I mentioned previously that I don’t miss too many things about Florida, and that moving to Kentucky was the right thing to do. However, one of the things I missed was a good torrid hot sauce, like the kind made from datil peppers in St. Augustine, FL. There are hot sauces available here, but Kentuckians don’t like to “pile it on,” so most sauces are from out of state.
Let me make it clear; Floridians by and large aren’t crazy about food with an afterburn. However, we can take it when we get it, and I’ll venture to say that when we set our minds to making condiments, our datil and habanero-based products are stronger than even the cayenne sauces from Louisiana and Texas. That’s why when I’m in a supermarket, don’t be surprised if I pick up a bottle of the Louisiana stuff, read the label, mutter “wimpy,” and put it back. And if they color-code salsa jars with green, yellow and red labels to let you know if the contents are mild, medium or hot, I look for the jar with a black label!
There is a chain of Mexican restaurants based in Orlando called Tijuana Flats, that specializes in evil hot sauces. The kind where the labels on the bottles feature devils, skulls, cartoon characters screaming while sitting on the toilet, etc. Unfortunately I never got to try out Tijuana Flats, because they’re always crowded. My family went to one back in 2005, but they were so busy that after they seated us at a table, we waited for half an hour, and nobody came to take our orders. Eventually we said “To heck with it!” and went to the Chinese restaurant across the street. Judging by the number of customers, they must be doing something right, though I still don’t know what it is.
Anyway, I’m mentioning all this because last December, in my local Wal-Mart, I saw a gift package of hot sauce bottles from Dat’l Do-It, the company that makes the St. Augustine sauces. I didn’t buy it, and kicked myself afterwards, because I didn’t see it again–until last Monday. This time I didn’t miss the opportunity, and bought a package. Only one of the five bottles in the package uses datils; the others use garlic, habanero, jalapeno and cayenne. Still, it will keep me stoked up for a while, at least through the winter, and hopefully until they sell it again next year. I was back in the Wal-Mart today, and the packages were gone already. Evidently it’s a hot item (no pun intended). Maybe next time I’ll order their other products online, like the Hellish Relish and the Datil Pepper Jelly.