Regular readers of our written reviews may have noticed that we’ve been on something of a salsa kick lately. While it’s probably more coincidence than anything else, it’s also yet another example of our impeccable timing. You see, May is National Salsa Month (you can read our fearless leader’s discussion of the event here), so you’re welcome to consider the recent spate of salsa-related posts as an introduction to next month. To continue the trend, I want to look at a Riba Foods product, specifically their Mango Agave Fire Roasted Salsa.
Roasted Fresh Tomato, Fresh Diced Mango, Fresh Tomato, Tomato Puree (water, tomato paste), Mango Puree, Agave Nectar, Dark Brown Sugar, Roasted Fresh Serrano Pepper, Salt, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid
The full name of this product is actually Arriba! Premier Collection – All Natural Mango Agave Fire Roasted Salsa, a name that’s nearly as long as the salsa’s list of ingredients. Although there are a few chemical compounds there at the end, I’m always happy to see a list that features mainly fresh ingredients. In particular, I love that this jar contains fresh tomatoes, mango, and serrano peppers. Ideally, that sort of fresh-fruit combination should lend this salsa a much more appealing and natural taste.
Like most salsa products, this one takes on a beautiful shade of red, certainly reflecting the presence of the tomatoes in the mix. Even better, though, is how chunky this salsa is. The mango chunks stand out in particular, so it’s not at all hard to find bits of yellowish fruit floating around in the jar. That’s the kind of thing I love to see. Right alongside the mango chunks are bits of tomato and serrano pepper as well, all of which combine to make a visually appealing product.
Smell and Taste:
Your average store-shelf salsa smells like a combination of tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Not so with this one. Although the tomatoes are certainly present, they don’t overpower the scent produced by this product. The serrano peppers are barely noticeable in the smell, but the mangoes do make themselves known quite well, so the overall smell is a nice blend of tomato and mango. Thankfully, the serrano peppers pop out a bit more in the flavor, though they ultimately do little more than complement the fruity profile of the main ingredients. Similarly, the agave nectar doesn’t quite stand out as a distinct flavor, but it really does work together quite well with the mango.
In a product like this, the serrano peppers are little more than a formality. It’s almost as though Riba Foods figured there had to be peppers in the jar somewhere in order for people to accept this stuff as salsa. Believe me, though – that’s no negative criticism. I’m only pointing out that, despite the presence of a pepper that’s pretty hot for a lot of people, this salsa easily rates a Mild. There’s a slight burn if you eat enough of it over a short period of time (as I’ve done to write this review), but it does not linger long at all. At any rate, this isn’t something to eat for its heat (my apologies for the blasphemy). Instead, eat this for its Notable, fruity flavor. Eat this because you love products made with fresh ingredients. Eat this because you want a change of pace from more traditional store-bought salsas.
If there’s a downside to fruit-based salsas, it’s that many people may consider them less utilitarian than their more standard, restaurant-style brethren. Picture this, though: a whole grilled chicken breast, sitting on a bed of long-grain rice, topped with Mango Agave Fire Roasted Salsa. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Or perhaps it could find its way on top of some fresh tamales. Its sweet, fruity flavor also makes it a great dessert, a somewhat healthier alternative to a bowl of ice cream.