Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Familia Lopez salsa knocks Original Juan right out of your mouth

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:15 AM

It's our own version of Man vs. Salsa.
  • It's our own version of Man vs. Salsa.

Jalapenos have a way of hanging around you like a friend who has overstayed his welcome on your couch. You're never happy to see either the next day, especially when you told yourself this was the last time you'd sit down for a meal together.

Jalapenos are the star of Familia Lopez salsa (the bottled version of the table salsa at Manny's in the Crossroads) and Batch #218 Smoked Jalapeno Salsa from Original Juan Specialty Foods on Southwest Boulevard. Fat City put these two local salsas in bowls to determine which would emerge from the fire on our lips as the victor.

click to enlarge This salsa blankets chips like a fiery coat.
  • This salsa blankets chips like a fiery coat.

With the salsas picked, I opted for a local chip as well. Silva's Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips (made in Kansas City, Kansas) are thin, as salty as good movie popcorn, and taste freshly fried.

Familia Lopez Hot Salsa: This salsa plops out of the container with a thick splat. If that sounds unappetizing, well, it was a bit gross. But aural presentation aside, the consistency and bright red color are consistent with what you expect to find in a bowl of restaurant salsa.

The salsa is lip-smacking hot. I drank water pretty freely while tasting, but I also felt compelled to keep eating. The salsa sticks to the chips well, adding the heat of the peppers but still allowing the saltiness of the chips to come through.

click to enlarge This is salsa you could eat with a fork.
  • This is salsa you could eat with a fork.
Batch #218 Smoked Jalapeno Salsa:

This is a thick salsa with big chunks of tomato; it's essentially a hearty salsa stew. My first two chips shattered under the sheer weight of this salsa, leading me to make tortilla chip sandwiches in an effort to get some of this smoked jalapeno salsa to my mouth.

Despite being labeled "medium," this is a spicy salsa. The smoky flavor is immediate, but the heat tempers the sweetness that can make some smoked peppers cloying. The finish is that of the jalapeno, clean and hot on your tongue.

The Verdict:
The micro-batch Smoked Jalapeno Salsa suffers from a fatal taste-association incompatibility. The smokiness is pleasant but too reminiscent of barbecue sauce. Once I made that comparison, I could no longer enjoy it. This was similar to the moment I realized some cheap champagne tastes like bacon. 

The clear winner is the Familia Lopez Hot Salsa. It's hot and addictive. And it's made me realize that I don't mind if the jalapenos in the jar decide to stick around for a few more days.

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