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BOUNTY: Hey, Hot Heads!

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 11:22
Hot sauces from La Fondita come in at a 6/10 and 2/10, respectively, on the heat scale.
Judy D'Mello

Scientists say that consuming spicy foods causes a boost in happy-making neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins. So, what are you waiting for? These small-batch, handcrafted hot sauces, made by East End alchemists from locally grown peppers, offer happiness in a bottle. There's something for everyone here from seasoned heat-seekers to spice novices.

Kimchi Jews

From a Bridgehampton basement come the naughtiest hot sauces of the Hamptons, brewed up by the bad boy of flavor, Jason Weiner, chef at Almond restaurant. Everything that is lush about Asian food is in these bottles: spice, smokiness, umami, a garlicky edge, salt, and sugar. You’ll happily eat anything and everything with their Smoked Green Sriracha on it (Heat scale: 5/10). And, once you've tried their homemade versions of Sriracha and Tabasco sauces (Heat scale: both  7/10), you'll never reach for the dull, supermarket varieties again. Available at the L & W Market on Bridgehampton Main Street.

Springs Fireplace

Cultivating chili-pepper varieties that vary in aroma, pep, and punch at the Hoppy Acre farm in Amagansett is where it all begins for the Springs Fireplace hot-sauce range. Tesuque, made from New Mexican peppers of the same name, offers a mild heat and citrusy notes (Heat scale: 3/10). The Aji Peach, with Aleppo pepper, peach, and citrus, isn't super-spicy, either. Nor is it sweet as the name might imply; i's fresh and summery, as well as fragrant and tangy with hot spice. (Heat scale: 4/10).

La Fondita

The O.G. hot-sauce maker of the Hamptons, La Fondita smokes its own chipotles for a sauce that is still one of the best you can drizzle on your tacos. Or  eggs. Or anything, really. Intense, with an almost-charred flavor that comes through the spice, it's punchy enough to transform any meal in seconds (heat scale: 6/10). Those who like less heat — "no pica” — should try Fondita’s tangy tomatillo sauces, which also makes a great dip (heat scale: 2/10).  Available at La Fondita takeout Mexican restaurant on Montauk Highway in Amagansett.

Amber Waves

The beautiful color of a fine-looking bottle of Cherry Bomb Sauce — a testament to the superior produce grown at this lovely, nonprofit Amagansett farm — is not quite matched by its flavor: The ratio of vinegar may be too high for some tastes, rendering the acidic end product rather runny and drowning out the delicate, cayenne-like taste of those gorgeous cherry-bomb peppers. However, Amber Waves Cherry Bomb Sauce might just be a perfect entrée to the world of heat for the timid and Tobasco-resistent! (Heat scale: 3/10.) Available at Amber Waves Farm, Market, and Cafe on Main Street in Amagansett.

Greenport Fire

This dedicated hot-sauce (and cigar) store in Greenport curates a large selection from around the country at varying levels on the Scoville scale. (That’s the heat-rating index for chili peppers.) Top Secret Truffle Hot Sauce, from a Long Island enterprise called the 516 Sauce Co. — for the original Suffolk County phone exchange — is a blend of peppers and truffles that is complex and zingy with a rising heat (heat scale: 6/10). Beets-N-Fresno is not produced on the East End but is included here because it's delicious and can be purchased locally. Beets offer a natural sweetness and earthy flavor to this mild sauce that's more relish-like — and that glorious, deep-burgundy color makes it an ideal alternative to ketchup if you're hosting a more adventurous barbecue (heat scale: 2/10). Available from Greenport Fire on Main Street in Greenport. 

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