|Valentina's spiciest hot sauce carries this black label. I tried some this morning on a sweet potato frittata and baked sweet potato, below. (Updated on Nov. 18, 2014.)|
Editor's note: Today, I discuss a hot sauce that won't hide the taste of food, extra-virgin olive oil from the Middle East and Costco produce that doesn't list a weight.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Valentina Salsa Picante has been made in Mexico for 50 years and I'm hoping this wonderful hot sauce will be around for another half-century.
We were almost out of Valentina when my wife picked up two 34-ounce bottles, which were $2.49 each as part of a "Manager's Special" at Hackensack Market on Passaic Street.
Four 12-ounce bottles of Valentina were $5, so the larger bottles were a better buy. Once opened, the hot sauce requires no refrigeration.
But my wife brought home the milder of two Valentinas, and I had to exchange the bottles for ones carrying a black label and marked "Extra Hot."
This is a thick, dark-red, spicy sauce that doesn't obliterate the taste of your food. And it's a much better deal than Tabasco, which was selling for $6.79 (12 ounces) and $3.49 (5 ounces) today at ShopRite in Englewood.
Valentina is made by Salsa Tamazula, and the ingredients list is short: water, chili peppers, vinegar, salt, spices and 0.1% sodium benzoate as a preservative.
I use Valentina on fried eggs, egg-white omelets and Jamaican ackee and saltfish, and the hot sauce can elevate an ordinary veggie burger into something you actually look forward to eating.
But even Valentina can't save Meal Mart Vegan Falafel Balls, one of the few food duds I've found at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack. They are fully cooked, but extremely dry after being warmed up in the oven.
Hackensack Market, 120 Passaic St., Hackensack; 201-996-9177
Oil from Jordan
I picked up a 3-liter bottle of Nablus-brand extra-virgin olive oil at Brothers Produce in Paterson with a label that didn't specify the country of origin, so I called the importer listed, Mediterranean Expo LLC (973-553-2640).
Brothers carries more than a dozen large tins or heavy glass bottles of extra-virgin olive oil, many from Lebanon and Syria. But I was told Nablus oil is 100% Jordanian.
The price was $14.99 or about $5 a liter.
Labels on Costco Wholesale's premium fruits and vegetables don't always list the weight, so you don't really know the price per pound.
Today, I bought six mixed sweet peppers -- yellow, red and orange -- for $6.79, and three large seedless cucumbers for $3.99. Neither package had a weight listed.
On the other hand, 5.5 pounds of large Gala apples from Washington State were $7.99, and 3 pounds of bananas were $1.39.