At home, he always tinkered with recipes. So when Vizer struck upon a hot sauce recipe he particularly liked, he solicited Dougal McLean — his longtime friend, bandmate and fellow restaurant-industry veteran — as a sounding board for his new concoction.
“I threw it on some eggs and pretty much the first words out of my mouth were ‘Zing, tang!’ because that is the flavour profile,” McLean said. “It’s got zing and it’s got some tang.”
Last year, after much pressure from friends and family, Vizer made the decision to go public with his hot-sauce recipe. Before doing so, he brought McLean onboard as his partner. With a product name and logo created by McLean, based upon a recipe from Vizer, Zing Tang hot sauce was born.
What makes the sauce unique, according to Vizer, is one of its core ingredients — rhubarb — which he happened upon one night after acquiring a surplus of it from his mother-in-law.
“I hate rhubarb pie, so one night I was sitting there and it came to me that I could make hot sauce.”
McLean, a classically trained violinist, Larsen School of Music instructor and rootsy solo artist, and Vizer, a highly regarded drummer who earns his keep in the popular folk duo Jon and Roy, are longtime fixtures of the Victoria music scene. That, combined with the fact Zing Tang is a local product, was too much for retailers to resist.
Zing Tang is available in 10 locations in Greater Victoria, including the Root Cellar, Niagara Grocery, the Market on Yates and two Red Barn locations, among others. The sauce is also available in Kitsilano at Parthenon Supermarket.
Customer feedback, according to Vizer, always comes back to the involvement of rhubarb — which, despite being frequently recognized as a vegetable, is technically a fruit. It’s an unusual ingredient in the hot sauce world, to say the least.
“It’s quite unique. I’ve made hot sauce at restaurants before, and usually it’s a combination of peppers, vinegar, water and an assortment of salt and sugar. We’ve searched, and I haven’t found any with [rhubarb]. As far as we can tell, we’re the only one.”
Zing Tang, which is available in 300-ml bottles, retails for $7.99, on average. Vizer managed to get the list of ingredients down to seven (habañero chili peppers, organic cane sugar, oranges, rhubarb, vinegar, water and onions) and was able to avoid the use of salt.
“We wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but also make sure it didn’t have any preservatives or anything unnatural in there,” he said.
Vizer and McLean are celebrating their creation tonight at the Breakwater Café and Bistro with the Zing Tang End of Summer Fiesta. A loosely assembled roster of friends will appear alongside Vizer and McLean, who spent six years as bandmates in Jon and Roy.
Opening the band to a wider audience in Canada gave the two friends an early glimpse of what it would be like to run a small business together. McLean says that experience was invaluable when launching Zing Tang.
“When you’ve had the experience of selling music for long enough, creating a product that people can hold in their hands was natural and easy for us. We both realized, unknowingly, that we had quite a bit of sales experience.”
That will come in handy. The Zing Tang braintrust has another strain of hot sauce coming down the pike, one made with local ingredients that is “highly creative,” Vizer said.
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HOUSTON HOT SAUCE FESTIVAL
Source: Carol Borge / HOUSTON HOT SAUCE FESTIVAL
H-Town will be tripping in sauce this weekend for the Hot Sauce Festival 2015 as award-winning vendors from all over the country, and even outside the country, gather to showcase their goods.
You’ll find everything from salsa, marinade, rubs, dips, and of course hot sauce just waiting to test your taste buds.
The festival will be Saturday 19th 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 20th 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 with free parking at the Stafford Centre.
The Boom Street Team will be out Saturday to see just how hot the fire really is.
So I have to admit, when I saw the message from Doug, I was like “what the heck does HE want.” Nah, Doug and I go way back actually and when he asked me to dust off the the reviewers hat, for him I was happy to do it. You will have to bear with me, I am a little rusty. But it’s pretty much like riding a bike in my humble opinion.
Now I’m not going to lie, when I saw and heard that the sauce I was coming out of retirement to review was from Montana, I don’t think you would hold it against me in my thinking… Montana? Really? Face it, Montana is not synomos with hot sauce production. Admit it, it’s just not a powerhouse state like Louisiana, Texas, California, or Florida. So when I opened the box addressed from the great state of Montana my first thought was, Mr. Wayne you have an entire state to represent here. With his name sake sauce, Arthur Wayne did his Montana peeps proud I’m here to tell you.
As a semi-obsessed hot sauce collector, my first determination around a new sauce is its label and artwork. To me, a label has to peek the interest of a consumer with enough lure them to purchase. Now I am not a graphic designer, a marketing dynamo, nor is this Shark Tank. What I will say is in no way a critique, the label does it’s job. I found myself looking at the design and again from my collectors eye, knowing the label would stand out on my shelf so subsiqently it would stand out on a grocers or retail shelf as well. And it doesn’t have a picture of him, his pet or his child…. Score! Marketable to a mass audience and more importantly for someone just getting ramped up, sellable to a distributor who could get it visibility across the nation or more.
