Chilebrown at home

Friday, August 30, 2013


Looking a little COCKEYED at this RUN OF THE MILL situation, I used the RULE OF THUMB and put my NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE to ultimately feel FAIR TO MIDDLING. Huh? Did you know these sayings originated in the milling profession? We learned this on our tour of the historic “Bale Grist Mill’. While watching PBS show 'California Gold' our hero Huell Howser  shared his experienced at the Bale Grist Mill This adventure was added to our bucket list. The mill is part of the Napa County Regional Park District. It located in a scenic tree lined area next to a creek. The creek provides water power to turn the huge water wheel which in turn powers the grinding stones.

Located on the scenic winery lined highway 29 just past St. Helena it is a quick turn-off the road to the mill. It is a short scenic walk from the parking lot to the mill. The mill is impressive. The water driven wheel is a good three stories tall. We walk into the mill and are greeted by a friendly docent. A nominal fee is paid and our tour begins. You will learn everything there is to know about milling. The mill was not only a place to have your grains milled but  a social gathering place for the local populace. The actual working mill has been restored to its past glory. During the tour the guide put the mill into motion and demonstrated the actual milling process.

Fresh milled grains are available for purchase. They are labeled “Not for Human Consumption” thanks to regulatory regulations. We witnessed the actual milling and felt no concern for this label. This process has been used for Century’s with out the help of regulators. These flours do not get any fresher. The whole wheat flour and cornmeal had wonderful textures and smells.

Cockeyed:  The union of the ‘cock’ and the ‘eye’ of the milling stones which keep the milling stones in     balance

Run of the Mill:  This is whatever grain that is being processed at a particular time.

Nose to the Grindstone:   The miller had to keep constant watch by smell to make sure the grain was not                                              being burned by the stones being to close.

Fair to Middling:   fair and middling were to different grades of flour.

Rule of Thumb:   The miller would pinch a little flour on his thumb to determine the consistency

Once we were home we had to taste our souvenirs. We cooked some corn bread and also made some tamale pie in a Dutch oven. Our corn meal and whole wheat flour freshly milled were a tasty treat. If you get a chance the Bale Grist Mill is a wonderful place to visit. You know Huell Howser is the ‘Rule of Thumb’ when is comes to California Gold.

Bale Grist Mill

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


During a weekend of protein overload one must start the day with a good foundation. We found a great place called the "Cowpoke Cafe"  in Middletown California to start your day with a hearty and great tasting breakfast. The front of the Cowpoke Cafe was guarded by a sea of motorcycles. This gave us a clue of the popularity and good food to come. One inside we grabbed one of the last reaming tables in a packed house.We did not even know of the beautiful garden seating area in the back. We were promptly given menus with a side of strong coffee. We had a large choice of traditional breakfast fair with a chalk drawn sandwich board proclaiming the specials. Of course pork chops for me and eggs Benedict for Ms.  Goofy.

Despite the house being packed, we were served our breakfast in a timely manner. Our plates looked scrumptious The pork chops had enticing brown glaze promising lots of flavor. A sharp knife was provided but was not needed to cut through these tender and juicy cuts of pork. A small bucket of gravy was provided to smother a homemade biscuit. The dishwasher had an easy job with my plate because I licked it clean. Ms. Goofy was silent while she devoured her yummy plate of hollandaise covered poached eggs. Once done she barked her seal of approval.

If you happen to be near Middletown the 'Cowpoke Cafe' is a must breakfast stop. We left this restaurant with a smile and a great tasting foundation for more food indulgence. Nest time we will sit in the garden area in the back. Let the BBQ competition begin.

Cowpoke Cafe
21118 Calistoga Rd.
Middletown, Ca 95461
(707) 987-0661

Monday, August 26, 2013


BBQ, Beer and Cars was another winning formula for the crowds in Lakeport California this weekend. This was the fith annual event at the Konicti Vista Indian casino. It is very popular with the local population. How can you miss with this winning formula? The weather was very pleasant with the sun shining bright to illuminate the classic cars displayed. One car the caught my attention was this Ford Fairlaine. Yours truly owned a '66 Ford Fairlane Convertible'. Back in the day my 'Freak Flag' wold fly.{David Crosby refers to long hair as a freak flag in his song Almost Cut My Hair. "I feel like letting my freak flag fly.}

Was it just me or did it seem that there were a lot of men wearing kilts. I actually thought they looked pretty darn 'kool for school' and asked Ms. Goofy if I could get one. She replied; "Who would wear the pants in the family?".

