Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Today, we put a mustard based bbq sauce through the paces. What a fun job we have getting to try new sauces. I do not need an excuse to fire up the barbeque but we did and you can read all about 'Rippleman's Rib N' Dipping Sauce by Clicking this Link.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Dreyer's Ice Cream has a new but old flavor they have released called Spumoni. This ice cream is a trio of flavors: chocolate, cherry and pistachio. If memory serves me right, I remember Spumoni having dried, candied fruit and nuts. This did not. The flavors did not necessarily have to be tri-colored but could be vanilla only. This version reminds me of a Neapolitan style ice cream. Regardless of my memories, this tub was devoured and enjoyed in the name of research.
Friday, June 26, 2015
How would you like to take a flavor journey to Thailand? Grab an elephant and lets lumber into the world of Thai dipping sauce. We review a vibrant sauce that is chock full of Thai chile, lime and cilantro. It is great on fish and many other things such as the lumpia pictured above. Here is the full review.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
It is that time of year again. Slather some sun screen on, lace up your flip flops (?), and go empty your ATM, because it is time to go to the fair and enjoy some tasty food treats. Maybe I am showing my age but fair food to me was corn dogs, cotton candy, and ice cold lemonade. You still can get these treats but the menu has expanded to new culinary heights. Ms. Goofy and I recently went to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasonton, California. We wanted to share several images of the food offered at this fun fair venue. They still have corn dogs and lemonade but I did not see cotton candy. The corn dogs have got a lot bigger and they now have an unlimited refillable cup of lemonade because 16 ounces may not be enough. Come away from the midway and let's go eat.
Now, this is how I like my beer delivered. The Clydesdale horses always deliver an impressive show. The image below is of the 4-H children serving home-made pies and cakes. This was the most reasonably priced booth in the fair. Two dollars for a slice of German chocolate cake was a welcome relief to my strained pocketbook. It also was delicious.
This is the bacon wrapped hot dog. It sounded a lot better than it tasted. It was almost a foot long and set me back $10.75. It was a sloppy mess with burnt jalapenos. I did eat every bite and did taste bacon under the pile of grilled vegetables.
Food Porn? You know, we had to have a corn dog. This too was a little disappointing. It had spent too much time under the heat lamp and was barely luke warm. I do not remember corn dogs being this long.
I loved Icees as a kid. A new generation of young people can experience the phenomenon know as brain freeze.
It was a wonderful warm day at the fair. So many choices, so little pepto bismo was the verdict today. Walking the fairgrounds and browsing the food courts made for an enjoyable experience. As a child, I would spend hours on the midway riding the attractions. My new midway is the food court. Funny how our prorities change over time. I wish I had bought that icee because maybe a brain freeze would reset my inner child. (Can you hear Ms. Goofy guffawing?)
Monday, June 22, 2015
How far would you drive to have a one in one hundred and five chance to win a Big Green Egg bbq? That is a question we asked ourselves. I guess the answer is 140 miles. Ms. Goofy won a qualifying entry from a local Stockton radio station. This put her in the running with 105 other qualifiers. As some of you readers may know, every Christmas, I cross my fingers and hope that Santa will bring that elusive Big Green Egg. This monster of a bbq has not come down our chimney. The catch of the contest was you had to be present to win. The Racing Honda was fueled and we raced to Fat City Brew & BBQ Supply to win the BGE.
We were not alone when we arrived at Fat Ciy. I think all 105 qualifiers showed up too. We actually saw a couple of familiar faces from the bbq community. Rob Ryan and Mike Hardin were cooking and serving demonstration bbq to promote their bbq products. Both of these entrepreneurs regularly compete in bbq competition. We had a few minutes to kill before the drawing and did a little shopping at Fat City. When you own a BGE you become a member of a secret society. This shop had numerous products all devoted to the BGE faithful. They have their own charcoal, aprons, gloves, and so much more. Since I am not a member (Yet) my shopping cart remained empty.
It was time for the drawing sort of. This contest was a little sadistic in nature. 105 names were put in a hat. Your name was drawn and you proceeded to the front. 105 green colored eggs were on a table and you picked one. 104 eggs were hard boiled and one was still raw. You had to pick one and break it over your head. If you broke the raw egg all over your noggin you were the Big Green Egg winner. This was a little humiliating but we also were driving 140 miles today. Ms. Goofy was more than willing to make the sacrifice. Unfortunately she never got that chance because about 15 contestants in, the winner was cracked open.. Well, there is always the chance Santa Claus is reading this.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Matt McKinney General Manager of Bently Ranch replied to my concerns of poor butchering ten days after my post on June 5 titled Bently Ranch Meats. Below is a portion of our correspondence;
“Since we are a small ranch and we aren’t equipped to harvest the animals ourselves, we use the best quality butchers that we can find. In our case we choose to keep our business local and use Wolf Pack Meats, the only processing plant in our region that meets all of the quality controls and animal welfare standards we demand for Bently Ranch Meats products. As a quickly growing company we are working with Wolf Pack Meats to increase their butchering quality and scale, and expect to see improvements as soon as possible.
