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Tuesday 29 January 2013

Review - HellFire Hot Sauce First Blood

I have been following with lot of interest the evolution of HellFire during the last months, it has been an exemple of creativity with their really nice art bottle reserves whose a lot of them are masterpieces of art.
From the company's, products names and art bottles style HellFire takes us to a trip in a devilish universe where the hot sauces are at the same time brutal and subtle mixes of superhot peppers and other ingredients.
Put on a metal CD, this is the first review of a hot sauce from HellFire: First Blood.

Bhut Jolokia, 7 Pot, Naga Morich, Moruga & Trinidad Scorpion, Chocolate Habanero, 7 Pot Douglah, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Lemon, Garlic, Vinegar, Salt and Spices.

HellFire First Blood 1

Label: 6/10
This design unlike the others from HellFire is very basic, a two colors red and white one with an effect of blood dripping on the label, the brand logo on top with its usual font, in red and yellow with a slight 3D effect. Nothing more really special to say about the design.
The ingredient list is clear, the nutrition facts is a bit small, I suppose no allergic ingredients around or that may have been used in the kitchen as it's not mentionned.
However I didn't find a best before date, neither written on the label nor on a sticker on the bottom of the bottle.
Annoying details: the printing, ink quality and paper, all this need to be improved. In case of humidity on the bottle from the fridge, the temperature change or any trace of water on your fingers will make the ink fade in your hands and discolor/ "damage" the label quality, which is a pity.

HellFire First Blood 2

Sauce Appearance: 7/10
- From the outside: appearance of a semi-liquid sauce well blended but not completely, with a presence of seeds.
- Consistency (poured in a cup): the sauce is of a dark orangeish/red colour with a good hability to stick on the food, not too runny, a consistence close to a purée with an hability to run easilty however.
Presence of small bits of tomato and pepper skin and a little bit of tiny particles of powder from the spices and maybe from the garlic in powder(?).

HellFire First Blood 3

Aromas: 8/10
- From the bottleneck: Firstly it smells something that made me remember the oriental Harissa that I enjoy to eat and cook too. This aroma made me think that there's probably some cumin inside or another spice close to it such as carraway.
Then no doubt we have inside some warriors from the superhot team, it's easy to smell the aromas of great chinense gunners!
- From the cup: having poured it before this step has allowed the sauce to breath at ambient temp and develop its aromas at their best level possible.
The aromas guessed from the bottle neck are confirmed, but a vinegary aroma is a bit more present maybe because of its volatility.

Taste: 8/10
- Alone: I just used a tiny teaspoon: Wow!!! I got overwhelmed with different flavours from the superhot peppers, I found that especially a flavour of naga (Bhut Jolokia & Naga Morich) was standing out of the lot, maybe the percent of Bhut in the mix is higher than the others but this is just a guess.
Then you can feel a nice taste of tomato with a final note of lemon; I was expecting to get those flavours from the spices that I have been guessing from the aromas but actually my tongue was a bit anesthetized by the heat!
Some minutes later, what keeps running in my mouth is the flavour of the whole blend, something really chinense but not so carribean as it would be from the Trinidad and Moruga Scorpions, I think there is a kind of flavour more bhut-ish.
- With food: From what I have been hearing around, something needs to be explained: what a blend of superhot peppers can bring to a sauce? For this I am going to be 'the extreme heat preacher' and bring some true facts.
Firstly superhot peppers are not only super hot, they also have different flavours (for example, floral notes of a Bhut Jolokia vs Carribean "tropical fruity" notes of a Trinidad Scorpion, even if the flavours are subjective facts they are anyway different in different superhot peppers).
But just blending superhots doesn't make it all, there is also the talent and art to mix them together and add the right slight touch of spices to make it a pretty nice blend.
The positionning of this sauce is clear, it has a profile of a sauce dominated by the flavours from the peppers, and after having tasted First Blood with some Guacamole, Thai style salmon carpaccio and some grilled lamb chops I can say that the result is a success.
Every time that it has been used in these recipes, the sauce has brung a very high heat level and the flavours from the peppers were perceptible.
Mixing different superhot peppers together is like mixing different flavours and aromas together: it creates a whole new blend of fragrances with a new taste.
Finally the sauce has worked really well with the lamb chops as it has some kind of oriental flavours with a something like cumin doing really well with lamb.
The whole blend is well balanced and there is no special tartness from the vinegar.

HellFire First Blood 4HellFire First Blood 5

Heat: 10/10
If you do a quick tasting, the heat doesn't last very long, it's more like a sudden "bang" and you're wondering if you'll get hiccups or not -surprinsingly I didn't have any-, my tongue was really on fire, but not during too long time, my lips were tingling a bit too.

Used with food this is something really different, until you keep on eating your food there is a very high heat that you try to manage and you could think that finally your journey in the HellFire is safe even if it's very tough...but when you finished your plate: Big Mistake!!! What you were feeling before was just a preview of what was awaiting for you, the Army of the Capsaicin Darkness suddenly wakes up to open fire in your body, the level of heat bursts and keeps increasing: this is the price to pay for your foolhardiness!

