Thursday, July 17, 2008
Product Review: The Bull BBQ Sauce
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Technique: Beets, Fennel Bulb, and Other Candidates for a Hot Oven
The fennel got the same treatment, and the anise taste worked well with the beets. In addition was some briefly sauteed (until wilted) Swiss chard. There was a roast chicken for which I sauteed chopped leek, threw in flat parsley, and added some stock I made from the chicken innards. I blended the lot for a leek sauce, though I can see now that it's a bit mild on its own, and could have used a dash of something hot.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Review: Café Tequila BBQ Sauce
So, it's worth getting, although there is one problem: the bottle. Yes, the wide bottom and tall, skinny neck are attractive and grab your attention. But that base takes up a bit too much shelf space in the refrigerator and the neck means you can't slip it onto just any of your shelves.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Recommendation: Nuoc Cham Cha Gio Dipping Sauce
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Review: Donatella Pasta Sauces
The "Essential Sauce" is a passata di pomodoro, which translates as tomato puree. That's a bit over simplified. These are fresh San Marzano tomatoes cooked with celery, onion, basil, and garlic, all of which they claim are also fresh and not dried. Even without simmering the sauce for ten minutes with some olive oil, as they suggest, it has a marvelous tomato flavor, napping the pasta well, and can become a foundation for sauce variations, as you like.
The ready-to-serve sauces are puttanesca (prostitute's sauce, incorporating olives, capers, and some anchovy), marinara (garlic and basil), and arrabiata (red peppers with some garlic). They're all solid flavors, though I would have liked a bit more kick in the puttanesca, as I'm used to it with the traditional capers and some hot peppers. But you should be able to open any of these and expect a decent covering for your pasta.
And now for the "but." These sauces carry a hefty price. Go to the web site and you find that the Essential Sauce is $10 for one jar. Ouch. That almost makes the jarred trio of marinara, puttanesca, and arrabiata seem reasonable at $24, or $8 a jar. I tried providing a Boston address to see what shipping would be to someplace other than my neck of the boondocks, but I got the following message: "No Shipping Rates available for your shipping address." Does that mean free? Who knows? Perhaps the problem is that the sauces are supposed to be available at some Whole Foods and ShopRites in the Northeast. Ah, the vagaries of trying to shop on the web.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Review: Captain Spongefoot Buffalo Wing Chipotle Table Sauces
I can give these two products a rave with an important caveat, which I'll save for close to the end. The buffalo wing sauce had a better flavor than most wings I've had in restaurants and the recipe on the Tabasco Sauce bottle. Ingredients were great: a mix of hot peppers, clarified butter, vinegar, garlic, some unnamed spiced. I pretty much could pronounce everything on the label. The sauce had nuance, balancing a moderate amount of burn and pepper flavor with tang, unlike many versions where the vinegar aroma goes right up into your nose in an unpleasant way.
I had less hope for the chipotle sauce because of my own tastes - generally the amount of smoke is overkill. But if anything I may have liked this one more than the other variety - it's tough to tell after going back and forth with wings and thinking, "I need a bit more of this ... no, maybe that." Again, a well designed recipe.
I had received some gift pack version with a 5-ounce bottle each of the sauces. Each comes with a shaker top which lets you easily treat wings - or anything else - with a few dashes. My wife suggested using the sauce with left-over chicken in a wrap sandwich, which sounds like a great idea to me. The problem, though, is distribution. Right now you can get the products in Colorado, but you can't count on easily finding it elsewhere, to my knowledge. There is an online outlet, but it appears to be a third party's selling more than just this company's sauces.
[UPDATE: some of the shipping price info has changed - I'll explain at the end.]
One 5-ounce bottle is $3.85 and the price to ship UPS ground is ... wait for it ... $9.14 to western Massachusetts. That's right, two and a third times more expensive than the product itself.
This is a serious problem and will - and should - keep many from buying the products. If you're desperate for a good wing fix for a party, you could try the 12-ounce bottle at $5.65 for the product and the $9.14 shipping if you're as far from Colorado as I am - or two of those bottles for $9.75. In other words, someone is probably treating shipping as a profit center. Now, the Captain Spongefoot (sorry, the name seems goofy to me) people don't seem to be the ones at fault, but if they want more customers, they should find a way to address this. I'll be sad when my supply runs out, but unless I can get a local store to buy a case, I don't think I'll be picking up more.
