Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holy Hot Hell

For a couple of years, a friend and I had an event every week at work called Hot Sauce Humpday. We liked hot food and thought it would be fun to have salsas and hot sauces every Wednesday. Eventually it turned into people bringing in sauces they had found around town and on vacations and trying to burn our mouths and o-rings.

After some time, all the salsas started to run together so I started up a spreadsheet to keep track of what we thought of the salsas. As I was digging around in my My Documents folder today I found the Hot Sauce Humpday Rankings.xls spreadsheet having never seen the light of day. I don't remember a lot of these salsas but I'll try to comment on the ones I do. Luckily part of the spreadsheet captured people's comments about each salsa. Also included was the top 5 ingredients listed on the label (which we thought was very indicative of heat and taste). We also had a severity level otherwise known as heat level, with 1 being the highest.

La Victoria Red Salsa Jalapena extra hot - Red jalapeno peppers, water, red california chiles, onions, tomato; Sev 3; Good flavor but pedestrian extra hot, it's a perfect number 3, Good for eating mass quantities not very hot though. I remember this salsa since it can be found in any grocery store in town. It was pretty popular with the people who didn't like really hot salsas. I liked it, but not enough to ever buy it.

Original Juan's Jalapeno con queso Batch 37 - Water, tomatoes, cheese mix (cheddar and blue), whey, reduced lactose whey; Sev 4; Should be called jalapeno con crappo. Who puts blue cheese in a hot sauce? Not fit for a dog, I'll wait for batch 38. Tastes like a bad, waxy cardboard box, I think they dropped in some Bertie Botts earwax beads in the batch, Cheese tastes like toilet waste. This was obviously not a salsa we enjoyed. We actually hated it so much we called Original Juan's and asked if we could exchange it which they agreed to do. They were unsurprised that it was unliked. Of all the salsas we tried, this was by far the worst. It has actually prevented me from buying queso in a jar from any company.

Original Juan's Louisiana Style Batch #218 - Malt vinegar, habanero and cayenne
peppers, water, tomato paste, corn syrup; Sev 3; Best vinegar based sauce I've tried, Too much vinegar, Vinegarry but has nice flavor and a needed twinge of heat, Tastes OK, but it's not hot. I have no recollection of this sauce.

Mrs Renfro's Habanero Salsa - Tomatoes, water, jalapeno peppers, onions, green chile peppers; Sev 2; Looks like glue, there's no taste, Long lasting heat with no taste, Brings some heat but doesn't bring much taste, I am more willing to dip my chip in this because Mrs. Renfro wouldn't make it too hot for her grandchildren. I remember this was did have some good heat as most salsas billing themselves as a habanero salsa. Another common property of most habanero salsas is lack of taste and Mrs. Renfro definitely didn't add much taste.

Original Juan's Pain 100% - habanero peppers, water, natural pepper flavoring, vinegar; Sev 1; Good pain, Starts slow but comes on with a vengeance, 10 minutes of torture, Fiery hot, cured my cough. The cured my cough comment was mine and it did cure my cough. We went over to Original Juan's to get this one in the morning and I coughed the entire way over there and the entire way back. I don't think I coughed all afternoon after eating it. This is a good salsa, you just can't eat a whole bunch of it in one sitting.

Jose Madrid Salsa X Hot
- Peeled ground tomatoes, New Mexico chilies, green chili, tomato concentrate, water; Sev 1; Tastes great, would make a good taco sauce, Good taco sauce, I love the smell, Authentic mexican taste, Great flavor, tastes like mexican food; I don't really remember this one other than we liked it.

Jose Madrid Salsa Spanish Verde XX Hot - Tomatillos, chilies (New Mexico), green tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions; Sev 1; Makes you want to tear your tongue out of your mouth, Worst tasting salsa ever, Tastes like ear wax but is very hot. Stay away from this one, it's horrible.

505 Medium Salsa - Flame roasted green chiles, tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, lime juice; Sev 3; Not hot but tasty. I summarized the 5 comments because they were all the same. I don't remember this one at all.

Senor Stan's Original Salsa Hot
- Tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, green onion, cilantro; Sev 3; Tastes like a soupy cilantro salad, Not bad if you like cilantro soup, What's that weird bitter taste?, I thought it was pretty good, Tastes like an old rusty can. This one was kind of divisive I think based on the cilantro. I remember cilantro taste being prominent but it didn't make it bad. This was just kind of an average salsa.

Margarita's Hot Salsa - Tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, tomato puree, salt; Sev 3; I found Jimmy Buffett's lost shaker of salt, What's that weird taste?. This one was salty and not very good.

Three Banditos Salsa Habanero Hot - Tomatoes, water, green chiles, fresh onion, jalapenos; Sev 3; Chunkilicious, Great with a lime chip, not very hot. I remember liking the lime chips on this day. People from all over the building would bring us chips and sometimes they were flavored, we never kept track of the chips. I would bet that I've had every kind of chip available in town.

Baboon Ass Habanero hot sauce - Water, onion, vinegar, habanero mash, jalapeno mash; Sev 2; Brings the heat with an adequate taste. Vinegarry but has good pepper flavor. Generally we liked to stay away from novelty salsas, you know the kind, where they spend more time coming up with the name and label than they probably do on the ingredients. But this one was pretty good. I think this came back from vacation with someone.

Rudy's Aztec Gold hot sauce - Tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, jalapenos; Sev 3; Muy Blando, Even [guy who couldn't handle hot food] would yawn after eating this. No recollection.

