Amp Energy Relaunch: REVIVE


Aside from having an official certification from the IRS stating that I am able to be process federal tax returns for the 2010 tax year and partially fulfilling my childhood dream of working for a three letter acronymic government agency, the best perk to having my tax preparation internship is the free food we are able to take from the cafeteria. After coming off of yet another Call of Duty induced night of heavy drinking and needless to say the morning hangover, I felt the best thing I could reach for first thing in the morning would be an energy drink.

Of all the cans of energy drinks displayed in the drink shelf of the cafeteria, the one that I felt would best describe what I needed was Amp Energy Relaunch: REVIVE. Surely it would be something to help me get back on track with my professional life after getting noob-tubed all over the new Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike map pack then subsequently doing shots of Jack Daniels in an attempt to forget that fact. The orange and black tiger striped can looked rather badass and it was a nice change from the regular nuclear waste green colored cans. Since it advertises that it was going to contain a “burst of orange citrus” I thought that at best it would taste like a can of highly caffeinated orange soda and at worst it would taste like a can of orange soda mixed with ass juice. Since all energy drinks contain the same 4 things (ginseng, taurine, B vitamins, and guarana), I expected it to have a red bull type of an aftertaste.

To my surprise, this can of energy tasted just like a regular can of orange soda. And everybody knows that I LOVE ORANGE SODA!! But the real question would be who doesn’t love orange soda? That one homeless guy who hangs out in front of the liquor store on Whalley Ave. probably likes orange soda. Even President Barack Obama probably loves orange soda too. There was no taste of ass like a regular energy drink has and certainly no aftertaste of ass. It was very drinkable and it was actually quite delicious. In fact I could drink this drink all day if I wanted to. Maybe mixing it with some grain alcohol might make it into some sort of homemade Four Loko concoction… hmm.

The only gripe that I have with this drink is that it loses its carbonation rather quickly. It certainly tastes less carbonated that a regular can of orange soda would and therefore easier to drink quickly. After about 20 to 30 minutes the carbonation goes away and it tastes like a flat orange soda. Compared to a regular flat energy drink, flat orange soda tastes exponentially better. It would probably be the best energy drink ever if it could keep its carbonation longer but I think that might be asking too much since I don’t think anyone sips an energy drink over a long period of time and instead chugs it down as quick as possible to get the instant effect.


Valentine’s Day Feast

Last night, Keepitcoming Love and I had a fantastic feast for Valentine’s Day. With a chilly night and little interest in fighting people for dinner reservations and parking spaces, we ended up cooking in and having a great dinner.
We made panko-crusted honey chicken with spicy sesame noodles, using fresh noodles from Gourmet Texas Pasta and ate them both with one of our last Wiemer Rieslings. For dessert, we used a kit with fresh mascarpone from Crave Brothers and made a chocolate mascarpone pie. The Kahlua we added made it a little sweet, but it was delicious and creamy and far less labor-intensive than a cheesecake.After dessert, we exchanged gifts. And with good timing- along with the pie, we sampled a few truffles from Knipschildt. That was my gift to Keepitcoming, and we’re looking forward to checking out Chocopologie in the near future. Keepitcoming bought me a gorgeous Gucci scarf that will definitely crop up on the blog- with a wine and grape motif, it’s absolutely a propos.The noodles were our breakfast this morning, and will probably be a delicious cold lunch over the next few days. Fresh pasta beats out regular pasta any day, and this was utterly spectacular.Our cat was non-plussed and sat on the top of the cabinets, looking down at us from above. She was full of leftover chicken, so we paid her no mind.Happy Valentine’s Day!

SPICY WEEK PART 7: Spicy Sweets

Happy slappy Valentine’s Day, folks. Keepitcoming and I are bringing the heat with not one, but two Valentine’s Day posts…a day late. Sorry. Not sorry. We’re too busy being awesome.
For the last day of Spicy Week, we tried some tasty sweet treats with delicious kicks. There were only a few, but they were all quite memorable.
We first sampled a brownie from Heartbreaking Dawn’s. As you know, we tried one of their hot sauces before. This clarified a little query as we were unsure if the Heartbreaking part of Dawn was in reference to a dawn that was heartbreakingly gorgeous or a Dawn that broke hearts. It is the latter and we are setting them up with Billy Ray Cyrus so they can achy breaky heartbreak together. Jesus. The brownie was heartbreaking. NO MORE PUNS. But it actually was. It was a cayenne, sea salt, and basil brownie and for some reason, was impossible to enjoy. There was a substantial heat from the pepper, a sea salt tang, and a herbed basil essence, but none of the elements seemed to work together. They were really incongruous and out of place in a way that made them taste bad as a whole, despite knowing that all the ingredients were delicious individually.
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We tried another baked good after that, this time in the form of Lark Fine Foods’ Chocolate Cha-Chas. I love slice cookies, especially if they maintain their form and still have that fudgy chew. This was spectacular. It was not only very rich and chocolatey, it was consistently spicy, albeit with more of a range of baking spices than heat spices, with a pleasant zip at the end. Keepitcoming and I tore through three packages of these. Their portability and flavor makes them a cinch to take on car trips.
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This was another delicious selection from Chuao, a company we’ve covered quite a few times on this blog. The chocolate in this bar is visually appealing as well as gorgeously gustatory, and is chock-full of spices and delicious. We loved this bar because of its balanced perfection. It was bitter, sweet, spicy, and creamy, all in one bite, and yet seemed to maintain a perfect consistency from piece to piece. Definitely pick these up.
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SWEET SUCCESS
Chuao Spicy Maya Bar (10)

