Brooklyn Salsa Mole Tacos

With an enormous rainstorm and a chilly wind, we’ve finally ushered the oppressively hot summer out and have welcomed in autumn. I forgot how much I missed those good New England fall evenings. My new place is on the top floor of the building, and has an advantageous position both for a pleasant view and smoky winds, coming in from the fields and filling the place with that scent I so missed while abroad.

Last evening, the Bedfellow and I decided to mimic the smoky scents with a dinner reminiscent of that pungency, using an ingredient we picked up at the Fancy Food Show. This is Brooklyn Salsa’s newest creation, a hot mole salsa that speaks more like a sauce.  I can’t give it a higher opinion- it’s the best jarred mole I’ve ever tried, with absolutely no fatty or oily texture to speak of, with a smooth, rich flavor redolent with roasted chili peppers, sesame, and chocolate.

The tacos had equal aplomb, coated in crema, queso fresco, avocado slices, and roasted tomatoes. Color me gauche, but I love Hunt’s fire-roasted canned tomatoes. They added a decent depth of flavor without diluting the sauce, and if anything, contributed to the strength of the more roasted flavors.

With those and the aforementioned toppings piled on fresh blue corn tortillas- a pleasant and snappy diversion from the blank white corn canvases, we had ourselves a wonderful autumn meal. Making these vegetarian would likely also be fun, as I can imagine the flavors would translate well to squash or other dense vegetables.

I’m curious to try the other salsas- I’d love to see if they’re as dualistic as dips and sauces as this one was.

Sneak Peak and Trend Prediction for the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show

Four solid years and here we are – the Summer Fancy Food Show is easily my favorite event of the entire year, birthdays, new car days, and No-Pants Thursday notwithstanding. We’ve been preparing, rejecting outfits, schmoozing with the finest of friends, and receiving samples left and right before the show to give you a sneak peek of what to expect from this year’s new products.

PS- I’ll give you the final update of Day 3 of my Cleanse tomorrow!

Trend Prediction

Here are the top five trends I anticipate seeing. In checking out the sofi nominees, perusing the exhibitor list, and receiving press releases, it looks like the surge of healthy ingredients in foods has not ebbed (although I’m still waiting for Cheetos to make a glorious return) but in the interest of separating from the gluten-free and ‘light’ trends of the past, now, fresh ingredients are taking a stand. We’ve been seeing tons of snacks and drinks that have been including coconut and supergreens/fruits. Here’s a breakdown at the top five trends I anticipate seeing throughout the year.

1.     Healthier/artisanal instant beverages

This is a particular favorite of mine as I absolutely adore instant drinks. Companies like Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen are crafting gourmet instant coffee packets, a trend I’d love to see with other microbrew coffee brands. Agave nectar from True Agave is making its debut, and also featured are a few variations of instant coconut water, and coconut water ice treats to cool your beverages down.

2.    Versatile, curious teas 

Savory teas and bi-temperature curious iced and hot teas are making their debut at the show from Numi and more.

3.      Sundried tomatoes

What used to be an afterthought on Italian-esque sandwiches is making a bold, flavorful comeback in condiment form. Pesto, ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, and more are being featured – I’m still waiting on chocolate-covered tomatoes.
4.      Exotic spices and alcohol in ice cream and candies

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams featured a meringue and absinthe ice cream this spring, and now Three Twins is bringing their cardamom ice cream to the show. Gelato Petrini is also showcasing their pistachio cardamom chip gelato and pineapple prosecco sorbet. Above, Marich debuts their coconut-curry cashews and dark chocolate chipotle and caramel almonds. And cat packaging from Monty Bojangles.


5.      Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk in various desserts and products

Greek yogurt has had its day in the sun, but how about sheep yogurt? Bellwether Farms is bringing their sheep’s milk yogurt to the show, along with goat cheese cheesecake and breakfast cheese from Belle Chevre, goat cheese pearls from Artisan Biscuits, and Rogue Creamery’s Blue Heaven blue cheese powder.


