Tuesday, March 31, 2015
We are at the 'Sam's Club' bbq competition and have a little spare time until awards ceremony. Working on a hot tip from our friend 'The Great White Hunter', we embark on a mini Meat Adventure to 'Blue Ribbon Meat & Butcher Shop. Blue Ribbon is located several blocks from the casino area. We roll the dice and enter this new meat emporium.
The outside of Blue Ribbon is pretty plain except for a couple of signs. Tinted windows hide from view the meats to come. Once inside we are greeted by a familiar site of refrigerator and freezer cases displaying our journeys purpose. I gravitate towards the beef section to survey the offerings. Good looking Choice Grade beef is offered. I ask for the biggest boneless rib-eye they have. At $12.99/pound, my steak cost me a Jackson. With our steak purchase out of the way, we had so many more choices to make.
House made sausage in the freezer case had many choices; Jalapeno, cheese, Italian, Polish, and many more. There was a section that offered prepared meats like rolled roasts, stuffed pork chops and some very large bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers. We could not resist the chops and poppers. We noticed that bulk meat was offered for sale. This market had something for everyone.Our portable ice cave was full with purchases and it was time to return to the award ceremony.
Blue Ribbon Meat & Butcher Shop has been serving locals in the Sparks area since 1946. The pork chops and bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers turned out to be a very tasty choice. The next time we want to do a little gambling in Reno, a sure bet can be found at Blue Ribbon. Thanks Great White Hunter.
Blue Ribbon Meat & Butcher Shop
1436 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431
Sunday, March 29, 2015
It was another great weekend of barbeque competition. It is early in the season but we have three competitions under our belt already. This contest brought us to Reno, Nevada. Sam's Club hosts a national bbq tour across the country. This was a qualifying match to become eligible for the next round of contests. Thirty teams competed this sunny bright weekend.
The contest was held in the parking lot of Sam's Club. This was strictly a bbq contest. The public was not allowed to purchase barbeque at this event. They did have a demonstration of cooking and gave out some samples. There were no distractions except for some wind to keep these serious cookers focused.
Yours truly did not actually judge this contest. I had the responsibility of being a Table Captain. My job was to gather the entries and present them to the judges. I got a first hand lesson in the inner workings of the contest. The cookers turn in their meat entries in a Styrofoam containers with their team number. The team number is changed and then given to me. ( The number changing is to insure the judging is blind.) I then have to make sure that my table does not judge the same team twice. It was serious business but a lot of fun.
The Grand Champion was 'Team America' and 'Big B's Down -N- Dirty Bbq' took Reserve. The top 6 teams overall will move on to the next round in Las Vegas. It was another great bbq weekend.
Friday, March 27, 2015
We are at the Santa Anita Park soaking in the history and splendor of this grand race track. One can only imagine the era when Sea Biscuit was the top news story of the day. There was no ‘March Madness’, ‘Super Bowl’ or television reality shows to entertain. George Woolf was a jockey who rode Sea Biscuit to victory. In 1938 he purchased ‘The Derby’ restaurant to hold court with race fans, celebrities and jockeys. We could not resist to partake in this piece of living history. We also heard they served a great steak too.
Parking karma was left to the valet tonight. Once inside it took several moments to adjust to the dim lighting. We then were treated to a warm and glorious trip into past dining elegance. The booths were of leather, massive ceilings with chandeliers, and walls adjourned with horse racing themed paintings. There was racing memorabilia at every turn of this elegant setting. We were seated in a plush booth in the dinning room. I scooted my toosh around the slick seats to find the well worn comfortable spot that so many before had occupied. I settled in to enjoy the show.
Are your ready for this? A twenty four ounce, chipotle dusted Porterhouse topped with scallops, shrimp and ‘pico-de-gallo’ salsa was my dinner choice. Perfectly cooked prime rib for Ms. Goofy did not disappoint. These offerings of beef were just what the doctored ordered. I finished every bite and wanted to knaw on the bone but I needed to save room for some decadent cheesecake.
If you are in the Arcadia area, you must stop and dine and experience ‘The Derby’. The Derby restaurant serves great steaks with old school ambiance. We experienced a trip back into gastronomical history. Eating some great steaks is my kind of history lesson.