And so ends Spicy Week! Thanks for playing. I wish we could offer you a house or a real adopted baby or whatever Oprah offers on her show, but all I have is leftover McNuggets. They’re a week old. Cheers!

SPICY WEEK PART 6: Spicy Snacks

The last two categories leave the realm of sauces and enter the DANGER ZONE, and by danger I obviously mean snacks. It’s serious business! The snack category got a little leaner as the selection narrowed, and I rounded up the most unique snacks that I could. I suppose I could have gone for the spicy chips as well, your Utz and Herr’s, but I’m an out of control teen and I do what I want.
So, my Spanish galleons, we had two popcorns from Oogie’s, an incredibly sexy snack as we already know, potato chips from Corozona’s, Blair’s Death Rain chips, and Deano’s Jalapenos. We were also armed with season one of Community and last night’s nuggets. Y’know, palate cleansers and all that.
Deano’s Jalapenos were the first to go down our gullets, and they set the bar pretty damned high. Frying absorbant vegetables and whatnot can be difficult, as it treads a fine line between underfrying and overfrying. The former makes things greasy and soggy and the latter renders them brittle and hazardous, like Captain Crunch. These are fried to perfection, to the point of melting on the tongue and have a delicate, soft crunch. They’re jalapenos, and taste just like they should, with a slight greasiness from the frying and a nice cheddar cheese flavor.
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OVERALL- 8Then we went on to the chips. Blair’s Death Rain sounded angry and hot, but turned out to be mild with a creamy cheesy flavor and a heavy chipotle smoke. It was a little overwhelming and I wasn’t too partial to it. Swagger finds that there’s a special circle in hell for kettle chips, so neglected to comment. They were a little overfried and were overly crispy.
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OVERALL- 3The next chips were Corozona’s. These were a little softer than the Blair’s chips, despite also being of the kettle variety, but lacked the oil and had a strange, rice flour-like texture and mouthfeel. The crunch tasted like these had been sitting out for a while uncovered, but the spices were fresh and zippy.
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OVERALL- 4Oogie’s popcorn was next, in two flavors: hatch chile con queso and chipotle and lime. I absolutely loved the chipotle lime popcorn, because of how beautifully balanced it was. The lime flavor was bright and citrusy, with a fresh note that cut through the cheesiness of the popcorn, and the chipotle was smoky. This was like eating my favorite salsa with my favorite popcorn and worked perfectly. There was very little flavor dust to contend with and the heat was bright and present.
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OVERALL- 9The hatch chile con queso popcorn had the nicest label, with an adequately South of the Border feel, sans crabs. I’ve compared Oogie’s to sex before, and this is basically the Tijuana donkey show of the selection. This is delightfully strange and mimicked, in a slightly creepy way, the exact flavor of queso dip. It was more of a ballpark nacho dip than a homemade queso flavor, but it was addictive and crispy with flavor dust scattered everywhere. A popcorn orgy it was.
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BEST CHIPS AND TOPCORN (Lol.)
Oogie’s Chipotle and Lime (9)
Oogie’s Hatch Chile con Queso (8)
Deano’s Jalapenos (8)

