The salsa national championships.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
March 15 2005 6:02 PM

The Tangy 12

The salsa national championships.

(Continued from Page 1)

Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa Hot
Heat Index: 8.11
Average Salsa Score: 4.22 (out of 10)
Bonus Points: 0.75
Total Score: 4.97

No. 3 seed D.L. Jardine's Peach Salsa Medium (16 oz., $3.99)
vs.
No. 6 seed
Trader José's Salsa Auténtica (12 oz., $1.59)
A huge upset: Lowest seed Trader José's delivered a whopping blow to D.L. Jardine. Though no one could identify the peaches in Jardine's syrupy solution, most noted an off-putting sweetness. "Is this a dessert salsa?" asked one. I thought it tasted surprisingly like Secret Stadium Sauce, a condiment rumored to be a mixture of ketchup and Coca-Cola syrup that's slathered on bratwurst at Milwaukee Brewers games. Most agreed "it's a stretch to call this 'salsa,' but it might make a good barbecue sauce." Meanwhile, thin-salsa aficionados carried "Trader José" into the second round on the strength of its flavor and "simple" authenticity. It was clear the chunk-lovers would prevent José from further advancement, though. "This is salad dressing, right?" wrote one. Another found the salsa "so thin it might as well be enchilada sauce."

D. L. Jardine's Peach Salsa Medium
Heat Index: 1.44
Average Salsa Score: 2.44
Bonus Points: 0.25
Total Score: 2.69

Trader José's Salsa Auténtica
Heat Index: 3.44
Average Salsa Score: 3.67
Bonus Points: 0.75
Total Score: 4.42

ROUND 2
No. 1 seed
Stonewall Kitchen Spicy Tomato Salsa (16 oz., $6.59)
vs.
No. 5 seed Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa Hot
Despite its coveted first-round bye—due to its extravagant price—New Hampshire-based gourmet stalwart Stonewall Kitchen was the victim of a stunning second-round upset. A third of the testers found Stonewall's salsa to be overwhelmed by vinegar. One participant dissented, praising the salsa for quasi-homemade flavor: "It actually tastes like it has ingredients!" But Mrs. Renfro's heat easily defeated Stonewall's so-called spiciness.

Stonewall Kitchen Spicy Tomato Salsa
Heat Index: 3.22
Average Salsa Score: 3.33
Bonus Points: 0.25
Total Score: 3.58

Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa Hot
Heat Index: 8.11
Average Salsa Score: 4.22
Bonus Points: 0.75
Total Score: 4.97

No. 2 seed Desert Pepper Trading Company Corn, Black Bean, Roasted Red Pepper Salsa Medium (16 oz., $4.59)
vs.
No. 6 seed Trader José's Auténtica
A fresh, flavorful Desert Pepper Trading Company made quick work of Trader José. Though a vocal minority found Desert Pepper's mélange of black beans, corn, and other southwestern-style salsa accoutrements "kind of gross-looking," most appreciated its appearance and its "smoky," "yummy," "complex" flavor redolent of cumin and corn. All awarded points for ambition, as Desert Pepper's unique recipe distinguished itself from the other muddy-red messes.

Desert Pepper Trading Company Corn, Black Bean, Roasted Red Pepper Salsa Medium
Heat Index: 2.67
Average Salsa Score: 6.33
Bonus Points: 2.00
Total Score: 8.33

Trader José's Salsa Auténtica
Heat Index: 3.44
Average Salsa Score: 3.67
Bonus Points: 0.75
Total Score: 4.42

Safeway Regional
ROUND 1
No. 4 seed
Chi-Chi's Fiesta Salsa Medium (16 oz., $2.99)
vs.
No. 5 seed
Pace Chunky Salsa Medium (16 oz., $2.89)
Pace prevailed in this battle of second-rate salsas. Chi-Chi's was damned with faint praise, as tasters proclaimed it "not awful" and "not boring as hell." It had at least one fan, though, who exclaimed "Dude! I taste a couple of different things!" We picked out hints of green pepper, black pepper, caramelized onion, and cinnamon.