Need some hot stuff? Try sauces available downtown
Do you find that Tabasco has lost its teeth?
Hot sauce enthusiasts can find no shortage of fiery alternatives in downtown Red Deer.
From “Colon Cleaner” and “Sphincter Shrinker” at Sunworks, “Acid Rain” at Housewarmings and “Death Sauce” at Country Cupboard, the options are many and varied.
The most expansive collection resides at Sunworks, where owners Paul Harris and Terry Warke maintain a Hot Sauce Room with more than 100 products on display. These range from the respectable-sounding “Three Pepper Lemon Hot Sauce” and the “Dave’s” line of sauces (“Insanity,” “Total Insanity” and “Ultimate Insanity,”) to items with names too obscene to publish.
Men, it turns out, account for most of the sales.
“The guys come in here looking for the hottest sauce they can possibly get, to burn their friends up with — or to prove that they’re a man,” said Harris with a chuckle.
Women who pass beneath the red flamed archway that separates Sunworks’ Hot Sauce Room from the rest of the store are often shopping for men, he added.
Housewarmings’ owner Catherine Robb sees a similar trend in her shop.
“It’s either females buying for men or men coming in and buying it for themselves,” she said.
Harris said the idea for a Hot Sauce Room came from a specialty store he and Warke saw in Seattle. Some of the products Sunworks now carries can be found in local grocery stores, he acknowledged.
“But never the really, really hot ones.”
A good example is “Pure Cap.” Made from capsaicin and 100 times hotter than jalapeno peppers, it comes double-packaged with printed warnings.
“It’s so hot you have to handle it with gloves,” said Harris. “You put like one drop in an entire pot of chili.”
Housewarmings’ most potent offering is “Pure Canadian Crude,” which ranks right up there with Pure Cap.
People who complain about hot sauces not being extreme enough for their taste, never do so after sampling Pure Canadian Crude, observed Robb.
At Country Cupboard, customers will find a sauce continuum that extends from “hot” to “extremely hot,” said Cathy Edwards, who owns the store with her husband Don.
They carry the “Blair’s” line of sauces, which offers such choices as “Pure Death,” “Sudden Death,” “Mega Death,” “Ultra Death,” “After Death” and “Beyond Death.”
Harris said a number of cooks and chefs come to Sunworks for hot seasonings.
One local restaurant that isn’t afraid to turn up the heat is Cities Gastro Pub, which operates in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake and has a “Ghost Pepper Wings Challenge.” Customers able to eat a pound of the sizzling hot wings in 10 minutes receive the order for free and get their photo on a wall of fame, said co-owner Dwayne Gauthier.
It’s no easy task, with the wings seasoned with a mixture of ghost, or Bhut Jolokia pepper (once considered the hottest pepper in the world, said Gauthier), habanero chili pepper, cinnamon and lemon juice. Those who attempt the feat are even required to sign a waiver.
So far, about 25 have succeeded, said Gauthier, including some hot food enthusiasts who travelled from as far as Edmonton and Calgary.
“They’ve got rubber gloves that they pull out.”
Gauthier said he could make his ghost pepper wings even hotter, but doesn’t want to go overboard. He also wants to maintain some flavour.
“Some people will make a hot sauce that doesn’t taste like hot sauce anymore. It tastes like engine oil.”
Advocate food columnist Madhu Badoni said her family is addicted to hot sauces. She uses them to add a bit of zing to a variety of dishes, and even to increase the punch of condiments.
Badoni noted, however, that she recently scored poorly in a test of how well she can discriminate between flavours — something she attributes to years of eating spicy foods and curries.
“I can, of course, revive my sense of taste if I give all spicy food for two months,” she noted. “I am pondering this . . . .”