For heat lovers, the burning question before eating pizza may sometimes be: hot sauce or pizza peppers? When taking the pepper route, there are thankfully new "gourmet" options from the DaViola (meaning to spice or the devil) brand, with products available in grocery stores including Raley's, Albertson's, and Whole Foods. Everything Peppers, who makes the DaViola products, hopes to expand to pizza restaurants soon as well.
We recently sampled their smoky Chipotle, hot Habanero and spicy Ancho crushed chili packets with pepperoni pizza from my current neighborhood delivery standby, Twin Peaks Pizza. When tasting and judging spicy foods, I've learned it's ideal to save the hottest items for last. That way, your palate shouldn't get too dulled and burned until perhaps the end of the tasting. The tasting order for the DaViola products followed that rule accordingly: Ancho, Chipotle then Habanero. Heat was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the hottest.
The pepper blends offer more flavor nuances and interesting heat layers than traditional pizza peppers. They also make a nice compliment to pepperoni pizza. I'd like to add them to pasta, soup, egg dishes, and other savory creations down the road. Better make it fast, since the peppers don't have preservatives. We may even try some with peanut butter and toast per Oscar's request. Notes and analysis from our pizza tasting are as follows:
Level 4 heat
Warm finish felt in the back of the mouth and throat areas.
Smells, tastes fruity and smoky,
Chunky texture is pleasing. The flakes are larger than typical pizza peppers.
Level 5-6 heat
Consistently warm from bite to swallow and after.
Wimpier eaters may need a glass of milk with this one. Oscar commented, "It's really hot and making me sweat," and felt the heat over fifteen minutes later.
Level 8-9 heat
This appears and tastes to be real habanero and is the hottest of all.
Heat catches in the throat during and throughout eating. May cause eater to remove one layer of clothing.
The pepper packets have tape to re-seal after use. Unfortunately the tape on each packet didn't seem to stick enough, and was awkward. I stored all three packets into one plastic container rather than see the contents spill each time I pick 'em up. For ease of use, the pepper shaker sounds better. No tape and plastic to fuss with. Just shake that pizza pepper heat love on!