Monday, October 12, 2015
We just wanted to share this image of some beef ribs that we procured from the House of Beef in Oakdale California. They were sold pre-marinated and cut into individual ribs. We smoked them for 3 1/2 hours with a combination of apple and hickory wood. It is a treat to find beef ribs that actually have a good quantity of meat on the bone. They were fantastic. Have a great Columbus Day.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
We travel to the Dogpatch district in San Francisco, to visit Oliviers Butchery. The Dogpatch (Meat Packing District) is located at the waterfront of the eastern area of the City. Once a gritty industrial and working class neighborhood this area has rapidly gone through a transformation. Trendy coffee houses, restaurants and now Oliviers Butchery. The only reason I bring this up is because of the parking situation. The parking here is horrendously impossible. My parking karma had totally vanished today. This was an experience in frustration and humility. I finally found a very small spot five blocks away. A red flag arose immediately. If I had such a chore finding parking, how can any other customer of Oliviers park?
Oliviers is very small shop located in a large industrial building. Their front door is an industrial roll up door. Once inside a couple of refrigerator cases and a wall shelf with sundries is it. What is inside of these cases is a collection of high end meats that Oliviers has for purchase. Oliviers considers itself an old fashioned ‘French’ boucherie. There ‘Credo’, philosophy embraces and uses all the buzzwords that hipster love; sustainability, grass fed, healthy environment, natural humane and etc. They do offer beef that is grass fed and grain finished. The cuts are displayed in refrigerated cases. They do offer pork, sausage, lamb and free range chicken.
Oliviers offers some non-traditional cuts of beef. I rolled the dice and took a chance on the “100 % Grass Fed Beef Surprise”. This was a grass fed and finished cut of beef that came off of the shoulder. The butcher recommends cooking it hot and fast. It was very lean. I seasoned it with salt & pepper to prepare it for a very hot mesquite charcoal fire. Here is the million dollar question. How did it taste?
This cut was called ‘Surprise”. The surprise was I actually liked it. It had a beef flavor that I would compare to the sirloin. The texture had a little tug to the bite which also compared to a sirloin. Another question to ask myself is will I return to Oliviers?. The answer is no because of the parking and the premium prices demanded for their products. The butcher did tell me people will park on the sidewalk right in front of the store. If you know San Francisco you know you are rolling the dice with the meter maid patrol. I pass.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
The Wagon Wheel Market is located 10 minutes from the Feather Falls Casino the venue of our last bbq competition. A trip before the award ceremony was a no-brainer event. I borrowed the keys of Ms. Goofy's Racing Honda while she was sampling different house made micro-beers. I would be back before she could finish her "Naughty Native American India Pale Ale". The Wagon Wheel Market has the best butcher shop in the area. Today's purchase included some beautiful slab bacon and bacon cheddar hot dogs. This is going to be fantastic.
The ingredient list of these dogs is short and absent of fillers or preservatives. This is a mixture of beef, pork, cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. To gild the lily we sliced some bacon and wrapped our dogs. The bacon was secured with toothpicks. A short trip on the grill to crisp the bacon and we were set.
The hot dogs split on the grill because of the eruption of molten cheddar cheese. They were removed when the bacon was crisped. These dogs had a wonderful snap when bitten. One had to be careful to not be scalded by the volcanic hot cheese. I am not really sure if we could taste the bacon inside the hot dogs but was not missed with our bacon topping. These were high quality and fantastic tasting dogs. I am not sure if the cheese and bacon filling additions were necessary. The Wagon Wheel Market is a destination stop for meat products.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
The venue is the same but the names have been changed to protect the innocent. We return to Feather Falls Casino in Oroville California for a weekend full of bbq and fun. We have returned to judge a brand new named bbq contest: '1st Annual Hot Q's & Cold Brews Championship. This contest promised to be bigger, better and a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event. This means it is a four meat contest involving chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and brisket. It is also a qualifier for the Invitational Jack Daniels competition. Even more important this events goal was to benefit local charities. This contest and event fired on all cylinders to provide entertainment and great bbq for all. We would like to share a few images with you.