SPICY WEEK PART 5: Spicy Ketchups

Keepitcoming and I just returned from a little vacation, so that explains for the lag in posts. But never fear, Spicy Week will persevere! Before we left, we made a batch of fries for dinner and tested out our five spicy ketchup contenders.
Surprisingly, none of the national brand ketchup manufacturers, like Heinz and Hunt, opt to sell a commercially viable spicy ketchup. The closest I could find to a widely recognized brand was the UK subsidiary of Heinz, which makes a “twisted” ketchup with both mild and spicy chilies, but since that wasn’t easy to procure, I turned to the smaller brands.To test our ketchups on, we made a mild, baked fry with a flavor that balanced out the ketchups. We chose a blue and white cornmeal crusted french fry, and they turned out to be quite tasty and served as a good base for our testing.
Our first ketchup was a jalapeno ketchup from Spice It Up. It smelled good and was very thick, but had a bland, salty flavor with a small heat at the start and little depth. It didn’t compliment nor enhance the fries and toned down to a plain ketchup flavor by the end of the bite. The heat gradually grew, but the seasoning stayed the same, and in the end, it just tasted a little too plain.
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OVERALL- 6We then moved on to a ketchup from Intensity Academy. With a name like that, it could deliver any number of things. To our surprise, the ketchup we tried didn’t live up to its moniker. This was the chai chipotle ‘chup, and it has to be consumed immediately upon pouring. We learned this the hard way, for as soon as we looked the other way, the ketchup separated. The flavor was nice, if a little mild, but didn’t really taste of chipotle or chai, and was pretty soupy.
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The next ketchup came in a different bottle from the others, and that was Big Paw ketchup. Strange name and a moderately strange ketchup. It was extremely difficult to extract this from the bottle. It was a very thick ketchup, but somehow had issues adhering to the french fries. I suspect this is from a high oil content that did not mix very well. The flavor was delicious, though, with a strong, smoky chipotle flavor and a bold fruitiness from the ‘mato. Too bad the texture makes it impossible to dip with.
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OVERALL- 7We were nearing the last of our test subjects. This next ketchup featured not hot peppers, but more of an Indian spice selection. Maya Kaimal’s ketchup informed us that this would be “a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little Indian.” It had a zesty bite of curry at the beginning of the taste, and a really nicely defined, sweet cumin flavor. Unfortunately, the lines defining “spice” and “spicy” seemed to have been slightly blurred. This was more of a spice-heavy sauce than a heat intensive one, but still delicious nonetheless.
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OVERALL- 8The last ketchup of the night was Juan’s Fiesta Ketchup. This was a no-brainer as far as our favorite, because it was perfectly scoopable and smearable in its texture, with a distinctly peppery and distinctly tomatoey flavor within its overall composition. This was the ketchup we kept dipping in over and over after our testing and dredging up the final smears because it was so good. It was smoky, but not overbearing, and had a natural, sweet base. The burn was fantastic, because it was built up and then cooled down by the tomato. Really tasty and really well-crafted.
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TOP SPICY KETCHUPS
Juan’s Fiesta Ketchup (9)
Maya Kaimal’s Spicy Ketchup (8)

SPICY WEEK PART 4: Spicy Mustards

Day three. We’ve gotten past the tough stuff and are now sailing smoothly. I neglected to inform our participants that this would probably be the hardest category to do well in, as I consider myself a highly professional mustard connoisseur. But with seven contenders for the prize of best mustard, I found myself up against a team of seasoned and spicy surprises…Like last time, we judged on four categories, with three points for heat, three points for flavor, three points for appearance, and a point for a label, ’cause that shit is for real. To accurately measure the saucy spiciness of the Mustard Carbohydrate Soakage Scale, we swapped out our wing hack, McNuggets, for something a little more traditional: soft pretzels, son.
Our first mustard was another selection from Crooked Condiments, an ale-based mustard. It was smooth in its appearance, but had an acrid, grainy texture like lumpy gravy and a one-noted bitterness that overwhelmed the pretzel and somehow rendered it mushy. It didn’t taste like mustard or ale and didn’t have the heat we expected it to have, instead carrying more of an astringent sting. It didn’t really didn’t go well with the snack and left a bad aftertaste in our mouths.
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OVERALL- 3The next mustard we tried was another condiment from Saucy Mama. As you know from our last tasting, Saucy Mama represented one of the top three condiments in the regular hot sauce category, so we were excited to see if their quality carried on in between sauces. This was a chipotle mayonnaise in a squeeze bottle, with the same clean label of the wing sauce. This had a nice texture and flavor, but for the first few dips, had a viscous feel that made it a little difficult to adhere to the pretzel. I had to employ a “scoop method,” one that I rarely use for its difficulty in execution and high tendency to ruin clothes. But the result was worth the risk. The mustard was smoky and creamy, with a nice textural irregularity and chunkiness to it.
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After that, we sampled a most unusual condiment. Here’s a riddle for you: What’s bright red, smells like peppers, but isn’t peppers? It’s Dave’s Gourmet Hurtin’ Habanero Mustard, with slogans and flames and spice all up in this bitch. This dog’s bark was worse than its bite. Everything about this screamed pain and agony, but it was really a lot of smoke and mirrors. The heat burnt a little, but was pretty mild and clean, with very little aftertaste. The sauce was bright red and would probably make an outstanding topping for a fancy appetizer, but isn’t best for heat aficionados. It was more of a presentation-based condiment than one that relied on heat. Decent.
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OVERALL- 7It would seem we’d entered the realm of zany and strangely colored mustards, because up after Dave’s was a cranberry mustard from Up the Creek. Like Dave’s, this was bright and sassy, with a nice pink tinge and an almost jammy texture, like a home-canned preserve. It had a sweet, tangy cranberry flavor and a nice salty balance, but lacked that zip that I so desire in a good mustard. It wasn’t spicy at all, and I found myself craving a little heat to go with the sauciness of the berries.
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OVERALL- 6After the last few, I was craving something with a decent heat to it, so we turned to the Food and Wine jalapeno mustard aioli. This reminded me of the Saucy Mama in its appearance, but had a creamier, more uniform texture and milder flavor. It must have been the added cream in the aioli, but this just didn’t deliver the spice I wanted it to, despite boasting a sweet tanginess.
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OVERALL- 5We then came to another repeat offender, a different selection from Dr. Gonzo’s. This time, it was their Drunk Stunt mustard. From the moment we opened the jar, we knew this was going to be special. The mustard was not blended, far from it- it was a seedy study in autumnal colors, held together by minimal liquid, and stuck to the spoon as we scooped it onto the pretzel. From the first bite, it was clear that this was no ordinary mustard. It was dizzyingly smoky and flavorful, with a bite and spice that kept growing. At the end, the smoked heat, a palatable and savory burn, lingered for about a minute. I feel like I could put this on anything and it would make it instantly gourmet. It was like the golden touch of mustard. The depth of the flavors kept growing with each sampling, each new thing it was paired with. It was perfect, and I will savor my small jar as though I would a fine wine.
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OVERALL- 10Following that was tough, but we remembered that Pain is Good gave Dr. Gonzo’s a run for their money in the regular sauce round and swept the death category, so that was our last mustard. This was less of a mustard and more of a pourable sauce, so it might be less optimal for sandwiches and better as a dipping sauce. As soon as we opened the bottle, we noticed how smoky this was, on par with Dr. Gonzo’s. While it lacked a distinctly mustardy texture, it had the tang to make up for it and a powerful, clean burn. Definitely jalapenos.
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OVERALL- 8

