Posts Tagged ‘Seasoning’

This is the long overdue review of the Chile de Arbol spice that was featured in the “Some Like it Hot” tasting box from Foodzie (sigh, how I miss the old Foodzie … before all the changes when it was more like Etsy for food artisans).  This isn’t my first time trying the spice, but it’s the first time I’ve taken the time to sit down and compose my thoughts on this rather heated product!  Err… well, what I mean is, this spice has got some HEAT! 

Product Description:

Closely related to the cayenne chilies, it has a tonic, smoky, and grass flavor with acidic heat. The heat level is 7 and the Scoville Heat Unit is 15,000-30,000. This chili powder can be used in soups, stews, and sauces.

Learn more about Whole Spice on their website.

Photo from Whole Spice. Click on the pic to go there.

Taster’s Review:

For the purposes of this review, I sprinkled the Chile de Arbol powder over a couple of fried eggs.  Not a heavy sprinkling, because as I’ve learned from previous tastings of this spice that this does not require a heavy hand to taste it!

The amount of heat that this gives off reminds me of cayenne pepper.  But it also has a smokiness to it that almost reminds me of chipotle.  There’s even a hint of earthiness to this.  If one were to somehow “marry” the flavor of the chipotle and the heat of the cayenne, they’d have something a bit like this ground Chile de Arbol.  And I’m liking that!

I love the dimension of flavor that comes with this Chile de Arbol.  Sure, it’s got some heat, but as long as I don’t go overboard when I sprinkle it on something, it adds just the right amount of kick to my fried eggs, and I’m thinking that I may just have to try adding this to my taco meat the next time I make tacos, and to my chili the next time I make that.  This may even add a compelling dimension to a cup of hot cocoa the next time I’m in the mood for something creamy, rich and with a little bit of bite to it.

My Final Thoughts:

This has a nice amount of heat as long as it’s used with a careful hand, and it adds more than just heat to the dish.  It has a pleasant earthiness to it, and an enjoyable smoky tone that is somewhat reminiscent of the chipotle (just hotter!)  This is something I can see myself keeping in my spice pantry for when I make chili (I’ll be making lots of it in the cooler months ahead) – in fact, I think that this may be replacing the cayenne pepper that I normally keep for when I make chili.  This has about the same heat but will add some other desirable flavor to my pot of chili!

Learn more about Bourbon Barrel Foods here.

Product Description:

Many paprikas are smoked, but none of them are bourbon smoked.  Try this combination of sweet, piquant paprika and the mellow, oaky flavors of fine Kentucky bourbon.

What I Think:

To be honest, this was the item I was least excited about in the Bacon and Bourbon Tasting Box.  I mean, paprika?  Really?  We’re talking my least favorite spice.

But… let me explain WHY it is my least favorite spice.  You see, growing up, the main cook in the household wasn’t exactly a “gourmet chef” by any stretch of the imagination.  Sure, most of the food was edible, but, flavorful?  That’s another thing all together.  Bland would be the way I would describe most of what I ate in my adolescent and teen years.

We had a container of paprika in the spice cabinet.  It had been there since I was eight (probably longer) and I don’t think it had ever been replaced during the time I lived in that house.  The only food that I can remember paprika ever being used for was to sprinkle over deviled eggs, and that was for color, not for flavor (or at least, by the taste of them, I can assume it wasn’t for flavor, because I didn’t taste any difference between those deviled eggs that were dusted with paprika and those that escaped the dusting).

So, in my mind, paprika is that spice that is used for color and not flavor.  In fact whenever preparing a recipe that called for paprika, I would either omit it, or add something else from my spice cabinet.  I never considered paprika a spice worth having in my cabinet … Until now!

But with this spice being in my tasting box, it exposed me to the flavor of paprika!  When I first opened the tin, I was blown away at the smoky scent.  Sweet, smoked, and just a hint of spice.  It smells really good.  A little taste reveals a profile that is a little bit peppery, a little sweet, and with a lovely dimension of smoke.  It is a powerful flavor!

I’ve sprinkled this on fried eggs, and it’s spectacular. For Christmas, I made scalloped potatoes, and used 2 teaspoons of this paprika in the sauce and it elevated the dish from ordinary to extraordinary.  Move over, nutmeg and oregano, you’ll need to make some room for the Bourbon Smoked Paprika!

My Final Thoughts:

This spice is very flavorful stuff!  My deviled eggs will never be the same!  If you suffer from bland food syndrome like I did when I was a kid … get the cook in your house a tin of this!

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Price:  $9.99 for a 3-ounce bottle

Product Description:

The rich color says it all. Instill the deep, rich, big flavors of real Merlot wine with the aromas of dry, smokey wood & you’ll arrive with this blend in hand. Our proprietary method of Wet InfusionTM blends essential oils from quality ingredients with sea salt. Subtly sophisticated & uniquely understated.

What I Think:

Have I mentioned how much I love Woody’s Gourmet Sea Salt blends lately?