233 Huntington E Dr.
Arcadia, Ca. 91006
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Every once in awhile our Meat Adventures strike gold and today it was found at ‘Alexander’s Prime Meats and Catering’. We were in
At first glance of the refrigerated meat cases, it seemed like any other meat market. I looked a little closer and noticed the spectacular marbled cuts of beef offered for sale. This was some great looking beef. The prices seemed fairly standard for a butchers shop. It was not until after talking to the butchers I realized I had just stepped into a market of premium beef. Yes, U.S.D.A. Prime, dry aged beef, the flavor that we crave. The prices now seemed like a down right bargain. I also noticed the window showcasing hanging beef.
Our butcher was very patient while we made our purchase decisions. I introduced myself as the Mad Meat Genius and doors began to open. It is always a pleasure when you feel and experience the passion of employees and owners who takes pride in their product. This is what we felt. We were introduced to the owner Michael Milazo who gave us a tour and explained the dry aging process to us.
Most of Alexander’s beef is sourced from Harris Ranch. It is aged in their walk-in for a minimum of three weeks. This prime meat is in high demand. It is understandable because they are charging reasonable prices that some markets offer ‘Choice’ grade meat for. Michael showed me the difference in the progression of the aging process. Beef is the king here but they do make several varieties of sausage too. They also have other meats to choose from. It was time to get back to the competition. We left with some very good looking steaks and sausage.
Alexander’s Prime Meats and Catering is a jewel of a meat market find. If only it was not 400 miles away from our abode. We did meet some very nice and passionate people at Alexander’s. We cooked the Porterhouse steak and it was fantastic. The sirloin side was just as tender as the filet according to Ms. Goofy. I loved it too. We hope to return someday.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
One hundred barbeque teams set a California record for largest bbq competition at the iconic and historic Santa Anita Racetrack this weekend. This huge gathering of bbq racers were set up right in the middle grounds of the race track. We would like to share a couple of images with you trying to capture this magical event. I emphasize magical because a feeling of excitement permeated our barbeque saturated pores. The horses racing around the track several feet away, the roar of the crowd, the smells and some of the best bbq in the nation created a event to be remembered. “And they’re off”
We arrived Friday afternoon. This was our first visit to this historic racetrack. Let’s just say it is huge. Santa Anita Racetrack is a step back into time with its splendor and beautiful backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. This is the home of the famous racing horse Sea Biscuit and the playing grounds of numerous old time movie stars. Barbeque competitors were the stars today.
We could have valet parked the Racing Honda at the “Turf Club’ but we opted to self park today. We had to circle to the far end of the track to have access to the infield. There was a tunnel that went underneath the race track to the infield. Some of the larger bbq rigs had to wait for before and after the races when they built a temporary driving bridge across the track. The interior of the race track had almost enough room to hold the 100 competitors.
There was just this special feeling walking the grounds. Horses and jockeys ran the track practicing for the main race. The competitors were prepping for the four meats they were about to cook. The competitors were situated on comfortable grassy confines. They were also instructed to keep the noise down to not spook the horses on the nearby track. We could not wait till the main event.
There was a huge crowd at this event. Not only was the public able to purchase this great bbq to eat they were able to bet on the horses. There was a band to entertain, food demonstrations by TV. Celebrities and even a play area for the kids made for non-stop entertainment. What I found really exciting was race time. You could hear the roar of the crowd from the grandstands. The horses would race by and you could hear and feel the excitement.
The winners were picked and it was awards time. It had been a long day. The horse races had stopped. The teams gathered for the announcements. Congratulations to ‘Knock Ur Socks Off for Reserve Grand Champion and Smoking Mo’s BBQ the Grand Champions. What a wonderful weekend.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
As a rule, I do not venture to Southern California very often. There has always been a rival between the north and south. It is a feeling that is hard to put into so many words; traffic, politics, sports teams, water rights and attitude.Southern California was unavoidable, so I made the best of it by visiting Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop.. I will spare you the traveling details but picture seven lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on a early Saturday afternoon.
Bigmista's is located in a small strip mall in Long Beach. I know I had arrived by the smoker out front and the line out the door. There must be something good going on inside with a crowd like this. I took my place in line. Once inside the door the line snaked through the small shop. There were some bench seating but everybody seemed to get their order to go. Right up front, bigger than life was Neil Strawder the owner and celebrity head cook. He was slicing and dicing meats to order on the other side of a Plexiglas window. He was slicing brisket that looked fantastic. The Plexiglas was fogged from all the customers drooling and breathing hard at this meat display.