TOP THREE
Dr. Gonzo’s Drunk Stunt Mustard (10)
Pain is Good Jalapeno Mustard Sauce (8)
Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard (8)

The top three are neck and neck! Who will win the prestigious award of Best of Spicy Week? Stay tuned, hotheads…

SPICY WEEK PART 3: Death Level Sauces

Swagger here to review the group of sauces no one else dares to try, “Death Level” sauces. Supposedly there are the ones that are the hottest of the hot and the best of the best. These are supposed to be the Delta Force Navy SEAL Black Ops Tier One Operators of the hot sauce world.


Keeping consistent with the regular sauces reviews the control base will be the glorious McNugget and the sauces will be judged in the same criteria and on a similar scale without consideration to the label, that shit’s totally arbitrary and kind of gay (Heat, Flavor, and Appearance). Each category can get a max of 3 points with an extra point for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Up first is the Blue’s BBQ Habanero Reserve sauce. The sauce emits a sweet smoky sauce with a strong hint of heat. Smells very much like what a great BBQ sauce does. Coming out of the bottle the sauce was a bit more watery than what I expected. It starts out tasting sweet but delivers a very high amount of heat. It’s not a deadly level heat that pushes you away but a high enough heat to make you come back for more. It does not leave too much of an afterburn so one could keep using it.

Heat – 3
Flavor – 3
Appearance – 2
OVERALL – 8


This is Blair’s After Death XXX hot sauce. It smells of a very light smoky flavor. Upon tasting it one discovers there is not much flavor just a lot of burning heat. It’s a very high heat burn with a quite long lasting afterburn. It’s just your run of the mill death level sauce. Nothing too special.

Heat – 3
Flavor – 1
Appearance – 1
OVERALL – 4

Here we have Blair’s Sudden Death Hottest sauce. At first opening the bottle there was no noticeable odor at all. It was indeed a quite ominous sign of things to come. It sauce itself looked slightly like death. It was dark crimson red with swirls of pure black. I assume that the black portion of the sauce was what was going to kill me at the end of the day. The taste was of this sauce was actually quite sweet, almost like a syrup sweetness at first then the heat would kick in. The heat and burn of this sauce was one that was extremely hot and was also one that lasted a very long time. I prefer this sauce over its counterpart, the After Death sauce. This had a sweeter flavor and overall more enjoyable experience.