Here’s a small sample of the treats I’ve been receiving lately—no doubt you will see many more as the show continues! From this selection, I think this is going to be one of the best shows yet. There are some real knockout products here!

Cookies, candies, and confections abound- these seasonal cookies from Dr. Lucy’s were excellent, and packed with pumpkin puree. As were the other seasonal varieties, Merry Mint, Holiday Sugar, and Maple Crunch. I ate them in mere days!

Chuao is debuting their latest flavors at the show, too, in Orange-A-Go-Go and Pop Corn Pop. The latter really excited me, as it seeks to provide not only the flavor of popcorn, but the sensation of popcorn popping. Meta, anyone? I think it’s the best bar from Chuao yet, but you’ll have to read my deeper analysis after the show!

Tonewood’s exquisite maple wafers are up for a sofi- sweet, melting maple flavors in gorgeous packaging.

Hella Bitters from Brooklyn- perfect for the Old Fashioneds I’ve been dying to make the Bedfellow.

Brownie Points sent this gigantic red velvet brownie over along with about fifty other delicious treats- from this alone, I’m really impressed. It’s a massive, gooey confection with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting, like a portable layer cake, and wasn’t too sweet at all.


Queen City is back again, with more delicious schnecken! They’re bringing tons of flavors with them this year, like pumpkin, chocolate, and mallow magic, too.

Kelapo Coconut Oil, good for the skin, good for the food. And extra-good for the paleo banana pancakes I made this morning.

Last, but not least, butter and oat shortbread from Duchy’s.

Also, this. See you at the Fancy Food Show, everyone! I’ll be Instagramming, photographing, recapping, and stuffing my face. Juice cleanse who?

Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Mayonnaise (Original and Chipotle)

I told myself I’d be able to gently coax Sir Kensington’s new creamy, white sauce, known in some circles and areas of the Midwest as ‘mayonnaise,’ without any awful, bodily puns, but it appears I’ve blown my humor wad a little early. Luckily, I have four jars of this stuff to make up for it. Yes, your favorite gentlemanly purveyor of condiments has filled the condiment coffer (I assume you all have a condiment coffer) once again with their release of two mayonnaise flavors, Original and Chipotle. 

The new mayonnaise flavors are simplistic and clean in design on both the inside and outside of the package, as their original ketchup counterparts are. Minimal in ingredients, minimal in frippery. I’m excited to see a specialty food company working with mayonnaise- since Empire Mayo’s plethora of flavor releases, it’s been popular, but rarely done with other craft brands. Sir Kensington’s reputation and quality will hopefully open the doors for other companies to try their hand at eclectic mayo, too. And just in time for the Fancy Food Show (4th year running!)!

The new Gourmet Scooping mayonnaise, tested against an unnamed national brand rhyming with ‘Smellman’s,’ performs brilliantly- any pretense of awkward scooping is mitigated by the thick, creamy texture, lightly dotted with flecks of black pepper and a faint citrusy aroma. It’s the Greek yogurt of mayonnaise- a cut above the rest, with a more nuanced tang and acidity. It is also saltier than I expected it would have been. However, when analyzed on its own, the forefather of what I hope will be a golden age of artisanal mayonnaise, it falls a little short of my expectations.

I tried the mayonnaise in the two most important contexts- as a topping alongside a burger, and as a sauce for fries, the latter of which I picked up in Amsterdam, along with potential second-hand LSD flashbacks. What I liked about the European mayonnaise was that it stood on its own while acting as another way to enhance the glorious fries. It added another layer of shiny and rich to an already shiny and rich food without making it unnecessarily fatty. It’s lubricant for the soul. Did I expect that in Sir Kensington’s? Absolutely. Sir Kensington’s did for ketchup what society inexplicably did for Lena Dunham- validated the existence of a boring and overused staple of wiener-gobbling and brought out its insouciance. It was simple, but packed a punch.

