"Hey man, you got anymore of that Cherry Bomb?" I asked the scruffy man behind the pickle bar.
"You mean the Cherry Molotov?" he said, scratching his beard.
"Yeah, that," I said, eyeing the other customers in Union Market.
"Nope, we ran out," he said, the big Number One Sons sign hanging over his head like a halo of pickled vinegar holiness.
"You aren't making more?" I asked, getting desperate.
"Not until those peppers are in season again," the pickle man said, as if reciting scripture. One would never expect a business that's core competency is preservation of vegetables and fruit would be so welded to seasonality, but they have a weird integrity like that.
"Well show me what else you got," I said, as the pickle man opened the cooler and pulled out a sack of small multi-colored plastic bears full of fiery flavor. Number One Sons won my heart first with their insane Acapulco Sauerkraut (it's sauerkraut, but tropical! That sounds horrific, but in truth it's HORRIFICALLY DELICIOUS.)
I'll admit it, I'm a little multi-colored plastic bear addict. The four I've pictured above are my current collection, but as far as I'm concerned I'll collect them all. Number One Sons, one of DC's most obscure but most skilled pickling operations, recently expanded into the chili bears as a new product line beyond the kimchi, kraut, and sours they typically deal in. They're concentrated peppers, some of them heritage peppers, and then other special ingredients. They're available in a full spectrum of sweet and intense to hot and thermonuclear.
I've found them good to add as hot sauce on eggs and hash browns, as a flavor enhancer to a marinade, or even something to give a slow-cooked roast some extra dimensions.
Here are the four I've collected:
Cherry Molotov - Sweet and heat, made with cherry peppers and rice vinegar. It's packed with flavor and burn. Probably my favorite so far because the sweetness balances things out and takes the edge off the spice. I would put it on everything, but it is too precious. I especially like this one on any sort of potato-based situation, like home fries, roasted fingerlings, or oven fries.
Ginger Feer - More of an asian feel to this one, with the ginger, chilis, and sake a great accompaniment to any asian influenced dish. This one is also really killer as a marinade supplement, especially for beef and chicken.
Paul's Garden - Made with heritage fish peppers, this one has a very tangy fire to it, quite spicy and with a unique flavor that the wine in it really adds to. I've taken to putting this one in my grits or polenta.
Local No. 1 - This one is just a great, well-rounded and straightforward hot sauce. It's flavor isn't as unique as I would say the others are, but that makes it play very well with others. There's no limit to what you can use it in.
I can't wait to collect more flavors, especially as chili and pepper season begins to heat up (pun totally intended).
Want some? You can find them at DC's Union Market at the Number One Sons Stall and possibly at the farmers markets listed on their websites if you're lucky. They are truly your clearinghouse for insane local DC pickles and eccentric chili bears full of hot sauce. Follow them on twitter, and you'll find out all sorts of delicious fermented madness they're up to.