Chilebrown at home

Thursday, February 14, 2019


"Check Please" is a local PBS television show that showcases restaurants around the Bay Area. This is a valuable resource to find new and fun dinning establishments. Antipastos by DeRose was featured and is a deli in San Jose who also happens to be a meat market. The icing on the cake was they make home made raviolis. Say no more. We jumped into the racing Honda and braved the rain soaked highways to carefully travel to Antipastos.

We pulled up to a fairly nondescript building with some neon beer signs adorning the windows. Parking Karma was not needed today because they had their own lot. It was pretty full when we left. Once inside we were a little overwhelmed with the layout of this place. There were meat cases with plenty of choices of quality beef, pork and seafood. There was also a refrigerator case showcasing mulitple beers with a great selection of micro-beers. A small counter in front of a smally tiny kitchen that also had a hot tablle of prepared food. Where do we start? I broke the man-code and asked a clerk for directions. He explained the ordering procedures.

There are so many choices for lunch and dinner. One can order prepared pastas, soups, salads, and make a deli sandwich with any combination they can think of. One can pick a steak from the meat case and they will cook it for you for market price plus five dollars. This was the option I chose. I also had to try the house made ravioli. I was getting excited. Ms. Goofy ordered minestrone soup, steak sandwich and a micro-beer that was freshly poured from the tap. You pay at the small counter and they will bring your meal to the table.

Ms.Goofy went on and on how great her thick and hearty minestrone soup was. It was more of a thick meaty sauce type gravy that was studded with soft vegetables. She really liked her steak sandwich and could only eat half of it. The seating in Antipastos is a little haphazard. Tables are located throughout the deli.You are sitting right next to the beer case or display shelves lined with lots of imported Italian food products. The owners are definitely Oakland Raider football fans evident by the football memorabilia on the wall.

The steak was grilled to a perfect medium rare. They seasoned it with a really flavorful rub that made for a flavorful bite. The raviolis were little pillows of comforting joy that had a meaty interior that made you crave the next bite. These were a treat. They were a tad overcooked but that did not stop me from finishing the plate and going to the counter to order some to go. They were that good.

Antipastos is a great place for a meal or to pick up some steaks to go. Steaks and raviolis are a combination that makes me swoon. There are so many food choices that we would have no problem returning to sample more. We both enjoyed our food choices today. The house raviolis are special. Ms. Goofy could spend a lot of time sampling all the different micro-beers. There is a slight problem for us,unfortunately Antipastos is over an hour away from our house and with Bay Area traffic that is a conservative time. If we are in the neighborhood this is a must stop destination. 

Monday, February 11, 2019


A fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon is to take a cooking class at your local Italian social club. That is exactly what happened yesterday and I would like to share my experience with you. I attend several Italian social clubs for dinner here in the East Bay. The Ligure Club offered a cooking class with the title Salume. My first lesson was ‘Salume” is not salami. Salami is a specific type of salume. Salume is a general term for cured meats (usually pork). We learned from an experienced salume maker that started when he apprenticed back in Italy. This was going to be the real deal.

Let me explain how cooking classes work at Italian Social Clubs. One must drink lots of wine, eat and then repeat. No sooner had you stepped in the door and Tony our instructors first command was to fill up your wine glass and grab some cheese. Big rounds of parmesan, pecorino Romano and to mix it up slices of Swiss cheese were available . How did Swiss cheese make it into the Ligure club?

We settled in and Tony demonstrated how to season and prepare three different kinds of salume. One was pork tenderloin using a wet cure. Another was a pork loin using a dry cure. Last, Tony made a sausage made out of ground pork. He made it look so easy. He said it also helped to have a wine cellar to hang your salume for the aging and curing procedure. Now it was time to sample some of Tony’s homemade salume that he had made several months earlier. This was a treat.

Of course after sampling home cured salume it was time to eat and imbibe some more. The club served us spaghetti with three choices of toppings. Marinara sauce, tomato and garlic or olive oil w/cheese, garlic bread and Cesar salad was a very satisfying lunch.

This is my kind of cooking class. It probably should have been called an eating class with a little salume knowledge thrown in. I am not sure I am going to make salume right away. I may have to build the wine cellar first.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


Maybe I am just easily amused? Witnessing the simple act of sweeping crumbs off a fine linen topped table after a lavish meal makes my day complete. It signals the end of the entrĂ©e round and gives you a new clean palette to experience the finale of dessert.  When we go to a fine dining establishment we have certain expectations. We demand good food and service. Sometimes it is the waiter and sometimes the busboy. There are bonus points if these servers are wearing bolero jackets.
 I have developed a mischievous habit of leaving wayward crumbs on the table to test the server’s level of indulgence and hospitality. I am happy to say we were not disappointed last night at Flemings Prime Steakhouse. The table was cleared by both the busboy and waiter but the wayward crumbs remained. A brief anxious moment occurred until the waiter returned and deftly swept and professionally removed my strategically placed crumbs. This is what fine dining is all about. It is not just great food but the whole experience and we were satisfied.

Thursday, February 7, 2019


Fleming's Prime Steakhouse runs a three course special on Tuesdays's consisting of a 35 ounce bone-in USDA Prime Rib-Eye steak. It is sold at a reasonable price as far as high end steakhouses go. We decided to indulge with this Tuesday extravagance. We are no strangers to Fleming's and were excited to have a great meal

One has a choice of salads, side dishes and deserts. They even let Ms. Goofy swap out her salad for a decadent cheesy French onion soup. I had a chopped salad and a side of mushrooms. Ms. Goofy French onion soup and some cheesy potatoes. Our dilemma was to choose desserts.

