UNCLE BRUTHA'S HOT SAUCE EMPORIUM ON CAPITOL HILL
I t just got a lot hotter on Capitol Hill. Half a block from Eastern Market, the newly opened Uncle Brutha's Hot Sauce Emporium stocks more than 300 hot sauces on shelves along its exposed red brick walls. "From mild to wild" is how founder Brennan Proctor describes his selection of small bottles, most with brightly colored labels and not a few off-color names.
Novelty and adult-themed sauces, many with names unprintable in a family newspaper, are on hand for "the young in mind," joked Colette Proctor, Brennan's mother and the store's official owner.
Looking for jerk seasoning? Choose from imported Jamaican brands such as Walkerswood ($4.89 for a 10-ounce bottle) or Baltimore-made Gracie's Gotcha Ginger Jerk Sauce ($9.79 for 10-ounce bottle). Or, for something mild and unique, try Nor'Easter's sweet, no-burn blend of apples and habanero chili peppers ($5.89 for a five-ounce bottle).
After slipping on a pair of protective latex gloves, Colette Proctor offered samples and guidance to a couple from Cambridge, New Zealand. Nigel Townsend likes his sauces hot; his wife Kathy favors milder flavors. They happily settle on the sweet heat of Georgia Peach and Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce ($5.39 for a five-ounce bottle), made by Peppers, a firm based in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Amid the vast selection, Brennan Proctor's own sauces are standouts. Uncle Brutha's Fire Sauce No. 10, a smoky, scorching blend of four chili peppers -- habaneros, red and green jalapeños and serranos -- took Proctor 10 years to perfect (hence the "No. 10"). His Fire Sauce No. 9 -- a serrano-based chili verde laced with ginger, scallions and cilantro -- sets off fewer alarms but still burns nicely (both are $4.99 for a five-ounce bottle).
The District native, 42, began bottling and selling the multi-award winning sauces at Eastern Market two years ago. His success led to the new store, which he runs with help from his mother and his sister, Brigette. Coming soon: eight more Uncle Brutha's sauces -- an eagerly anticipated heat wave.
Uncle Brutha's Hot Sauce Emporium, 323 Seventh St. SE. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday. Call 202-546-3473.
-- Matt McMillen
Freelance writer Matt McMillen last wrote for Food about Brown Sugar Southern Cuisine.