Chilebrown at home

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Your neighbor has a party and you are not invited. This is sort of the feeling we had with the Martinez King of the County festival held this Fathers day weekend. Martinez is right in our backyard. They are having a two day festival which also has two separate bbq contests. We have judged these contest in the past. Somebody new has taken over the judging administration and has brought in her own set of judges. She has shunned experienced judges and opted for celebrity(?) personalities like the mayor, politicians and hand picked friends. I just hope the bbq competitors understand they might have a little bias in the judging tent. I apologize for this mini rant because this is actually a fun event that brings out a lot of backyard competitors to show off their bbq skills.

We did walk around and see if we recognized any pro-teams. We did find some unique cookers like this hand made rig that was impressive. This gentleman designed and forged all the metal work. The tank was originally an air compressor. Big Bertha was another unique fun looking bbq cooker. The competitors all had a great park setting to cook their entries.

There was fun music, the usual fair vendors and lots of food booths. There were a couple of booths selling bbq. We ran into our friends that run Nana Bears Mini Donuts. They are a personal favorite. Who does not love mini donuts?

We really like the "Joltin Joe", a Chris craft boat that Joe DiMaggio once owned. Joe at one time lived in Martinez. His estate donated the boat and the city totally restored it. There was an older gentleman that enthusiastically told us all the details of this boat. I enjoyed his passion towards this boat which gave this exhibit a personal touch.


We did not judge today but still had a great time. This is a fun local event. It is held in the waterfront park and is a perfect setting for a festival.  I need to mention this festival had a group of fanatical anti-meat protesters last year. I had a deep down wish that they would have showed up for my own personal enjoyment.  The festival runs today too. Maybe I will get my wish.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


It was a beautiful breezy day at Van Ruiten 8th Annual Cookoff.  This is an event that we look forward too. The Van Ruiten Family Winery rolls out the red carpet for all involved. The best part about this event that it benefits a charity called Autism Speaks. We cannot think of a better way to have fun and donate to a cause that can help people. We would like to share a couple of tasty images with you.

Today’s contest was a three meat cook-off.  Ribs, tri-tip and a mystery meat (pork belly) were on the judges table today.  Twenty four teams were on hand for scrumptious battle. We really enjoy the mystery meat category. This is an opportunity for cooks to show their skills and creativity. Pork Belly was the protein. We saw a lot of interesting entries such as; cubes, tacos, mac & cheese with candied pork belly, skewered, chopped and many more.

There was music by William Sconce and the Dirty Pillow Band.  I believe the most popular thing to do was taste the great wines offered by Van Ruiten. After and during your wine experience one could purchase award winning ribs. This was a combination that made everyone happy.

Today was a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. There was a very large raffle were many prizes could be won. All sorts of goodies and local services were offered by purchasing a raffle ticket. Ms. Goofy purchase a large roll of said tickets.

I found my happy spot in the wineries gift shop. They sold frozen apple pies. I told everybody and anybody that would listen that I was going to take one of these pies home. One of the promoters heard my out loud wishing and gifted me with an apple pie. Apple pie dreams do come true. The judges also took home a bottle of wine.

What another wonderful weekend. It does not get any better than this. Friends, food, entertainment, great wines and in my case; apple pie made this event special. Most important, all of our celebrations and competition had an end goal of helping Autism speaks. Thanks to everyone involved and Van Ruiten Family Winer for being the host.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Gina is a five time International Chili Society state champion. She knows her chile and chili. She also knows I am a chilehead and generously gifted me with a bag of Crispy Hatch Chiles. This is a fried snack food. It is made from fresh Hatch chiles. It can be eaten as a snack or as a topping for salads or casseroles. All I can say is they are delicous and addicting. I almost ate the whole 3.5 ounce bag in one sitting. They are salty, crunch, oily and with a slight mild Hatch chile warmth. They are great. Thankyou Gina.

Sunday, June 2, 2019


A brand new KCBS contest has emerged this year on the bbq circuit. It is titled the Throwdown in The Vineyards and is held at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphy's California. It was a beautiful day for a bbq contest. The weather was is the high 70's to make a perfect setting for a four meat contest consisting of chicken, ribs, pork and my favorite brisket. The Ironstone winery is a beautiful venue and had something for everyone today.

