How To Load Your Man Cave With the Right Snacks
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I’d like to thank Maryam and Sue at RMD Advertising, and especially the good folks at Rudolph Foods for reaching out to me and offering info about their company, recipes, tips for stocking your man cave with snacks and even some goodies for a contest!

Also – I’m going to do an interview with company founder Mark Singleton!

So while you’re waiting for the contest (wanna win free pork rinds??), go ahead an poke around the Rudolph sites:



Check out yummy recipes, huntin’ stories and more – MAN TALES

Review – Espresso Bean Balsamic BBQ Sauce
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You may have read my review of the Queen Creek Olive Mill, a cool local attraction. I was there picking up a gift a few weeks ago and saw some BBQ sauce that I really had to try!

Coffee (espresso) is one of my favorite flavors when it comes to barbecue. I love it in sauces, and I especially love it incorporated into rubs, so I was anxious to give this sauce a try.

It was amazing! You get the deep, rich notes of espresso – they weren’t stingy, but it doesn’t overpower the sauce either.I also loved the tangy, swirling flavor of balsamic – those 2 flavors are the perfect partners! This sauce has exactly what I enjoy – complexity. It’s cool t take a bit of something and have a whole bunch of different flavors bouncing around in your mouth!

The sauce is thick, with some chunks in it too – this isn’t some goop that was pureed to death.It is a great consistency, and very flavorful. I have used it on pork, on chicken and even in some sandwiches!

Although the Queen Creek Olive Mill is a local attraction, you can absolutely buy online too! Visit their store – I guarantee you could spend an entire morning or afternoon browsing online just like you could at their real store in Queen Creek! You can learn more about their great sauces here: Herbs, Spices & Sauces

Food Porn
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As I wait for some more interviews to wrap up, and some more products come in for review, it occurred to me that I have made some pretty tasty stuff over the years!

Salsa Maya – A Review
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I review a lot of good products on this site. As a matter of fact, regular followers of The Dry-Rubbed Rat may be a bit suspicious regarding the fact that I have never posted a bad review. Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. First, due to time constraints, this site gets the lowest volume of content, of all my sites. I just am not pushing a ton of product reviews here. Second, I’m pretty selective on what products I review. I try to reach out to companies who have interesting and/or yummy looking products.

All that to say that Salsa Maya may just be the most interesting, the hottest, and the most flavorful product I have reviewed yet. Salsa Maya is an habanero aioli and it’s amazing.

I’m gringo through and through, born and raised in eastern Canada. “Spicy” to me used to be “salt and pepper”. Having lived in Arizona for nearly 17 years though, my palate has toughened up and I usually choose “medium” spicy – whether it’s Thai food, Mexican, or whatever. Habanero anything is a bit intimidating to me. That being said, I was intrigued. I reached out to the folks at Salsa Maya via their Facebook page and pretty soon Victoria Gonzalez kindly had a bottle on the way to me. I had a feeling about this, and couldn’t wait to try it. Honestly, my first taste was mixed in with a little bit of plain jasmine rice my wife and daughter had cooked up for something else. I was hooked!

Photo courtesy of Salsa Maya

The flavor profile in Salsa Maya is very complex (to me). My wife and I had a discussion at the dinner table. I said “I love this stuff, but I’m not sure I can describe it”. Make no mistake, it is hot. But it’s not overwhelmingly so. The garlic and the creaminess of the aioli smooth out that heat so it’s not simply hitting you in the face. If you’re an aficionado of hot stuff, you’ll like this. If you can handle up to “medium” in the spiciness category, I think you will be able to enjoy this too. There are a ton of flavors bouncing around in this smooth, creamy heat. I’m loving it honestly, and using it on everything.

I made a fried egg and pastrami sandwich today (my “cheat” meal for the weekend) and smeared it all up with Salsa Maya, My wife mixed it in with tuna the other day to make a tuna salad sandwich. This is gooooood stuff….

Wondering what you’d do with it? Salsa Maya has taken some of the mystery out of that conundrum by providing a recipe page on their website along with product info, nutritional values (calories and all that stuff) and some pretty interesting information about the health and dietary benefits associated with habaneros.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how many different things this will work with. I think I’ll be ordering some more soon. If you’re looking for something hot, or something different, or something that pairs well with everything from steak to fish to sandwiches – I really, really recommend you try some Salsa Maya.

Thanks again to Victoria – look for a company profile and interview coming up in the future.

Checking In With The Lady Behind Vaquero’s
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Hopefully you read my review of Vaquero’s Dipping Sauce awhile back. My family has been loving this sauce and trying it on everything! I’m always curious when I try a new product to learn “the story” behind it. A big “Thank You” to Michelle Sassen for taking the time to answer some questions!

1. So how long have you been doing this?

I have been making this sauce for years! I can’t really remember exactly when it started. I’m not a chef, foodie, or anything special. I just grew up in the sticks where we learned to make do with what we had on hand. Glean all you can from people, magazines, and the internet then use it and adapt it to your advantage. My husband had hounded me for years to bottle it and to take it to market. I resisted. He finally wore me down in March 2011. After much research and development, we were able to finally run the first production batch of 2000 lbs. on 3/2/12.

2. How did you get started?

I was verbally given an unclear recipe that was emulated from Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley. By unclear I mean that to me it was unclear. I didn’t know what “BBQ spices” were so I grabbed Montreal seasoning out of my cupboard and used that and when the recipe said that the chilies were ground in a coffee grinder giving it “just a hint of coffee”, I decided I certainly wasn’t about to cross contaminate my coffee with chili by using my coffee grinder to grind the chilies, I just scooped the freshly ground coffee directly into the sauce. Chilies were ground in the old coffee grinder set aside for spices only! I played around with the ratio until I finally found the perfect sauce.

3. How are sales going?

Considering the time I have had to put into it, surprisingly well. During this whole process of bringing Vaquero’s to the mass market, my husband had a motorcycle accident which put much of our lives on hold and has given our lives quite a few ups & downs. Our customer base is mostly in small local stores in Mendocino County where we are based, on our website, a friends pecan farm stand/online (Superior Pecans), and online with Bourbon & Boots.

4. What was the biggest surprise/challenge getting this to market?

The biggest surprise to me is that so many people like it and are willing to buy and/or sell it.

The biggest challenge getting this to market as a complete newcomer to the food business is learning how to do so while doing the bookkeeping for my husband’s business and working 30 +/- hours a week for a physical therapy office.

5. Are the other sauces or products in your future?

Yes! I have a mild version for those who don’t like it as spicy, an Asian Fusion sauce where east meets west, a Vaquero’s BBQ rub based on the sauce, a Smokey Montreal rub which I stumbled on while creating Vaquero’s BBQ Rub, and what my youngest daughter has named “MOMtreal” rub which is my personal version of Montreal. Unfortunately, as many know – it takes considerable time, research, and funding to get each product to market. I have everything past the research and development level. Nutritional values are ready. Art work is in progress. As for funding, well I haven’t been able to do just yet. I have high expectations that in the not too distant future I will be able to bring all my products to the public.

6. What’s your favorite recipe or use of your sauce?

I personally, eat, drink, and sleep this sauce. But I love it on chicken. Barbecued of course and with EXTRA sauce in a small dipping bowl to dip prior to popping it into my mouth. I also love pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches.

DRR: Thanks again to Michelle for taking time out to tell us more about the story behind Vaquero’s. You can visit their website here: VAQUERO’s WEBSITE. I can’t wait to try the other goodies that Michelle has in store for us!