A press conference this morning heralded several events coming to Downtown in the next few months, including the annual RFT Music Showcase
. Another event is the annual Taste of St. Louis
festival, this year held October 1-3.
To promote the festival, organizers gave out three bottles of festival-branded Tasty hot sauces. The three styles, produced by Kansas City-based Original Juan
(maker of Pain Is Good-brand hot sauces, among many other products), are "Saint Louis Style," "South City Sizzle," and "Hot on the Hill."
As hot as an August day in Albert Pujols' armpit.
Do the sauces live up to their names? Are they in any way representative of St. Louis cuisine? Of course, Gut Check is on the case.
First up is the Saint Louis Style (left in the photo), which is further labeled as "deep & rich -- medium heat." The sauce is indeed a deep, rich red, the color of brick. It is quite hot, with a pungent, lightly sweet note of malt vinegar.
Next up is the South City Sizzler (right in the photo), which is "bold & tangy -- hot." Indeed. This sauce has the explosive heat of habanero peppers with a definite pineapple sweetness. Probably my favorite of the three for its balance of flavor and intense heat.
Finally comes the Hot on the Hill, "fiery garlic -- extra hot." Now, don't get me wrong, this, too, powered by habanero peppers, is very, very hot. Yet it doesn't strike me as much hotter than the South City Sizzler. (Granted, my palate might be accustomed to heat at this point.) The garlic flavor is definitely there, but not too prominent.
As for its name, well...If a restaurant on the Hill serves anything even half as hot as any of these sauces, I haven't dined there. Of course, I'm sure the names weren't meant to connect literally
to the areas represented. But restaurants taking part in the Taste of St. Louis should know that the gauntlet has been thrown down: The organizers are touting the event with some powerful flavors. Can you deliver on the promise?