Thursday, October 28, 2004

Have you ever tasted ten varieties of salt? Trying them out I only found a couple that tasted different from one another, which confirms my belief that the texture of the salt--flakes, grains, chunks, has more to do with how we taste it than it's origin. They were awfully pretty to look at though. For the record, the smoky salt and the Hawaiian salt were not only differently colored but differently flavored.

Another delicious first for me at the tasting this past Sunday was Tupelo honey, which frequently appears in music (band names, song lyrics, etc.) and was also featured prominently in the movie Ulee's Gold. It is produced courtesy of the bees and the Tupelo gum trees in the river swamps of Florida. Special elevated platforms have to be built to house the bees. Unlike other honeys it will not granulate. It is also okay for diabetics because it is low in dextrose and high in levulose. Hard to describe the flavor, it is not as cloying as clover honey and much more complex. A good everday honey, though it can be expensive.

My other favorite discoveries were Agrinion green olives. Coming from the Ionian coast in Greece they are the epitome of what a green olive should taste like, spicy and crunchy, but not too bitter or salty. I also liked North of the Border Chipotle barbecue sauce and "catch up". At only $4 each a bottle, they are both a pretty good value. The one new product I had never seen before let alone heard of was Korean chili threads. Looking like extra long threads of saffron but smokey and mildly spicy, these chili threads are addictive! Now if I can only find a Korean market that sells them...

The one product I will warn you about it is Dave's Insanity Hot Sauce. I love hot sauces and have tried more than my fair share of them. This was absolutely the hottest I have ever tried, at 80,000 scoville units, I think you'll agree. Just the tiniest speck of the stuff will have your tongue burning for minutes. I've heard that it has been banned at some hot sauce competitions. Deservedly so!

All in all the tasting took a tremendous amount of planning and effort, but was well worth it for those of us who participated.