Heat – 3
Flavor – 2
Appearance – 1
OVERALL – 6

Here is Wing It Buffalo Sauce. Upon opening the bottle one it smell just like the buffalo wings one could get at their favorite bar or tavern. It had that special vinegar smell that all buffalo sauces have. The taste of this buffalo sauce was quite good. They definitely went to extreme lengths to get a very blend of spices to make the buffalo flavor taste great. This sauce fails hard in its attempt to be considered a “Death” level sauce. There was very little heat to this sauce compared to the other big boys at this level. The heat can be best compared to a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot or something of that caliber. This could probably considered baby’s first hot sauce for something for your girlfriend who can’t handle spicy foods.

Heat – 0
Flavor – 3
Appearance – 1
OVERALL – 4


Next up is another from the people at Blue’s BBQ. This is their Chipotle Mustard Pepper. The smell of this sauce gave off a strong scent of peppers and good heat. This smell was quite inviting and would make probably make anyone who was daring enough to pick it over another sauce. It came out of the bottle more watery than I had expected and was unable to stay completely on the McNugget. This sauce was actually quite sweet and sour and had a good amount of heat. The burn of this sauce dissipated quite quickly and left you wanting more. All in all, a very pleasant sauce.

Heat – 2
Flavor – 2
Appearance – 2
OVERALL – 6


Here we have Torchbearer Sauces’ Zombie Apocalypse. This was probably the best named bottle in the death sauce category. Too bad I realized this after I had eaten this pictured McNugget. The main ingredient of this sauce is Bhut Jolokia peppers, these are the hottest peppers in the world. A single drop of this would bring most people to the ground in pain. Since I am such a total badass I ate the amount enough to cover half a McNugget. From the moment I opened the bottle and the nuclear orange paste like sauce came close to my face and I first smelled this sauce, the little voice in my heard popped up and said “maybe this isn’t such a good idea” in which I promptly told it to “nut up and shut up” This sauce smells like death, there’s no sweet undertones to it, or an inviting smell. This sauce smells like “if you want to eat this, you are a God among men” The best way I can describe the taste this sauce would be HOLY FUCK. This is probably the hottest sauce I’ve ever encountered. This probably incapacitated me and my taste buds for a solid 30 minutes. There was no taste to this sauce just pain, horrible deadly lava burning pain. I can probably say that this sauce changed my life, it was THAT intense.

Heat – 5
Flavor – 0
Appearance – 0
OVERALL – 5


Here is the only sauce here to come in a packet. This is the Meleguta table sauce. Right from there I knew that something was going to be wrong with this one. I came in an unassuming packet instead of a bottle. There was only a side note written in very small font that it was xxhot. A death sauce should have at least 3 x’s to be considered good. It came out of the packet in a quick watery overflow, it smelt like vinegar and wet dog, not a great sign. It tastes like wet dog and unclean female parts. This was easily the worst of them all. It even left a lingering after taste and smell like unclean lady parts. There was a slight burn but it was at the back of the throat. Awful, just awful.

Heat – 1
Flavor – 0
Appearance – 0
OVERALL – 1

This sauce was brought to me by the Pain is Good people. Their packaging feature floating heads on a brown paper bag paper and kept in glass flasks. This was hands down one of my favorite sauces and made by one of my favorite sauce makers. This sauce was their Jamaica Style sauce. The smell of it hinted strongly of pineapple and gave a really good Caribbean feel to it. The initial taste of this was kind of sweet and fruity like pineapple, and then the heat come in. BOOM. The heat is a very good level for a death level sauce. It was hot enough for me to be in a good level of pain, but it was a good pain, almost euphoric. The burn would linger and decrease quickly but at good pace over a period of time. It doesn’t disappear instantly. Very much like the scent of a woman’s perfume on your shirt and pillows after she leaves in the morning. It’s faint but it stays over the period of quite some time. This sauce is everyone a spicy foods enthusiast could ask for. Great flavor, great heat, very versatile. This sauce is made of absolute win. Swagger out!

