Maui Pepper Co. Hot Sauces


Maui Pepper Co. hot sauces are another great line of products from Tahiti Joes. Like "Joes", these sauces feature unique pairings of fruit with a variety of scorching hot peppers. Each sauce is island inspired with tropical flavors and plenty of heat.

Thanks to Tahiti Joe, I've had a bit of experience with sweet, Polynesian hot sauces. However, I've never tasted anything like the flavor combinations that Maui Pepper Co. has put together. The sauces are the sweetest I've tasted. However, you don't get to enjoy that sweetness long because it's followed up by a wave of heat.

There are currently nine different offerings in the Maui Pepper line. The entire product line is intriguing, but I will focus on two particular sauces for this review. Strawberry Meltdown and Chipotle Raspberry sounded so strange (and delicious) that I had to try them immediately.

The base for nearly every hot sauce that I've encountered has been vinegar and peppers. Strawberry Meltdown completely bucks tradition by using sweetened strawberries as the primary ingredient. They even add honey and apple juice for additional sweetness. So far, it sounds like a dessert syrup that you'd drizzle over ice cream.

I was really surprised by the sauce's sweetness when I first tasted it. I'd never had a hot sauce that was quite so sweet. That initial surprise was followed by slow building burn. The sauce is hot, but not "super hot". Having never actually tasted a strawberry sauce before, I wasn't sure what to use it on. However, I found several potential applications. It's great on things like grilled fish or chicken. Strawberry Meltdown adds a nice bite to fresh salads. It can also be used to add heat to your favorite sweets.....even ice cream.

Chipotle Raspberry is another sweet offering from Maui Pepper Co. Though I didn't find it nearly as sweet as Strawberry Meltdown, it still had a distinct fruit flavor. This sauce uses vinegar, raspberries and mangoes for it's sweet and tangy base. It too, is great for chicken and seafood.

Maui Pepper Co. proves that hot sauces don't have follow a particular set of rules. With creative  and deliciously sweet flavor combinations, these sauces have carved their own niche in the market.

Check out the Maui Pepper and Tahiti Joes' product lines at http://tahitijoeshotsauces.com/

Strawberry Meltdown Rating: (4/5)
Chipotle Raspberry Rating: (3.5/5)

Kyvan Sweet BBQ Sauce


As tailgating grows in popularity, the relationship between football and BBQ becomes even more evident. These days, competition quality Q can be found smoking in stadium parking lots all across the country. Saturday and Sunday afternoons have become showcases for pit masters to both feed and entertain fans before and after the big game.

It's no surprise that football players sometimes get into BBQ as well. Ex Mississippi State standout and 13 year NFL pro, Reggie Kelly, is a prime example. After completing his football career, Reggie transitioned to the food business. Leaning on his Southern roots and love of cooking, Reggie Kelly started Kyvan Soul Food Selections (named after his children, Kyla and Kavan).

Kyvan's product line includes several sauces (BBQ / Wing), spice rubs, salsas and fruit spreads. Since we try to focus primarily on BBQ, Reggie was kind enough to send me some of his Sweet BBQ Sauce to review. Kyvan sauces are packaged in 16 oz. plastic bottles. The color scheme and design is very similar for all of their sauces. The Kyvan logo is featured prominently (front and center) on each bottle. The sauce is a rich, dark brown in the bottle. It's consistency is "syrup like" and pours pretty quickly from the bottle.

The label says "Sweet BBQ Sauce" and that's no lie. The tomato based sauce uses both brown and white sugar, along with HFCS, for a multi layered sweetness. Savory ingredients like onion and garlic are present, but don't quite balance the sweetness. There is also a significant smoke factor that was somewhat unexpected, but very enjoyable.

When tasting the sauce, I also felt like their was a slight Polynesian note to the flavor that I couldn't quite place. Whatever it was, it worked well with the smokiness. As I've said time after time, I'm a sucker for a sweet BBQ sauce. It doesn't get much sweeter than Kyvan's.

