Tobasco Reserve

Every now and then, someone offers to send me something for free. Sometimes I accept; sometimes I do not. Sometimes I review it; sometimes I do not. Sometimes I like it; sometimes I do not. This is one of the cases where I accepted the item and decided to review it.
What is it?

Fancy Tobasco Sauce. Perhaps the fanciest of Tobasco sauce. 2011 Tobasco Brand Family Reserve Pepper Sauce from the McIlhenny Co. It's available at Amazon for just shy of $25, and the item description calls it a collector's item. Why?

Well, first of all it's small batch. Second, it's aged. Third, it's blended with premium ingredients. Oh, and the peppers were aged as well. The finest peppers.

Also, it has a wax seal and a little medal. So that's cool.

Now what you should be asking me is, "Brian, now that you've tried it, is this Tobasco Brand Family Reserve Pepper Sauce really worth $25? I mean, it does have a medal that goes around the bottle." To which I say, "Wellllllll… maybe. Probably not. But maybe."

I enjoy Tobasco sauce and other hot pepper sauces. I have even made my own, which is fun and tasty. However, I am not a Tobasco fanatic. There are those who pick a sauce, Tobasco or otherwise, and put it on everything. Everything edible. Probably a couple of other things, but most won't admit to that. Some of these people live a life of Tobasco-centered joy. If you need to buy a gift for one of these people, I would absolutely buy this gift. It's Tobasco-y, it's limited edition, it has slightly fancier bottling, and it comes in a box that makes it easy to wrap. How can you lose?

If you are thinking of buying this for yourself, and you are a Tobasconaut as described above, then I'm afraid I can't help you. I just don't have a refined enough Tobasco palate to be able to adequately judge the awesomeness or lameness of this sauce. Find another review, and check that.

If you are a casual pepper sauce eater, then I would not advise spending the $25 on a bottle of this. Go with the chipotle version, or the habañero version, or Sriracha, or one of the many many small-batch brands of hot sauce. Or make your own. All good choices. But spending $25 on this will not give you such a difference in flavor that a casual hot-sauce consumer would notice. You can get a lot of hot sauce for $25. But several of the other options instead.

Oh, and about that medal: don't leave it on the bottle. If you leave it on, every time you put hot sauce on your food, the medal will fall into said food. It's happened to me three times. Now that I've taken a picture of the thing, I am getting rid of it forever. If you, um, collect hot sauce bottles, set the medal aside and save it for when you've finished with the bottle. It will look nice on the shelf. Well, as nice as a bottle of hot sauce on your shelf is going to look, I suppose.

The goggles, they…may do something.

I was watching the most recent episode of Good Eats, the one on knives and related applications. He mentioned that a 5:1 concentration of water to bleach was the ideal solution for ridding hands of unwanted chile oils. Long time readers may recall my misadventures with chile oils, and my subsequent crying like a little girl who lost her favorite balloon. The problem was that I wore no gloves when working with many, many chile peppers, and after a while my hands started burning. Nothing I tried seemed to help, including laundry-strength concentration of bleach followed by hand washing, but apparently the bleach makes the oils water soluble, and in the 5-to-1 concentration, the oils actually get dissolved. If any of my readers go through this, please post how well the cure worked. Dedicated though I am to furthering your knowledge of cooking techniques, I still kinda remember the pain, and am not eager to repeat it. I know, I disappoint you all, but my dedication to my readers apparently has limits.

The goggles, they do nothing!

Hand on Fire I was making some Pepper Jelly (a.k.a. Fire Jam a.k.a. Sweet, Sweet Napalm) this weekend, which is a sweet jam with bits of chiles thrown in for flavor and heat. Super tasty, and good fun to make. This time, instead of using the food processor for chopping, I figured it would be a good time to practice my knife skills. After all, there's no way to get better with the knife if you don't practice, and this was certainly a large number of chiles I was chopping. Adding to the excitement of the story, I was out of powder-free rubber/vinyl gloves, and I didn't feel like running to the store to get some. You see, capsaicin, the molecule that makes chiles hot, isn't just hot on your tongue, though that's certainly one of the easiest places to detect it. I had mostly been concerned in the past about touching my eye after cutting chiles, as the eye is also a very capsaicin-sensitive organ. I figured I could be careful for a while, until the capsaicin wore off. However. After an hour or so of chopping chiles, discarding the seeds, and generally being around lots and lots of capsaicin, I discovered that the skin is also somewhat sensitive to it. And now my fingers are a little warm, and very heat-sensitive. Warm fingers and heat sensitivity, in and of itself, is not so bad. What is bad is that, when I went to bed last night, suddenly the body has nothing to pay attention to but warm fingers. And suddenly those warm fingers aren't just a little toasty, but instead feel as though they are being pressed against a live burner element. Which is not conducive to sleep. As you may imagine. Oh, and let me assure you that any folk remedy for removing the burn of the chiles from your hand will. Not. Work. The following items are going to fail your hopeful heart:
  • Soaking in milk
  • Washing with soap and water
  • Washing with grease-cutting liquid soap
  • Bleach-based cleansing products
  • Laundry-strength bleach
  • 99 Proof or weaker alcohol products
  • Burn cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Cortizone cream
And, indeed, some of these items may just make it worse. So, from now on I will take the 15 minutes out of my day and go to the store for gloves if I don't have them. I heartily recommend that you do the same. And, for those who are wondering, the title of this entry is a quote from an episode of The Simpsons.