While I can’t say that I can think of any salsa that represents Florida on its own, the idea of a mango salsa based on the Datil Chile Pepper certainly comes quite close. With Florida’s proximity and influences from the various Caribbean isles, the use of mangoes seems like it would have a natural pathway in to the cuisine. The Datil chile, for those that are not aware, are grown extensively in Florida, and as far as flavor goes, they are close to the habanero, but have a flavor described more as fruity and sweet than the habanero, which is known more for it’s citrus-like flavor. Bringing that in to work with the mango could work well, and while I don’t have many assumptions at this point, I do like where the labeling is going, as there is an overwater dock with several bay-side type businesses, ranging from a fish and tackle shop, to various seafood eateries, and of course, and place to get a cold beer. They even keep it fairly humble, but confident, quoting that “It’s not the original… It’s not world famous… It’s just awesome!!!”. Hopefully at the end of this I’ll be able to call this a wonderful addition to some seafood, and then wander off with the jar to get some fish and drink a few cold ones.
As a bit of a surprise, the ingredient list is much more traditional that I originally expected. I was thinking this was going to be some exotically flavored sweet Caribbean salsa, but it seems to be more of a adaptation off of the more traditional styles from Mexico, but with a Floridian twist. Here’s what we’ve go in the jar: Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Mangoes, Brown Sugar, Onions, Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Bell Peppers, Water, Cilantro, Lime Juice, Datil Peppers, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Citric Acid, and Cumin.
Cracking open the jar, one of the first things you notice is the texture, which has a good uniform medium thickness, which if there was a “dipability” scale, would score fairly high, with well sized chunks, as well as a pourable, but slightly thick base to it. That uniform texture keeps the coloring fairly uniform as well, taking on a somewhat medium red pasta sauce look to it. The Vinegar, Tomatoes, Onion, and what comes across as sweet bell peppers are the primary aromas you pick out, and it would be pretty difficult to determine that this wasn’t a standard salsa by its aroma. The one thing you would notice is that the aroma of jalapeno is wholly missing, but there isn’t much to suggest what chile is taking its place.
The flavor of this opens up as being slightly sweet and tart, with the brown sugar and mango being quite evident, and the combination of brown sugar, onion, tomato, vinegar, and black pepper takes your mouth on a very, very short trip in to southern BBQ space, and then yanks you back in to it being a salsa, with the black pepper and Datil finishing up on the back end, with a sustained burn from the Datil. The heat level stays in the Mild space, even after eating quite a bit of it, so it’s one you could use for sustained snacking at mainstream parties. I can’t get away from the short sensation of light, homemade, fruity southern BBQ that came through, and it ends up being a plus. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t inherently BBQ flavored, but the idea of doing something like smoked oysters and tossing it in this to give a slightly savory and sweet touch is sounding pretty awesome right now. I guess that means I get to take this Nice salsa to the local oyster bar and grab a few beers.