A while back, I spent a very drunk week in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the most famous street of them all… Beale, no wait… Bourbon. I didn’t actually drink anything with bourbon in it, mostly because my drinking itinerary was filled up with Hand Grenades, Hurricanes and of course, Abita’s fine line of beers, namely Turbo Dog.
I managed to stay away from the tourist traps and out of the souvenir shops with the exception of Marie Laveau’s “Don’t touch the alter or you’ll drop dead” headshop disguised as an attraction, having my photo taken with a rather large Hand Grenade man in a costume suffering from heat exhaustion, and the beer bar that lures you in with dollar beers and has a gift shop in the back.
It was here that I picked up a 4-pack of Tabasco sauce. Not like I’ve never had Tabasco sauce before, but it was a “family” of hot sauces that Tabasco makes. It was the only thing that I bought on Bourbon St. that week that didn’t have alcohol in it. Hmmm… note to self, make hot sauce with alcohol in it.
The family consists of Green Pepper Sauce, Garlic Pepper Sauce, Habanero Pepper Sauce and a bottle of their Original Pepper Sauce. Turns out that great Tabasco heat comes in a variety of flavors. The Green’s been around for a while, but only available in selected southern states, if not in Louisiana only. The other two members of the family from Avery Island are newer.
Some readers may already be familiar with the history of the McIlhenny Company, founded in 1868 by Edmund “Mr. Ned” McIlhenny. He received a patent for his unique blend of pepper sauces in 1870 that included a rare tabasco plants’ offspring that managed to survive the Civil War, and has been brewing the stuff in the same still since then. At 160 years old, he is living proof that this elixir he calls Tabasco is good for what ails you.
So… prepared with a hot pack of sauce, me and several other Belly Buddies sat down at an unavoidably bland meal one night while away at a bed & breakfast/cheap weekend resort-of-sorts where we join a rather large group of friends every year.
First up, Tabasco Green, the mild little brother of the Original Tabasco Sauce. Sprinkled lightly on our salads, this tangy flavor added quite a bit of zing to our bowl of lettuce and tomato that had already been soaked in an excess of watery Italian dressing. Normally unsalvageable, Green saved the greens and didn’t blow away our heat receptors with too much jalapeno, quite possibly knowing that we’d also be heating up the next course.
Along side the main course, we used the Garlic Pepper Tabasco on our pasta. The Garlic Pepper is truth in packaging, adding to garlic the pepper heat you would expect. Smoother than the Original- with cayenne pepper, oak-aged tabasco pepper and mellow red jalapeno pepper, the sauce comes through for us, rescuing the pasta we normally have to smother in Parmesan cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that). While reading the label, we all agreed that this would be great on pizza and went on to prove it at a later date. Garlic lovers revel and bask in its deep orange glory.
On the un-marinaded London broil that we normally salt up and pepper down with the table shakers, we seasoned with the Habanero Pepper Sauce. Considered the hottest of the peppers, the habanero hits the Scoville scale at around 200,000 and can make your eyes water like a little girl who can’t find her dolly. Not that we’d ever notice this, but the habanero in this sauce is blended with mango, papayas, tamarind, banana, ginger and ground black pepper. All we really commented was that it was pretty hot with a bit of a fruity flavor hidden in the back somewhere. It definitely helped this meat, but I wouldn’t necessarily put it on a burger because I prefer something milder on my cowpuck. On the other hand, I would use something hotter and less fruity in chili. Each sauce has it’s own place in my palette.
As for the Original Tabasco– having nothing left to put it on and having tried it thousands of times on all sorts of things, we dotted some behind our ears and headed out to find the girls that may have been attracted to such a scent.
No such luck.
Check out the Tabasco® online store where you can get a 4-pack of Tabasco® to go and hundreds of cool (sorry, I mean hot) Tabasco® branded products.
UPDATE: The family has grown to include a Sweet & Spicy Tabasco sauce which they say is perfect for dipping your favorite finger foods-everything from egg rolls to chicken tenders to French fries! A dipping Tabasco! Will wonders never cease.