Posted August 16, 2007 by Ethan in Reviews

Review: The Chilli Factory – Morning Afterburn and Kookaburra Kackle

If you’re like me, you’re wondering “What’s a Kookaburra?” Well, here’s the obligatory Wikipedia link for those interested enough to read on…

Morning AfterburnIngredients:
Morning Afterburn – mango (43%), water, sugar, chilli (9%), salt, garlic, xantham gum (415), herbs & spices
Kookaburra Kackle – mango (51%), water, pear juice, vinegar, chilli (4%), onion, salt, mustard seed, garlic, herbs & spices

Now, this review isn’t about birds. It’s about two products from an Australian gourmet food company called The Chilli Factory. According to the labels Morning Afterburn is a “hot chilli mango sauce,” and Kookaburra Kackle is a “mild chilli mango relish.” Unfortunately, the name “Morning Afterburn” makes me think of the morning-after pill. Regardless of beliefs and political positions, that’s just not what I want to think of while eating. Other than that, the packaging is great. It’s bright and colorful, and consistent between the two products. The logo stands out, even though there is a surprising amount of text and information on the front of the label. I like the idea of adding percentages to the ingredients list, although I’m not really sure I understand them. Are they percents based on the total weight of all the ingredients before production of the sauce, or are the percentages in the final product? Or are they based on volume? And why does the xantham gum have “415” after it? Did someone miss the shift key? Should the ‘5’ actually be a ‘%’? So I like the idea, but I’m left a little confused.

Kookaburra Kackle

On the plate, both the sauce and the relish look appetizing. The sauce has a medium consistency. It spreads easily, but doesn’t seem to run off food with the slightest tip. Likewise, the relish was viscous enough to stay in place. Both have plenty of visible particles floating in them ranging from garlic to peppers to large chunks of mango in the relish. All in all these are two very good looking sauces.

Left - Morning Afterburn; Right - Kookaburra Kackle

I popped the cap on the relish first, expecting a rush of sweet mango aroma. Not so much. The onion and garlic came through loud and clear, with just a hint of mango in the background. Honestly, I was slightly disappointed. Next, I cracked open the bottle of sauce, and got a mild whiff of peppers and garlic. Neither gave me the rush of sweetness I had hoped for. In fact, there wasn’t really a rush of anything at all. The products look so delicious in their jars. If they aren’t bursting with irresistible aromas, then there must be an explosion of flavor awaiting me, right?

I spread a few spoonfuls of relish on some toast, poured some of the sauce into a small bowl, and grabbed some Tostitos. Not much of a dinner I know, but I just had an expensive weekend at the Weekend of Fire… It’s sad to say, but my disappointment continued. The lack of bouquet seemed to translate into a lack of strong flavor. I realize the relish is not a jam, even though I used it as such. I can understand why it wasn’t very sweet: it probably wasn’t intended to be. The dominant flavors were garlic and onion. Again, the mango took a back seat. The sauce was better. It was sweeter, and the mangoes mixed nicely with the peppers. The sauce didn’t share the heavy onion flavor of the relish, but the garlic was a bit strong. Personally, I prefer my sauces sweet or garlic-y, but not both.

Kookaburra Kackle on toast

The ingredient list doesn’t identify the peppers used, and my “chile-sense” isn’t that well-developed (yet!). The sauce didn’t seem hot enough to be habaneros, but the flavor was along those lines. The Morning Afterburn is listed as a 10/10 on the Chilli Factory’s heat scale. It’s got some bite to it, probably around a 6 or 7 in my book. I ate the hot sauce like a salsa: out of a bowl with tortilla chips. After a handful of chips, the burn started to build and stuck around for a few minutes. Not bad at all. The relish is rated as a 1/1, and that’s about right. It’s not meant to be spicy, and it certainly isn’t. The onions in the relish offer more bite than the peppers. Come to think of it, with no heat and no flavor from the peppers, I wonder why they are even there?

Wrapping this up: I’m not too impressed. Both Chilli Factory products look amazing (aside from that pesky name that I just can’t get by). The packaging and the sauces themselves appear top-notch. I could easily see myself picking either of these up off a store shelf, especially the hot sauce. But the flavor simply isn’t there to back it up. The sauce was sweeter, and would likely be good on some grilled chicken breasts, but the relish tasted like little more than onions and garlic. So, would I buy them once? Probably, because they were visually appealing. Would I buy them again? Not likely.

The Chilli Factory
2060-D Avenida de los Arboles #743
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362