Thursday, October 31, 2013
The competition BBQ community is small and tight knit. A lot of competitors have restaurants or run catering businesses. Mark Brown from the competitive team of 'Wine with Swine BBQ' runs and owns a small bbq restaurant in San Jose, California called 'Smoke N' Wings'. We have met Mark at numerous competitions and are excited to try his smoke palace. 'Smoke N's Wings' is housed in a familiar past 'South of the Border' fast food abode. We open the doors and are immediately greeted by Mark. The interior is small and intimate with Mark's humorous bbq rules posted on the wall. Several televisions are there for the sports crowd. I place my usual order for brisket and ribs.
Mark and I converse about the bbq scene while the meal is prepared. He tells me that all his meats are smoked with apple wood. All the side dishes and the sauce is made from scratch. He also tells me that the wings are very popular. Hey, I forgot to order wings. Mark tells me he will let me sample a few. Mark is also an accomplished Chili Cook-off competitor. We have a lot to talk about. The food arrives just in the nick of time because I may have started to drool just a little.
The brisket has a beautiful smoke ring. The ribs are falling apart tender. They both are seasoned with a non-assertive dry rub. I take a bite of the ribs and immediately taste beautiful, comforting, and tasty apple wood smoke. It is not overpowering, but a flavor that we crave. The brisket also has just the right amount of smoke and is falling apart tender. The flavor and smoke of these two meats made me swoon. This plate was all about the meat. The sauce that accompanied was thin vinegar and seasoned tomato slurry for dipping. My choices of sides were Cole Slaw and beans. Mark's expertise is chili making was apparent. They were very tasty and hearty. The slaw was refreshing with its sweet vinegar bite. A freshly baked corn meal muffin was the topping on this cake. I almost forgot about the wings.
Mark has a special cooking process for these popular chicken snacks. They are brinned over night in a special solution. They are then baked briefly. The wings are dipped in a seasoned tempura batter and fried. Seasoning flavors are then added such as: bbq, buffalo, tamarind and Parmesan. I had the Parmesan and was very pleased. These wings were huge. They were meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. Juicy, tender and I would never guess they had a bath in the fryer.The tempura batter dusted with Parmesan was a salty crisp flavor bomb. Oh my!!!!!
We enjoyed our meal at Smoke N' Wings. Come for the BBQ and stay for the Wings.
Smoke N' Wings
916 Meridian Ave
San Jose, California 95126
Monday, October 28, 2013
Rob Ryan’s presence with his rub’s and sauces is felt at competition barbeque events. He is the owner and proprietor of ‘Rob’s Smokin Rubs’, a sauce and rub company. He sponsors some competitors and we are gong to mention one in particular today. Zack Galiste is a 16 year old barbeque sensation. He is on a fast track to win the 2013 Rookie of the Year award. He took second place in Chicken at the ‘Brentwood Cook-off & Car Show’. I am friends with Zack and his father and I purchased Rob’s rub to help support his effort to achieve BBQ greatness. The barbeque community is a small tight knit community. When Rob heard I bought his rub from Zack he gave me a ‘Frog Sauce’ to accompany it. Today we are going to attempt to make some competition style chicken using Rob’s Frog Sauce and ‘Smokin Rub’. My wife, Ms. Goofy will be the barbeque judge in attendance. Gentlemen start your grills.
This chicken will be similar to Zack’s award winning entry. He cannot reveal all his secrets but this will be close. We will be using a Weber Rocky Mountain Smoker. The first step is to trim your chicken into equal sized pieces. This will insure even cooking and will be pleasing to the judge’s eyes. Once they are trimmed they will be rubbed down with Rob’s Rub.
Robs Smokin Rub (Mild)
Sugar, sea salt, chili powder, spices, (including paprika, and cayenne), garlic powder, onion powder, silicon dioxide, (anti caking agent) molasses are the listed ingredients. This is a pretty straight forward list of ingredients to provide a good seasoning for numerous applications.
Chili powder is the prevalent odor. The spices smell fresh and vibrant.
N/A This is a mild rub.
Salt, chili powder and garlic are what I taste. To be fair it needs to be applied to a protein and cooked to do its magic.
The chicken was rubbed and put in the refrigerator for several hours to work its magic. We are using a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker with a combination of charcoal briquettes, applewood and hickory as our smoking fuel. We placed our rubbed chicken in a foil pan. It was cooked for an hour and one half turning several times until the internal temperature was 165 degrees. It was time to finish our chicken with Rob’s Frog Sauce.
Rob’s Frog Sauce
Cane sugar, tomato puree (tomato paste, water), distilled vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, (Distilled vinegar, molasses, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, chili pepper extract), salt, less than 2 % of the following spices, pepper, garlic powder, celery seed are the listed ingredients.
