Archive | September, 2010

My Finds at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival 2010

1 Sep

Hot sauce is an amazing invention. My favorite type of hot sauce is salsa (I live in Texas, after all) – it’s flavorful, healthy, and there are so many types that you could eat them all day and never run out of new types to try. That brings me to a wonderful event that we have in Austin every year – the Austin Chronicle’s Hot Sauce Festival. One can sample dozens (maybe hundreds) of types of salsa and other hot sauces both from restaurants and individuals.

Excitingly, this festival offers not only quite a few awesome salsas, but also other spicy sauces that can be used as dips or marinades. I thought I’d share a few of my “finds” from the festival with you all.  (side note – my sister and one of her friends came with me, and also gave their opinions on the best “finds” – we agreed on pretty much everything).

Kala’s Kuisine’s Cilantro Chutney

This Chutney would be great on lots of different dishes. I want to try it with chicken. (Apologies to Kala and to readers for the blurriness - I was trying to snap a quick picture!)

Kala’s Kuisine had some really interesting salsas with a Nepalese twist. All of their sauces were tasty and had a unique flavor, but for me, the star of the show was, without question, the Cilantro Chutney. It was fresh tasting, and seemed like it would be perfect in about a thousand different recipes. I think it could be a great sauce on chicken, enchiladas, nachos and pretty much anything else you can think of.

If only I had arrived in time to buy a bottle (they sold out)!

The good news is that there are a few places around town that sell the Chutney (and even more that sell their other sauces) including Whole Foods. See their website for locations.

Sweet, spicy, unique barbeque-like sauce. I love it!

Grandaddy’s Sweet Southern Heat

This was probably my favorite find of the festival. As the name implies, it’s a barbecue-type sauce that is both spicy and sweet. The spice tasted to me like a strong black pepper instead of a hot pepper – though I have no idea what actually adds the spiciness. According to the folks working the booth, the sauce was actually their grandfather’s recipe- and there were quite a few photos of Grandaddy up around the booth.

Upon tasting, my sister and I both immediately bought a jar of the sauce. Tonight, I had a baked potato with a little bit of Sweet Southern Heat, onions, and mushrooms on it – WOW. I also have plans to invite over a few of my meat-eating friends to make some ribs or chicken wings featuring the sauce.

This sauce doesn’t have great distribution – but you can get it at Tears of Joy here in Austin, and at a few stores in other cities. I’m sure that they’ll have wider distribution soon, based on how happy everyone seemed tasting it.

La Familia Salsa Company’s Roasted Green Salsa

Supposedly I'm sharing this jar with my sister. I haven't told her yet that I dont' really want to share...

This booth had quite a few salsas to taste, but the very friendly woman working there recommended that we try the Roasted Green Salsa. She made the right choice. You could actually taste the “roastedness” in the salsa and it has a great level of spiciness without being overpowering.

I bought a bottle of this too. It appears that you can order the salsa on their website, and perhaps they’ll be kind enough to reply to this post to let us all know if it’s available locally in Austin.

Don’t Panic Hispanic Salsa

Local, delicious, and super fresh.

Don’t Panic Hispanic was the 2009 winner of the Festival. It’s also been one of my favorite salsas ever since my friend Emily introduced me to it about 6 months ago. It’s amazingly fresh tasting, heavy on garlic, and a perfect “medium” level of spiciness. I prefer the red salsa, but also sampled the green, which was quite tasty.

I buy my “Don’t Panic Hispanic” salsa at Fresh Plus, but apparently it’s also available in a few other locations, including Spec’s. If you’re looking for a traditional, but excellent salsa, I highly recommend this one.

We tasted quite a few different salsas and other sauces at the festival – some good, some terrible, and, happily, a few that are worth trying again soon. I could write about salsa all night, and I promise to provide you all with my mother’s salsa recipe soon. For now, though, I hope you’ll give some of these salsas and sauces a try.

Advertisements