Happy tuesday, heat eaters, I’m back from Reading Chilli Festival. In the coming months, there’ll be all sorts of wondrous new things featured here but today it’s time for something a little less new.
Something just as exciting, mind you. It’s my favourite of the Screaming Chimp’s product samples.
Last time we heard from them we took a look at their hottest “Stinger” sauce but this week we’re going back down to the very bottom of their heat scale to try out Vic’s Ol’ Smokey. A sauce that uses smoked paprika, instead of chillies, for its flavour but does back it up with bird’s eye heat.
Not much of the bird’s eye heat, though, if the rating on the label is to be believed, since this is the only sauce they’ve rated as low as one chilli and its percentage content is a mere 0.7.
The change to a purple-brown boarder and backing to the name is the only other thing that sets this one apart visually from its range but, as always, we see the chimp take centre stage amidst the parchment-like background to make the Screaming Chimp range stand out against its competitors.
It does what it does well but it could, in my opinion, do a little more to show off its smokey flavour.
And what a flavour it has!
As I pour the thick, gloopy sauce onto my spoon, I can already smell some aspects of it but, when Ol’ Smokey hits my tongue, the taste is far more well rounded than its scent.
The same simmered tomato base is present here as in most of their others, providing fruity tones that combine well with the white wine vinegar but the uniquely peppery, smoked flavour of the paprika builds onto this exquisitely, despite its low content. And, in addition to the smoke, we have both garam massala and cloves to add sweet, rich and aromatic spice flavours to the mix, the cinnamon in the former particularly coming through here.
Smokey sauces are usually either savoury or barbecue style and sticky with molasses. I’ve not come across one that uses a blend of sweet spices to compliment the smoke before and I really like the way it comes together.
With a measly
in the middle of the tongue, slowly reaching back into the throat, this sauce isn’t hot. And nor does it posses any obvious chilli flavour. But that’s not what it’s about.
No, this mild sauce is all about working with the taste of smoked paprika as though that was your chilli. Something I don’t think any other sauce does.
And, surprisingly, I love it.
Not every new idea works out well but this, this blends flavours skillfully to make something more than just the sum of its parts, whilst simultaneously keeping the paprika the star of the show.
I can’t say what I would do with it as it’s quite unique and I haven’t had chance to try it on food. I do know, however, that, were it mine to keep, this product would be gone very quickly.