Catch up With Ketchup!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about hot dogs, and how awesome it is that some of the local eateries have taken this humble American staple and raised it to a higher level of cuisine. But, I noticed something else as I was researching; the condiments used to complement the flavor of these fancy sausages are worth their own weight in gold. One of these condiments stuck out in a very noticeable and unexpected way: Ketchup!
I have always been under the (wrong!) impression that ketchup was one of the most bland, pedestrian condiments one could use. I soon learned that, much like the oft-maligned hot dog, ketchup was hiding an overlooked, fancy, secret personality.
Ketchup has become so bourgeois lately, that many high-end chefs have started making their own to include with an entrée. In fact, if you ever head out to the America Eats Tavern, now located in the Ritz-Carlton in McLean Virginia, you’ll find a section of the menu is dedicated solely to chef José Andrés ketchup creations, including: Modern Tomato, Oyster, ‘chups Plum, ‘chups Mango, and ‘chups Blueberry. Personally, I would skip the oyster one, but that’s only because I’ve never been a fan of shellfish, not because I don’t think it would be insanely delicious.
Leaving the restaurant scene aside, I started to look further into the whole idea of ketchup as more than the plain, processed tomato sauce I’d long associated it with, and boy, was I surprised! It turns out there’s a whole line of entrepreneurs and foodservice suppliers who’ve been busy pushing the mass-produced envelope. My first favorite is called Red Duck Ketchup. What brought my attention to this small, independent label was their commitment to all-organic, it is made without the stabilizers or high-fructose corn syrup many others are. In addition, even their ‘classic’ ketchup is anything but, with a taste they describe as ‘sweet married with smoke.’ While it’s not available in stores, I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve already ordered my supply and can’t wait until it arrives!
More readily available are the organic stylings from Traina Foods, who offer two amazing versions: Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup, and Sriracha Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup. This is where I started to suspect brilliance in the works. Once I discovered Sriracha, I was adding it to my hamburgers, hot dogs… you name it. If it had ketchup, I was adding the Sriracha. But now, all this using two bottles stuff is a thing of the past. I can have my ketchup and my spicy too! Well played, ketchup makers, well played indeed…
Before you start shaking your head in denial, and thinking maybe I’m really trying to make a case built on a few instances of fancy ketchup being found, I present to you my greatest proof that ketchup is bringing fancy back: Heinz Ketchup. Still a staple of backyard bbqs and camping excursions nationwide, Heinz has kicked up its ketchup game, offering a full line of new flavors including Heinz Hot & Spicy Ketchup, Heinz Ketchup Blended with Sriracha Flavor, Heinz Ketchup Blended With Balsamic Vinegar, Heinz Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño, and of course Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup . These aren’t hard to find or obscure; just head down to your local grocery store and bammo! Ketchup nirvana!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve exhausted all my persuasive abilities trying to convince you that ketchup is as good as your new little black party dress, so I’m signing off for now. Also, is it just me, or do you also kinda feel like stepping out and getting a hot dog? I know I’m about to! Enjoy!1