Town Tine Hot Sauce was created by Bernard King and Eibhlín Cooke in the summer of 2020 and was a product of their keen interest in hot sauce, fermented foods and, in reality, boredom as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place in Ireland at the time. Although both parties had loved hot sauce prior to making their first batch, neither had ever thought that they would ever be making and selling it in their local community and beyond.
Bernard, like most people growing up in Ireland, always had a half empty bottle of Tabasco in his fridge that had been there for upwards of a year, and he knew what sriracha was, but that was about the extent of his hot sauce knowledge. That was before he came across a hot sauce store at the end of Pier 39 in San Francisco on his way to work one morning during his summer abroad in America. He took some of the spiciest and most peculiar flavours that were on offer in the shop and since then he has always picked up any rare and wonderful looking hot sauce that he may have come across in the shops he was in. Although he had an interest in hot sauce, it was still a casual interest and he did not predict that Eibhlín dropping a bottle of her homemade fermented hot sauce and a loaf of freshly baked sourdough up to the house to welcome his sister home from America would lead to the creation of Town Tine Hot Sauce just a couple of weeks later. Bernard finished Eibhlín’s jar of hot sauce in a couple of hours and was texting her instantly asking how to make this liquid gold.
Eibhlin herself had begun making hot sauce in early April, during the initial stages of lockdown in Ireland. The inspiration came from watching a Youtube video, enlightening her to the world of fermented hot sauce. The process of fermentation was an exciting concept. Despite having a keen interest in fermented foods as well as hot sauce it was something she had never considered embarking upon herself - but hey, It was a new exciting project to undertake in a time of global uncertainty when the “literally anything goes” mentality was at an all time high.
After the first, arguably rushed, batch (patience was lost and rather than leaving the ferment for the recommended 2-3 weeks period, sauce was blitzed up after a mere 7 days) there was great reaction from family and close friends. Eibhlin became addicted to the process and continued to ferment more and more chillies(for longer periods of time), trying different ingredients to add to the sauce and playing around with different flavour profiles.
Shortly after Bernard had contacted Eibhlín about the sauce delivery, she arrived up to the house a few days later for a couple of gin & tonics in the rare evening sunshine when Bernard was preparing to ferment his first jar of chillies. Bernard hadn’t been wearing gloves while chopping the chillies, a costly error, and Eibhlín came into the kitchen to see Bernard with a bright red neck, anxiously applying, milk, gin, ice, hand sanitizer and vodka to the effected area. After an hour of applying various remedies to the affected area, Bernard and Eibhlín had solved their first problem and learnt their first lesson: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES.
A few weeks after this incident – Town Tine Hot Sauce was born. And we haven’t looked back since. We were both so excited to make this little chilli project a legitimate business – providing hot sauce made with love and care to the masses! (In small batches of course). We really went for it with the initial batches – incorporating exciting flavours like mango, pineapple, orange zest and cloves! We certainly had our fair share of catastrophic moments, namely exploding bottles (ahem, be careful when adding fruit to your sauces guys). This was a wave we had to ride and helped us to make our sauces stronger and more stable in the process.
The name Town Tine is a play on words of the local mountain in our hometown of Ballina, named “Tountinna” which is the Anglicised version of its original name in Irish, ‘Tonn Tinne’ meaning ‘Wave of Fire’ which we thought was just too perfect not to incorporate into a hot sauce brand. The history of the mountain became a huge factor within the brand, Fintan McBochra (Irish folklore character and dweller of Tountinna for over 5,500 years) becoming a mascot of sorts. We have made an effort to celebrate the natural beauty and heritage of our singularly beautiful locality in all of our marketing so far, and this is something that we will definitely continue to do.
The story of Town Tine Hot Sauce has led us down an exciting culinary path that we had not really seen ourselves embarking on but we are utterly delighted that it has worked out the way it has. We hope to continue growing the business, never losing the joy and excitement of making hot sauce and taking the time to acknowledge the brilliant people we meet along the way. One love.
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Cottage Lane Kitchen was founded by me in 2010, and it isn't only my business name, but also refers to a secret lane in Chapel Hill, NC where our family homestead was built in the 1950s. Four generations of my family have cooked and preserved spicy peppers out of love and tradition in that kitchen.
The last homemade batch of my family's spicy pepper relish was made by my Grandfather in the early 1990s. He grew chilies around the outside of the house and harvested and pickled them during my summer visits. I remember him watering the empty tin cans he buried beside each pepper plant.
Normally the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast interviews hot sauce makers all over the world. This episode is more of a riff from Brian the host about some of the things his hot sauce company Craic Sauce got up this summer.