Mr. Mckinney also offered to send me a couple of replacement steaks as a gesture of good will. I believe this is good customer service. They addressed the problem. They also put a smile on this Mad Meat Genius face because we enjoyed the flavor of these steaks. A gesture such as this goes a long way towards future customer relations. The smile got even wider when I arrived home to this package on the porch.
The smile did not last long. Pictured above is more of the same as far as shoddy butchering skills. If Wolf Pack Meats from the University of Nevada puts out products like this, it is a sad day in the world of butchering academia. Do not the students have faculty, professors, advisors, teachers, or any form of quality control? There is no excuse for pathetic butchering like this. I hope Matt Mckinney of Bently Ranch can overcome his quality control problem because the meat is flavorful. Houston, we have a problem.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
A quick, easy, comforting meat was thrown together in our trusty black iron and cooked on our covered barbeque. Some seasoned pork chops from Willowside Meats was kissed by fire and then finished in a cast iron pot that also contained; rice, mushrooms and broccoli. After a short bake we enjoyed a very nice meal.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
It is not 'So Cute" according to Ms. Goofy. The 'Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter is an important tool to quickly start charcoal briquettes. The smaller size makes it perfect for starting up the smoker. The image above compares it to its big brother the full size Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. When using a smoker we burn the charcoals by the 'Minion Method". This tool holds the perfect amount of charcoal and is very efficient in its design. Click this sentence to learn all about the Minion Method. Now it is time to light the bbq.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
This Saturday, we were privileged to participate at the Van Ruiten Family Vineyards Rib Cook-off. We donned our shiny judge’s badges to judge ribs, tri-tip and a ‘Mystery Meat’ of Cornish game hens. The weather could not have been nicer and hot. The thermometer was very close to the century mark. As judges we were once again spoiled with a shaded gazebo area with a very large swamp cooler to keep us very comfortable. Twenty five bbq teams hunkered down, toiled and sweated to create some very tasty, award winning meats.
The Van Ruiten Family Vineyards rolled out the red carpet with this event. We were entertained by a live band. This band kept the hungry public toe-tappin while they enjoyed bbq offered by the competitors. A nominal fee was charged to sample the various meats. When the heat became a little uncomfortable, one could take refuge in the air-conditioned tasting room. This is a winery so grape was the beverage of choice. A raffle was held to benefit local charities. Numerous bbq and wine themed prizes were offered to bid on with raffle tickets.
We judged by KCBS rules in this non-sanctioned event. The tri-tip was tender, smoky and yummy good. We always enjoy tasting and scoring ribs. They ‘Mystery Meat’ was a little challenging to judge at first. The game hen arrived cut in half arranged on a bed of lettuce and parsley all inside a plastic clam shell box. We were supplied plastic knifes and forks to separated the entry into six proportions. Luckily some of us had sharp pocket knifes to easily separate the birds. Once proportioned, we were good to go and judged some mighty fine Cornish hens.
This was a smoking hot event. (Literally). The Van Ruiten Family Vineyards held a quality bbq competition. Our friend, previous “Rookie of the Year”, ‘The Kid’ Zack Galiste took first place in ribs. This image is a Mad Meat Genius exclusive of the actual first place ribs. The public had an opportunity to sample this great looking and tasting rib. We had a blast. We even came home with some swag of a coupe of bottles of wine. We cannot wait for the next event.
