Nando’s PERi-PERi, the Most Famous Sauce You’ve Never Heard of
I don't know about you, but my taste buds love a good twang. Whether I'm making my own pico de gallo or firing up the grill for summertime BBQs (can't wait!), my favorite dishes usually have a bit of kick to them.
That's why my interest (and palette) was piqued when I was invited to a pop-up party celebrating Nando's PERi-PERi, a droolworthy hot sauce that is now available in over 10,000 of the nation's biggest grocery stores (including Kroger and Publix!).
To celebrate its presence in Atlanta, Nando's has been throwing a 10-day party on the BeltLine, transforming the quirky Atlanta BeltLine Bicycle warehouse into a vibrant space featuring a Braai, a traditional South African fête, involving friends, fire, and delicious food. I went to one a couple of days ago, and it was a day-partier's dream.
We gathered on the patio facing the Eastside Trail and soaked up sunshine, soft breezes, worldly tunes from DJ Santiago Páramo, and the featured beverage from Old 4th Ward Distillery: a PERi-PERi infused Bloody Mary.
You might be wondering what the sauce tastes like. Made with sun-ripened lemons, onion, a dash of garlic, and African Bird’s Eye chilli pepper (grown best in South Africa), Nando's range of PERi-PERi sauces come in varying degrees of heat, meaning that everyone, from the most timid beginner to the fieriest of heat seekers, will find something they like.
Once the eating began, I tasted as many as I could handle!
We ushered ourselves inside and tucked in to a feast of Nando's PERi-PERi chicken, which was marinated for 24 hours and flame-grilled. I like that it was served with waffles -- a distinct nod to southern culture.
^^ Some serious satisfaction is etched on that face. ^^
While we dove in, we learned more about Nando's PERi-PERi:
Back in 1987, friends Fernando Duarte and Robbie Brozin visited a humble Portuguese eatery in the heart of Rosettenville, South Africa, to try some mouth-watering PERi-PERi-marinated chicken. They loved their lunch so much they bought the restaurant. Three decades later, there are 1,200 Nando's PERi-PERi restaurants spread across five continents -- including more than 30 U.S. locations.
They say the restaurant business is tough, so for them to thrive all over the world must be a testament to the strength of their brand... and their sauce!
For dessert, we cooled our tongues with PERi-PERi infused popsicles from King of Pops (in mojito flavor, yum) and browsed the creations of muralist and illustrator Barry Lee.
All in all, a fantastic springtime Saturday in Atlanta! Special thanks to Patrick Fagan for these photos.