A guilty pleasure I enjoy is hot sauce. Find the right hot sauce and it can make anything better. Everyone starts with the tried and true Tabasco. From there you can branch out and delve into the world of the insane. My local butcher has over 100 kinds of hot sauce. There’s even an annual contest for the best at Fiery Foods 2009 Scovie Awards. Heat is one thing, but flavor is even more important and much harder to find.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered both while enjoying an evening out with friends at the Old Lompoc Brewery. We shared a basket of calamari and the waitress asked if we wanted any hot sauce. Little did I know that I’d be stumbling onto one of Portland’s best kept secrets. Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce.
This hot sauce definitely brings the heat, but the flavor is so good, you keep pouring it on. It hurts so good. The label says it’s a unique Caribbean, Tex-Mex hybrid made with flavorful Habanero peppers and roasted tomatoes. And who better to bring all of this together than Scotland Barr, the original owner of Portland’s beloved Salvador Molly’s Restaurant. Scot is also a member of the popular band Scotland Barr & The Slow Drags.
Why is it called Secret Aardvark? According to Scot who grew up in Delmar, California, it’s a nostalgic nod to his past. Delmar sent out a flyer with the 25 things that constitute a gang. Scot and his buddies filled it out as a questionnaire and even made up a gang name—Secret Aardvark. When Scot sold the restaurant 8 years ago and started with 12 hot sauces, he eventually ended up with 2 favorites and decided to resurrect the Secret Aardvark name.
Hot sauces can be made with any variety of peppers. Jalapeño, Chipotle, Cayenne and Habanero and all sorts of other things including vinegar. This sauce is one of the best I’ve tasted in a long time. I’ve tried it on scrambled eggs, tossed it in corn chowder, sprinkled it on mac and cheese. It’s all good. I asked Scot what his favorite food to eat with Secret Aardvark. He paused and said, Pizza!
Secret Aardvark is made locally and part of Keep Portland Weird, a group that showcases local businesses that make Portland a more unique place to live. Locally, the only place I’ve been able to find it is Nature’s Grocery Store on Lombard. My 10 ounce bottle disappears quickly. I’m trying to locate a large jar like the one I saw at Lompoc’s that fateful night.
Amazon customers have reviews on this sauce. However, if you’re not sure, then visit Stumptown Vegans where you can sample Secret Aardvark. The photos of the food here will make you hungry. Bon Appetit!