Spicy Italian Salsa

Hello everyone, please welcome Simpson’s Seeds back to the stage. Without the accent of their last appearance but all the same lacklustre labelling:

arrowhead

Today’s bottle is clad again in plain paper, with nothing but black text printed on it. And, as you can see, you can’t even read it all from one angle.

It’s a problem that we saw before with The Unusual Chutney Company’s Fiendfyre but that sauce at least had art. The only thing this one has going for it, visually, is a gold trim to its shrink wrap.

Here’s the thing, though: I got this sauce from Reading Chilli Fest. I tasted it before I bought it. I know its looks aren’t representative of what’s inside this “Arrowhead Salsa”.

And, while its slight, ketchup-like stickiness makes it a little hard to get started, once this sauce begins to flow, it comes out fast and looks a good deal better on my spoon than its packaging would suggest.

arrowspoon

It’s a pleasing shade of orangey-red with a few seeds and shreds of black and purer red, the chillies and black pepper lending a good bit of body to the product’s texture.

Unfortunately, for me at least, some of the black pepper pieces have ground up finer than others and also given it a powdery feel but I do appreciate their flavour in here.

Yet, before we delve into the taste more thoroughly, there’s one last thing that bothers me about the packaging. The ingredients list:

Tomatoes, Onions, Red Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Habanero ‘Wessex Arrowhead’ Chillies (10%), Peaches, Lemon Juice, Salt, Black Pepper and mixed herbs.

The chilli found therein is one that the makers call “Habanero Wessex Arrowhead”, the namesake ingredient of their salsa.

I know next to nothing about this pepper, if I’m honest, and research turns up very little. From my talk with the stallholder, however, I did manage to pick up one important detail: It’s not a habanero.

Habanero is simply a name that Simpson’s Seeds, the makers of this product and growers of many of its ingredients, apply to almost all chinense type peppers.

If it’s not a scotch bonnet or a naga, they’ll list it as a type of habanero, even taking the place of important words such as the “scorpion” in the moruga scorpion (now the “habanero moruga”) or the actual family of the 7-pot lucy (now the “habanero lucy”).

They say that this is because it’s difficult to explain what being a chinense type chilli means to their customers but, even if that is the case, a little more simplicity is no excuse for removing important information in favour of something that I’d say is rather misleading.

And, as a result, I’ll be doing a thursday piece on the common chilli types as soon as I can.

In the mean time, though, perhaps we should go back to looking at today’s item.

The Arrowhead Salsa is sweet yet tangy, with a clear tomato, onion and red wine vinegar base. Its chillies make themselves known with a warming

3.5/10

Heat

and a slightly more savoury, red pepper taste that fits beautifully into that body. But then there’s also the black pepper and what seems to be an italian-style blend of herbs, since it’s providing an almost bolognaise element.

The lemon juice and peaches, on the other hand, really don’t stand out to me but I still suspect that they’re doing a lot to support the fruity, tangy, tomato-heavy base that prompts Simpson’s Seeds to call it a salsa.

Me, though. I’d say it’s somewhere between that and the kind of sauce I’d add to my pasta. I probably wouldn’t dip my tortilla chips into it but it’ll still go just as well in a taco, say, as over spaghetti. A delicious mexican/italian fusion.

And the fact that it’s a sensible level of “hot”, not anything super, makes it nice and accessible. Though still a way off mild.

I may not like the packaging or the way the company names its chillies but the sauce itself is definitely a good one and that’s what really counts.

One thought on “Spicy Italian Salsa

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