A tour through Sauce Odyssey's try-before-you-buy sauce bar and rotisserie chicken food truck
Americans love sauces.
Our collective condiment obsession might have started with mustards, ketchups and jellies, but it now includes hundreds of kinds of hot sauces, barbecue sauces, cooking sauces, steak sauces, finishing sauces and more.
Among the sauce-obsessed is Rod Crosby, a musician and Houston native who grew up "smothering food in sauces." When he walked through the aisles of Central Market, he didn't understand how he was supposed to buy a sauce having never tried it. The idea stuck with him as he started to indulge his love of sauces by attending festivals and shows dedicated to salsas, hot sauces and barbecue sauces.
He now runs Sauce Odyssey, a food truck and sauce-tasting bar at 1403 East Seventh St.
"I wanted to create an interactive version of the condiment aisle in the grocery store," he says, so you don't buy a jar and then end up forgetting about it in the back of the fridge.
At the helm in the kitchen is Jared Smith, formerly of Feast in San Antonio, who makes seasonal salads and other dishes to go with the signature item, a simply spiced rotisserie chicken, which when I was there was served with a romesco sauce. (Don't skip the foamy tea, a frothy drink Crosby's mom used to make with tea, ginger ale, ice and spearmint combined just right in a high-powered blender.)
All the dishes on the menu are the kinds of foods, such as nachos or roasted beets or potatoes, that you'd love to have a little sauce to go with. While you wait for your food, you can sample each of the sauces and, if you want, order ramekins of the sauce or buy a jar. Each sauce has a short biography and photo of the sauce-maker, and Crosby is happy to tell you stories about each of them, including Samson's Sauce, the North Carolina-based sauce that dates back to the 1920s and whose motto is "makes everything taste better."
Sauce Odyssey sells sauces for grilling, dipping and spreading, and not all of them are hot. Most of the sauces are too small for distribution at bigger grocery stores, so this is the only place to find sauces like the Dragon's Blood Elixir, which Crosby first tasted at the Brooklyn Hot Sauce Festival. The hottest sauce on the tasting bar, a habanero hot sauce with carrots and garlic, is from the South Dakota-based Darrow and Arrow, and there was a masala cooking sauce from Spicemode, a Chicago-based company that started as a food truck selling Indian food.
Every three months, Crosby rotates the selection with 14 new sauces. You can buy ramekins of them to go with your food or buy a jar or bottle. Each sauce costs $9.
So, just how long can you keep sauces around? Unopened, sauces keep for a year, Crosby says, but once opened in the fridge, try to use them up in about three months before the flavors start to degrade.