Aroma & Texture:
Kansas City here we come announces the aroma. A sweet tomato with a hint of vinegar wafts through the open top. The texture is of a thick puree and pours freely from the bottle. Seeds are present. I have no problems with seeds but some competitors will strain a sauce to remove all the seeds. It is all about impressing the judges.
Straight out of the bottle, a tomato base, sweet molasses and a Worcestershire type finish will greet your BBQ hungry senses. The garlic, onions and cloves sing back up in this chorus of flavors. It is a savory sauce with just the right amount of sweetness to make one crave more.
We took our cooked chicken and dipped it into the Frog Sauce. We then returned the chicken to the smoker for 4 minutes. We only wanted to set the sauce. It looked beautiful with a shiny glaze and sheen. This was some good looking chicken. Ms. Goofy got her score card ready.
The chicken was so very tender. A bite revealed a flavor journey starting with the Frog Sauce. This is a familiar taste that we all love. The sauce is sweet and savory. Dare I say lip smacking? Messy and a little sticky that will have you craving that next bite. Further into our taste journey we will taste chicken that is seasoned perfectly. The combination of salt, chili’s and sugars enhances and brings out that chicken flavor. Ms. Goofy’s score card was covered in Frog Sauce but it revealed a whole mess of ‘9’s”. This is what competition chicken tastes like.
Do you want to cook competition tasting BBQ? Are you a backyard warrior that wants to step up their BBQ game? Rob’s rub is a great foundation for seasoning and flavoring chicken and other cuts of meat. Rob’s Frog Sauce is a great tasting finishing sauce. With the right technique and Rob’s sauces and rubs you too can create great tasting competition style barbeque
Zack is resting up for his final two competitions of the year. He is gunning for the title of ‘Rookie of the Year’. Regardless of the outcome he is and will be a BBQ force to be reckoned with. It is great that Rob is supporting Zack with his rubs and sauces. Robs Frog Sauce is a solid advantage in Zack’s conquest. We are fans of Zack and ‘Rob’s Smokin Rubs’.
Rob’s Smokn Rubs
Saturday, October 26, 2013
The 'Racing Honda' burned through the morning fog to reach the destination of the 'Copper Skillet in Martine California. This morning we were going to try the pork chops at this fine eating establishment to further our quest to find the best pork chops in the land. The Copper Skillet is located several blocks from the County court house. There was outside dinning but we opted to warm up inside. We were greeted with booth seating and some pedestrian hot coffee. The coffee was hot and served its awakening duties. The menu was fairly large with many breakfast combination. You probably can guess what was ordered.
The pork chops had beautiful grill marks. These chops were juicy, tender and had that kiss of carmelization that can only be achieved by a smoking hot grill. They were very enjoyable. The bisquits and gravy did not compliment but were a slight disappointment. The gravy was studded with little decent tasting circles of breakfast sausage. The sausage could not rescue this under seasoned flat gravy. This lackluster gravy covered some bisquits that had seen better days. Believe it or not I did not even finish the bisquits and gravy.
The Copper Skillet serves breakfast and lunch. I would return to have pork chops but will pass on the bisquits and gravy. The quest lives on.
811 Ferry St Martinez, CA 94553
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The good people at ‘Culinary Twist’ have sent us an assortment of marinades and sauces for us to sample. They have sent us the ‘Taste of Paradise’ collection that is four all-natural sauces inspired by exotic destinations. We are going to try their ‘Baja’ sauce that boasts chipotle and lime flavor. Baja sauce was awarded two 3rd place awards at the 2012 Scovie awards as a meat condiment and as a mild BBQ sauce. “Culinary Twist’ has recipes on their website suggesting uses of their sauce. We will try the grilled chicken accompanied by Baja style Cole Slaw. This should be a lot of fun.
The Baja sauce is housed in a fun labeled bottle. The graphics depicts a land south of the border with ripe chile’s shaded by an agave plant. The label is colorful and grabs your attention. Let’s open the top and give is a whiff. I smell balsamic vinegar and lime that is very pleasant. I poured a little taste on a spoon and was greeted with a sweet and savory flavor. I could taste honey, garlic and lime. There was a very slight pepper bite from the jalapeno and chipotle. I will emphasis slight pepper bite because this sauce is mild. This sauce is all about the flavor and not the heat. I believe this sauce used as a marinade will be a hit.