While the mayonnaise was good, it had neither the indulgence of its European brethren nor the reimagined style of the brand’s initial frontrunner. It’s basic- high in quality, but essentially mayo v1.5. The chipotle is extremely well-crafted, despite suffering from the same high expectations as a result of Sir Kensington’s reinventing the wheel. Chipotle mayonnaise has been done before. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy that Sir Kensington’s made their own version, but it does mean that my standards will be elevated when testing it. This is a clean, generously-spiced version, and is the Jekyll to the mild Hyde of the original. It reminds me of samourai sauce, and its pungent flavor lingers on the tongue and works well with the richness of the original base. Sir Kensington’s has taken a bold risk in releasing this line of spreads, but needs work before they can distinguish themselves from the crowd. As a gourmet version of a commercial brand, I’d have been content, but with a craft company as renowned as this in the specialty food world, I expected more.

Heinz Hot Sauce: Chipotle and Garlic, Green Jalapeno, and Yellow Habanero

Yes, tomorrow is the end of the world, so you’re going to have to expect to see strange memes, awfully photoshopped photos of skulls and Microsoft Word texts from the mid 90’s, and liveblogging from the apocalypse, courtesy of the Foodette Isn’t Going Anywhere foundation, circa 2012. Incidentally, the number of strange coincidences, like France releasing limited-edition products in sets of threes, has me intrigued and slightly convinced that the world might end. I’ve been here four months already with no sign of strange things, and all of a sudden, special editions of products are popping up all over the place. 

Another thing that leads me to believe that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket: France has finally embraced the idea of hot sauces, commercially available, in stores, and made by large, familiar companies for lonely ex-pats and curious Europeans. Like Pago, and the new Red Bull, these, too, were released in three, which explains my most recent grocery bill:

Harry’s white bread: 0,98 Euro
Apricot juice: 1,8 Euro
Heinz hot sauce: 6 Euro
Apricot jam: 1 Euro
Butter: 1.5 Euro

Three new hot sauces! In three new-ish flavors! Obviously, I had to get all three of them, and prominently display them on my kitchen table next to a Parisian cinderblock and quickly overflowing ashtray. Hashtag bohemian, my friends! This appears to be one of the only markets Heinz uses for hot sauce, so I figured they had to be good. In fact, they aren’t even on the company website yet. In Green Jalapeno, Chipotle and Garlic, and Yellow Habanero, they looked both minimal in ingredients and high-end enough to accompany the pulled pork and corn flakes I’ve been noshing in the end of days.

Well, there’s some good and bad to these. On one hand, they are hot sauces, and I refuse to believe that this is the last attempt for France to jump on the “spicy good, bland bad” bandwagon. On the other hand, the perfectly-tailored John Lobb shoe has dropped, and the verdict remains that these sauces are not damned spicy. They’re trying- they are spiced, but they are not spicy, so to speak. Their quantifiers of “medium, hot, and very hot” are as useful as putting warning signs on pipe cleaners and stuffed animals. Why bother? They have the intensity of gingerbread despite a vibrant color. It’s a pity, as they are really impeccably flavored, with a very rich, natural taste and easily distinguishable between the three. Their succinct ingredients gave them a wholesome edge that allowed them to blend easily with all manner of meat, bread, or spread.

My favorite of the three was the green jalapeno, followed by the yellow habanero. Both allowed the pepper to be showcased front and center with very little additional spice or herb encumbering the vegetal flavors. Like I said, they weren’t spicy, unfortunately, but at the very least, they imparted a more developed flavor onto meat. A zesty warmth, if you will, disappointing for the habanero as we approached that with trepidation only to find that it was bland as all hell. As for the chipotle and garlic, while I liked it, it wasn’t too far from the Cholula or taco sauce I typically use back home. Tasty, but not really hot. They tried, though, and if that doesn’t say “delicious end of the world snack” to me, I don’t know what does! I’m looking forward to seeing these become a coveted item on the post-apocalyptic black market once all the Tabasco has been rationed for emergency energy supplements. Vive la France!

