Sunday, May 3, 2015

Product Review: JayD's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

By Dru Chai

In the ultra competitive world of BBQ sauces, there's no doubt that marketing and branding play a huge role. Safe to say, a celebrity-chef backed BBQ sauce would more than likely entice a fan to pick up the sauce off the shelf without even tasting it. Other no-name brand sauces need to go the extra mile, like provide taste tests or demos in the market.

I met food blogger Jay Ducote during last year's World Food Championships in Las Vegas, and we immediately struck up a conversation about New Orleans (although he was quick to point out that he's from Baton Rouge) and BBQ. He launched JayD's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and has been competing on Food Network shows ever since.

I'm a big fan of cajun and creole cuisine -- though not an authority, I know it's all about bold, strong flavors. After visiting New Orleans for the first time a couple of years ago, I've been wanting to return ever since. I could easily gain 10 pounds after a few days of eating there.

I got a hold of JayD's BBQ sauce and it's easily one of the best designed and branded BBQ sauces I've ever seen. From the distinct bottle shape to the clean label to the sealed sticker with Jay's signature and date -- everything is nice touch, down to the last "small batch."

Looks great, but how does it taste? Good, but the sauce needs more kick. For something that's labeled Louisiana BBQ sauce, I expected some powerful cajun spices, more cayenne, more heat. However, there is a strong Worcestershire sauce flavor in the sauce, which would be a perfect secret ingredient for making chili, stew, and gumbo.

Dirty Smoke rating (3.5 out of 5 stars)
Recommended... if you like Worcestershire sauce.

Product Review: Rattler BBQ Sauce from Chris Santos

By Dru Chai

Plenty of products flood the multi-billion BBQ industry all year around, but there's something different about May, which is National BBQ Month. The weather is starting to get warmer, so dust off those grills and smokers!

I always find myself looking at BBQ sauces when I'm grocery shopping, just to see what's new. Recently I got around to trying out Rattler BBQ sauce, from celebrity chef and Food Network's Chopped judge Chris Santos.

Whenever I'm reviewing BBQ sauces, I like to read the description on the label to see if it matches up with what I'm actually tasting. Here's an excerpt from Rattler BBQ:

Rattler Barbeque Sauce features spicy Cascabel chilis, which, like the rattlesnake, are known for their distinctive bite – the name Cascabel actually translates to rattle.

The intrinsic smokiness of this complex pepper is paired with vine-ripened tomatoes, rich molasses, robust coffee, and touch of soy as well as organic honey and raisins for sweetness.

Upon first glance at the label, one would think that this BBQ sauce is spicy, and would really "bite" you in the ass. Unfortunately, I didn't taste much of a kick at all. The whole rattlesnake theme made for a nice label and marketing pitch, but it just didn't fit with the overall taste of the sauce.

I've never heard of the Cascabel chili, and I suspect not many people have either -- it didn't provide much of a distinctive or unique flavor. There was a hint of smokiness, but the tomato-based sauce is on the sweet side. For my tastebuds, I did taste plenty of raisins and not much else. Overall, the BBQ sauce was very underwhelming. I expected bigger, bolder, spicier flavors -- and not raisin-flavored BBQ sauce.

Dirty Smoke BBQ Rating (2.5 out of 5 stars)
Recommended... if you like raisins.