Have I never needed an excuse to fire up the grill? We are grilling chicken today using ‘Baja’ as a marinade. The instructions could not be simpler. Several hours before grilling pour marinade over chicken and reserve in the refrigerator. We built a hot mesquite charcoal fire. We used sliced chicken breast and they cooked very quickly. We covered them and let them rest several minutes while we got our salad. Our salad today is a Baja style Cole slaw. It has cabbage, red & yellow bell peppers, carrots and red onions. It is garnished with cilantro and fresh roasted un-salted peanuts. The dressing is the Baja sauce. We assembled our salad before firing up the grill. We wanted to let our salad marry for at least an hour.
We sat down to our dinner with Baja sauce as the guest. We have a “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner” (sorry). The marinade added a sweet component to our chicken. It added that sweet/savory flavor that made you crave another bite. It was not overly sweet because of the peppers, garlic and cilantro. Our Baja salad was a refreshing accompaniment to our meal. The lime juice added freshness while the honey and sugars were balanced by the salt and peppers. The textures and flavors of this salad transformed our meal to a ‘South of the Border’ treat.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal tonight. Using Baja sauce was very simple and easy. It is nice that Culinary Twist offers recipes to use their products. This meal was assembled and cooked in several hours. We love the convenience using their recipes and sauce. It is also very important that this is a great tasting sauce. We are looking forward to trying the rest of the ‘Taste of Paradise’ collection.
recipes and ordering information
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Apple Hill is forty five minutes north of
on Highway 50. You can refer to a map or just follow the cars. Our journey was
on a Tuesday morning. Apparently we were not the only ones that were to visit
this region. There are ‘farm trail’ signs that will direct you to the various
stops. Our first stop was Boa Vista Orchards. It was located smack dabs in the
middle of an orchard and pumpkin patch. It is a good thing we brought a full
pocket book because we were about to do some apple product related shopping.
Apple pies, frozen or freshly baked, apple doughnuts, fritters, streusel,
juice, cider, caramel apples, and so much more. There was a snack bar and gift
shop. If you want apples you have arrived. We filled up a cart with various
apple products and went to our next destination.
A short scenic drive down the road to the Larsen Apple Barn was next. We were able to watch apple packers in action. Freshly pressed apple juice was offered to sample. This was the nectar of the apple gods. Yummy! We purchased dried and fresh apples. Our trunk was getting full.
After several more stops our final destination was the Jack Russell Brewery. For a nominal fee you can purchase samples of beer, wine, cider and mead. They had beautiful picnic grounds to enjoy your imbibing. We were now sufficiently liquored up and it was time to hit the road, with our designated driver of course.
Our journey home warranted a stop in nearby
to “Z pies”. We had a good tip to purchase frozen pot pies to go. When we got
home we fired up the oven and cooked our pot pies and a frozen caramel apple
pie. They were both delicious. This was a great road trip. I would recommend
going on a weekday because this spot is not a secret. Placerville
Friday, October 18, 2013
The Friday 'Richmond Farmers Market' which yours truly is one of the Managers will proudly offer homemade Pupusa's & Tamales for sale. We have a vendor that will hand make to order a fresh pupusa in front of your anticipating eyes. When you smell a pupusa on the griddle droplets of dribble may form because it smells so very delicious. What is a pupusa? It is fresh corn masa (corn flour) that is seasoned and formed into a ball. It is then filled with different fillings. (Cheese, beans, pork). The filled masa ball is flattened and grilled. It is served with a spicy, refreshing Cole slaw. The tamales are also hand made and served with your choice of a mild green sauce or a spicy red sauce. These fresh treats are very inexpensive. They are authentic and made with a whole lot of love. I hope you will stop by and experience this taste treat.
Richmond Farmers Market
8 -4 Fridays
24th & Barrett Ave.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
A cross of a croissant and a doughnut is the now popular Cronut. In New York City they line up for blocks to experience freshly baked Cronuts. We have found a local bakery, The Bear Claw who has freshly baked Cronuts and no line. They have several versions of this new sensation. They have a Nutella, lemon, and apple filled versions. We purchased a lemon and apple Cronut that was still warm to the touch. They were sweet, flaky and doughnut like. Maybe I am a traditionalist, but I still prefer a (bacon) maple bar.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Jalapeno, ground chuck, cheddar cheese,and bacon are the usual components used to make our burgers. What if you combine all these ingredients into a convenient patty. That is exactly what the 'Wagon Wheel Meat Market' has done. No fuss, no muss. Just defrost and pop it on the grill. How could we resist? We purchased a package in the name of 'Mad Meat Genius' research and because they sound pretty darn tasty.Let's fire up the grill.