Heinz Ketchup Primeur

You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you here. No, I’d rather not discuss my estate today, nor is it occasion for one of my infamous Scotch, cigar and Euro tastings, but rather, a new opportunity in gustatory indulgence. Gentlemen? You may wish to sit down. What I am about to show you shall bring new life to your French-fried potatoes, a devilish tang to your roasted newborn calf filets. Men, we are humbled in the presence of this confounded condiment: Heinz Ketchup Primeur.

 En primeur, a concept formerly limited only to the finest and most expensive of wines, has now extended its graceful, feminine reach to ketchup, which many may agree is the Bordeaux of condiments, the Ferrari of fast food. Heinz has lovingly aged their tomatoes with only the gentlest of touches under the soft Portuguese sun. Monitored by a team of Harvard-educated, Oxford-refined, and McDonald’s trained tomato technicians and botanists, the Primeur ketchup is then bottled, numbered, and emblazoned with the gleaming, masculine signature of J.P. Heinz, the Burger King himself, fresh after his stint in the Oxford Federal Correctional Institute. His offense? Putting a hit out on Sir Kensington. Can you even imagine!?

This premier sauce of the one percent is jammier than its pedestrian squeeze-bottle counterpart, with a natural tang and sweetness and rich depth of flavor, not unlike the sweet and savory combination of Cornish sea salt-cured caviar atop shredded Birkin bag blinis. Carrying a light, healthy sheen and thick texture, it rises above mere mayonnaise and relishes its status as the creme de la creme of ketchup.

Preliminary uncorking allowed a spicy scent to waft from the cut glass bottle (regrettably, they were out of the Baccarat at Barney’s) but my initial tasting was slightly deterred, as the condiment was so thick it had to be coaxed out of the container with a Tiffany oyster spoon! However, after breathing for a brief sojourn, it proved to be intense and balanced, pairing impeccably with both steak and potatoes.

Currently only available in Europe, it would behoove you to fly there at once, so your potatoes and Sir MacNuggets shall go uncoated no more. Preferably in a private jet, or at the very least, atop a litter carried by five trained jaguar siblings across the Incense Road of Antiquity.

Godspeed, Hunt’s. You may shut the door behind you.

Long live Heinz!

Bratwurst, Jalapeno, and Caramelized Onion Potstickers

I hate summer. There, I said it. I’m allergic to the beach and catch burns faster than Snooki catches STI’s. The only person more miserable on a boat is Tommy Lee Judd post-Double Jeopardy. The irony of spending over 75% of my childhood summers on boats and at beaches is not lost on me. But now I’m a grown-ass woman! I can fast-forward to any damned season that I want. And today, I decided that I wanted autumn to hurry up and get here already. So for lunch, I made Miss Love a boatload of homemade dumplings, filled with bratwurst, jalapenos, caramelized onions, and topped with a spicy mustard sauce. And they say July is a summer month.

If you haven’t made homemade potstickers before, take it from an authentic Jewish, American white woman whose only contact with Asian heritage involves casual hookups: these are easy and worth your time. I cheated a little and got premade dumpling wrappers from a local Asian grocery. They tasted fresh and were easy enough to make that in retrospect, it seemed silly to make the dough from scratch. If you have access to these wrappers, I highly suggest you pick some up. They’re hardy and thaw quickly for easy preparation.

