Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
Big Papa’s Sauces is an award-winning line of condiment sauces. For the purposes of this interview, I received samples of the Mangonero Peach Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Hot sauce.
I began with the Mangonero Peach Sauce, tasting a small spoonful right from the bottle. Its first flavor impression was of neither peach nor mango as I’d expected it to be, but instead, delivered a strong, not unpleasant initial perception of vinegar. Following on its heels, came a level of heat that is not to be taken lightly. The fruit flavors registered seconds later, their slightly tart sweetness tempering and complementing the vinegar’s potency. Sampling this sauce with a variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables revealed its adaptability. Brushed onto grilling chicken and shrimp or zucchini and broccoli, the sauce manifested a much stronger fruit-led character that was tangy and pleasant, though the heat level remained pronounced. Its burn was medium in length, dissipating after a minute or two, leaving in its wake a tropical sweetness that I looked forward to experiencing again in my next bite.
Big Papa’s Sweet & Spicy Hot sauce was a different affair. This one tasted of the more traditional ingredients one likely calls to mind when the words “barbecue sauce” are uttered. Cooked molasses, tomato, brown sugar, and a hint of garlic all shined throughout my first spoonful taken directly from the bottle.
A second later, the heat arrived.
The heat of habanero peppers that must have died angry spread over my tongue and throughout my mouth, seeming intent on putting my love of all things piquant to the test. As one who frequently makes his own barbecue sauce, it’s a rare day that I don’t include a generous helping of brown sugar in the recipe, and that flavor along with the tomato and faint garlic notes carried through when I applied a coating of Sweet & Spicy Hot to the beef hamburger patties, ribs, potato wedges, and link sausages that hit my grill a short while later. Here though, the sweetness did nothing to mitigate the sauce’s heat level. Here, the burn lasted upwards of five minutes, very nearly long enough to grow unpleasant. Without exception, though, I found that each food’s best elements had been enhanced, and found myself going back for more. Here, the word “hot” earns its place on the bottle’s label and means what it says; Big Papa isn’t pulling our collective leg. Bearing that in mind, the Sweet & Spicy sauce seems to be one exclusively for serious lovers of mouth numbing hot sauce.
Both sauces take exceptionally well to poultry and to pork spare ribs and baby back ribs. The Sweet & Spicy Hot sauce, for its richness, seems better suited to red meat like lamb or medium-grilled steak. The freshness of the Mangonero Peach sauce is made for pairing up with salmon or as a fruity dressing that will add a kick to cold sandwiches, though discovering new uses for either sauce seems to be part of the fun in using it. These are, however, perhaps not for palates unacquainted or unwilling to get acquainted with moderate to intense heat.