This Sh*t's Delicious

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Tag Archives: pili pili

[Cool Sh*t] The Mother of All Hot Sauces–aka How to Get an Anal Ring of Fire & Love it

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IMG_0006In my ever expanding quest to find the best and greatest hot sauces, I have sampled many a generic department store hot sauce – everything ranging from Frank’s Hot Sauce to Colon Cleanser – only to face constant disappointment. Most hot sauces found at Co-op, Safeway, or Superstore are usually either a) not hot enough, or b) are just too bland – they simply don’t pack the emotional punch. The only hot sauce to date that I can respect (and that can own my ass) is that Sri Racha hot sauce that gets commonly served at the pizza-by-the-slice places. But even then, my body’s gotten so used to it that I no longer experience the coveted anal ring of fire.

On my way back from ‘boarding at Lake Louise last week, I had the sudden brain flash to stop off at the Grizzly Paw to stock up on some delicious local, hand-crafted sodas and beers. As I walked into the store, I got momentarily distracted with all the cool Grizzly Paw merchandise. Turns out it was a serendipitous distraction as my eyes immediately gravitated to the “hot sauce” corner. “What’s this?” you say. Since when did The Paw start selling hot sauces? I don’t know, but did I really care? With awesome titles like “Acid Rain” and “Grumpy Bear”, I couldn’t resist taking a look…

To be honest, I was pretty sceptical: after years of disappointment, I roll my eyes at warnings like “This hot sauce is extremely hot. Use at your own risk.” Really? I bathe in this shit, biaaatch, I am pretty sure it’s not that fucking hot. Nevertheless, I turned over the hilariously titled hot sauce called “Alberta Crude” to examine the ingredients: tomato paste, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, peri-peri peppers…wait what? Habanero peppers? Surely, you jest? My eyes deceive me…

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But, no, it turns out my eyes hadn’t deceived me. The ingredient list indeed contained habanero peppers, one of THE highest ranked chilli peppers on the Scoville Heat Index. The HI on these babies range anywhere from 325-570,000…and I finally found a hot sauce made out of them.

I was pretty excited at this point, to say the least. I took a look at the other offerings and settled on “Mother of all Hot Sauces” as my second choice. This one had even more AWESOME warnings like “Not for people with heart or respiratory problems” and “Give yourself a natural high…without working out or pumping iron!!”

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YES.

I sped home and eagerly opened up the bottles. My initial instinct was to dump a whole bunch of Mother of All Hot Sauces (MoAHS) on my samosas, but common sense prevailed. You respect the habanero, no matter how much heat you think you can handle. So, I dropped a dash of MoAHS on a spoon and gave it a taste…

SH*T! THIS FUCKING SH*T IS HOT! My mouth and throat started burning instantly. I could feel sweat pangs forming on my forehead. My eyes started watering slightly and I felt the onset of a small headache. And this wasn’t the kind of heat that goes away after an instance. It stays with you, burning a hole in your throat and stomach. You don’t drink water to quench heat like this – you have to go straight for milk or yogurt!

Unfortunately, MoAHS is so hot that your taste buds can’t really process any other flavours – your brain just gets overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of the heat. This isn’t necessarily a pleasant sensation (as you might have figured out by now), but it is worth the $5 I spent on the bottle. I suspect that as my taste buds eventually get used to the heat, I will start tasting the other inherent flavours present in this potent creation.

Next up was Alberta Crude. The warning signs on the label were slightly less frightening: instead of being “extremely hot”, this one was only “very hot”. Haha. I tried this one by itself as well and was actually rather pleased by its mellow (er) heat index. My taste buds could detect hints of other flavours – the overall effect was that of a smoky, sweet BBQ sauce with more kick to it than a regular BBQ sauce. It went really well with the samosas I had at home, especially as the tangy notes in AC were reminiscent of tamarind chutney that samosas get traditionally served with.

Overwhelmed by how awesome these hot sauces were, I sat down at the computer to do some research on the interwebs. I knew that The Paw didn’t make the Hatari brand of hot sauces; their selection was limited to the beer-infused Grumpy Bear brand that they made in-house. Turns out there is an entire website dedicated to these hot sauces. This isn’t some mom & pop operation, it’s actually an entire line of hot sauces, bbq sauces, and dried spices that you can buy online or at retailers. BUT best of all….

