Some Like It Hot — A Hot Sauce Tasting Party

A Hot Sauce Tasting Party

Gillie Easdon gathered 15 local, house-made hot sauces and four brave souls to
taste-test them.

It was a mid-October, late Sunday morning in the Buckerfield’s Room at Swans.
Jax, the photographer, was setting up the lights while I arranged bowls of
toothpicks, lemon wedges, Carr’s Water Crackers, and a thermos of cold milk. The
wings were in the fryer, and there was a cold brew beer and a spicy Caesar on the
way. My two 10-year-old helpers poured sauces of different shades and
consistencies (sort of) carefully into small glass carafes for the shoot, mindful not
to rub their eyes.

The rain “produce-misted” outside, and there was a distinct chill in the
October air. But things were about to heat up as five of us launched into the House-
made Hot Sauce Sunday Session. Several local eateries make their own hot sauces,
and we were primed to explore, compare, and consume them. First on a toothpick,
next a simple cracker, and lastly on a plain fried chicken wing.

On the panel? Andrea Duncan, former CinCin Ristorante + Bar, Blue Water, Foo,
and Heron Rock cook, now at the helm of food at Broadmead’s latest gem Niche;
executive chef Bob Hendle from Swans; former TV journalist, now
communications expert Heron Hanuman; Stuart Brown, sommelier/sommelier
instructor and Swans Hotel and liquor store manager—and me. My credential? I
love hot sauce.

The tasting panel (clockwise from left): Andrea Duncan, Bob Hendle, Stuart Brown, Heron Hanuman, Gillie Easdon

Each sample was poured into a small numbered carafe, and participants had
tasting sheets that included sections to judge appearance, smell, heat, taste, and
overall experience. There was also a diagram to establish more detailed tasting
notes on flavours such as chocolate, citrus, vinegar, salty, and smoky, as well as

the sauce’s “linger.” It was a blind tasting, but for this article, we’ll describe each
house-made sauce with a round-up of those that stood out. Mind that most are only
available in-house or with a takeout/delivery meal. But if you’re looking for a new
place to try or a new hot sauce-making hobby, look no further.



1. Part and Parcel’s Carrot Hot Sauce
Everyone was struck by the sweet, citrus quality of this sauce and the bright honey-
mustard colour. Tangy and tasty with habanero, carrots, and citrus, it seemed a
superb fit for oysters, eggs, and shrimp. It did not do so well with the chicken
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

2. 5th Street Bar & Woodfire Grill Five-pepper Sauce
This brick-red sauce was full of onion, garlic, and chilis. It was savoury, salty, and
delicious on the wing but did not work on the cracker. This one would be great on
pizza, burgers, and classic pub fare.
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

3. The Ruby’s Warm Sauce
This sauce had smoky aromas of tomato and herb and was low in vinegar. The
flavour was fairly mild and unobtrusive. The smoke was its top character, and it
could work on a burger and nicely with other sauces.
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

4. The Ruby’s Green Sriracha
This sauce looks like a classic salsa verde and tastes of green tomato and jalapeño
with a good balance of vinegar, fruit, and herb. With its appealing consistency and
tasty heat, the sauce was one all the judges wanted to try on eggs or Mexican. It
was great on the wing.
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

5. Made by Swans Sous-Chef Anna Brown
This last-minute entry tasted of passionfruit, with a manageable heat and a silky
consistency. The green/brown colour was not super-appealing, but the flavour and
heat were excellent with a long even finish. It was great on the wings.
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

6. The Village Drop 3
The name refers to a popular breakfast dish at the Village Restaurant. This sauce
presented muted aromas of smoky tomato and celery. It started with a blast then
dropped off quickly. It was a mellow and enjoyable sauce with light sweetness. It
did not work on the wing but was nonetheless a versatile sauce.
Available for sale at the restaurant.

7. Wheelies
Everyone had seconds of this bright orange sauce. It was fresh, tangy, and in the
same family as the famous Frank’s RedHot but was house-made and local and
could have been called “hipster Cholula.” Super-vinegary, salty, and “moreish,” it
had a pleasing consistency and moderate heat.
Available for sale at the restaurant.

8. Fuego
This was the first one that inspired milk-drinking. It had a creeper heat. The
balanced habanero packed a delicious punch, and there were some mango notes.
This one inspired the first sniffle from the team. Yum.
Available for sale at the restaurant.

9. Nick Maharaj’s The New Hotness 7 Pepper Okanagan Peach Burnt
This sauce smelled fantastic, with, well, burnt garlic, peach and heat. Balanced,
hot, smoky, and spicy, it had a strong vinegar and pepper heat with a warm, tangy
finish. Great depth and flavour makes this a versatile, yummy hot sauce. Chilis
include Wartryx, 7 Pot UFO, 7-Pot Bubblegum Naga, Devil’s Tongue, Sugar Rush
Peach, Peach-a-Dew, and Ghost from Farmer Rob Dunic. This is one of Nick’s own
“small-batch hot sauce experiments” that is available at Part and Parcel (where
he is Chef de Cuisine) and on this Instagram

10. Heron Rock Chokeslam Hot Sauce
This sauce has smoky vegetable and barbecue-sauce-styled aromas. It started mild
then built evenly with a lovely balanced finish—sweet and smoky with a great mix
of different chilis. This would be amazing on grilled chicken or pork.
Available for sale at the restaurant.

11. Nohra Thai’s Nam Prik
This sauce was deliciously redolent of chopped limes, chilis, and Thai fish sauce. It
was more like a salsa—each bite a unique jolt of flavour. It would be perfect on
white fish, seafood, beef, and noodles. One taster announced it was “exciting to
Only available in-house, take-out/delivery.

12. Bilston Creek Farm’s Heat from 1000 Peppers Hot Sauce
This sauce was a stunning orange. It had perfect consistency and smelled as if it
might pack a serious punch. The taste was slightly fermented and not super-
hot—as it turned out. The peppers were also sourced from Farmer Rob, and the
honey came from the farm. This is Bilston’s first hot sauce, a small-batch, lacto-
fermented gem.
Hot sauce in the works to be available for sale.

13. Joan’s Hot Sauce made by Heron Hanuman’s mom Joan

This green and runny sauce was packed with Spanish thyme, herbs, mustard, and
vinegar. It was an incredible blend of bright fruit and acid with substantial heat.
The thyme was a welcome surprise for three of us, and a warm familiar pleasure
for Heron and Stuart, who both have Trinidadian roots.
Not available for sale—make friends with Heron.

By the end of the event, a few tissues, waters, and wings later, our taste buds were
tapped. The range of styles and flavours made the event both satisfying and
challenging to select favourites. Loosely, Wheelies and Fuego tied for first, with
the New Hotness, Ruby’s Green Sriracha and Part and Parcel’s Carrot Hot Sauce a
close three-way tie for second. Every sauce had its own merits and it was exciting
to explore the scope of local sauces. Felix and Milo, the two 10-year-old hot sauce
lovers and helpers, did a tasting of the first five and their clear winner was Swans
for its tropical notes and healthy heat. There are many sauces on the grocer’s
shelves, but hands down, for freshness and some tasty heat, try to keep it local.
Because you can, and it’s hot.

Photography: Jacqueline Downey

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