You’ve probably noticed that I regularly eat Shanita’s Salsitas, both as your typical snack of chips and salsa and as an ingredient in some of my favorite Tex-Mex recipes; you may also be aware I am obsessed with her creamy garlic jalapeño salsa, Hal’s Hot Love, in particular. So let’s just start there.
This stuff is like salsa crack. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t become a hard core addict after the first bite – it’s that good. I eat it straight up with home-fried El Milagro tortillas (above); I eat it on scrambled eggs for breakfast; I pour it over my grits; I use it to spice up my take-out; and, of course, I slather my enchiladas in the stuff. I gave my mother a jar last time I went home for a visit, and she sat down with a bag of Fritos (hey, it’s East Texas) and consumed half the jar in one sitting (the pepper doesn’t fall far from the plant).
But Hal’s Hot Love is not Shanita’s only contribution to the local salsa scene. She also makes several other, equally delicious varieties. These are currently available for sale on her new web site: Ki’s K.O., a chile arbol and tangy garlic salsa that doubles as a versatile dressing for salads, crudités, and anything grilled (pictured above and on the salad up top); and Seymour Rockin’ Harissa, a North African-inspired fiery garlic pepper paste that delivers a fantastic kick to all kinds of dishes (pictured below). Check out the recipes section of Shanita’s blog for plenty of tasty ideas, including these amazing Tomates Rellenos Tapas featuring Seymour Rockin’ Harissa.
Two other salsitas that we particularly like are her Little Irv’s Honey Fire, a sweet salsa verde made with roasted tomatillos that’s equally wonderful as a snack or drizzled over enchiladas, and Bubbie’s Haba Lava, which is habanero-based and very hot, indeed (it’s also Eric’s favorite, and I like it on my steak and eggs breakfast – see below). Look for these and other unique salsitas to appear in Shanita’s online store soon.
I’m also really excited that Shanita’s Salsitas will be debuting as a Participating Commercial Bottler at this year’s Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival this weekend! That’s right; in Texas we’re so serious about our salsa that we hold our annual hot sauce tasting festival and competition in August, hot on the heels of a record heat wave. What better opportunity to head out, heat up, and meet Shanita and her salsitas? Then you can be a typical Austinite and tell everyone about how you knew about Hal’s Hot Love before it was mainstream, or whatever.
Shanita’s web site says her salsitas are “affectionately made by hand in Austin, Texas,” and I can verify the truth of this statement. I’ve become a fan of Shanita both as a salsa slinger and as a person, and her small, local company packs a punch in more ways than one. Not only is she determined to deliver the freshest, tastiest salsitas directly to your door, but her ethos is one of cultural hybridity and culinary fusion. As she explains on her web site, “Growing up Jewish in a large family on the Texas-Mexico border, cultures blend in strange ways. Bar Mitzvahs become pachangas. Tortillas replace bagels. Jalapenos find their way into falafel.” Shanita’s Salsitas is all about sharing what’s best about Texas culture and food, one bite at a time. This growing company is one of my favorite local food producers, and I’m convinced it will soon be one of yours!
I dare you to try the Hal’s Hot Love. Double dare.