Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I’d often walk the beach with my head bent low, toes kicking up the surf, scouring the shore for that illusive message-in-a-bottle I’d read about in my bedtime stories. Something meaningful, sent out into the world for someone to find and treasure. Now, many years later, I’ve finally found that message-in-a-bottle I’ve been searching for. It’s called Ocean Soul, and the newest addition to the Black Spot Hot Sauce family. And the story is better than I could ever have imagined.
When Calvin approached me at the end of last year with a box of beautiful bottles of hot sauce, I was immediately intrigued and excited. This, to me, didn’t feel like just another product review; there was something different here. I eagerly tucked in and found a story behind his inspiration, a flame behind his passion, a drive behind his ideas.
I want to think I’m a bit of a storyteller by nature and Black Spot Hot Sauce presented me with the perfect opportunity to tell someone’s story through words and images. Exit the Kraken, Calvin’s first hot sauce to hit the South African market, was just what the storyteller and the foodie in me were craving all these years. This red habanero and black coffee hot sauce hit all the right spots and our many conversations about his inspiration, determination and energy added layers of depth and flavour to the end-result.
Setting the scene
I’ve come to realise that each person’s story is infused with their experiences. The good, the bad and the in-betweens that life so generously adds to the cooking pot of our lives. You can’t extract emotion, feeling and understanding from your story as it essentially contributes to defining your unique flavour; your individuality. That is why I find cooking such an emotive process; a taste, a scent, an ingredient – they can all conjure up memories of your past which might leave you feeling happy or sad; nostalgic or sentimental.
Ocean Soul is one of these experiences where the story has seeped into the bottle, along with the beautiful ingredients that makes it the ultimate message-in-a-bottle.
When we lose someone, subconsciously our greatest goal becomes keeping their name in people’s mouths and conversations. We try to immortalise; we want to remember.
Mike Dowson is the man who moved Calvin to pursue his passion of making hot sauce and to grow his own chillies. But more than being Calvin’s kick-starter; he was a good friend. Unfortunately, Mike passed away unexpectedly on the 22nd of February 2016. Mike’s unadulterated passion and relentless pursuit of life and ideas lives on in Ocean Soul today.
The fresh flavours echo his personality and the beautifully layered heat of Ocean Soul is representative of his desire to live a full, simple, inspired and true life. And the addition of Tequila, you might ask? Well, let’s just say it’s a salute to chasing dreams through the encouragement of those who will forever live on in you and through you.
We decided to take Ocean Soul back to the beach for a photo shoot. Kommetjie seemed to be the logical place to go as it holds libraries full of stories for me; from childhood memories to promises of new beginnings and special sunsets with special people. My wingman photographer braved his equipment (and dry clothes!), but he got some epic shots of Ocean Soul in its natural environment; capturing a few moments in time to immortalise the soul inspiration behind this hot sauce.
The taste test
Ocean Soul doesn’t seek to compete with Exit the Kraken; in fact, with its surprising combination of hand-picked jalapénos, coriander, green peppers, apples, honey and Gold Tequila, it’s quite the opposite of its feisty redheaded, hot-tempered sibling. I decided it needed something hearty; something with soul. A whole slow-roasted free-range chicken, steeped in an Ocean Soul and lemon-infused avocado oil marinade, paired with a pan of rainbow Mediterranean roasted veggies, lemony green beans and baked baby sweet potatoes. But the gravy on top was…well. Literally that! Here’s my recipe for what I call “Soul Sauce:”
Recipe: Soul Sauce
(all measurements to taste, these are just estimates! I’m no chef…)
- Cooking cream (I found a little box of cooking cream from my local Checkers, but you can also use double/heavy cream)
- 2 tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped finely (don’t use the ready-made stuff, please!)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly zested lemon rind
- Handful of finely chopped chives or coriander
- A few good glugs of Black Spot Hot Sauce’s Ocean Soul
- A glug of lemon-infused avocado oil (Westfalia is the best!), or any good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste (but probably not even necessary)
- Start with a glug of oil and butter melting in a pot over a moderate heat.
- Add your finely chopped garlic and sauté for a few minutes, but don’t let the garlic turn colour!
- Take your pot off the heat momentarily and add your flour to make a roux. Blend well and at this point you can change your wooden spoon for a whisk.
- Add your cooking cream and move the pot back onto the heat, whisking continuously to get rid of any lumps and to allow the sauce to thicken. Don’t stop whisking!
- Add Ocean Soul to taste – I really went to town on it!
- Once it’s thickened sufficiently (it should still be dripping from the whisk!) add your lemon rind and finely chopped chives/coriander and stir in.
- Take it off the heat and let it mellow for a bit.
This sauce was the epitome of deliciousness. Creamy, spicy, lemony, tangy and fresh. I simply couldn’t get enough of it, and it’s the easiest thing to make with food cupboard staples. It paired like a dream with the lemony chicken and added a nice zing to the fluffy sweet potatoes. What I really enjoyed was the subtle hum and buzz of the jalapéno-y hotness, without overpowering the delicate flavour nuances of the dish.
“Soul Sauce” will perfectly compliment chicken, fish, egg or red meat dishes. Potatoes. Braai. Steaks. In fact, just about anything and everything.
Where to find Black Spot Hot Sauce
You can find Black Spot Hot Sauce on the Interwebs, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Give his Facebook page a like to be updated with events, offers or to order your hit of flavour online. He also delivers nationwide. Score!
It’s messages in bottles like this one that keeps me doing what I’m doing. Stories feed the soul and the soul must be nourished and watered always. Calvin outdid himself with Ocean Soul – it’s innovative, it’s fresh, it’s jampacked with passion and flavour and memories. Once again, the labelling is out of this world and I absolutely love the merman who reminds of the man who believed in ideas.
Each bottle of Ocean Soul holds the evidence of dreams becoming reality, of passions turning into products, of soul and heart being bottled. This one’s for you, Mike.
Second photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson