Monday, September 30, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
It was a beautiful afternoon to indulge in fun, sun and good eats at the Eat Real food festival held in Jack London Square Oakland California. Jack London Square is a beautiful waterfront area that is lined with restaurants, shops and hotels. This area was transformed into a festival dedicated to 'Real Food'. How could we resist an event were you are required to eat and have a good time. We would like to share a couple of images with you.
The event was divided into two areas. An outside food area and an indoor pavilion that was dedicated to fun and specialized food products. There was something for everybody. Our friends from Heat Hot Sauce shop were there selling their latest hot creations. Pop Art Bake shop was selling home made bisquits and gravy. They also had cheesecake on a stick. You had many choices of premium chocolates. We bought some chocolates that were laced with the deadly ghost peppers from Barlovento chocolates. If you needed a little caffeine boost there was probably half a dozen local independent baristas to get your java fix. Pastries, baked goods, breads and so much more was available. Almost everybody was offering samples to entice your purchase.
It was time to go outside to enjoy the sunny afternoon. The outside area was lined with food trucks and food vendors. Where do we start with all the choices. Our friends from Belcampo were offering some of their tasty beef as sandwiches. Let me tell you about our favorite nosh first. The first image of this story is a sandwich/slider offered from chef Mistry from 'Juhu Beach Club. It was a smoky cardamon braised short ribs with a cucumber raita called the Holy Cow. Holy Cow was it rich, decadent and terrific.
So much good food but we did have a couple of misses.Sometimes the descriptions of the food was better than the actual product. This was the case With the Lechon Burrito. It maybe should of been called the "Wish Burrito" We wish there had been some more meat. We also had some lumpia that was a grease bomb that should have been dispensed with some antacid for later.
You would not believe the size of some hand dipped corn dogs that were offered. The nice thing about this festival was that all the foods offered were priced for under 5 dollars. You could have your fill without breaking the bank. We did just that. There was music and food demonstrations. Food related competitions were going to be held. Just strolling around and soaking in the view of the waterfront was entertainment itself.
This is a three day event so get yourself motivated and come eat some real food. Bring your appetite and be prepared for some fun in the sun. We had a blast. Thanks for sharing with us.
Jack London Square
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The not so secret to great cooking is to use the freshest ingredients available. Is that the case with meat? We are taking a Mini Meat Adventure to Saba Live Poultry and picking out a live chicken. They will dispatch and clean the fowl immediately. We will then cook and eat said bird. Let me start out with saying I have no knowledge or experience about slaughtering an animal for consumption. You even might say I am a 'Greenhorn City Slicker". My only experience with dead animals is in the meat aisle of Wally World. This will be an experience.
Saba Live Poultry is located in an Industrial area of East Oakland. It is a large warehouse with plenty of parking located in between the tractor trailers making their nearby deliveries. Once inside you are greeted by the smells and sounds of hundreds of caged pidgins, ducks, chickens, roosters, and somewhere were I did not see lambs and goats. The place was clean and recently scrubbed. It did not smell unpleasant but did have a noticeable odor. With that many live animals, barnyard like smells are unavoidable. A friendly, english speaking clerk asked me if I needed help. I told him I wanted a chicken. He knew right away that this was my first time. I did stand out being the only Anglo shopping with predominantly ethnic customers. He warned me not to get to close to the cages because I would get scratched. A chicken was picked and the clerk grabbed it by its feet and turned it upside down. It clucked but quickly became docile possibly knowing its fate. The clerk took the chicken behind closed doors for cleaning. I asked him if I could watch and take pictures. He replied the owner would not allow it. Five minutes elapsed and the clerk returned with a black plastic bag. This chicken cost me ten dollars.
I returned to my car holding the bag out from my body. I just had a creepy queasy feeling that this cutup chicken might jump out at me or something. I opened the bag to see my chicken. I bravely touched the chicken to feel warm flesh to my fingers. After verification that is was really dead, I took a deep breath and returned home.
They included the feet, gizzards and head. The neck was still attached. I reserved the neck and feet for stock in the future. The chicken was seasoned for the barbeque. My initial queasiness has subsided because this was only cutup chicken. The chicken was good looking. It cooked just like any Wally World chicken. The million dollar question is how did it taste?
This chicken looked really nice. I cooked it to the proper temperature and let it rest for 10 minutes. Drum roll please. This was one tough old bird. What did I do wrong? It had good chicken flavor but it was tough and chewy. I am a little lost because this is the first time I have cooked such fresh chicken. This was an adventure that will not be repeated. My killing floor with be the meat section of 'Wally Mart".
Sabla Live Poultry
845 Kennedy Blvd
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Every year we grow "The Great Pumpkin". This pumpkin patch is in memory of my father. I still remember his beaming smile and sense of pride with his 92 pound pumpkin. This year I fell short in reaching his special accomplishment. This year the mammoth gourd tipped the scales at 75.5 pounds. It is a beauty to be proud of but falls a few pounds short. That is okay because, I know my Dad is smiling.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Ms. Goofy and her sister Shastina returned from their sister vacation from Lake Tahoe bearing gifts. It is pretty easy to shop for me. If it has bacon in the title most likely it will be a hit. This was a tin of the "Finest Swine Confections". They were sweet hard candies with a hint of smoke flavoring. They are even approved by Mr. Bacon. What a treat.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
One must be on top of their game to be a Master Judge. I like to start my day with a good dose of protein smothered in gravy. 'Cafe Soleil' in El Sobrante was the fueling station of choice today. This dish was advertised as 'Pork Chops with homemade Country Gravy". An old fried Dr. Biggles made an observation that these were not really chops but slices of loin. There origin was a little difficult to determine because of the thick layer of gravy. They were boneless and it was a loin cut. These slices of protein were cooked to perfection; tender and juicy. If this plate was not enough I ordered a side order of bisquits and gravy. The bisquit was flaky and soft. The 'Country Gravy' could of used some more seasoning but was just what the doctor ordered, not. I am now ready to judge at the 'Rubstock' event today.
3550 Sp. O San Pablo Dam Rd.
El Sobrante, Ca. 94803
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Ribstock has morphed into Rubstock. This bbq event promises to be a; "A Groovin Time in the Foothills". Competitors, judges and the public will be dressed in their finest tye dye wear. I will be wearing my judges badge while letting my "Freak Flag Fly". BBQ. music and fun for the whole family. Hope to see you there.
September 14, 2013
Christa McAuliffe Park, Cameron Park
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Chilebrown 'Ice Cave' was getting a little low on meat supplies. It was time to go on a Meat Adventure. This adventure would visit four unique and special butchers in northern California. A distance of over 200 miles would be traveled this sunny morning. This is a small price to pay for the quality of the meat product to be acquired. A common denominator of a large animal mounted on the roof was found at our stops. It is a sign of welcome. It is an indicator of the meaty delights to come.
Our first stop was 'Lockeford Meat & Sausage Services.This market is famous for their sausages. Our favorite is Dakota sausage that is a blend of veal, pork and turkey. It is mild and big on flavor. We also picked up some jalapeno sausage. There must be over a dozen different varieties of fresh and smoked sausages. We needed to use restraint because we only had one ice chest and three other stops to go.
Swingles Meat Company in Jackson has been an old friend. This is one of our favorite old time butchers. This is a full service meat locker. Local farmers bring their animals for processing. We can purchased local steaks and chops. The prices are more than reasonable. Their is only one problem and that is making a decision of what to purchase. Swingles is a busy market with numerous employees bustling around doing their meat duties. Beautiful slab bacon was on our meat list. We found some beef ribs that had a healthy amount of meat on its bones. This market also sell some very good raviolis. Once again we had to use some restraint in our purchases.
Dees Meats in Galt is a small butcher shop off the beaten path. This store is a local secret located on a rural country road. They were out of slab bacon today but that did not stop us from buying some very thick rib-eye steaks. The fat marbling through out this large hunk of meat was a thing of beauty. Dees has a good selection of sausage and we picked up some jalapeno cheese. Our next stop will be a new market that we received a hot tip about.
This image is the interior of the Orangvale Meat Shoppe. This was a brand new full service meat market. The populace of Orangvale has a one stop meat shop. There is a deli counter for sandwiches. They will process your fowl and game. They also sell exotic meats such as kangaroo and boar. We did pick up some ground buffalo for hamburgers. They do have a house bacon but it is not smoked on the premise. They have sent out their pork bellies to a contractor for smoking. If I lived closer I would be a faithful customer.
Our ice chest was filled to the brim. This was a successful Meat Adventure. The best part of this adventure is yet to come. We get to enjoy the bounty of our haul.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
It seems awfully quiet this weekend. The Racing Honda sits idle, the ''Master Judge' shirt hangs in the closet and our judges badges need to be polished. We may not be at an organized competition but that does not mean our BBQ mojo is not working. This beautiful pork loin roast is from the Fatted Calf. If Ms. Goofy does not score it a perfect score I will gladly eat it all to myself.
Next weekend we will be at another competition. We also have a mini 'Meat Adventure' planned for next week. See you soon.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Our garden has several varieties of exotic peppers. This group of supper hot elite chile peppers boldly paint a colorful patch. One variety is the Ghost pepper. This pepper plant has a long growing season of 120 days. This bright yellow pod begged to be picked. I obliged and in the name of science and curiosity it needed to be tasted. Being careful not to actually touch the pepper with bare hands it was washed and cut into tiny slivers. A small sliver was popped into my mouth. I instantly received a lesson in humility.