My family and I used Sweet BBQ Sauce a number of times as a dip and grilling glaze. It won rave reviews from everyone at the table. It was especially good on baby back ribs. The sauce brushed on smooth and glistened on the ribs as they finished grilling. All those sugars got even richer when heat was applied.

Kyvan's Sweet BBQ Sauce is an excellent compliment to ribs and chicken. It also works well as a dip for chicken fingers / nuggets. When using as a grilling glaze, it's important to be conscious of open flames because of the high sugar content. Sweet sauces will char in a hurry when near an open flame.

Kvan Soul Food Selections can be found in Walmarts and several independent grocers throughout the South East. You can also purchase Sweet BBQ Sauce directly from the source at www.kyvan82.com .

Rating: (4/5)

Willie's Hog Dust


I reviewed Willie's Hog Wash a couple of months ago, but it was actually the rub, Hog Dust, that initially interested me in Willie's products. Hog Dust is a great name for a BBQ rub, especially for a company based in South Carolina where pork is king. It's a product I'd had my eye on for quite some time and was anxious to give it a try. 
 
Blended specifically with pork in mind, Willie's Hog Dust is a sweet and salty mix with a hefty amount of paprika. Onion, garlic and a variety of other spices provide savory accents and balance the flavors. Salt, sugar and paprika are always a solid foundation for a good pork rub. The key, of course, is how skillfully the core ingredients are blended.
 
Hog Dust comes in three varieties: Original, Sweet and Spicy. All three are quality blends with similar base ingredients. I've been using each of them constantly for the last couple of months. I've applied Hog Dust to ribs and pork butts, but I've also used it on everything from burgers to veggies.
 
I've found Willie's Hog Dust to be a versatile product. The sweet and salty blend  has been solid in nearly every situation. My favorite use thus far has been pork ribs. I dusted a couple racks liberally with Hog Dust and smoked them for five hours with aromatic pecan wood. The rub created a delicious mahogany bark that was perfect on the beautiful racks.
 
The salt / sugar ratio in this rub is right on point. I love the caramelization that I get from the sugars, but also the savory flavor provided by the salt and spices. Regardless of what type of meat your grilling or smoking, Willie's Hog Dust will provide ample flavor.
 
It's been quite some time since I've had a rub that I liked as much as Hog Dust. Hot, Sweet or Original, It's all fantastic. It's a product that I would recommend for both home cooks and competitors.
 
Check out Hog Dust and all of Willie's fine products online @ http://willieshogdust.com/
 
Rating: (5/5)
 
 
 


TexJoy Steak Seasoning


Though they new produce a full line of spices and blended seasonings, TexJoy's roots can actually be traced back to a small coffee company founded in 1921. The Texas Coffee Company supplied Beaumont and the surrounding area for years before the TexJoy line of seasonings was born. 

Tex Joy's product line is incredibly vast. In addition to grinding and packaging nearly all the common spices found in your pantry, they also have a variety of steak, BBQ and fajita seasoning blends. These products can now be purchased in retail stores all over the Southern United States. 

The first product I got my hands on was their original steak seasoning. Like all TexJoy products, the Steak Seasoning is packaged with a bright yellow label and their contrasting red label. My sample came in a 5.25 oz. shaker, but most of their seasonings are available in a variety of sizes.  

The first three ingredients listed on the package are salt, garlic and black pepper. As far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty good place to start (and stop) for steak seasoning. It also lists "other spices" and MSG. Oddly, the seasoning primarily orange in color which may provide hints of what the "other spices" are. The spices are finely ground making it difficult to spot the individual elements. 

I've been using this seasoning regularly on everything from steaks to fish and vegetables. It's essentially become my salt replacement and all purpose seasoning. For steaks, I prefer a more coarsely ground seasoning blend. However, it's been pretty tasty on fish and veggies. 

