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September 8, 2023

Surviving the Show’s best hot sauces

We tried them, because we like it hot.

  • Words and pictures: David Simmons

When the great USA-style burger wave flooded CBD streets in the early ‘10s, quaint bottles of hot sauce became a staple on the rustic-style dining tables. Spicy, burning flavours were a must-have, with red droplets peppered over slices of melted cheese and crispy chicken fillets.

While the number of burger joints in the CBD has receded, our dedication to the spice melange is as strong as ever.

Turns out, there’s plenty of local producers bottling the essence of a chili pepper. Most of them have been making it well before our craft beer and cheeseburger addictions took hold, too.

To find the best of the best, CityMag took a stroll through the Taste SA pavilion at the Royal Adelaide Show and sacrificed our taste buds in the pursuit of knowledge.

Save yours and flick through our mini guide when considering which of the many bottles you’ll add to your cart.

Grunds Gourmet

There’s 25 years of practice in every bottle of Grunds Gourmet hot sauce.

Made in Kimba using farm-grown ingredients, the brand’s offerings range from classic to inventive.

You’d best believe they’re spicy too.

A trio of samples were on offer at the pavilion, and we indulged in the lot.

On the milder-but-still-hot end of the spectrum was Grunds’ XXX Habanero Chilli Sauce. The brand describes this as an 8/10 on the hotness scale, but you’re in for a treat with this bottle that packs a punch but doesn’t linger in the throat.

The hottest of the bunch was the terrifyingly named Trinidad Scorpion Hot Sauce – a 10/10 on Grunds’ hotness scale. Hot it was, but not disgustingly so – it went down a treat and a couple of drops would enhance even the blandest of meals into something to devour.

CityMag’s favourite was Grunds’ newest addition to the lineup – the Roast Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce. It combines everything to love about the XXX but with a smack of garlic that helps the flavour stand out from the rest.

Pick up a bottle (or three in a pack) from Grunds Gourmet here. They also sell BBQ sauces, relish, and dry rubs if you’re that way inclined.

Australian Harvest

The folks at Australian Harvest made the trek from Victoria’s Yarra Valley to bless the SA with their wares.

Perhaps due to spice blindness from Grunds Gourmet, CityMag almost missed the brand’s Organic Hot Chili Sauce on a first pass through the stall.

Instead, we started with the Organic Chili Jam. Sure, not a sauce, but it was everything to love about the flavour of a hot sauce with the jammy consistency of, well, a jam.

When we finally spoke to the Australian Harvest folks, they pointed us to their Chili Sauce which was a mirror image of the jam – it was a hot sauce with the flavour of a jam (absolutely delicious).

We also had to try their Tomato Kasundi – a Northern Indian style preserve with a base of tomato and spices. The full experience of a delicious curry was distilled onto the tiny sample spoon. Again, not really a hot sauce, but still worth a go.

Australian Harvest sells their goods online here.

Whites Valley Jalapeños

Whites Valley Jalapeños is a husband-wife affair.

Using chilis grown in the Fleurieu region, Norma and Andrew’s hot sauces taste as passionate as the love that goes into them.

They even took out Best In Show for their Garlic Jalapeño Sauce – another garlic-infused delight that truly surprises.

Of all the hot sauce purveyors at the Taste SA pavilion, Whites Valley had the biggest range. From the mildest to the hottest, each and every one we tried had its own unique taste profile – a feat of its own.

We started at the bottom end of the spectrum – the award-winning Garlic Jalapeño Sauce – then jumped right to the hottest: Ghostly Reaper.

The spiciest of the bunch lived up to its name, with a heat that sneaks up on you after half a second and blows the tastebuds off your tongue.

We then moved to a comfortable middle with the Chipotle Sauce, which turned out to be CityMag’s favourite. By using a coal smoking method Whites Valley managed to bottle a smoky Mexican sensation that tastes almost impossible.

“Flavour before heat” is Norma’s motto for these all-natural sauces without preservatives. Grab yourself a bottle online here.


Founded by the same woman who started Hutt Street’s Queen of Tarts, culinary icon Vicki Matchett’s eponymous brand sells condiments, dressings, chutney and more.

But it was her hot sauce CityMag was after. What we found was Matchett’s ‘Flirty Harry Feisty Chilli Ginger Sauce’.

The name more than aptly describes the feisty flavour, which jumps out at you and doesn’t let go. The garlic is balanced with the chilli perfectly – as one would expect from someone with Matchett’s foodie acumen.

The best was yet to come though as CityMag polished off some of Matchett’s sister brand’s Big Sissy Foods bagel crisps. Made as a zero waste-solution to Big Sissy Foods’ bagel production, the oven-baked chips are a salty, crunchy delight. Mixed with the remnant flavour of the hot sauce, these go down well.

Pick up some Matchett’s sauce (or bagel bites) online here.

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