This was another great weekend.. Congratulations to our friends Bill & Yvonne Sousa of the competition BBQ team ' Big B's Down & Dirty' for winning the title Grand Champion. A special shoutout to the team 'Smoin Yankees'. They took first place in brisket with a perfect score. A perfect score is when the judges award all nines the highest score available. Now that was some good brisket. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The party resumes in Lakeport California. This event is one of our favorites. Hope you can make it.

Smoke on the Water
2755 Mission Rancheria Road
Lakeport, CA 95453 - (707) 262-190

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Sometimes I am easily swayed by the promise of bacon. Ms. Goofy saw this signboard as we sped by the Solano Bakery in Dixon. I said we should go back. Ms. Goofy pulled the emergency brake which put the Racing Honda into a 180 degree spin that pointed us towards our new destination. Once the dust and smell of burning rubber had settled, I purchased a cheese and bacon covered bagel. It made the perfect tr-tip sandwich. Sometimes Ms. Goofy's driving skills are a welcome necessity.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The skies were dark and full of smoke. The smell of smoke was not all sweet bbq, but of a fire in Bangor, California 10 miles away. This did not put a shadow over the festivities at the 'Feather Falls BBQ Cook-off 'in  Oroville California. This was the second event in a three parts series. Ms. Goofy and yours truly were in attendance with our judges badges bright and shiny. These contests just seem to get better and better.

Eating some of the best BBQ ever is only one of the facets of this event. The chance to visit and swap stories with our bbq friends makes it all worthwhile. We pick up tips and suggestions for our cooking at home. These events are a great resource for the latest and best bbq equipment available. I always make it a point to show Ms. Goofy bbq pits that would make a good fit to our household. The Christmas wish list has been filled several times.

It was another great smoke filled weekend. Congratulations to "Big Shot BBQ' for winning the 'Grand Champion" trophy. There will be the third installment of this bbq series in October. Stay tuned for details.

Feather Falls Casino

Saturday, August 17, 2013


"Hi ho, hi ho, it off to bbq we go". Feather Falls Casino in Orville, California is our destination today. This is the second contest in a three part series. Here is a taste of the last contest Hope you can make it.

Feather Falls Casino BBQ Cook-Off. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013


We have been ignoring that all important meal of the day called breakfast. It has been awhile since we have searched for local breakfast establishments. We frequently pass by Tina’s Place and witness a line of people waiting outside. It was time to brave the crowd and see what the hubbub is all about. Tina’s has received numerous praises from the local press. We have heard good things about Tina’s from friends and they also happen to have pork chops on the breakfast menu.

We arrive at 7; 10 am to ensure we would not have to wait in line. There are already several people at the bar/counter. The interior is modern and has a luxurious vibe throughout. High back comfortable chairs, hardwood floors and mood lighting make you feel warm and comfortable. Our waitress immediately greeted us, brought us menus and beverages. Our waitress was very friendly and professional. Her patter and service made us feel like an old friend. The menu had numerous omelet selections and traditional breakfast faire. ‘No Substitutions” commanded the menu, which makes sense with the crowd which will follow. Pork Chops, eggs, home fries, toast was my choice while Ms. Goofy had to have a waffle.

Our waitress brought our breakfast and our draws dropped. Two large pork chops marked with perfect grill marks towered on the plate. Little boulders of crispy brown potatoes formed a wall to shield two over easy eggs. The pork chop was tender and satisfying. Believe it or not, I only ate one chop. With all the potatoes, eggs and English muffins I wanted to have a pork chop snack for later. Ms. Goofy devoured her yummy waffle. She was very happy. All this was washed down with multiple cups of great tasting ‘Joe’. We now know why there is a line outside. Tina’s serves a huge great tasting breakfast. They also serve lunch and dinner. We already have plans to return and try the chicken fried steak.