Now, for that explanation. I sent a link to the review to the PR contact for the sauce company. A little while ago, a comment waiting for moderation hit my inbox:
The shipping rates that are used are the published rates with NO ADDITIONAL MARK UP. The third party distributor does not add one penny to the cost of shipping. Shipping costs are calculated by weight of the packed being shipped and the destination it is being shipped to. It has nothing to do with the cost of the product in the package.And then I got another email, this time directly from the PR person. Here's part of it:
Thank you for the great review of the sauce, AND for bringing the shipping problem to our attention! The company had requested Centennial Food Distributors to add a U.S. Postal Service option to the shipping section quite some time ago, but it was inadvertently dropped by Centennial for some unknown reason.Let's address the anonymous comment. As I wrote the PR contact:
If you look at the product purchase page now, the cost to send you that same 5 oz bottle to your house is $4.60 via the least expensive U.S. mail option. It actually costs even more, $4.72 to send ME the same bottle to my home right here in Colorado. Any sauce (or product for that matter) you order from anywhere in the country will have a large shipping charge, which is why it’s best to order multiple bottles at the same time.
I really, really, really dislike anonymous comments, especially when it’s obvious that they are coming from a company representative or PR person. That’s the main reason I have moderation in place on my site – because I’ve even had people try to dampen the effect of a mixed or negative review by people whose language and speed of reply gave them away as interested parties.Now, I'm sure the sauce company wasn't making money on the shipping, but I'd make a bet that the distributor was. Even FedEx Home Delivery charges $9.14 for the same roughly one pound to be sent along roughly the same route - and that's for someone without a regular shipping discount checking the rate on the web. When I looked at UPS, it was about the same, including a 50 cent fuel surcharge.
But I know that regular shippers do get discounts - I used to work at a direct response company and am aware of the drill. My bet is that Captain Spongefoot (Why do I keep thinking Spongebob Squarepants?) had nothing to do with it, but that the distributor is claiming to be paying actual invoiced rates, and, I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. And it does make me wonder why the distributor dropped the far cheaper surface mail option without telling the sauce vendor. Finally, even if buying multiple bottles at once could cut the shipping cost per bottle (assuming that shipping two pounds wasn't twice as expensive as shipping one), who wants to have to buy extra bottles that you don't need to use then?
[And another update.... It appears that the anonymous comment came from the distributor, not the sauce company or PR rep. I didn't think it was for the latter given the email she had sent me, though I thought that someone at Captain Spongefoot might have left it without thinking of putting in a name. Ah, well, mystery solved.)
Friday, August 03, 2007
Recipe: Caramel Sauce
IngredientsYield: 4 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 3 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, add sugar and then water. Do not stir while you let sugar totally dissolve. Periodically dip a pastry brush into cold water and brush the inside of the pan. Do not let any crystals form on the sides of the pan.
- When sugar turns dark amber, put a whisk into the pan and carefully and slowly add cream. Mixture will boil furiously and form a mass. Gently move the whisk and everything will eventually dissolve into a smooth liquid. Add vanilla extract (if using) at this point. Be careful, because it's absurdly easy to overcook this and wind up with a mass of burnt smelling stuff.
- Let caramel cool some and pour into a heat-proof container. (A mason jar has done well by me.)
Friday, June 15, 2007
Product Review: Chef Myron's 20 Gauge Sauce
Low sodium, naturally brewed soy sauce (water, soy beans, wheat, salt), red wine, natural brown sugars, fresh garlic, olive oil, rice vinegar, juniper berry and Myron's distinctive blend of unique spices. It has a deep and slightly malty flavor base, a piquant/sweet, pungent and peppery bite and subtle "evergreen" (juniper) flavor points.It's supposed to be for wild game and fish, but I tried some chicken that had marinated in the sauce before grilling. The description is close enough, though far more subtle than I would have expected from something intended for game, and pleasant. The company's site indicates distributors carrying the products, though not retail outlets. However, you could ask a local spot to place an order, or you can purchase a 2-pack of 16-ounce bottles for $24.45, including handling and continental US shipping via UPS ground.