To make the dumplings, we combined a few of our latest and greatest favorite ingredients- I’d had the good fortune to receive a selection of Gold’n Plump chicken sausages earlier this week, as well as a tangy, sticky mustard sauce simply named, “That Yellow Sauce.” I’m addicted with this. I’ve been slathering it on top of all of my favorite foods. Mixing those together with some of Gordy’s Thai basil jalapenos, picked up at the Fancy Food Show, and chopped caramelized onions yielded a sweet, savory filling with a wonderful lingering spice.
Bratwurst, Jalapeno, and Caramelized Onion Potstickers
Ingredients (makes 18-20 dumplings)
2 3oz. uncooked bratwurst sausages, taken out of casing
2 tablespoons chopped jalapenos
2 tablespoons of spicy mustard
4 tablespoons of chopped caramelized onions
18-20 dumpling wrappers
1. Mix together ground bratwurst, jalapenos, mustard, and caramelized onions. If you’d like, you can do this the night before you make the potstickers so the flavors have more time to blend together.
2. When you’re ready to make the potstickers, place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of a dumpling. With your fingers, wet the edges of the wrapper and draw them together, pinching and sealing the edges so that the filling doesn’t leak out.
3. Place the filled dumplings in a greased pan on medium-high. Cook until the bottom is brown and crispy. Pour 1/3 cup of warm water in and steam on medium-high for five to six minutes, tossing the dumplings as needed. When the water is evaporated, lower the heat and simmer until fully cooked. Serve with a garnish of onions, mustard, and hot sauce.

These are easy to customize and create and can easily be frozen for later snacking. I’m planning on trying these with spicy brisket and shredded chicken next.

Jif Chocolate Hazelnut and Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread

Pro tip: You can measure a company’s branding success in two easy steps. I call this test the NOCRUS exam, or the Nutella or Coconut Runoff Usage Simulation. It can be implemented by asking this question: does your product successfully utilize either Nutella-based, i.e., chocolate and hazelnut, or coconut-water/coconut inspired flavoring? If so, it’s likely that it’ll catch on like hotcakes and iPods. If not, it’ll be as successful as hotcake-flavored iPods. Terrible idea. Syrup everywhere. My point is, these two components are the new Jonas Bieber Anistons of the food world and companies everywhere are vying to get in on the action.

In Jif’s case, we have two new heavy hitters in the spread market, Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino hazelnut-based spread. Both flavors are smooth and creamy, almost pudding-like and thick in texture. Of the two, the chocolate hazelnut is definitely the more classic example. It’s less muted in scent than Nutella (I had a jar on hand- strictly for comparative purposes) and has a stronger, more cocoa and vanilla-forward flavor. 

As much as it pains me to say it, having been practically weaned on Nutella as an infant, this is superior. It lacks the gummy elasticity of the former, and offers a bolder, less saccharine flavor.

The mocha cappuccino has some issues. Not quite to the level of product abomination parent issues, but just mild stuff. It just wants to talk. Conceptually, it seems like it would work. It follows a correct conditional proof. A, hazelnut, and B, chocolate, go together. B, chocolate, and C, coffee, also go together very well. So it logically follows that A, hazelnut, and C, coffee, go together. Which they do. But unfortunately, you can’t eat logic, and that’s why A, B, and C, together, taste pretty strange. The coffee is the dominant flavor, but hazelnut follows closely behind, unfortunately more reminiscent of coffee flavoring than the plain chocolate flavor. It has a similarly beguiling texture, but falls short of expectations and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Not unlike formal logic.

Overall, though, the branding is successful and catchy enough that I could definitely see the original flavor catching on. With Nutella’s various lawsuits and health finger-pointing, as well as its notorious reputation as an ex-pen-seeeef European brand, this might just be the campaign to sway America to the Jif side. And based on the quality and flavor of these products, it’s not a bad side to be on.

Pig of the Month Key West in a Bottle Citrus Grilling Sauce

People go on quests for the perfect type of food all the time. America’s best burger, the most extravagant red velvet cupcakes Venus has to offer, the types of things that reality television shows and type 2 diabetes are made of. I have some staples that I find always need improvement, but when it comes to barbecue sauce, I’m a closeted settler. I find that in most cases, it’s so slanted toward the mediocre that finding a sauce that doesn’t send me into a Tazmanian devil-esque frenzy makes my pants tent.