I used this Smokey Merlot Sea Salt as a finishing salt on grilled steak and steamed green beans, and I noticed how just a sprinkling of this sea salt blend on my steak and green beans not only improved the flavor of these foods, but it also seemed to brighten the flavor of my iced tea (and no, I didn’t add the salt to my tea!)

The flavors described in the product description above are all present.  There are smoky wood notes as well as a sweet, fruity taste of Merlot wine.  These flavors are blended perfectly so that when used as a seasoning, the seal salt blend does not taste too salty, but, instead has a nice balance of salt, smoke and wine.  The overall result is a salt that tastes salty, a little sweet, with wood and smoke notes.  It is very savory and delicious, and my steak is positively mouth-watering!

My Final Thoughts:

I am finding myself replacing my usual condiments (steak sauce) with these salts.  My steak (and just about anything else!) just tastes better with a little of this salt sprinkled on it rather than being slathered with steak sauce.

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Price:  $9.99

Product Description:

Who loves bacon? Who puts REAL BACON in sea salt? The aromatic essence of our smoked bacon and fresh sage sea salt will grab you, but the flavor will shake you – in a comforting way. Our proprietary method of Wet Infusion™ blends essential oils from fresh ingredients with sea salt. This smoked bacon sea salt redefines your meals and the way you incorporate bacon. Can you get your fill?

What I Think:

After having such great success with the other sea salt blends from Woody’s Gourmet that I’ve tried, I was really eager to try the one that intrigued me most:  Smoked Bacon & Fresh Sage!

The salt in the bottle looks just like the salt in the picture above, there are LOTS of small chunks of real bacon in there!  And I just love how it accents a burger.  It’s also excellent on baked or grilled chicken breasts as well as roasted potatoes.

The bacon flavor is a bit more subtle than I expected and that I wanted … at least, at first.  But, as I became more acquainted with this salt blend I liked the lighter bacon flavor.  As it is, the bacon and sage are nicely balanced, and these two flavorings really enhance each other nicely, and bring a deliciously savory note to just about anything.  I say “just about anything” because I didn’t really care for this on fish.  I prepared a fillet of tillapia with this, and the fish just ended up tasting like salt.  Too much salt.  The natural flavor of the tillapia together with the savory, salty taste of the bacon and the sea salt… was just too much.  But, other than that one mishap, I have really enjoyed my taste adventures with this salt blend.

My Final Thoughts:

Woody’s Gourmet has quickly become my favorite source for seasonings.  I love that the herbs that they use in these blends are all fresh.  It really makes a difference!

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Product Description:

Most truffle sea salts use dehydrated truffles. Woody’s Gourmet takes that a big step further by using FRESH TRUFFLES. After sea salt, real French black truffle is the second ingredient. The aromatic scent is out of this world and has been know to drive people to do impulsive things.

And oh yeah, it has a complex flavor profile that you will love too! Our proprietary method of Wet Infusion™ blends essential oils from fresh ingredients with sea salt. This blend is bursting with complexity that will surprise you.

What I Think:

Oh, my!  This stuff is absolutely INCREDIBLE!  This has to be the first time ever that I’ve eaten a burger without anything except meat, seasoning and bun.  No cheese.  No ketchup or mustard, no lettuce, tomato or onion.  Not even my beloved bread-and-butter pickles which I previously believed MUST be on every burger I would eat.  (Of course, I did have a couple of pickles on the side!)

And without any embellishment other than this sea salt blend, the burger ended up being the BEST burger I’ve ever eaten.  This Black Truffle & Fresh Thyme Herb Sea Salt made the most delicious, mouth-watering, savory burger experience I’ve ever had.  And I even pan-fried the burger, I didn’t grill it!

The salt blend is a little on the moist side – which I guess is because the herbs are fresh.  But even though it was moist and therefore “clumped” in places on the burger rather than sprinkled evenly, my burger didn’t taste over-salted.

As I would have expected, the salt gave the burger a nice flavor – bringing out the meaty flavor that I wanted.  But then… there’s the truffle!  It gave the meat an earthy depth and a savory quality that lingers on the palate – my burger is now devoured and even though I am no longer hungry, I find myself wanting more truffle … more of that mouth-watering sensation.

The thyme enhances that earthy quality, and gives it a slightly woody taste as well as a fresh, herb-y character.  And, similar to the Rosemary & Sage Sea Salt blend, it is very skillfully minced in this blend – no tiny branches or stems.

After trying this blend, I realize another thing that makes these sea salt blends from Woody’s Gourmet so special… the salt is not only blended with the herbs, because fresh herbs are used, the sea salt is actually INFUSED with the flavors.  The fresh herbs really do make a big difference!

My Final Thoughts:

I love this stuff.  I had hoped I wouldn’t … because I would feel a little guilty keeping truffle salt in the pantry (it won’t be the most reasonably priced item in my pantry, to be sure!) but, I’ve determined that it is well worth the price.  I can’t wait to try it on a steak!