Tina’s Place
2300 San Pablo Av.
Pinole, Ca. 94584

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The UPS man did a drive by steak drop off yesterday. To our pleasant surprise the 'Man in Brown'  left a box of bacon wrapped filet mignon. This was a gift from our very good friend Carol who also happens to live in "The Sunflower State'; Kansas. These were not your everyday, garden variety,  'Wally-World' bargain basement filet of the day. These were from the Kansas City Steak Company.These filets were from the finest Kansas corn-fed beef that had been 'Super Trimmed' and aged for 28 days. If that was not enough they were wrapped in bacon. Oh my gosh!

A quick kiss of fire from very hot mesquite charcoals was all these steaks needed. Tender, Tender with real corn-fed deep beef flavor was the verdict. This is a flavor that we crave. This may come as a shock to some but I believe these steaks really did not need the bacon. They were so tender and full of flavor that bacon was only a bit player in this show.  How wonderful is it to have friends like Carol. Carol, Thank you from the bottom, top, and bacon wrapped sides of our heart.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Classic, hot rods and muscle cars served up with a plate of BBQ was the festive scene in Brentwood California. The 'Cornerstone Fellowship' sponsored a KCBS four meat, backyard bbq contest, chili cookoff and car show. This was a festive family fun event. We would like to share a couple of images with you.

The crowd seemed especially festive. Silly hats and dancing in the aisles was a common sight. A band entertained the crowd while they enjoyed the day. The weather was very pleasant. A misted cool area was available to cool down in the case of having too much fun.

We judged some very fine bbq entries today. We never tire of eating and scoring the best bbq in the nation. We did declare a Grand Champion. Our friends Bill & Yvonne Sousa of the team 'Big B's Down and Dirty' were victorious today. A special shout-out to the "Kid' Zach of 'Son of Smoke' for Reserve Grand Champion. What a fun day.

Friday, August 9, 2013


The ‘Racing Honda’ is speeding to the sleepy town of Martinez, California to dine at the newly opened ‘Smokehouse 10’. This should be an interesting and fun meal because Dave Tendick is the owner/pitmaster. Dave is a competition cooker, caterer, bbq instructor, and television celebrity. He was a competitor on the television show; ‘BBQ Pitmasters’. Smokehouse 10 is located in Martinez which houses the county courthouse. The downtown scene is hustling and vibrant during courthouse hours but when the sun sets the town becomes a little lonely. This provides a unique challenge for Dave.

Smokehouse 10 is located off ‘Main St’ on Pine Street. It is not really hard to find but your GPS will be helpful. The restaurant is located in a small strip of several businesses. Look for the cutout pig sign to know you have arrived. We enter Smokehouse 10 to a very small dinning area and take-out counter. Four tables and a counter make for a cozy eating environment. The walls are adorned with ‘graffiti like’ well wishes from customers. There is a chalkboard with the menu and daily specials.

We sampled Dave’s menu over several visits. It is always fun to come and talk BBQ with Dave while sampling his smoked meat treats. Thursday’s is beef rib day. You should see the size of this ‘Fred Flinstone’ size rib. It is not only huge and mammoth it is a thing of beauty. I almost shed a tear it was so pretty.  It is an art to smoke and transform a beef rib to a tender and flavorful meal. The dry rub did its seasoning job to perfection. The smoke permeated this rib but did not overpower. When I finishsed, I licked the bone clean Ms. Goofy took half of hers home. Beef ribs were a great beginning to sample this menu.

“Burnt ends, Oh how I Love thee” The key to my culinary heart can be won with good burnt ends. This is the cubed, smoked and seasoned point end of the brisket. Done correctly the pitmaster can transform a fatty tough piece of meat to tender, savory, ‘Meat Candy’. These burnt ends came to the table with no sauce. A sweet tomato based sauce was offered at the table. I alternated dipping and not with each cube of meat heaven. This was rich and satisfying. Dave demonstrated his bbq expertise with this dish.

A pulled pork sandwich was a tasty treat. The pork was tender and had little pieces of meat candy bark for burst of pork flavor. The meat was piled high on a hamburger style bun. Vinegar based Cole slaw topped this mountain of pork. I have to admit that I was not a fan of the slaw. The spices that seasoned and the ratio of vinegar just seemed a little off to me.  Even though, the pulled pork shined and delivered over the slaw and I did devour the whole sandwich.

