Happy tuesday again, everyone! This week, I’ve got another set of freebies from Tom’s Curious Sauces and one of them’s an old favourite of mine:
The blueberry and ghost pepper “Purple Pain” that I tried in 📽️one of last year’s christmas videos📽️. Now wrapped in a fresh new label to further emphasise its connection to the artist known as “Prince”.
But what are those behind it? A couple of christmas specials perhaps?
I can’t say for sure but that Cranberry certainly does sound seasonal and the Angry Ass has the appearance of a tacky gift sauce. Though, knowing Tom, I suspect that both will taste a lot better than the bargain bin products which his Ass resembles.
Yes, I have high hopes for this new pair and I’m really rather excited to test them out. Yet I’m also just as eager to see what the Purple Pain is like when I’m not all frazzled from a vile extract item.
Will it still be as delicious and mild as I remember?
All three of today’s sauces have high bar to live up to, so let’s get to the review.
First up, since its pepper is still the mildest, we’re going to look at that Purple Pain. Tom’s Prince-themed product.
Rendered in simple blocks of black, white, purple and brown, the singer’s likeness takes centre stage on the new label of the sauce. Paler purple action lines radiating out to signify his stardom and the name, up top, written in the actual Purple Rain font.
Nothing here says “blueberry”, “ghost pepper”, “fruit” or even “spice” but there is absolutely no mistaking just how bold and purple Tom’s sauce promises to be. Nor, for anyone familiar with Prince’s work, how smooth yet funky.
The packaging definitely doesn’t say everything – At least, not on the front – but it’s certainly striking and to the point, in its own way. And the impression that it gives, combined with my knowledge of its key ingredients, offers a rather more accurate indication of what the sauce is like than Tom’s own description.
When I fill up my spoon with the thin, yet lightly textured, contents of the bottle, it’s not fresh and fruity, sweet heat that I smell.
No, this sauce is richer, darker and even slightly vegetable, on the nose. Its scent highlights the more savoury side of blueberries, which comes out with a long, slow, sugarless reduction and resembles the umami richness of roasted tomatoes.
But it also carries some other notes that I don’t remember. Ones which, while appropriately funky, do worry me somewhat. Because they suggest that the ghost peppers in this sauce will carry the same pungently peppery flavour from his other ghost one.
I definitely didn’t taste that in the previous batch of Purple Pain but it’s here today.
When I raise the spoon to my lips, I can certainly tell that the two sauces use the same peppers. Yet this one uses them in a lesser quantity, allowing that more savoury than sweet, rich, cooked down blueberry flavour to come through first.
And it’s not just the peppery funk that I get from Tom’s ghosts here, either. Their deep, red chilli taste complements the dark, savoury fruit ever so well, as well.
So, while I do think that I preferred the less funky batch, from before, this one is still one of the best blueberry sauces that I’ve ever had. A delightfully decadent
addition to con carne, stir-fry and meats of all kinds, with a slow enough burn that its flavour is oh so easy to get lost in.
This bottle isn’t going to last me long but, while it does, it’s going to be my new go to burger sauce, for sure!
Yet that’s only one of today’s features. So let’s see if he’s done as good a job with his Cranberry.
It’s not as unique in appearance, featuring only a magenta version of Tom’s normal labels and none of the metallic highlights that we saw in my last review. But that might just imply that this sauce is set to be a part of his main range.
And, whether it is or not, Tom’s told me that it’s based upon the Purple Pain recipe. Simply swapping out the blueberries and ghosts for cranberries and scorpions.
Which sounds good but that’s going to make a very different product because cranberries just don’t cook down the same way. They don’t produce that same, rich and savoury flavour.
So what is this one actually going to taste like?
The aroma, when it pours, is of little help. A strange muddle of sweet, savoury, light, deep, peppery, orangey, red berries and even something almost artificial which, upon inspecting the ingredients list, appears to be vanilla extract.
It’s a confusing mishmash of contrasting qualities but it does make one thing clear: It tells us that this is not your normal cranberry sauce. It’s not a borderline jam.
What this sauce actually is, when it comes to tasting, is a true celebration of the fruit. A cranberry-based sauce that’s sweetened only enough to keep the bitterness at bay and which uses one of the world’s hottest chillies more to support its tang than for the
that it provides.
Which may sound crazy but it’s crazy how well it works. The blood orange-like notes of the trinidad scorpion pair wonderfully with the natural tartness upfront and, when they trail away into something drier, more peppery and slightly savoury, the cranberry transitions, too. Going from sweet, yet slightly sour, to a more cloying, almost waxy finish.
And I know what you’re thinking. That sounds gross. But it’s not.
Paired with the vanilla flavouring, that end note is bizarrely enjoyable and oh so reminiscent of candy lips. That same waxy, fake cherry taste, somehow recreated rather more naturally and, once again, without all of the usual sugar.
I have never tasted anything like it in a sauce before but it makes for a delightful end to an already rather different take on a cranberry condiment.
A condiment that won’t be competing with the gravy to cover my spuds, this christmas, but will absolutely find its way over the turkey and stuffing. And, if there’s any left in the new year, you just know that it’s going over chicken, salmon and maybe even mackerel, too.
But those are all places where I’d consider using a normal cranberry sauce. This one, being only mildly sweet, can work its way into plenty of other dishes, as well. Like over quiche or cheese tarts, or in my superhot shakshuka, where the flavour of the scorpion pepper can shine through a little more.
I’d definitely recommend this cranberry hot sauce as a stocking filler for anyone who likes a serious burn but it’s going to be just as good out of season.
Unlike today’s third product which, to be honest, is pretty crap.
Tom’s Angry Ass bears a striking similarity to the american “Ass Kickin’” brand in both name and appearance. Similarly featuring a donkey, looking back at the viewer and performing a double back-kick, as the sole focus of its art.
And, while the three shades of orange flames in the background do set it apart, somewhat, the use of ultra-heavy double outlining on a similar (albeit not identical) bold font for the name really makes the connection seem intentional. Though why Tom would be pretending to be part of Southwest Speciality Food Inc.’s novelty chilli line is beyond me.
However, it isn’t that that upsets me about this sauce. It’s the taste.
Even as I crack the wax, the peppery, yet chemical scent of extract starts wafting out and it’s no better when it reaches my mouth. It has a dry, earthy, peppery bitterness which overwhelms almost all of the more natural ingredients and a sharp, stinging
that barely graces the tongue but absolutely savages the back of my throat.
If you want to ruin someone’s day, the Angry Ass will help you do it but, if you’re a half decent human being, there is absolutely no reason for you to buy this sauce.
There are plenty of super hot, natural sauces out there and even some hotter extract ones which actually taste pleasant. You don’t need to suffer through the awful, slightly tomato-tinged, extract flavour of this product to get that extract-level burn.
So give the Purple Pain and Cranberry a go and do check out my overview of Tom’s other sauces but please, do yourself a favour and give his Angry Ass a miss.
Here’s what goes into it:
ghost chilli, tomato passata, water, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, 1 million SHU chilli extract.
here’s what makes the Purple Pain:
blueberries, orange juice, water, lime juice, ghost peppers, sugar, onion, apple cider vinegar.
And here’s the list for the Cranberry, which just might be my new favourite of the bunch:
cranberries, orange juice, water, lime juice, sugar, scorpion peppers, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract.
If you’re interested in either of those natural sauces, you can find more about their ghost and scorpion peppers on my respective encyclopedia pages and more about the products, themselves, on Tom’s own website. Now linked in my sidebar.
That’s all from me for today, folks. It’s been a long one but we’ve seen at least a couple of very good sauces.