The ultimate goal of this event was a fundraiser for local charities in the community. The casino generously donated the venue, food, house made micro-beers (Ms. Goofy can personally vouch that this was some fantastic micro-beer) and staff to make this a successful event. The competitors competed for a 'People Choice' award with some of the proceed going to the charities. The public had the chance to purchase sample tickets at a nominal price to eat award winning barbeque. This was a win-win situation for all involved.
We donned our shiny Master Judge badges to sample and score some of the best bbq on the West Coast. Forty two teams were present to do battle. This was a significant number of teams considering there was a big bbq contest in Southern California and the big event in Missouri; The American Royal.
The line was long to get in . The public knew this was a spectacular opportunity to have a great day eating bbq, imbibing in micro-beers, listening to fun live music and be able to help local charities. The weather was perfect with the thermometer hovering in the low 80's.
It was award time. Big Bs Down & Dirty took Grand Champion with Mr. Applejacks taking Reserve Grand Champion. Both of these teams were favorites to win and did not disappoint. This competition was one of the last KCBS contests of the season in our area. What a great season we have had. The competition is not over by any means because we have a rib contest in several weeks. This weekend was a lot of fun because Feather Falls Casino rolled out the red carpet for all involved. Thankyou!
Feather Falls Casino
Thursday, October 1, 2015
The Colombo Club is one of the largest Italian social clubs active in the United States. Its origins go back to 1920’s Italian quarry (Rockridge) workers gathering to eat, drink and socialize. The present club was built in 1951 on Claremont Ave.. in the neighborhood I grew up in. I no longer live in this area but once a month I return to partake of the dinners hosted by the Colombo Club. At this dinner I reunite with my old cronies that I grew up with. At one time there were numerous Italian clubs in this area. The Colombo Club has survived and thrived to be a popular destination. There still is a waiting list to become a member. To become a member one must have an Italian heritage in your background. I am a guest and become an honorary Italian at these dinners.
It is traditional to start the evening at one of the several bars inside the hall. This is a time to reconnect and relax before the dinner to come. We tell the same old stories we have always told. Of course the tail may have grown and possibly embellished but we do not care. That is half the fun of storytelling. The noise level in the hall is quiet loud and boisterous. At 7;30 pm the dinner bell is rung. We all proceed to the basement dining hall.
Once seated at the long dinner tables the conversation becomes challenging. The ceiling is low and there are several hundred men conversing to make the noise level very high. Regardless, we still tell stories until our voice becomes hoarse. The dinner starts with anti-pasta of cheese, salami and mortadella. The meal is served family style in large serving bowls. A nice salad starts the first course. The pasta is next and tonight it was penne pasta bathed and coated in wonderful tomato gravy. This was filling and satisfying. The main course was chicken cacciatore. You do not leave these dinners hungry because if you want more the servers will gladly bring you more. To finish the dinner ice cream, coffee and an optional shot of brandy is served. It is time to loosen the belt.
I look forward to our monthly meetings. It is a great way to reconnect with old friends. We are all grown men and have taken different paths in life. This one evening we return to our youth with the added bonus of a great dinner. The Colombo Club is a wonderful tradition and I am privilieged to be able to participate.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
We love burnt ends. Burnt ends are the point end of a brisket that is smoked, cubed and sauced. To make burnt ends is an all-day process that is worth every ounce of effort. We procured this point end piece of brisket at the House of Beef in Oakdale California. This USDA choice hunk of beef was cradled in multiple layers of fat which was trimmed away. It was seasoned with our rub of the day. A trip to the smoker for 6 hours was the first step.
We let the brisket rest for 1/2 an hour. It was then cubed into chunks and seasoned for a second time. Another hour in the smoker for these beefy chunks of meat love was in order. The only thing left to do was to gild the lily. A barbeque sauce was applied and one more trip to the smoker to set the sauce would happen. We call this meat candy. Smoky, sweet, beefy, luscious, rich, and possibly the most decadent beef experience possible. What a treat.