Fiesta Smoked Jalapeno - Diced Tomatoes, water, tomato paste, jalapenos, chipotle; Sev 3; Almost barbeque sauce, That is smoky. As a general rule we didn't like salsas with chipotle peppers. This one was more of a topping for a hamburger or something than it was a salsa.

Tostitos Mild Salsa - Tomato puree, diced tomatoes in tomato juice, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, onion; Sev 4; Tastes good, no heat, Who the hell brought mild salsa to hot sauce humpday, candy. This made me mad when I went over to the salsa table to find out what my free meal of the day was going to be. Friggin' mild mass distributed salsa. I would have like to have fired the culprit.

Hell on the Red Mild Salsa - Tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, red pepper, water; Sev 4; Heck on the red, As mild as Pat Boone. I've been pretty disappointed in the entire Hell on the Red oeuvre.

Original Juan's Habanero Garlic - Diced Tomatoes, water, tomato paste, diced yellow onions, bell peppers; Sev 2; Good way to get rid of (internal) worms, I really like this, It has good heat that lasts a while, However the wife won't want to be around because of the garlic. One of the better Original Juan's salsas, but not for everyday eating.
Chi Chi's Fiesta Salsa Hot - Tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, water, tomato paste, onions; Sev 3; Tastes very fresh and has some heat for a national mass market brand. I remember being surprised at this one. We generally didn't like the restaurant salsas especially national chains, but this one was pretty good. Probably a nice one to have around all the time.

The Source – Sev 1; A molecule will do you, I built it up too much thinking it would be out of this world hot, It was very, very hot though, The hottest sauce in the world, made me skeptical of my will to live from the point of tasting on, I truly didn't think I would survive much less want to. This was actually served to us by one of the owners of Original Juan's. He dipped a toothpick in the bottle and dabbed it on a chip. I thought I was going to choke to death after swallowing it (ladies you know the feeling). I won't be eating the Source again but it was worth it for the experience. It reminds me of the time I killed a drifter just to get an erection. Everyone should do these sorts of things at least once.

Da Bomb – Orange juice, habaneros, chipotle peppers, water, natural pepper flavoring; Sev 1; Napalm on a chip, 100% Pain on steroids, Hotter than Dave's Insanity and better tasting too, WhOOh!! That's hot. Da Bomb is a watered down The Source. We bought a bottle of it and I think it's still about three-quarters full even though we ate it every week from the time of purchase. It's nice to add in to chili or some bland salsa.

Wild & Hot Frontier Traders Habanero Salsa - Yellow onions, diced tomatoes, water, green peppers, cider vinegar; Sev 3; Good flavor but not very wild or hot, Tastes good, not very much heat but enough flavor to keep me coming back. No recollection of this one.

Screamin' Mimi's Sweet Hot Salsa - Tomatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, vinegar; Sev 3; Why does it say hot? It's definitely sweet but not hot, I don't know what is in there that tastes so bad, but this sucks, f…ing horrible. I guess we didn't like this one that much.

Green Mountain Gringo Salsa Roasted Garlic - Ripe tomatoes, fresh onions, fresh pasilla peppers, fire roasted garlic, fresh jalapeno peppers; Sev 3; Smoky with some flavor, could be hotter. Apparently, pasilla peppers aren't very hot. I don't remember this one either.

Eventually we had had every kind of salsa and the whole event kind of petered out. But it was very popular within the building. I would recommend this for any office setting where there are people who like eating hot foods. You get to try a lot of different salsas for free or like $5 every 2 or 3 months. If you're someone who like really hot salsas, people will bring you chips just to watch you sweat.

I mentioned earlier in the post that we went to Original Juan's which is like the salsa version of Boulevard. I set up a tour with them and they couldn't have been nicer. They don't have regularly scheduled tours, but if you call and ask and have 10 – 15 people, they will guide you around. It was pretty fun. Just be careful if you get to try The Source.

8 comments:

Chimpotle said...

Can you go to Original Juan and just buy salsas without doing a tour? I'm starting to get tired of the smoked jalapeno I can find at the grocery store.

Bull E. Vard said...

Yes, they have a little gift shop with all of their products. You can also get free samples of any of their products (except The Source).

RoJo's Gourmet Blog said...

Baboon Ass was created for flavor and was actually named by a devoted consumer after the fact. It was a description of the affliction it caused after consuming an entire bottle in a day. We are glad you liked it!

Muddy Mo said...

You used "oeuvre" in a hot sauce review, way to go, Bull!

I saw a review not long ago that named the Green Mountain Gringo line of Salsa's as the favorite among hot sauce fans.

The DLC said...

You also used "erection" in a hot sauce review. Not expecting that. Kudos.

Nuke said...

When Big Daddy's (Cajun food) was in the river market area, they were known for having dozens if not hundreds of hot sauces. OK, not really salsa related but I certainly enjoyed trying them out.

"Suck-n-duck" was a great sweet hot sauce for fish, and the only one I ever asked for specifically. "Dave's Insanity Sauce" made my nose itch when it was on my room mates boss's food. And "Hot Bitch On The Beach" was a total let down but had the sexiest packaging.

As for salsas, my o-ring is wearing thin and most of my friends can barely stand the table salsa at OTB. Let's just say I don't get to try as much variety as I'd like theses days.

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Elden said...

Jose Madrid Spanish Verde XX Hot salsa was some of the best salsa I have ever eaten! EXCELLENT flavor with a little tongue tingling included. I do NOT agree with the review on it at all. Wish it were still available.