Hey there heat eaters, I’m still working my way through 2017’s backlog of reviews so I’m sorry if I come off as a bit of a broken record with regards to Reading.
It was a great festival with searing heat, in more ways than one to tell the truth, but I survived the summer sun and made it back with some awesome finds. Perhaps even a few too many.
Yet, while they all stood out to me in one way or another, Dorset Meadows, from the chilli shop of the same location, stood out more than most.
For a start, it was wrapped in a smooth foil label that really caught the sunlight on their stall but, beyond that, it also has some pretty unusual ingredients:
Kiwi 63%, Water, Palm Sugar, Lime Juice, Garlic, Ginger, Thai Birds Eye Chillies 2.5%, Salt.
An interesting mix of fruit and garlic with some drier flavoured chillies and a sugar that has more taste to it than most. Besides the kiwi, it looks almost like part of a curry.
But there’s no way you can forget that fruit, with this sauce being as thick, pulpy and seed-filled as it is.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised but, digging into my first spoonful, the crunch was a bit of a shock. Not a bad one, mind you. It’s simply that nothing else has a texture quite like it.
Yet it’s not just the unique sensation of its fragile seeds that the kiwi brings to the table. They’re just a byproduct of a sauce made for flavour.
An unexpectedly savoury flavour, as it turns out. One that emphasizes the fruit but pairs it off against the other ingredients to take away its sweetness and give it some real zing instead.
Zing that, it’s worth noting, comes without even the slightest bit of vinegar.
This sauce gets all the acid it needs from the kiwis themselves and a dash of lime but it does also up its impact with fresh ginger and some sharp, throat-stinging bird’s eye chillies.
Chillies that pack a most unexpected punch, clocking in with a respectable lower limit to my
despite their pretty minimal presence.
For a non-chinense type chilli, that’s pretty impressive.
But it’s also fairly manageable, sitting slap bang in the middle of the “hot” segment of my scale and not even getting near the super hot sauces I tend to gravitate towards when I’m off record.
If you enjoy decently hot, you’ll be able to enjoy the Dorset Meadows. Especially if you’re only adding a little to enhance a thai curry, as seems to be its intended purpose.
And I’m not just using savoury as the opposite of sweet when I describe this one.
It certainly isn’t the focus of the sauce but the garlic, chillies and even the kiwi itself, all work together for a definite little bit of actual savoury flavour, the fruit seeming to have been roasted specially.
It’s unique, tasty and packaged in a way that manages to be both eye-catching and understated.
The label holds a wide expanse of mock-parchment background that screams “artisan company”, whilst the yin yang, red and green chillies of Dorset Chilli Shop’s logo are bold enough to convey the fact they’re not the sort to be afraid of fire. That their “medium” and “hot” are liable to actually be what they say.
Then, finally, while they don’t convey the flavour perfectly with its appearance, they do get the colour of their sauce across rather well with all their metallic green text.
Dorset Chilli Shop have done a fantastic job on both the flavour and the design.
Plus, it’s also worth noting that they label it as “gluten free” and “vegan ok” – Something that most sauces are but few manufacturers give any degree of thought to.
I would happily use this sauce on many a thai feast or cheese-based salad and I have no doubt it will go as well with salmon as they suggest. More surprisingly, though, it seemed to go great with an indian balti and I’m sure that there are even more uses I’ve yet to discover.
I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one!