People have different and sometimes deadly reactions to hot peppers. My initial response was of flavor. A strong habanero, tropical fruit like pleasant taste greeted my sensors. Within seconds my mouth was assaulted by a rush of heat. This was a building heat that quickly was turning into a fire. Two minutes into my folly the heat was still climbing. My face was flush, my nose was running and I was aware that I needed to breath normally. Some people will have an ultra severe reaction of their windpipe swelling closed. I did not panic but wished for some relief. Water and alcohol can actually intensify the experience. Ms. Goofy offered a glass of milk. I was on this ride to the end without aide. Half an hour has passed. My nose is still running but the fire in my mouth has subsided. An hour has passed and my adventure with this Ghost pepper has ended. It was a wild ride. Would I ever do this again? I do have several more pepper plants in my garden. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
‘Fire Dragon Love Sauce’ is a new hot sauce that has come on to the market via ‘Kickstarter’. This catchy name originates from Chinese astrology signs of the creators: Heather and Gigi. They claim their sauce is; “very delicious and synthesizes unique ingredients such as such as ginger, cocoa powder, mezcal, and of course, Dragon Love!” Today, we are only going to review the flavor, heat and how it tastes with food. We also must mention another facet of this sauce. ‘Fire Dragon Love Sauce states this is the “Official Hot Sauce for Gay Marriage”. We would like to share an opinion of Gigi, one of the creators.
“The hot sauce promotes love and equality, and we hope that it makes it to kitchen tables around world. We call it the official hot sauce for gay marriage because we are officially celebrating recent marriage equality victories. As such, our intent is to spice up this very important dialogue, and what better way to do that than through food? Wake up America, to the benefits of marriage equality, with hot sauce! “
This is not the first time politics and hot sauces have tried to mix. Regardless of your beliefs, let’s all go to the kitchen and give Fire Dragon Love Sauce a try.
Water, distilled vinegar, all natural habaneros, & other chilis, mescal, unsweetned cocoa powder, ginger, fresh lime, salt are the listed ingredients.
Aroma & Texture:
A strong potent whiff of mescal greets your sinuses with the removal of the cap. I believe I can smell a little cocoa and peppers too. It is a thick smooth dark red puree. It pours freely from the bottle.
This label will grab your attention with its bright graphics. Two happy women are embracing in a campy pose. I do need to mention that the bottle is not full to the top with sauce. There is a ¾ inch gap of missing sauce. (See first image)To me that indicates there is a quality control issue. It looks like somebody may have sampled the sauce and put it back on the shelf. It was not just the bottle that I purchased but all the bottles on the shelf.
Let’s all have a party because the Mezcal was invited to this gathering. There is a very strong flavor of alcohol. Once I got past the booze, cocoa powder left a bitter component. A little hint of ginger was present. Towards the end of this bender the flavors of habaneros made a weak appearance. I have never met a booze that I have not liked. I have also had sauces with bourbon that has been fantastic. The prevalent flavor of Mezcal with cocoa powder was a combination that was unique but not appealing. I found it to be off putting and not very appetizing.
Habaneros and other chilis (spelling?) are listed as ingredients. The peppers are used in restraint and will barely tip the heat meter to 2 stars out of 5
We initially tried the sauce with tortilla chips. We experienced the same flavors as above so we bought some burgers from a local fast food franchise. I gave the burger a good dose of sauce. I did not enjoy my burger experience. The flavor of Mezcal did not work with this burger. The flavor combinations with the Mezcal as the star were very unique. Unfortunately, I could not find anything I liked about this flavor.
Fire Dragon Love Sauce is a new sauce on the market. They have a catchy label that stands out on the shelf. It grabbed my attention to make a purchase. After further review I was a little disappointed. The overpowering Mezcal flavor was not my favorite. There is a quality control issue with the filling of the bottles. The sauce with a burger did not work for me. To be fair, their website recommends using the sauce with Mexican or Latin foods. They also suggest using it in a Bloody Maria. (Bloody Mary made with tequila). After my initial tasting, I did not want to have any more of this sauce.
Regardless of your political stance the bottom line is all about the flavor. Fire Dragon Love Sauce did not deliver.
Fire Dragon Love Sauce
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Today we have a request from our friend "Three Dogs BBQ'. Tamale Pie is in the house today. Tamale Pie is a casserole usually consisting of a spicy meat filling topped with a cornbread like crust. Variations are a plenty with everybody's favorite twists. My version uses freshly ground grains for the crust and spicy leftover brisket for the filling. I offer you a guideline to create your own version of tamale pie.
- 2 cups cubed leftover brisket
- 1/4 cup New Mexican Red Chile powder
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- 1 strip of bacon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 ears of fresh corn, niblets removed from cob.
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup corn meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
Feel free to add your own touches. The key to sucess is to use the freshest ingredients you can find. The topping with our fresh milled flours was a taste treat. Have fun.