Sunday, November 1, 2009
Cheech Mojo Mango Habanero Hot Sauce: Up in Sweet
Richard "Cheech" Marin made a name for himself with his stoney comedy and pie-faced, grunting Mexican immigrant character, but has long since traded his rolling papers and doobie truck for the expensive rustle of Hollywood TV scripts and the comforts of the golf cart. The omnipresent, clef-lipped face of Hispanic stoner humor has plastered it on this Costa Rican (!) hot sauce, but is it worth the association? This hot sauce reviewer says yes, but don't get too excited about a knock-your-socks-off hot sauce. This is way more sweet than heat.
Let's look at the facts: Who are the mysterious Figueroa Brothers (Inc.)? What do they want? And what is with their corporate-speak laden website, filled with smiling faces, easy-on-the-eyes colors, and dozens of hot sauces distributed from their Dallas, TX HQ?
Greg P. Figueroa, CEO, and David O. Figueroa, Jr. are two men with big, big dreams: while this hot sauce is (overall) tasty and enjoyable, their website provides insight for a deep rabbit hole...these men may very well be the ones to introduce the fiery habanero pepper to mainstream American mouths. This novelty hot sauce from Costa Rica bears a Cheech Marin likeness, but lacks the smoked-out hempy flavor it's namesake probably tastes like. Like the Figueroa Brothers' master plan of top-level hot sauce contendership (they're basically already there), this sauce is accessible but could push their proud habanero a bit more.
Good Hurts: This hot sauce has a little bit of a spike to each bite based on the habanero flakes and flavor in each bottle. However, that heat dissipates fast because the sauce is thick and sweet, quickly bursting with a citrus syrup and overwhelming the hots. For regular folks, this hot sauce might do the trick if they're in the mood for a hot sauce devoid of any salt or vinegar, but for seasoned hot sauce vets, this mango sauce might not be worth the the trip beyond Cheech's smiling face on the outside of the bottle.
Flavor: A thick syrup, this yellow sauce has the fantastic aroma of ripe mangos and sweet habanero chilies. The lack of salt flavor is a welcome edition to the hot sauce world, but the carrots, onion, and tomato paste that the ingredients mention are all but vanished against the slow, thick wall of lemon and citrus. The flavor, like a sweet chewing gum, is quick and intense but vanishes fairly quickly. An interesting sauce for sure, but it's sweetness might be a bit overpowering for some traditional hot sauce welcoming foods.
Availability: While this gimmicked sauce is easy to find online, it's really walking into precarious territory. It's made, undoubtedly, for fans of Cheech and Chong and their oft-hilarious munchies. It's not a necessity for anyone; the Figueroa Brothers know that, too. Melinda's is their main breadwinner, more easily available, and less goofy.
Good for: This sauce might not mesh well with beef tacos or burritos, and definately not anything with a rich tomato or cream sauce. This is the kind of sauce that clashes with other sauces...imagine putting sweet n' sour sauce a burrito suizo covered in cheese and tomato sauce. It's designed for munchies, perhaps, but that doesn't mean normals can't enjoy it too. Fresh fruit salsa would welcome this mango sauce, as would fish dishes and salads. Be ready for a mango mission if you want to eat this sauce.
My Review: 7.5/10
The Figueroa Brothers understand that when it comes to hot sauce distribution, many fingers in many pies means more flavors for more hot freaks. This sauce might be novelty in spirit, but the Texas brothers understand to that build a great hot sauce empire, you need foot soldiers in every nook and cranny of the battlefield.