Heat – 4
Flavor – 3
Appearance -3
OVERALL – 10


Best Sauces:
1. Pain is Good Jamaica Style
2. Blue’s BBQ Habanero Reserve

SPICY WEEK PART 2: Regular Hot Sauces

All right. All is back to normal and the photos are here! So without further ado, let me share with you the results of a drunken evening with Swagger, 40 McNuggets, and an asston of hot sauces. Damn, son.We judged the hot sauces out of ten, with points for these categories:
Heat (Out of three. The heat had to be lingering with a good burn, but not painful)
Flavor (Out of three. Savory, peppery, vinegary, with a good balance.)
Appearance (Out of three. Visually appealing? Appetizing? Something you’d serve to guests?)
Label (Out of one. Is it clip-art or Cezanne?)The first sauce tried was the Suck Creek wing sauce. I especially liked it because of its name, but the clip-art minimalist logo, and funky chicken legs sticking out from the name were kind of cheesy. This was a visually appealing sauce, but had lots of vinegar. Possibly a little too much, because that was really all we tasted. It had a slight burn, but didn’t really linger.
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OVERALL- 6The next sauce was a Caribbean hot sauce, Goldson’s MoreFire. I love fruit and heat so I was expecting a nice mango or papaya flavor in this. It was difficult for Swagger to get this open because it was sealed with a crappy sticker, and combined with the ever-persistent “drunk hands,” we quickly got irritated. The packaging was strange and looked like someone had gone overboard with Photoshop. And after all that work, it wasn’t worth the hassle. It smelled strange, and the main ingredient wasn’t even pepper. It was tomato. It smelled like barbecue and was overly chunky with a weird spice that faded quickly away.
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OVERALL- 2After that, we had a sauce that I’d had kicking around for a while, the Big Papi Double Hitter. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see a label advertising “Big Papi’s sauce,” a man whose lips are dangerously close to a smoking, phallic object, and flaming objects all around, I think of one thing. Luckily, Swagger knows a thing or two about baseball and informed me that this was actually the fabulous David Ortiz. And the sauce wasn’t bad. The packaging may have been a little suggestive, but it had a nice blend of peppers and a decent heat with a clean, wasabi-like burn. It was a little salty, but carried a good smoky flavor, too.
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OVERALL- 6This hot sauce looked a little like the Suck Creek sauce, but with a thicker texture. It was a Southern hot sauce, so I expected a lot from this company. But Lillie’s of Charleston spent more time making sure their labels were Gullah-approved than priming their hot sauces, because this was too sweet with a very slight burn suspected to be from the vinegar that clouded its flavor than peppers.
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OVERALL- 2After that, we had a sauce by Heartbreaking Dawn’s. They sent over a few unique product that spanned other categories as well, but this classic “gold” sauce made me think of mustard and heat- two of my favorite things. The packaging was funky, but I didn’t really understand what the tiki-like creature on the bottle was. It smelled promising, and wasn’t too sweet, but had an overpowering vinegar aftertaste. It was still pretty tasty with a lingering burn.
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Overall- 7
Dr. Gonzo’s Uncommon Condiments was a company I’d been chatting with for a while, and their products seemed diverse and interesting, with archaic names that reminded me of an apothecary. The packaging and labeling was clean-cut and monochromatic in an Inception, hipster-like fashion. This particular sauce, the Buffalo Balm, was very watery, but had an exceptionally tasty lime and jalapeno flavor and a really good, lingering prickle. There was no aftertaste, but there was one of the best afterburns of any of the sauces we’d had so far. This was seriously good stuff.
Heat- 3
Flavor- 3
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Label- 2
Overall- 9The next sauce was weird in all senses of the word. For starters, Trini Mike’s had a creepy anthropomorphic pepper character, and that guy was jacked. So we had this jacked pepper character on a beach, with his sexy pepper wife and adorable pepper infant grilling peppers on the beach, and then the pepper sauce in the bottle. These characters not only condoned cannibalism; they actively participated in it themselves! Who was the pepper in the bottle? A cousin? An ex-lover of Mrs. Pep? When we opened the bottle, the sauce had separated and was thick and gooey on top. This sauce was like napalm. It was painfully hot with no flavor and took about ten minutes for me to get the burn to recede, aided by about a half gallon of milk. I didn’t enjoy this at all and thought it was disgusting.
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The next sauce was a little misleading. I had been under the impression that this was a unique, fruit-based hot sauce, but it was really more of a fruit spread. It was unique, a sunny peach-tomato “hot sauce” with a really distinctly organic flavor, but it wasn’t hot at all. Strangely enough, this contained habanero peppers, but we didn’t taste them at all.
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OVERALL- 3We came up with another wing sauce after that one. It lived up to its name- Saucy Mama. It was a bright, bold red with a succinct label and it glistened on our nugget. This really was the perfect wing sauce- even going as far as to rival Frank’s! It was a buttery, tangy wing sauce with a freakishly smooth texture. Really, really smooth, and it even had a decent heat to boot, perfectly balanced between pepper and vinegar. This was a wonderful sauce and Keepitcoming and I even used it in a sandwich for the Puppy Bowl.
Heat- 3
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OVERALL- 8We then came onto the Crooked Condiments hot sauce. It said it was a jalapeno hot sauce, but was mysteriously brown and chunky, with a sour scent wafting from the bottle. It had a very distinct smell, like soy sauce and raw onions. And it was not what we were expecting- there was nothing to distinguish that it was at all jalapeno. It tasted more like a spicy tamarind sauce, with a quick burn and a milky, sour aftertaste.
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Flavor- 0
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OVERALL- 1Ten sauces in and we were pretty tired and pretty wasted. It was already 1 in the morning and we’d ingested more nuggets than any man ought to. But still, we persevered. The next sauce was from the aptly named sauce line, Pain is Good. And indeed, it is, with a sauce like this. The sauce in question was a jalapeno harissa, a familiar spice flirting with the exotic. This, I liked. The bottle and labeling gave a mixed breed stereotype- maybe your hippie cousin’s grungy girlfriend from Texas. She has dreadlocks. With its lunch bag label and screaming severed heads, along with a flask-shaped bottle, it was pretty snappy and a little sexy. Immediately after opening the bottle, a nice, smoky scent emanated out. It was a really flavorful, smoky sauce, and it wasn’t too spicy, but packed enough heat to make us draw in our breaths. You can really taste the roasting of the peppers and spices in this.
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OVERALL- 7After that was a South African sauce, Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri sauce. This was another bright, coral-colored sauce with a kick to its flavor- surprisingly, not a spicy kick. The real surprise in this was a bright, fresh burst of lemon about midway the bite. For a sauce with vinegar as the main ingredient, it sure wasn’t as acidic as I’d imagined it to be.
Heat- 2
Flavor- 3
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OVERALL- 6The last hot sauce of the night (thankfully) was Red Hot Robin’s chipotle mango hot sauce. This was a drippy, almost syrupy in consistency, sauce that was a little heavy handed on the chipotle. The smokiness was almost too cloying for me, but it had a good burn to cut it and a sweet flavor, despite lacking a distinct mango taste. Swagger and I both liked the Ed Hardyesque packaging.
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OVERALL- 6