In today's crowded market, TexJoy's Steak Seasoning does little to stand out. I've used the product with moderate success, but it doesn't quite rate as a top shelf option. However, it does work well as a seasoned salt for nearly any application as long as you're not scared off by the inclusion of MSG.

Check out TexJoy's entire line of seasonings, spices and coffee online HERE

Rating: (3/5)

Tahiti Joe's Hot Sauces


Hot sauces can be categorized in a variety of ways. Heat level is the most obvious characteristic. They're also often grouped by pepper type. Additionally, the sauce's origin can generally be traced back to one of three main regions: Mexico, The Caribbean or Asia.

Though countless quality sauces can be found from any of the aforementioned categories, I'm always on the lookout for "outsiders". When I discovered Tahiti Joe's, I was immediately intrigued. Their line of hot pepper sauces runs the complete spectrum of heat levels while the ingredients and flavors have a distinct Polynesian flare.

Despite what their branding and flavors would indicate, Tahiti Joe's is not based in the South Pacific. The sauces are produced in West Palm Beach Florida.  There also appears to be an Ohio connection based on a couple novelty offerings. As a die hard Wolverine, I can't say that I approve of their "Buck U Michigan" offering, but I'll try not to hold that against them.There are currently eleven different sauces in the Tahiti's Joe's lineup plus nine additional sauces in their Maui Pepper line (to be reviewed at a later date).

The eleven Tahiti Joe's sauces range from tongue tingling spicy to hotter than ghost pepper hell. Each one also features sweet, complex Polynesian flavor profiles that make them very unique in the hot sauce market. I won't be able to review EVERY flavor offering, but I'll address a couple of my favorites in this review and circle back to some of their other offerings at a later date.

As with any company that offers multiple products, I like to start with the original product. Every sauce company starts with that original flavor that was just soooo good that they had to bottle it for the masses. For Tahiti Joe's, it was the Polynesian hot sauce.

Polynesian hot sauce blends habenero and jalapeno peppers with vinegar for a spicy, tangy base. Most hot sauces would stop right there, but it's the additional ingredients that separates Polynesian (and all Tahiti Joe's sauces) from the pack. Clam juice, honey, tomatoes, carrots, garlic and parmesan cheese are all crammed into the 5 oz. bottle.

The result is a really complex melody of sweet, savory and spicy flavors. The flavor is so good that the heat takes a back seat. The moderate spice is tolerable, but does build steadily. The rich, well rounded flavor was a fantastic surprise. The sweet elements are great with fish tacos. If you can stand the heat, Polynesian makes an incredible wing sauce as well.

After thoroughly enjoying Tahiti Joe's Polynesian Hot Sauce, I decided to tackle their hottest sauce, Uhane Akai XXXX Hot Sauce. This sauce uses the infamous ghost pepper (as well as habeneros) as its heat source. Like all Tahiti Joe's sauces, the peppers are accented by a variety of unique ingredients like key lime juice, clam juice, honey and ginger. Unfortunately, with a sauce this hot, the other ingredients aren't necessary.

Flavor be damned with Uhane Akai. I'm fairly certain that your taste buds totally shut done as soon as a drop of this evil concoction hits your tongue. Like all the other extreme hot sauces that I've tasted over the years, I have a hard time evaluating the sauce's merits. I can't exactly say that I "enjoy" it. On the other hand, the sauce delivers on its promises. It's CRAZY HOT!

In a crowded hot sauce market, Tahiti Joe's is in a category of its own. Infused with sweet and savory elements of the South Pacific, their original Polynesian Hot Sauce is as good as it gets. Uhane Akai will singe, sear, and blister your tongue. If your the type of sadist that enjoys those sort of sensations, then grab a bottle and have at it. Based on the initial impressions that first two sauces made, I can't wait to try their other offerings.

Check out Tahiti Joe's entire sauce lineup at http://tahitijoeshotsauces.com/

Polynesian Hot Sauce: (5/5)
Uhane Akai: (4/5)


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