Some time back in December, through a rather serendipitous chain of events which I will explain in a later post, I received three carefully wrapped bottles in the mail.
One of those bottles, which came from Sauce on the Side Productions, a locally based company (Exeter) Rhode Island company, contained SOS’s flagship sauce, Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce.
A couple of nights ago we finally (again, I’ll explain why in another post) opened those bottles. The other two, by the way, contained their Rhode Island Red Mild Sauce, which is lovely but far too tame for the four of us in this household, and their Cowboy Sauce, which is a blend of everything good that you might want to put on a burger or hot dog, or anything else, for that matter.
But this post is about their Hot Sauce.
If you like good hot sauce – and I mean hot sauce made from real, no-fake-stuff ingredients like actual Jalapeno and Habanero peppers, and has flavor, not just heat, then you have to try some of this gorgeous stuff.
The first flavor that hit me when I tasted RI Red Hot Sauce was the bright, citrusy, fruity flavor of fresh Habanero. It’s one of my favorite hot pepper flavors, and even though Habaneros are listed after the Jalapenos (meaning that there’s more jalapeno than habanero in the recipe), it was that blast of fruit heat that hit first. Yum. And that joyful “aha!” moment of recognition was immediately followed by a round of lamaze breathing, because there’s definitely a lot of heat packed in this bottle.
Fabulous, bright, in-your-face flavor followed with a raging fire dancing across your tongue.
Alex even tried some, because lately he’s become interested in the sweet torture of hot sauces and spicy salsas. We’ve always served stuff like this, but we’ve always given the kids the option of having a milder version. For a while, Julia was the chili-head of the two, but for now she’s “taking a break from the hot sauce” and Alex is enjoying his self-imposed torture.
I made a big batch of stuffies the other night (plain ones, without the green curry added this time), and, just for fun, Bill set up 5 different hot sauces from our collection on the table. Starting with the mildest (or, more accurately, the least combustible), he poured a few drops on a stuffed clam so Alex could sample, chew, evaluate, and give us his opinion. It was kind of fun, actually. He’s got a career as a food critic if the whole Red Sox first baseman/zoo keeper/Olympic Skier thing doesn’t work out.
Anyway, RI Red was the fourth (getting hotter) in our flight of sauces, and when that hit Alex’s mouth, it stopped him in his cocky food critic tracks. His eyes widened and he did that MOUTHONFIRE rapid breathing thing, and attempted to calmly and appreciatively state “THAT’S PRETTY HOT!” in between panting and fanning his face.
Yeah, it’s hot. But the best thing is, it’s not just hot; it’s got a marvelous, addictive flavor. Personally, I can’t stand hot sauces that are hot just to be hot. Sauces that just pile in the pepper extracts with the sole purpose of hurting you. They leave the flavor behind, and, in my opinion, that’s pretty lame. Sure, maybe my mouth will need skin grafts after eating a sauce like that, but would I ever buy it? Or buy it again? No.
Speaking of sauces like that, we’ve got a bottle of a pretty well-known hot sauce that we’ve had for over ten years. More like…eleven or twelve. Since we lived in the little rental cottage, before we bought this house in 2001. We don’t like it. But we have it because Bill enjoys torturing his nephews with it. Really. That’s all we use it for. Well, I don’t use it at all, torture is Bill’s domain. Apart from the reallyreally hot factor, the sauce lacks desirable flavor. I wouldn’t want to add that to, say, some barbecue sauce, or drip some on a stuffed clam. It’s just not tasty.
Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce is tasty. Very tasty, indeed.
OH – and whatever you do, don’t get any in your eye!
I know that’s standard advice when you’re chopping chile peppers, but the eye-searing heat can be carried in other ways, too.
Take it from Bill.
When we first cracked open the bottle we each tasted a bit of the sauce on a spoon. We had our wide-eyed and panting moments, and then agreed we were immediate fans. I turned back to whatever I was doing at the stove, and Bill had another taste, and we chatted about hot sauces and I don’t remember what else. Anyway, Bill had a glass of water in his hand, and he went to take a sip and all of a sudden he jerked backward with a strange, pained and surprised cry, and started blinking rapidly.
As best he could figure, he had the RI Red Hot Sauce vapors left in his mouth (even after speaking for a while) and when he opened his mouth to take a sip of water, those fiery fumes bounced off the water, shot back out of the glass, and hit him in the eye. And they hurt.
So – my advice to you – use extreme caution when consuming this hot sauce and any sort of beverage or you’ll shoot your eye out.
Currently, SOS sauces can be found in stores throughout New England and in NJ & NY. For a whole list of stores, click here. And if your local market isn’t on the list, you can always order directly through the website.
Disclaimer thingy: Sauce on the Side Productions sent me those bottles of hot sauce to try, and I am doing a bit of photography for them, but the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own and those of my family. I’m encouraging you to try the sauce not because it will benefit me in any way, but because I believe in promoting well made products by local people. I want to do more of it in the months to come. And despite his burning eye, Bill still thinks RI Hot Sauce totally rocks.