TOP THREE
1. Dr. Gonzo’s Buffalo Balm (9)
2. Saucy Mama’s Wing Sauce (8)
3. Pain is Good Jalapeno Harissa Sauce (8)

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s spicy post…Swagger reviews death sauces!

SPICY WEEK PART 1: Weird Ass Stuff/Misc.

Another rearrangement. Spicy Week 2011 isn’t out of order- it’s SPECIAL. And also entirely my fault. But tonight I’m featuring, as Always Sunny in Philadelphia would say, the wild card. Or wild cards, in this case. This selection was a bunch of hot sauces or spreads that were too interesting to lump into one category. I wanted to feature them together instead of just cramming them in somewhere they wouldn’t stand out- it would be like drinking an ’89 Clinet in between two other big players- a Beaucastel or a Certan. That way, I’d be able to enjoy and savor each one.It was indeed, a motley crue of sauces. All different peppers, syrups, sauces, jellies. But quite tasty across the board. We started on a pretty dismal note. The first sauce, from Pain is Good, was a jalapeno wasabi sauce. The packaging was unique. All across the board, PiG has shown us a brown bag, flask-shaped, sort of grungy style that I rather like. It’s the same here. And the sauce looked promising, but turned out to be sour from the start, with a funky mouthfeel and aftertaste. It was probably all the worst of both jalapeno and wasabi, and would doubtedly go well and overpower any food it was paired with. The next sauce was from Nando’s Peri-Peri, their extra mild lemon Peri-Peri sauce. Having enjoyed their hot sauce and cooking sauce in the past, I was prepared to put this on my chips and savor it. Even if you’re from an area with little to no good Mexican, who hasn’t enjoyed the combination of citrus and salt? I love squeezing limes on my nachos. This, however, was pretty disgusting. It was very, very bitter with too much lemon. Ironically, the citrus made the “extra mild” sauce a little bit hot from the acidic burn. It had a soapiness to it and a smell I couldn’t quite distinguish. After passing it to my roommates, we later determined that it smelled exactly like nail polish remover and an asston of garlic. It’s inedible and I wouldn’t put this on anything for fear of being suspected of poisoning. Luckily, it went up from there. After that, I tried Benito’s habanero maple syrup. I was really excited when this came in, as I’d been envisioning a cold winter breakfast of jalapeno cornmeal pancakes with syrup, and this made it sound even more delectable. I figured that at its worst, it could be thick and grainy and overly spicy. But it was perfect. Honestly, one of the tastiest syrups I’ve had, despite being an outlier. The first great thing was that it had a natural maple syrup base and flowed easily and smoothly. I’d have guzzled this plain, but it got even better and it came with a burn! A lingering heat that didn’t overwhelm the sugar, but would wake you up in the morning for sure.Then came the jams. Honestly, I’m dying to use these jams in a jalapeno popper. Or maybe a sweet banana pepper popper. I think they’d go really well with cream cheese. This is the Chili Dawg’s Strawbanero. I think the names are a little contradictory, because I expected something chili-related, but jam is delicious. The strawberry flavor was intense and seedy, with a little gumminess. The heat was present, and definitely in with the jam, but was inevitably not very spicy and died out quickly. Overall, kind of disappointing for a spicy product, but decent as a jam.
This next jam was one of four my father brought me from France, all themed with strange peppers and fruits native to Europe. This is supposedly a coing and Szechuan pepper jam. I had no idea as to what a coing was, but Wikipedia France told me it was an extremely aromatic, large fruit, with an acidic flavor and a pear-like shape. When I tasted it, its softness reminded me of a plum and it had an appley, slightly citrus flavor. I’d definitely be interested in trying a fresh one. The peppers didn’t show through as a spice, but more as an herbal note. An intense herbal note. More like tea than spice, or pumpkin pie spice, but tasted pretty high end.The last sauce I tried was probably the most hot saucey of tonight’s bunch, a jalisco pepper hot blueberry sauce from Buen Apetito. I found that it had a nice heat that really lingered- for over two minutes, but otherwise could have fit in with the regular hot sauces. It didn’t remind me of a blueberry hot sauce aside from a strange pulpiness to the texture. But what I was really looking for, the berries, was lost in the heat.This is another jam that Keepitcoming tried as a gift from Dr. D back in November. It’s a saucy spicy jalapeno pepper jam grown by one of Dr. D’s friends and made into jam by her students. Her company is called We Be Jammin’ and makes excellent jam. This particular pepper was looser than most jams, but was very, very spicy and soaked into the toast and other breads we used, with a sweet brown sugar flavor and a substantial spice.