I thought it was crazy to want more out of barbecue sauce, and had been perfectly happy with either ignoring it or using it as an industrial-strength paste for my wallpaper, until I found this. Buyer’s Best Friend sent this summery sauce over by Pig of the Month. Initially, I looked at it and could almost taste the sugar and molasses-heavy flavors through the glass, like a useless sixth sense. However, since my father was coming by, we decided to throw caution to the grill and use it as a marinade and glaze for chicken, and boy, are we glad we did that.

Pig of the Month specializes in cutting out the middleman and sending dismembered animal parts right to your door, fresh for consumption and ritual sacrifice over fire pits. In addition to controlling the meat racket, they also sell bottles of their homemade sauces. We tried the Key West Citrus sauce and it was divine. I think I’ve used this on no less than three dishes in the last two days. Dumplings. An omlet sandwich. Grilled chicken. Turkey burgers.

Holy cow. BB-who, now? This sauce is silky. This sauce is sweet, but nowhere near unctuous. It has a spicy, bold pepper kick. Exceptional really isn’t a strong enough word for this sauce. Stupendous? Finger lickin’ good? Doesn’t hold a candle to how it really tastes. Instead, I’ll casually mention that by accident- I cannot stress that enough, a few drops of this made it onto a spoonful of peanut butter I was eating. And I kept eating it. And it was freaking awesome. That good enough for you?

Point is, this has the best balance and fruitiness of any barbecue sauce I’ve had. It eschews the unwritten philosophy that meat needs copious amounts of sugar, salt, and bland spices to handle a six-hour ride in a smoker and instead, soaks a bright, clean set of fruit juices (grapefruit comes out especially well here) and bold cayenne and cumin into the meat. It’s both a wonderful marinade and glaze as well as a drizzled sauce. If you’ve tried any other sauces from Pig of the Month (or any of their delectable porky products) let us know how you like them!

Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce

My life is flaming right now. And I don’t mean in a listening to Elton John more than usual, leather jacket wearing, pompadour sort of way, because that would imply that I hadn’t already been doing those things. Ahem. What I mean is that things are coming together all at once and the hours in the day just aren’t feeling long enough. Cooking, blogging, and overall enjoyment of life have been pushed aside for finals preparation and LSAT cramming, as well as the ensuing therapy that comes with both, and I’ve barely had time to eat a full meal on an honest-to-goodness table, as opposed to the pile of papers that typically serve as my plate, much less prepare one for Miss Love and I. Imagine my joy when the newest sauce from Tabasco came to the house today- Buffalo style, no less. Easy to use and easy to enjoy…or was it?
I was initially skeptical, but then again, due to the aforementioned LSAT prep, I’ve been initially skeptical about everything I’ve been doing lately. Reading traffic signs. Watching television. Even a simple question from Miss Love about dinner will elicit a stern discussion about whether or not her suppressed premise includes not wanting to eat chicken for the sixth night in a row and determine if her argument to do so is structurally flawed.  
So reading on a package that something is “Buffalo style” rather than “Buffalo” in name gets my brain racing. And calorie-free Buffalo to boot- now that’s something to tweet about.

 Luckily, my fears were for naught. While I was initially put off by the scent, a combination of regular Tabasco and an underlying nose of spicy musk, as well as its ability to tattoo the skin with its signature orange brand, a sure sign that tells everyone you see that you’re well on your way to obesity and are proud of it, the flavor carefully mimicked buffalo wings without the usage of butter. Or witchcraft.
It’s less spicy than Tabasco but spicy enough to leave a good tingle on the lips and tasted amazing with our homemade chicken patties. It’s also thicker than regular Tabasco, which makes it easy to toss wings or chicken pieces in and not have to worry about the sauce dripping off. It’s got a good texture and easily adheres. This will definitely be a key player in our dinner condiment lineup.