It was not really a problem choosing these two wonderful desserts. The real dilemma was would we share with each other. We did and they were fantastic. The steak was perfectly medium rare as ordered. It was very rich, beefy and full of corn fed bliss.. This is a great way to indulge on a Tuesday evening.

Monday, February 4, 2019


There was a football game yesterday. None of our teams were involved. Is it wrong to want to see the champions New England Patriots dethroned?. It was a defensive game which in not fan friendly unless you are a dedicated defensive game loving freak. What was great yesterday was the friends, fun and of course food we shared at the Galileo Club in Richmond California. Ms. Goofy and I watched part of the game and wanted to share some of the snacks we had. Pull up a potato chip and let's dip in.

This was a pot luck type of affair. The club provided the venue, no host bar and some hot dogs but the bulk of the food was home made and delicious. One member actually made chili in the parking lot with his dutch oven. Now that is impressive. 

It is half-time and the entertainment was, let just say we were not entertained but it was time to eat and imbibe a little more. We did not make it to the end of the game possibly because of the bore factor but more likely our stomachs were very full and the couch sounded very inviting. There was a highlight of this game and it was the third quarter and final score of 3-3. A hundred people play and are assigned numbers for both teams which are the last digits of the football score. If the numbers come up they are paid for for the lucky player who has them. Guess who had 3-3? 

TOUCHDOWN Chilebrown

Saturday, January 26, 2019


There is a new kid on the block of burger joints and we paid them a visit. Burgerim is the name of this new franchise. They just recently opened a location at the El Cerrito mall. We were curious of this new competitor to the fast food burger arena. Let me explain their concept with words straight from the Burgerim website;

“Burgerim is an international fast casual franchise with a shiny new concept. Bursting with flavor, our gourmet burgers apply a unique approach to kicking all of your cravings in one meal. Choose from an uno, duo, trio, or 16 pack of our gourmet 3 oz. patties and customize each one. With a variety of buns, signature sauces, mouthwatering patties, and flavorful toppings, your Burgerim order is custom tailored to satisfy all that you crave.”

No parking karma needed today because we are in a mall parking lot. The interior is modern with bright lights and hip lettering and sayings on the wall. A large lit signboard menu is above the cash register where your order is placed. This is our first visit and it does take a little figuring out of what to order. Here is the rub. You have so many choices and combinations of burgers that it can be a little overwhelming. There is a two and three burger option. You need to choose your beef patty which is a whopping 3 ounces; beef, merguez beef, dry-aged beef, Spanish beef, Wagyu beef, turkey, lamb, chicken breast and falafel. You then choose a style of toppings. The ‘Classic’ is American cheese, lettuce tomato, pickles, onions and house sauce. The ‘California’ is; Swiss cheese, mixed greens, tomato, avocado and chipotle mayonnaise. There are several other styles. So you see the combinations can be endless. I do have to disclose some of these toppings and burger have added costs that will be added to your total bill.

Burgerim has a lot of other sides which are fairly standard fair for a burger joint. Ms. Goofy ordered fries and I a salad. I know you may ask; salad? Maybe it is a New Year’s resolution? (NOT). I ordered a trio of beef, Wagyu beef and Dry Aged beef with three different styles of toppings. Our order was delivered promptly. These little burgers were so ‘Cute”.  When I use a descriptor as cute a red flag should be raised. These were tiny 3 ounce burgers. This translates to maybe four bites if I am lucky. It was a little confusing of what I had ordered because I had so many flavor combinations. I referred to my cash register receipt for reference.  First of all I would like to say all of my burgers tasted fine. The beef patties were cooked to a medium well but were on the dry side.  I really wanted to experience the different flavors of the different beefs. If there were any differences they were all washed out with all the flavor combinations of the toppings. This was disappointing.

Ms. Goofy had the two burger combination of Wagyu and Dry Aged beef. She said there was not a whole lot of flavor difference but there was a textural difference between the two beefs. Her fries came with a garlic aioli which she said was very rich. The fries were also cut into a non-traditional round shape. She liked them.

Overall Burgerim is a modern burger joint with so many menu options that one needs to be prepared. I would like to go back to my reference cash receipt and tell you the total was forty three dollars. WoW. The burgers and sides were decent enough. Burgerim is a restaurant with a gimmick of options. My option is to not return.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


We have a local network called 'Nextdoor" which allows people in your immediate neighborhood to share information and interact on the internet. A women asked what to do with her citron tree?. The citron tree is more commonly known as a Buddha's Hand. I have tried numerous times to grow this unusual fruited tree with no success. The fruit looks like a lumpy lemon with fingers. It is very fragrant. There is no juice and is very solid. The zest is used like any other lemon and I have made it into candy before. I contacted my neighbor and she was more than happy to sell me a couple. In fact when she found out I was making candy she gave me a couple more with the promise to return with candy.

Making Buddha's Hand candy could not be simpler. The fruit is washed and cut into small quarter size pieces. It is then boiled in sugar water until temperature reaches 230 degrees and the fruit is translucent. Let the candy cool and then place on parchment paper. I let the candy sit for several days to harden and then sprinkled with more sugar.

This candy may be an acquired taste. It is sweet and lemony. It also can be a little bitter too. I find it addicting. The sweet/tart combination is fantastic in my book. I am off to deliver my promised candy to my neighbor.