Recommended use:
This sauce is very versatile, you can use it in any dish that you want to bring some heat and flavours from the superhot peppers that the sauce is made with.
As guessed and tried it works really well with grilled meat especially lamb, but it is surely great also with pork and chicken.
This would be great to use it instead of Harissa in some oriental recipes such as Couscous or Tajine, but also in the Indian cuisine this could be interesting to use it to power up some curries.
In any case, just use it in anything you want, but be careful with the amount that you use!

Overall impression:
Rating 4
This is indeed a sauce dominated by the flavours from the peppers, giving it this kind of profile.
A sauce like that is a challenge in itself to bring as much heat as flavours and aromas, that is why I would recommend to any people who like this kind of hot sauce to try it, as well as people having any doubt about what has been said before.
This is a perfect example of an all natural hot sauce, there are all the natural flavours and aromas from the superhot peppers instead of a nasty taste of extract usually simply used to bring a huge heat level!
For my first try of a HellFire hot sauce, I can say that the promise made from the spirit of their products is really true, I really feel that it is a trip into the mouth of hell and that this is definitely a product not for the timid!

You can find more informations about HellFire Hot sauce's products here:

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Thursday 17 January 2013

Fire Chillies: a new hot sauce review process

It has been a while now that I have been thinking that hot sauces should be reviewed in a different way at Fire Chillies. At least in a different order of the different angles to approach the product.
This should be based on the wine tasting model and adapted as a hot sauce tasting "private" model, as the product is of course different from wine but share many similar points in its conception as a gourmet product.

It's all about a knowledge to blend the flavours of aromas just like a wine, and the same way that a music sheet with the correct notes and tonic chords can make it a symphony: it's an art, and as you will all agree that we can find some musicality in some hot sauces, the best of them can make you feel the vibrations of a stringed instrument.

Other similar point which is making hot sauce close to wine in terms of analyze, is very basic and eye-catching: the fact that they are both a bottle with a label and its liquid inside is a mystery until you have opened and tasted it, to say shortly.
Without going too far in the merging of wine and hot sauces, their quality both depend on the same kind of elements such as the quality of the ingredients used to make it and their dosage (dried or fresh hot peppers, spices, herbs, plants, fruits, vinegar,...) way of cooking/processing/producing it, financial and personal investment, love and experience, tests and tastes, suggested used (such as red or white wine, different sauces can not be used the same way), and many other criterias...

Going back to the hot sauce review model, as it should be based on the wine tasting model it should follow the 3 steps Eyes>Nose>Mouth but adaptated, as we usually like to watch a hot sauce bottle, admire the artwork on the label, see the consistency of the sauce and once opened...we smell it right from the bottle neck (whereas for the wine the first thing that we smell is the cork!) to get some bits of aromas which will give a few ideas about it, but just a few as the best way to get plenty of the sauce's aromas is to let the sauce breath at ambient temperature in a recipient during some minutes then analyze its aromas.
We taste a hot sauce in a different way as we taste a wine, but we can adapt the wine tasting process to the hot sauce as we will see below, in order to be organized and doing it with coherence.

From now the review will be presented the same way and in the same order as the product is reviewed in real time, in order to have some logic in the new process and not going there and going back.
Here are some ideas about it, giving the main details.

Cup Sauce

  1. I) Outside and Inside

1) Outside (Eyes)

Label: Grade/10
Analyze of the label in terms of: content written (important indications such as volume, ingredient list, best before dates, nutrition values, allergies,...), artwork quality and positioning (scary, funny, ethnic,...), heat level indications, colors, paper and ink quality...

Sauce Appearance: Grade/10

  • from the outside: how the sauce seems to be when you look at what its texture looks like inside the bottle
  • consistency (poured in a cup): this will confirm or counter the preview we had from the outside and what was suggested.

2) Inside (Nose, Mouth)

Aromas: Grade/10

  • from the bottleneck: just an idea about the aromas as they are not at their full potential as some aromas such as a vinagary one can be stronger than others because of its volatile chemical, which could alter the judgment .
  • from the cup: having poured it before this step has allowed the sauce to breath at ambient temperature and develop its full aromas, condition to judge it the best way. Such as the whole review, the product has to be evaluated on the basis of a process that is fair and equitable.

Taste: Grade/10

  • Alone: the best way to get the different flavours from the hot peppers, spices, vinegar, and all the other ingredients comparing what is written on the ingredients list on the label. Step done to describe the flavours that we feel, and also check the equilibrium as well as the other strenghts and weaknesses, and get some ideas for the recommended uses.
  • With food: The food used to taste it may have been suggested by the manufacturer, it can also be some food that we think could go well with it (as the sauce has just been tasted by itself and we have some ideas at this point) or some kind of neutral food to just test its hability mixed with some food.

  1. II) Heat analyze, Recommended Use and Overall Impression

Heat: Grade/10
With the best objectivity possible and compared with the other products available on the market (identical or different -stronger/weaker) this step's aim is to rate the heat level. It can be compared with what is written on the label and/or how hot it is supposed to be.

Recommended use:
Comparing the suggested uses and giving some ideas about how the product would be best used with to make it shine.

Overall impression:
From now for the overall impression is used the "5 Hot Peppers" rating, giving a mark for the whole product including everything.

This is the base of how the reviews will be done from now on Fire Chillies, the process and this article may be subject to changes for adjustement and optimization. This may evolve but the basis should stay the same unless the scheme would not be working well.

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