she said. And she had found a Canadian hot sauce.

I was stunned.

A few weeks later, I went to visit her and picked up the rare specimen. Today, we introduce you to the little-known world of Canadian hot sauce, which is apparently lovingly made by a gentleman named Dan.

*That weird spelling choice bothers your esteemed author.
**And Australia. And the UK.

Sauce: Dan T’s Inferno
Manufacturer: Dan T's
Chili pepper: Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
Country of origin: Canada
Score: 8/10

First, we checked the ingredients: no maple syrup. We weren’t sure whether to be disappointed. Then, we went for the taste test. It turns out that the reason there is no syrup is because this sauce is serious about spice and spice only. This bottle packs some significant kick. We warned our other lunch companions to use it sparingly. (We usually don’t do this, not because we’re mean--although we can’t pretend we wouldn’t find some sauce-induced tears funny--but because usually it isn’t necessary.) I can’t even recall much of a flavor to the sauce because any flavor there might have been was overwhelmed by the burn. This was some very impressive sauce, and would be particularly perfect for those occasions when you really want to make sure your friends don’t want a bite of your food, or an occasion where you are told you must jazz up your entire meal with just half a teaspoon of sauce.