Side dishes are not just an after thought at Smokehouse 10 .One side dish is deep fried fresh corn on the cob. This sounds like a dish more suited to the midway of the county fair. Once we tried it we were hooked. Some of the kernels had darkened from its trip to the fryer. The corn was tender and had a nutty like flavor from the frying. It was not oily or greasy at all. It had been seasoned with a good amount of salt to enhance flavors. This was a winner. Beans were another delicious side dish. Small black & navy beans kissed with molasses and studded with small chunks of brisket makes a hearty and satisfy side. Ms. Goofy gave the paws up for her creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese. Dave makes all his side dishes from scratch. The quality shines in these dishes. In so many bbq restaurants side dishes are usually mediocre at best.

Our last visit we had a piece of decadent pecan pie. Rich, nutty, sweet and a crust to die for was the verdict for this fabulous pie..  I was not satisfied with just one piece and bought another to bring home. We shall return to Smokehouse 10 because, we have not even tried the pork ribs yet. This will be for another day. If you would like to try some competition style bbq, Smokehouse 10 is your destination. Dave Tendick will be there to guide you through a barbeque journey of great food. He may even share some secrets or at least an autograph.  I cannot say enough about the huge meaty beef ribs. What a treat.

Smokehouse 10 
1333-B Pine St.
Martinez, Ca. 94553
925 890-5712

Monday, August 5, 2013


Why do we continue to torture ourselves? The fascination of any bacon related products has us hooked. Is it because of how much we love the taste, the feeling of eating good bacon. Bacon soda is not new and we have tried it before. In fact I would not wish 'Jones Bacon Soda' on my worst enemies. We want to believe, so here we go again. These are two bacon flavored sodas from "Lester's Fixins"; 'Bacon Soda and Chocolate Covered Bacon Soda".

The Bacon Soda was first. It has a pinkish, peachy hue. The aroma is neutral and does not sing out the promise of bacon to come. We poured it over ice and braced ourselves for the worst/best. This soda was lightly carbonated. It was not overly sweet like the 'Jones Bacon Soda". Here is the million dollar question. Does it taste like bacon? Ms. Goofy claims there was a mouth feel of fat, possibly bacon fat. I did not taste bacon. We did not find this soda terrible but would not invite it to any party that we would throw. We examined the label and did not find bacon as an ingredient. There was  'natural flavorings' listed on the label.
  We went to our local watering hole to share the 'Chocolate Covered Bacon Soda'. This soda had a strong aroma of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. It was very sweet and light on the carbonation. Bacon flavor was non-existent.  It was undrinkable to all who dared to try it. Once again we were duped by bacon soda. It is a good thing there was plenty of bourbon to cleanse our palate.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


You have to have it. It is hanging on the rack and it calls your name. It beckons you. Where have you been all my life? This is what went through my mind when I first saw this 'Non-Stick Bacon Griller". It also happened to be on sale. This new Bacon Griller wss put in our shopping cart to begin its new life as a member of the Chilebrown bbq tool arsenal team. I usually do not like to shop but today was an exception. One can never have enough barbeque accessories

The 'Bacon Griller' is a metal stand that is shaped like a pup tent. It has metal troughs on the bottom to catch bacon love. (grease). Raw bacon is draped over the top of this non-stick utensil. It is placed directly on a hot bbq grill. The heat from the fire heats the metal and cooks your bacon. The fat drips into the trough. In fact this is a healthy way to cook bacon. All the excess fat drips away from your rashers and accumulates in the troughs. We cooked some great bacon from 'Shasta Valley Meats' Montague, California.

This tool worked like a charm. The bacon cooked fairly quickly. We turned the bacon several times. It crisped up nicely. I want to add the fact it was just plain fun to cook bacon over a barbeque fire.  If there was any fault with this tool it is that the bacon did not crisp at the very center were the bacon drapes over the top of the griller. The heat is not as intense at the apex of this cooker. Another drawback is the removal of fat from the troughs for cleaning. The 'Bacon Griller' may not be perfect but just remember: "He with the most barbeque tools wins!!!!!"