After the label, my next stop on the Arthur Wayne journey is appearance. What does the sauce look like, I ALWAYS shake the bottle thoroughly. It’s important to me to blend and mix the sauce well. To ensure all of the sauce compenents marry before I dive in. This sauce has a beautiful orange-red color, with visible pulp, seeds, black pepper and spices. It is on the thinner side but holds together well on plate and is not runny.
There’s nothing like opening a brand new and new to you hot sauce, to me it’s always like opening a present. There’s that quiver of excitement in your belly and the anticipation rush you get that’s almost addictive. When I cracked the seal and like a fine wine, I smelled the cap, the comforting aroma of vinegar and peppers welcomed me. Honestly there’s nothing like it.
I quickly shook a few drops on the back of my hand, Habanero’s jumped out of the vinegar first and foremost. This sauce is a difinite Louisiana styled sauce, vinegar pronounced and front forward. I find that the vinegar opens my taste buds and helps set the tone and heat of the peppers. Arthur Wayne nails the balance of flavor and heat in this sauce. The Habs are not over powering at all and the subtle spice background complexity is very flavorful. I would place the heat level at a solid high 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, it is a nice even qeel medium/hot that is not a barn burner and a great sauce for beginners and anyone with a “normal” heat tolerance who is looking to take a step up.
I took the “Dime” sauce with me out to dinner with Jim Campbell, yeah I’m name dropping, when he was in town for a night. My meal was a Southwest burger with Green Chile and a side of house made potato chips. I first tried the sauce with this chips and quickly ended up dousing my burger with it, actually hit it twice to add more. It was amazing on the chips, it went well with the saltiness and crunch. But man did it brighten up the burger, I find the fruitiness of the Habanero really adds to a good piece of meat or a well cooked burger. Honestly my burger was over cooked for my preference, but still damn tasty, and more credit in this case thanks to the sauce.
Another of my favorite traits in a hot sauce is a simple, easy to pronounce ingredient list. Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of complexity and layering flavors, but it again in my humble and very personal opinion, the simpler and purer the better. There is a time, place and need for everything right, I get it. But, in my perfect little hot sauce world, simplicity is next to Godliness.
Today I’m taking a look at a seasonal sauce crafted by Shellie from Sweet Heat Gourmet – Strawbango. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Sweet Heat is that Shellie works with local farmers exclusively so if a farmer doesn’t have the product she “can’t” make the sauce. Initially Shellie only had enough strawberries to make one batch of this sauce which sold out very fast, but she (Shellie) was able to acquire some more product to make a second batch. Let’s take a look at the ingredients of this sauce
Fresh Strawberries, Mangos, Habanero Peppers, Apple Cider Vinegar, Honey, Spices.
Another clean and sharp looking label from Sweet Heat. There isn’t a lot going on which is one thing I like about it. I’m starting to enjoy the label on hot sauces more but it’s always nice to see a simple label.
Aroma and Texture:
Presented to me right away once I removed the cap is the very beautiful and natural scent of the strawberry and mango tag-team followed by a slight habanero addition. I’m not detecting any vinegar or a specific spice and the honey is there just enough to complement the sweet and fruity aroma that this sauce totes. This sauce is very fresh and natural smelling which is to be expected when talking about Sweet Heat Gourmet – very inviting. The texture of this sauce is on the medium-thick side which sticks to food nicely. I don’t prefer a specific texture to a sauce but it’s always nice to see a nice and hearty one.
Wow! Much like the aroma, the taste of this sauce is very fruit forward. The strawberry is the star of the show and is the first taste to hit my palate with mango not far behind. The honey is more bold in the taste than the aroma – it’s not overbearing but it’s just more “vocal” if you will. Much like the other sauces I’ve sampled from Sweet Heat Gourmet, there isn’t anything artificial tasting about this sauce and makes me really appreciate and recognize Shellie’s passion for keeping things as local as possible. Whenever I have a simple and delicate fruity sauce like this, one thing that comes to mind is a nice soft creamy cheese. I thought this would be a great pairing for a brie and pear sandwich. The soft cheese mixed very well with this sauce and accented the fruity pear flavor nicely. I also had this on a strawberry shortcake which was a knockout as well as chocolate ice cream which was a strawbanGO. This sauce is very versatile.
Sweet Heat Gourmet has been a company (so far) that aims for a mild to medium burn and this sauce is no exception. This one has a nice mouth burn that isn’t anything that will make you panic and try to find relief. That said, this sauce gets a 3 out of 10 on the heat-o-meter.
This is yet another winner from Sweet Heat Gourmet. The freshness of this sauce is hard to top and will leave you satisfied on several levels: your need for something sweet and a sauce with a nice little burn. If you’re a fan of fruity hot sauce then look no further. This is a seasonal sauce so act fast because once it’s gone it’s gone until next year. I wish this wasn’t a seasonal sauce and that’s the only complaint that I have about this sauce but at the same time I really like that because it just shows that Shellie really cares about the quality of her sauce and wants to deliver the very best that she can. Thank you so very much for reading my review and as always, stay on the spicy side of life, it’s more fun that way.