IT’S ACTUALLY MADE IN CALGARY! What the what…?!IMG_0030

Turns out “Sam”, the owner of the Hatari Bros. brand, was born in Africa, but eventually settled in good ol’ Calgary, Canada for some reason and has been pumping out his potent creations throughout Canada and US. Even the name “hatari” is a Swahili reference to a chilli pepper discovered in South Central Africa…though I wasn’t able to find any references to this particular hot pepper in my quick 1 min. Google search. Also, Acid Rain, which is one of the milder hot sauces, was actually an award winner at the Fiery Food Challenge, 2000. Damn, Hatari Bros. hot sauces have been around since then? #fail.

The next morning, as I was peeing, I felt a tinge of burning sensation at the tip of my penis. All was good in the world again. Order and balance had been restored. Although slightly peeved that I didn’t know about such an epic creation right in my own city, I am nonetheless proud that some of the hottest hot sauces known to man are made in Calgary!

Good eatin’!

-Kiran

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Review of Africana Eatery & Cheers Pub

Summary: While we purely checked out this place for its quirky name, it quickly became apparent to TSD that Africana Eatery is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 


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Seriously, the only reason we checked this place out was cause of the hilarious name. That’s it. After the disastrous Calgary vs. Pittsburgh game, I suggested to Kent that we check out this place for early dinner. He didn’t even hesitate when he said yes.

Located outside the central Indian district of Falconridge, Africana is actually two steps from the massive Canada Post facility in the NE, off of Airport Blvd NE. It looked pretty ghetto/industrial from the outside, just like a good hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurant should. The mystery of the “& Cheers Pub” became clear once we got there: it was a pub attached to the restaurant by the same owner. It served the same food, in a pub-type setting…kinda similar to the whole Wicked Chilli situation.

The restaurant interior was a pleasant surprise – less hole-in-the-wall, more family-type restaurant. It wasn’t anything too memorable, except that it was actually quite nice and pleasant. Unfortunately, I seemed to have forgotten/neglected to take photos…The current owner is of Indian descent, but originally hailing from Tanzania. Apparently, he first moved to Toronto and then eventually to yyc, where he drove buses for Calgary Transit for a year. Didn’t like it too much, so he got into the restaurant business.

What Africana lacked in decor and ambiance, it made up in its menu, which was quite extensive, and covered not only East African, but North Indian and Hakka cuisines as well. The first thing the server did after she took our orders was to drop off a thali with all kinds of delicious Indian chutneys like yogurt, coconut, tamarind, and some special hot sauce from hell that even I was scared to try (honestly, chilli powder in water anyone?).

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Unfortunately for me, most of the East African dishes were non-vegetarian, so I couldn’t try any of the main courses. However, the appetizers looked pretty mouth-watering and I ended up ordering the Nairobi Bhajia (potatoes coated with flour and fried until crispy, golden brown) and Mogo (cassava fries) with Pili-Pili sauce.

Both the bhajia and the mogo looked delicious, but they tasted even better. I was floored by how delicious the appetizers were. The bhajia were perfectly spiced and battered. I tried them with almost all of the chutney’s but my favourite combination was probably with the tamarind chutney. The mogo fries also turned out to be delicious with a magnificent and satisfying crunch that was complimented by the spicy/tangy paprika sauce – they reminded Richard & I of the sweet chilli potato fries at Singh & I. So good.

Surprised to see a hakka component to their offerings, I couldn’t help but order the vegetarian Hakka noodles. I love this shit…I don’t know why. I guess it’s probably the years of eating Indian Maggi noodles that marry the concept of Chinese noodle dishes with distinctly Indian spices. Anyways, regular readers might remember the Wicked Chilli review where I pretty much trashed their version of the hakka noodles.

 Africana’s version was a 100x better. There was a right proportion of noodles to veggies; it wasn’t overly salty or greasy and you generally taste both Chinese and Indian flavours in the dish. Although I was already pretty full, I couldn’t stop shoving this sh*t into my mouth!

