When you find a brand that’s as feisty and fiery as the person whose hands and mind conceptualised it, you know you’re onto a scorching hot winner. People of the Mother City – be prepared to get your socks blown off with the arrival of PIPER, the Original Gangster of Piri-Piri. You can hear it calling – don’t get left behind!
PIPER piri-piri sauces sizzled onto my radar a few months ago and let’s just get straight into the spoiler alert: I’m seriously addicted in all the right ways!
Exploding onto the Cape Town culinary scene with an appropriately sized bang, PIPER has launched their range of three homemade piri-piri sauces with seriously hot names: the Serrano Slingshot, the Mixed Molotov and the Habanero Hand-Grenade.
Just like their branding, these sauces are bold, feisty and a just little bit sexy. Handcrafted from fresh, quality produce, with a focus on wholesome #ProudlySouthAfrican and #LocalIsLekker vibes, PIPER is steadily winning the hearts and taste buds of Cape Town.
Founded in September 2019, PIPER is the brainchild of the three original gangsters of piri-piri who make up the dream chilli team:
Matthew Small: Owner and Founder, Product Creator and Head of Sales.
Gillian Riley: Chief Operation Officer
Dylan Morris: Creative Director
A South African first, the hearty trio went all in and entered the tough entrepreneurial scene with only a vision in their mind and a secret recipe in their pocket. After years of research, market analysis, taste testing, collaborations and cooking up the perfect sauce, they decided to unleash the chilli-goodness on the people of Cape Town earlier this year.
The take-up was incredible and soon PIPER was headlining at festivals, shows and markets. People in the streets were licking their lips and begging for more. PIPER’s following has grown substantially over the last few months, and it’s been a steady climb to world domination. Which, of course, is written casually into their business plan.
I met with Matthew and Dylan one afternoon to introduce me to PIPER. Looking super suave and armed with a caddy of piri-piri sauces and tasting bottles, they make quite the impression. Literally the ying and yang of PIPER, Matthew and Dylan feed off each other’s untempered energy, ideas, inspiration, enthusiasm and unadulterated passion. It quickly caught on as I found myself participating in a very animated conversation with two guys who not only fully believe in what they are doing, but live, breathe and (obviously!) eat their product every day. It didn’t take anything more than a few minutes for me to realise they’re serious about quality, they’re committed to taste and they’re chockablock with pure passion and drive.
After an invigorating introduction and a quick back-of-the-hand tasting of the PIPER range, I immediately knew I’ve struck liquid gold in the product and in the people behind it. I somehow knew that I’ve been PIPER’ed into a whole new way of experiencing food.
The taste test
Later that week and a few half bottles of PIPER later, I decided the best way to conduct the “official” taste test was to make a tray of crispy, gnarly, oven baked potato wedges. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate vessel to lap up the spicy goodness of the sauces, with minimal taste interference. (Editor’s note: the “unofficial” taste tests were conducted on all breakfasts, lunches and dinners during the preceding week, hence the half-empty bottles on the photos!)
I quickly rustled up the wedges one evening, tossed and coated in a good quality olive oil, with just a pinch of salt. I ceremoniously seated myself at the dining room table, ready to engage with some serious tasting and pairing business. I had to take a moment to reflect. It’s on days like this, where I sit with a tray of steaming potatoes in my one hand and three bottles of piri-piri sauce in the other hand, that I absolutely love my life.
Ingredients: garlic, serrano chilli, bird’s eye chilli, vinegar, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, secret spice
Tasting notes: A little warmer than a habanero chilli, this serrano-based sauce is the perfect ingredient for quick, homemade salsas, relishes and stews. A lovely, green bite with just the right amount of adrenaline, the Serrano slingshot is probably my favourite OG.
The Little Hedonist’s food pairing suggestions: Add liberal dashes of the Serrano slingshot to a chunky tomato salsa to accompany your nachos, or to your guacamole to zhoosh it up to new levels. A great addition to Mexican-inspired bean stews and hearty meat-based dishes. Having said that, don’t be shy to turn this piri-piri into a zingy marinade for fish, mixed with some good quality olive oil, lemon juice and fresh dill. The Slingshot simply loves fresh herbs, like coriander, mint or basil.
Ingredients: garlic, habanero chilli, Asian chilli, serrano, vinegar, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, secret spice
Tasting notes: As its name suggests, this one is feisty. But don’t run for cover just yet – this hand-grenade is filled with flavour, without the pain.
The Little Hedonist’s food pairing suggestions: This piri-piri sauce loves itself some good fats. Think juicy lamb chops, marbled steaks or even bacon and eggs. The heat will be tempered by the fats in the food and will mellow out the hand-grenade to a satisfactory boom, leaving you with a full-mouth experience of intense flavour, instead of searing heat. Don’t be scared to experiment with creamy cheeses, braai’ed chicken and even sandwiches or oven-roasted vegetables – the Habanero Hand-grenade is on stand-by for any occasion!
Ingredients: garlic, bird’s eye chilli, habanero, green chilli, vinegar, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, secret spice
Tasting notes: Now we’re talking intense flavour. The very aptly named Mixed Molotov is an explosion of flavours and various levels of heat kicking in at different times. An absolute taste experience if you like a bit of a thrill. Still, even with a potent blend of bird’s eye, habanero and green chillis, this piri-piri delivers flavour over burn every time.
The Little Hedonist’s food pairing suggestions: The amateur cook’s best friend, this Mixed Molotov. Great in Asian-inspired dishes like bright veggie stir-fries, coconut-based curries, salads, marinades and soups. It doesn’t compete with any flavour and doesn’t add bulk to the dish. The Mixed Molotov promises a great hum after the initial punch.
I’ve cleared a shelf in my fridge for the magic trio of PIPER sauces. Life’s toughest decision these days is which one I’ll use to add a touch of magic to my food. If you’re a foodie, a food-curious, a keen cook, a spice-lover, a heat-chaser or simply one who needs a bit of flavour in your life, follow the PIPER. I promise you, it will lead your taste buds to unchartered territory!
Thank you PIPER, for opening my eyes to a new way of experiencing flavour, and thank you for sharing the best-kept secret recipe for the OG of piri-piri sauce with the people of the Mother City! It’s time to lick your lips!
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.