Ashton had been telling me what seemed to be a tall tale of a hot sauce store in the Kensington/Normal Heights area, but couldn't QUITE seem to remember where it was! Due to his lack of a specific location and inability to find it again, I doubted this fabled land until one day last week we were driving down Adams when lo and behold! My eye was caught by a large red sign proclaiming "HOT HOT HOT!" hot sauces! Slamming on the brakes and careening to a stop I wildly parked in a frenzy of excitement and then casually strolled in to cut down on the craziness factor. California-Antilles Trading is a small place on the cusp of Kensington, easily overlooked from the street, but cozy and pleasant inside. It's not a large store with a ton of items, but the man behind the counter was extraordinarily pleasant and knowledgeable about his spiced wares. A former professor of sociology (or anthropology or some ology) from SUNY, his studies brought him to the Caribbean on a regular basis, and with repeated requests from his colleagues to bring back tasty salsas and marinades, he thought, why not go into business for this? Now retired from teaching, he came to San Diego for the hell of it and opened up the place. Some life, huh?
With Father's Day only a few days away, I figured, what do all dads (especially mine) love? Hot sauce! My dad is the king of BBQ and hot sauces, so this was a great find for picking him up a little something. With the guidance of the owner, I picked out a great local roasted chipotle/garlic sauce, a medium flavored habanero sauce, and as a gag the "Ass Reaper" (with a hooded bottle complete with skull face). However, based on the selection I wanted a little treat for myself! He had a few samples of salsa out, but this one stood out head and shoulders over the rest:
This was a fantastic, smoky flavored mild salsa that had the perfect texture and exploded with flavor. He recommended it as a great chip dip, or even to spread over poultry, fish, or fruit to add a fantastic flavor without burning tastebuds. I love hot stuff, but this flavor just knocked my socks off. Normally I avoid the mild section, turning my nose up and not even considering anything less than medium and 90% of the time hot, but this lingering smokiness with a full-bodied pepper flavor was absolutely spectacular. A perfect choice for a community munch-fest with wimps attending who still love flavor.