Once again Jeff and I made the trek out for the hot sauce festival. This year was the 17th Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. We've been a couple of times, and there have been good years and bad years. One year it seemed like everyone had brought a peach pico salsa, and nothing had any heat. This was a well balanced year I think, and there was a lot of nice pepper heat. (The sun heat I could have done without, but it's August so what can you do?)
We almost missed out this year, because although I'd been wondering when the festival was going to happen I hadn't heard any press about it. Luckily I got an email from Matt's El Rancho that they would be there and that tipped me off. Still, I'm a bit of a homebody and finding out about an even the night before usually means that I don't go. I think the little bat mascot won us over. I mean, he's so cute and he's got a flaming pepper. It was worth the trouble.
In case you're interested, here's what we bought today. As always we enjoyed the Winston's Hot Pepper Sauce (hot), so we picked up another bottle. I'm pretty sure that the last time we got mild, but Jeff called me a pussy or something, so we got the hot this time. This stuff has tons of uses, Jeff likes it on hot wings, and I like it in deviled eggs. A new one for us was Big Daddy's Amplified Heat Mean Smokin' Green Hot Sauce. This Houston company has the slogan of "Hell Goin' In, Hell Goin' Out"and quite the interesting art to depict it. The green sauce has a nice smokey jalapeno flavor and makes me wish more green salsas in restaurants were made with smoked jalapeno instead of nasty little tomatillos. Our third purchase was from Austin Slow Burn. We settled on Habanero Jelly because I had tasted so many good jams and jellies that I needed at least one. This was the one that Jeff and I liked best of the ones with heat. I tasted lots of sweet stuff from other vendors, but I was determined only to purchase spicy stuff today.
I really didn't taste any salsas that I thought were very good this year. There were a few that we okay, or interesting, but nothing that really stood out. I think I'm just really really particular about salsa, so it's hard for anyone to compete.
Other places that we stopped at and found tasty enough to grab a card from: The Peruvian Hot Pepper Sauce from Rancho Bravo. It had a nice spice, but just didn't place high enough on our taste trip to be purchased today. Then there was the Crazy Cranberry from Beanie's Home Made Salsa. There was a nice cinnamon in with the cranberry, it was a liquid kind of sauce, but I just wasn't sure what to do with it so we passed. We had fun eating some salt over at the Spiceburst table. I don't know that I'll ever actually buy any of their salt mixtures, but they are good. It always a nice palate cleanser at the hot sauce event to get a bit of salt on some cucumber. Then I almost lost my resolve at Meier Ranch Foods. I know I vowed only to purchase spicy foods, but the Amaretto Peach Pecan jelly/jam whatever was AWESOME. I swear I could have just eaten that stuff with a spoon. I may end up ordering some online, we'll just have to see.