A hot charcoal fire would cook this combination of burger ingredients. Several minutes on each side and it was time to eat. My initial bite was pretty spicy. I must of hit a jalapeno. I love this flavor. The texture of the burger was of a fine meat loaf. It was seasoned nicely. I did not really get a lot of cheese flavor. These burgers were mighty juicy. Overall: we enjoyed these burgers. Would we buy them again? I prefer to cook and assemble all the ingredients separately. I also prefer a courser grind of burger meat. These burgers were good but cannot beat a burger assembled with quality ingredients. What fun we have experimenting.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
The nights are becoming longer with the daylight hours diminishing. A couple more minutes under those warm covers is becoming the norm. This is not the case when visions of hot coffee and pork chops and gravy are on your mind. I have no problem rising when I know we are continuing our mission to find the greatest pork chops in the land. Today's venture is 'The Original Mels Diner'. This is a national chain that has a fun 50's theme. We have one nearby that is open 24 hour a day in Pinole, California. Wipe your eyes and grab your coffee, we are going to Mels.
Inside Mels you are transformed to the movie set of 'American Graffiti". This place looks like a lot of fun. You almost expect to see Ritchie, Potsie and the Fonz sitting at a booth. The walls are decorated with 50's kitsch, Each booth has a console to pick and play songs from the juke box. Yes, I can actually remember these. The menu is huge with a standard 'All American' fair. This particular restaurant is open 24 hours and breakfast is served all the time. Pork Chops is what we came for. A bisquit and gravy can be chosen as a toast option. Now, you know I love this place already.
Our waitress was a study in efficiency and courteousy. Our meals were served very promptly. The pork chops looked great. They tasted mighty fine and you will hear no complaints from me. What really stood out was my bisquit and gravy. 'My oh My' A tender and flaky piping hot freshly baked pillow of comfort smothered in a sausage cream gravy. The bisquit was fantastic but the gravy had a balance of savory, salty and a tiny pinch of sweet that had me licking the plate to savor every last drop..
Mels is a fun place that we will return to. The pork chop was very decent and filled my craving. The bisquit and gravy was the real star of this meal. I think I may have to jump back under those warm covers.
The Original Mels
Thursday, October 10, 2013
It may be the end of the competition bbq season but that does not slow down our backyard grill. We have a fun job of sampling and reviewing sauces for 'Peppers & More'. Today we review 'La Pan's Foundation Gourmet BBQ Sauce". This is a mild bbq sauce with a whole lot of ingredients. Take a look.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
We were at our last BBQ contest of the year in Oriville California and we had a craving for beef. I guess all that great award winning barbecue whetted our appetites. We needed to visit the Wagon Wheel Market to scratch our itch.. Have you ever heard of the "Spencer Steak'? We saw a beautifully marbled boneless steak displayed in the meat case labeled as a Spencer Steak. It looked like a 'Rib-Eye'.. We asked the friendly clerk about the Spencer steak. She had to ask the butcher on duty and we discovered it is just another name for the rib-eye. What ever you want to call it, it was delicious.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
It was a very pleasant fall day to hold the final chapter of the ‘Feather Falls BBQ Competition’. This was the third event of this epic battle. We were privileged to be judges at this grand meat extravaganza. Today’s contest had a Halloween theme that put everybody in a devilishly festive mood. It also helped that a micro-brewery on site created refreshing liquid gold for all those that wanted to imbibe. Maybe it was practice but this third event was the biggest and the best. The leaders of the competition were only separated by the slimmest of margins for the overall trophy. Today would be judgment day. We would like to share a couple images with you.
Congratulations to ‘Big Shot BBQ’ for winning the overall event. It was an epic bbq battle that all the competitors can be proud of. A special shout out to Feather Falls Casino for providing a wonderful venue to hold these events. Scott Gomes needs a ‘Gold Star’ for his golf cart for being the organizer and all around provider of joviality. These three events tipped the twirl-a-wheel meter of fun.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
The ‘Eat Real Food Festival’ had a huge assortment of locally made gourmet food items for sale. Brown Dog Mustard Company caught my eye with their ‘Bitchn’ Bacon Mustard. One small sample and we were hooked. One thing that surprised us was there is no actual bacon used in this product. This mustard is a combination of brown & yellow mustard powder and Torani bacon flavored syrup. My only other experience with Torani bacon flavored syrup was in a milk shake at Jack. It was over the top sweet and inedible for my tastes. Both Ms. Goofy and I agreed this was a very flavorful mix. The bacon flavor was present, the mustard flavor shined through and the ratio of these flavors was a tasty mix.
We tried our mustard with some Dakota sausage from Lockeford. This bacon, mustard and sausage package made me swoon. Ms. Goofy made some very special deviled eggs with this mustard. We are sold. Brown Dog Mustard has created a bacon flavored product that I can actually endorse. This is not just a novelty item. Get Some.
Brown Dog Mustard Company