THE BREAKDOWN
Pain is Good Jalapeno Wasabi: 2
Nando’s Mild Lemon: 0
Benito’s Habanero Syrup: 10
Chili Dawg’s Strawbanero: 7
Carrefour Coings and Pepper: 8
Buen Apetito Blueberry: 5
We Be Jammin’ Hot Pepper Jam: 9

Clearly, Benito’s syrup was the tastiest unique product I tried tonight. I feel like it’s both versatile and exciting and my only qualm is that it comes in a tiny bottle when it seems as though it could be useful for so many foods. This is also the case with We Be Jammin’- another condiment that has that universal usage. Both sauces were well balanced with spice and sweet, and weren’t overwhelming in one way or another. Excellent!

SPICY WEEK PART 0.5: The Appetizer (Brunswick Buffalo Style Chicken Salad with Crackers)

It is officially Spicy Week 2011! Well, sort of. It would be the kick-off to Spicy Week 2011 had I not forgotten to take the first round of photos off Keepitcoming’s camera…but in lieu of that, I present you with an appetizer. A free appetizer. That’s right- Spicy Week is so intense that it puts eight days in a week. Just like The Beatles but better.There’s a serious desperation at the Dollar Store. It’s like an animal shelter where all the ugly ones get shot by a firing squad. All the products that nobody wants are begging to be taken home- Albert’s Nut House sliced almonds, Paula Deen’s cupcake mixes, and…this. God damn it. Of course I was suckered in. Somehow, every Spring, this blog drives me to eating some form of canned meat. Motherfucker.
Everything about this product screams insecurity. From the clip-art flames on the front of the box, proclaiming “HOT!” to the side arrows that beg me to open the box “NOW!” I can’t help but feel a little rushed. I want my Brunswick snack thing to ease me into this process. Light a few candles. Maybe pop in a Blu-Ray of Couples Retreat and let its hands wander. But not this. Tonight, Brunswick went Dutch for a small pizza and fingered me in the back of his mom’s station wagon. I feel a little dirty and I haven’t even gone all the way yet.Opening the box, everything inside is sterile, as though in preparation for the potential carnage yet to come. It comes with a strange non-spoon, spoon-shaped knife object that confuses me. It’s really more of a crude spade. And then…the chicken. I open it away from me like a grenade. Immediately, its smell permeates the entire room. If my cat liked hot wings, this would be something I’d feed her. It smells and looks like something I’d find in the cat food section, and I’m hard pressed to not believe that I haven’t accidentally switched cans of something.I ate it. This isn’t quite Buffalo. More like a bad area of Detroit. The first and only bite tasted mainly of sauce, despite having an ample number of florescent celery chunks. And the sauce tasted like a mid-range Sloppy Joe sauce, with a sweet tomato flavor, and a horrible, vinegary kick at the end. I cleared my throat multiple times. The chicken might not have actually been chicken. It could have been chunks of congealed mayonnaise. The sauce masked everything, cracker included, and is causing a small, burning meteor to form in my gastrointestinal tract. Five minutes later, there’s a strange metallic taste in my mouth and I vaguely wonder if my throat is bleeding. Buffalo chicken salad sounds like an excellent concept- chicken salad is great, buffalo chicken is better. But this is just shameful.