Burger King’s New Chicken Strips and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ and Kung Pao Sauces

Now that the iconic fear-paralyzed face of the Burger King royalty is gone, who will usurp the noble throne? Built on ketchup slicks and nuggets seized from the crownius region of the chicken, the fast food restaurant has decreed a complete overhaul of its restaurants. My local BK, not a king, but not yet a lounge, has been partially remodeled but is stuck in a strange dead zone where the only recognizable theme is the leftover St. Patrick’s Day decorations from last week.
Aside from the new menu cards, BK has introduced a few new menu items, expanding to the cafe-style foods and coffee beverages to garner business from some of their obvious competition from Ronald the Court Jester. I guess if they play their cards right and assume that the law of gravity holds, it would be the most obvious and closest place for me to go for a mediocre frappe. But only if my Rascal stopped working and I had to…walk. Along with these, they’ve introduced a new chicken strip to go along with their new chicken tenders, released around this time next year. T’wasn’t the poultry that intrigued me, but rather, the debut of their two newest sauces, Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ, that carried me into my local establishment on this, the day of the newly released chicken strip.
Touting the strips in both a 3 and a 5 pack for $3.29 and $4.49, respectively, it works out to just over a dollar a strip if you’re going for the small pack. Not the most economical choice unless you’re just really, really into chicken strips. The strips are billed as being marinated and breaded in a seasoned coating, but eaten plain, salty, mediocre chicken was the only noticeable flavor. The breading was crisp, but lacked the crunchiness its counterparts have in abundance and clung closely to the chicken like a too-tight tube top on a girl making a duck face on Facebook. It was surprisingly devoid of oil, but left a very salty, onion-heavy aftertaste and had a bone-dry chewiness more appropriate on jerky than chicken. Only one of the strips was longer than a ballpoint pen and all were tough in texture. Hideously underwhelming, and they made me glad I’d anticipated the worst and bought a cheeseburger to eat instead.
I figured the sauces would be my saving grace for these strips, and let’s face it, they were really just a vehicle for them anyhow. Boasted as being “totally sweet” by my server, the new sauces don’t try to mimic anything I’ve seen from the competition. They blaze their own trail. The roasted jalapeno barbecue suffered from a lack of two things- enthusiasm and proper nomenclature. Assuming that titles as well as ingredients are listed in their order of amount from largest to smallest, I came into this carrying the expectation that “roasted jalapeno barbecue” would be peppers first and barbecue second. Not a chance, unfortunately. It was gummy and sweet when sampled on a spoon, with a heavy brown sugar assault and the clean, lingering bite of jalapeno peppers after. But eaten with the chicken strips or spread on a little bite of burger, the spiciness drowned in the rich ingredients that outnumbered it, leaving a generically sweet flavor with a touch of cayenne, like Sweet Baby Ray’s. I would have loved if there had been chunks of fresh pepper in this or even pickled rings.
The Kung Pao sauce, on the other hand, was perfectly executed and tasted like delicious, cheap Chinese takeout sauce with a more pronounced set of flavors. Hell, this even encompassed some of the cheaper takeout chicken sauces, at least around here. Wafting sharp, sweet pickled ginger aromas from the moment I opened the packet, I knew this would be a great addition to the sauce line. I’ll give it this- it completely blows McDonald’s Sweet Chili out of the water. This sauce had large pieces of ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes and brought an umami-laden depth to the traditional flavor profile of sweet and sour with an aggressive, lingering spice. Slightly tinny at first, but nothing repulsive. This was the only sauce we went back for seconds on.
I’m not typically crazy about fast food chicken as I’ve started making my own nuggets at home, but the new sauces are unique enough that I’d definitely consider getting the Kung Pao if I were ever at a loss for condiments around the house. Not that that will ever happen, but it’s a pleasant deviation from the standard ketchup ‘n’ mustard set.