The local football team had parking lot duties to make sure festival attendees did not deposited their vehicles in the beautiful vineyards. Twenty professional teams showed up for battle today. Several teams also vended bbq to feed the hungry participants. A cornhole tournament was held to attract even more bbq hungry players.

Ironstone winery was the perfect host for today's event. The winery had tastings and pouredglassed of their award winning wines. The grounds were beautiful with a small lake. The competitors were spread out with plenty of room. 

Congratulations to the Team Mudville bbq for winning the Grand Championship today. This was another beautiful weekend for bbq I had to finish the day with a hand dipped with chocolate and almond ice cream bar. We cannot wait till next weekend when we can do it all over again.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


While judging at the Santa Anita bbq event we met the owner of the Cucamonga Cattle Company. The Cucamonga Cattle Company is a competing bbq team and makes sauces and rubs. We purchased an all-purpose rub and a mustard based barbeque sauce. Mustard based sauces are great accompaniment for pulled pork. We would like to share a short review on both.

The rub is titled Trail Boss. It is an all-purpose rub instead of a meat specific rub. This rub claims to be goo on pork, beef, chicken and fish. It also claims to be low on sodium. I am not sure this is a good thing in a rub unless you have dietary needs to limit salt. The ingredient list is the usual subjects for a rub and the first ingredient listed is sugar. This is a sweet rub. We tried it on a pork steak which we cooked on a hot grill. The sugars caramelized very nicely to form a sweet savory meat crust. This really worked. I thought the salt level was just fine. (Note to self; maybe we do not need all that salt?). We cannot wait to try this on other meats.

This sauce has all the right moves for pulled pork. It is a free flowing sauce with just the right amount of mustard tang. The label claims the sauce to be spicy but we find it is spicy in a mustard type of twang. We shredded a pork roast and added sauce and reheated all in a cast iron pan for some of the best pulled pork sandwiches.
   We like these products and you can order the rubs from their website. I do not see the mustard sauce and we may just have to wait till next year when we attend the Santa Anita barbeque competition again.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


As some of you might know I am an avid collector of Buck Knives. I specifically collect the model Buck 110 which is a folding hunters knife. The Buck Company sells all types of knives and even have an extensive kitchen knife collection. The Buck Knife company showcases a special knife each month and calls it the 'Buck of The Month'. This month was a special chef's knife and I could not resist.

This is a 7 1/2 in Chef's knife. The handle is made of ebony hardwood. The blade is made of 12C27 Steel, Mod Sandvik steel. This is a very special steel with qualities that keep an edge and is corrosion resistant. This knife also came with a magnetic paperstone sheath. The knife is numbered with only 150 produced. This is a beautiful knife and a collectors item. This knife will actually get used. My wife Ms.Goofy has claimed this knife. It fits her paw perfectly. That is fine because I like to use a little bigger handled blade.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


 We are operating on intel from a fellow bbq judge Scott. This is his favorite Mexican restaurant in the Antioch area. We are visiting Cocina Medina. Cocina Medina is located in a small strip mall about 5 minutes off the main highway.There was plenty of parking today so Parking Karma was not needed. We walk into a festive, bright and inviting restaurant with high hopes.

We are immediately seated by a cheerful host. Within seconds a server comes with chips and salsas and our very friendly, bubbly waitress asks us if we want some drinks. I ask if they have any special hot sauce and she says she will bring it right away. We scan the menu and it is pretty typical for a Mexican restaurant. We order our usual suspects.

The regular salsa was a roasted melody of tomatoes and onion with a little kiss of heat on the mild side. The hot sauce was probably dried peppers and we immediately taste a funny aftertaste. I taste soap. It was not enjoyable. Our food arrives liquidity split. Ms. Goofys burrito was just okay. My chile verde had chunks of very dry pork in a lackluster sauce that was green in color only.

Living in the Bay Area we have so many choices for Mexican food. Cocina Medina has a few things going for it. It seems to be a fun lively place. The staff is wonderful and attentive. The food department had some fails today. We always enjoy the hunt for great Mexican food. Today was not a total disaster but most likely will not return.