Richard’s Ruminations

I arrived a bit later than the other two, but was just in time to dig in to “Chuma’s World Famous Beef Ribs,” which are short ribs that you can get in a variety of wing flavours (eg. mild/medium/hot/suicide, honey garlic, teriyaki, etc.).  We got sweet-chilli flavoured ones, which fit pretty well – they were nice and tender and the serving size seemed reasonably generous.  As Kiran mentioned, the pili pili mogo was pretty kickass – and also reminded me that I still need to check out Nando’s (perhaps the most prolific purveyor of piri-piri chicken known to man).  I’m guessing pili-pili and piri-piri refer to the same pepper, but maybe that’s just because I’m Asian.

The menu appears to be mostly Indian-based (including the hakka dishes – I don’t understand why these seem to be all the rage these days), but reminding me of the way that “Chifa” restaurants in Peru are Chinese-based – where Peru seemed to have a decent amount of Chinese immigrants, east Africa had Indians.  The immigrants kept their style of cooking but utilized local ingredients – in this case, using things like cassava and pili pili chillies.  It’s a pretty successful melding, I’d say.  As their sign out front says, they do also serve several “western” dishes such as cheeseburgers and Philly cheesesteaks – handy in case there’s a picky eater in your group of friends (though I have no idea how good their burgers are).

Kent and I split a mixed thali, which had both meat and veg curries, along with tandoori chicken – it was a hell of a lot of food for one person, so I think we made the right choice by splitting.  Surprisingly the server asked us how spicy we wanted it – I wonder if they you ask for spicier whether they just grind in some more piri piri chillies into your curries?  It was pretty solid overall, though the roti was hardly a substitute for proper Indian naan.  On the plus side, the roti and rice came standard with the meal – none of that BS where you think prices look good until you realize that rice is $4.  On the downside, if you’re on the Atkin’s diet the carbs might go to waste.

Kent’s Two Cents

For an appy, I ordered a plate of beef ribs. I had to: they claimed they were world famous. They weren’t the spare ribs you would expect at a pub, but were larger beef short ribs. And you definitely get bang for your buck, not only are the ribs big and meaty (that’s what she said?), but you get a big plate of it. It could have been a full meal if I wanted it to, but I was leaving some room for an actual entree. Oh and they tasted great. Might not be the best I have had, but you get awesome value and a big selection of flavours to choose from. Some of the cuts are slightly fatty though. Oh well they are ribs.

Also an appy, the mogo fries. Also delicious. Crispy and dipped in Indian spices with tomato sauce. If you have been to Safari Grill, they are pretty much the same. I would get this stuff all the time if they served it in pubs and other watering holes.

The mix thali was made of a beef curry, chicken curry, 2 veggie curries, BBQ chicken, samosa, rice, roti, and gulab jamun as dessert. So yeah, its a lot of food for what you’re paying. Since I already scarfed down most of the beef ribs, Richard and I decided to split this one in half. Though for a single person, the mix thali alone would make you quite full. Everything was satisfying, and I wouldn’t hesitate to come again if someone asked, but I was less impressed with the main than the ribs and mogo fries. I was probably oversaturated by all the different tastes and got tired, haha.

Summary

What’s interesting is that the current owner used to co-own/run Safari Grill with his brother before they decided to part ways. Kent mentioned how similar the dishes were between the two restaurants..I guess it wasn’t creative differences that caused them to part ways…family problems?

At the end of the day though, I was blown-away. Africana is definitely a hidden gem in Calgary that must be on your “to check-out” list.

If you want to know more about East African/Indian inspired restaurants, check out the Safari Grill vs. Tiffin Curry eat-off organized by Chow down in Cow Town!

Ranking

Kiran Kent Richard
Ambiance 4/6 4/6 4/6
Service 4/6 4.5/6 3/6
Plating 4/6 4/6 4/6
Taste 6/6 5.5/6 5/6
Originality Authenticity 6/6 6/6 5/6
Value 5/6 5/6 4.5/6
Overall 29/36 = 81% 30/36 = 83% 25.5/36 = 71%

Africana Eatery & Cheers Pub on Urbanspoon