I was getting close to the front of the line and had a chance to introduce myself to Neil. We had a lot of mutual friends in the bbq world. Neil has been on the television show BBQ Pittmasters He is well respected and a force to be reckoned with in bbq competition. He handed me a sample of brisket over the glass teasing everyone one else in line. Tasting that sample of brisket made my journey worthwhile. It was my time to order. They were out of ribs understandably with the crowds. I did order a 'bowl' which consisted of a choice of meat and a side. I had to have some more brisket.
The brisket had a beautiful smoke ring and deep rich beef flavor to match. It was very tender. This would of scored high in any bbq competition. I had the brisket over some very tasty Cole slaw. I also had the best moist cake like corn bread too. The little food that I did have was phenomenal. I can understand the lines now. Southern California does have a bright spot and it is here at Bigmista's Barbecue.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Moxy's Neurotic rub is another spice blend in the line up from Dog Day Spice Company. This rub is named after the owners German Shepard Moxy, who was a little bit neurotic but sweet almost all of the time. We will try this rub on a pork shoulder roast that will be smoked on our Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker. The ingredients are few and simple; pure cane sugar, salt, chile's, paprika, onion, garlic and pepper. and spices. When the resealable pouch is opened an aromatic bouquet of fresh spices tingle your senses. I dip my clean finger into the mix and taste a salty sweet mix with no discernible heat. Let/s fire up the grill.
Fast forward nine hours in the smoker. The roast looks fantastic. The sugars in the rub have caramelized to form some fantastic meat bark. This bark is considered meat candy in our household. It had a fantastic flavor that was enjoyed over several meals. This rub not only caramelized but also seasoned the pork to compliment and elevate the porky goodness. This is another great spice rub offered by Dog Day Spice Company.
Dog Day Spice Company
Saturday, March 14, 2015
The Racing Honda has put down a lot of rubber on the asphalt these last several weeks. We traveled to Lake Havasu for a bbq competition and last weekend a conference in San Diego to rack up the miles. You may ask, how do you keep your strength for these journeys? My answer is protein. A nice medium rare, corn-fed, aged is nice, USDA (choice or prime), and tender grilled hunk of beef is all I need. We would like to share a couple images with you. Grab your steak knife because here we go.
The first image above is a 32 ounce Porterhouse from The Golden Horeshoe in Lake Havasu Arizona. What a fun steak house this was. A western themed down-home steak palace. A deluxe salad bar added to this monster of beef. When I was done there was a mechanical bull in the bar to work off some of this protein. No pretension served here at this meat and potato emporium. The locals have a gem here.
Our next stop was the Krystals Steakhouse. This was an un-memorable stop for a 14 ounce New York strip. It did prepare me for the bbq judging duties the next morning. I may still have been a little full from the Golden Horshoe. Let's fast forward or rewind to last weekend to bring us to San Diego.
We are a stone throw away from San Diego in Escondido. To be precise we are a Stones Brewery away from San Diego.This is a Wagyu sirloin steak. All I can say is WOW. This was a tender flavor bomb that must be put on your bucket lists of steaks to experience. It was a pleasure to the eyes and the palette. Deep rich beef flavor that was accompanied by a festival of vegetables and perfectly roasted potatoes. It was washed down with some Arrogant Bastard ale. It does not get any better than this.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
When you are greeted by a large fiberglass steer in the parking lot, there is a feeling that you have arrived at a great meat destination. This is the vibrations I felt twice in
Walking into Iowa Meat Farms and Siesel’s was a journey into meat lover’s paradise. This was a one stop shop for anything involved to make that perfect bbq meal. There were massive glass showcases displaying all meat categories. Choice and Prime cuts of beef are offered. On the shelves, there was an impressive line-up of sauces and rubs. There was even a display of the ‘Gates’ bba sauces, a barbeque chain restaurant from
I was inspired by the offerings of different flavored smoking woods for sale. Mustard, olives, oils and any fancy condiment you could ever imagine is available.
The first thing that caught my eye in the meat cases was the dry aged beef. This was tear producing material. I chose the best looking and biggest
New York steak they had
for sale. Slab bacon that is house smoked was my next choice.The bacon is double smoked. The first smoke is of applewood and
finished with hickory smoke. You know I could not resist this beauty.
Sausages are house made. Bacon bratwurst, hot cheddar and bourbon polish were a
few of my sausage choices.
There was a fish section which I skipped. There was also a deli counter for sandwiches and such. There was produce section if you really wanted color on your meat platter. I loaded up the ice chest. Iowa Meat Farms and Siesel’s Meats are destination meat stops if you are in the
Diego area. We do not make it to SoCal very often but
this was worth the trip.