Van Ruiten Family Vineyards
Friday, June 12, 2015
Good luck, karma, or just a good omen of the food to come? For some strange reason I have always found a parking spot very close to our dining destination. Parking in the City or Berkeley can be a challenge that the Racing Honda has conquered. Today's parking spot at Willie Birds could not of been closer. The Great White Hunter and I were on a mini-Meat Adventure and needed some nourishment by the menu choice of "Turkey, Double Order of Stuffing and with a Bucket of Gravy". It is a good thing we parked so close because we were wider, fuller and very content after this fantastic feast.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
We all have our favorite make of car. Some people are Chevy men or particular to Fords. These people are passionate and form clubs to celebrate their beloved make of car. The same goes for barbeques. There is a group of people that are very passionate to Weber barbeques and have a club called the Weber Kettle Club. They had a Northern California meeting held at the San Pablo Dam Reservoir picnic area this last weekend and I paid them a visit. I also am the proud owner of eight Weber barbeques. My 22.5 kettle gets a workout several times a week. Weber makes a product that is efficient, easy to use and relatively inexpensive. I would venture to say at least 1/3 of bbq competitors use a Weber bullet as their cooker.
The Weber Kettle Club has a website. It has a nationwide following and hundreds of members. Members post all things about their beloved Weber. There are forums for recipes, buying & selling, restoration and events. I found out about this event through social media. It was a beautiful day to have a picnic. The picnic area was only a short jaunt from the abode.This would be the first gathering I have ever attended. To be honest I had no idea what to expect. I did know there would be a group of people who loved Webers.
I knew that I had found the right spot by the scattered arsenal of vintage, custom and various sizes of Webers I introduced myself and was immediately welcomed into this community of like minded enthusiasts..The various members were prepping all sorts of fun and unique food to be cooked on the beloved Webers. A lot of Weber accessories were proudly displayed such as this custom Weber Wok that fits directly into the kettle.I made a mental shopping list of future Weber acquisitions.
One member cooked some lumpia directly on the kettle. He used a Weber pan with a layer of oil and fried them to a delicious crispy brown treat. One member cooked lamb. There were plenty of people to give directions and advice to insure proper cooking using the kettle. There was a lot of Weber knowledge present in this group. Bacon wrapped asparagus, sausage and so much more would be cooked in this feast.
I made a bunch of new Weber friends. I also came away with new knowledge and ideas for my Webers. Today, I was only an observer because I did not really know what to expect at this gathering. I cannot wait for the next meeting so I can break out some of my Webers and show off my cooking skills. What a fun day.
Weber Kettle Club.
Monday, June 8, 2015
My friends on Facebook are quick to point out the latest bacon product to me. An old childhood friend Frank sent me the scoop on this latest find of bacon cheddar cheese. This bacon studded product is found at the market I like to refer as; "The store that has everything you've always wanted but do not need". Yes, you are right; Trader Joe's. I quickly went to TJ's and found our latest product to seize bacon fervor.
This cheddar cheese is actually quite good. It is creamy, rich and has actual shards of bacon dispersed throughout. Here is the rub. The bacon flavor is faint. It is there but is not. Did that make sense? The creamy sharp cheddar flavor is prevalent and the bacon pieces add a texture component but the balance is off. Do not get me wrong this is a very good tasting cheese and it made a mighty fine grilled cheese sandwich. It is just another bacon product to add to my list.
Friday, June 5, 2015
The Great White Hunter has reopened the conversation about grass fed beef. The GWH recently was traveling through the desert of Nevada searching for Bently Ranch. Bently Ranch uses all the right descriptors and feel good terms to make any hipster or politically correct consumer happy about their beef purchase . (sustainable, natural, hormone free, happy, grass fed) One attribute that caught my eye was the fact that this beef is dry aged for three weeks. He brought an ice chest over to our abode to let us have our pick of some rib eye steaks.The first thing I noticed about the rib-eyes was each and every steak was cut differently. Some were thick on one end and thin on the other. Some were not even traditional rib-eye cuts. The butchering job was horrendous.I picked the best out of the bunch. Is this a red flag from the get go?
The color of this beef was very dark red consistent with grass fed beef. The texture when raw was pliable and limp. When I have purchased dry aged beef it usually has a firmer texture. These steaks were cooked over a very hot charcoal fire. Drum-roll please. These steaks tasted great. I was a little shocked but pleasantly surprised. The beef flavor was prevalent and satisfying. I made sure to cook them medium rare leaning towards rare and they were tender. Except for the butchering work these steaks passed muster.
I sent an inquiry to Bently Ranch about the poor butchering. They did not respond. The Great White Hunter said they might have sent their beef to the Wolf Pack Meats University of Nevada to have students do the butchering. That makes sense because we have gotten inferior products from Wolf Pack before. What ever the reason, despite the good flavor, I would not pay the premium price they demand for an inferior cut of beef.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Blis Gourmet Foods has repurposed bourbon barrels to make several unique and tasty products. We really enjoyed the Blis Blast hot sauce. In fact it may be one of the best hot sauces I have ever reviewed. Maple syrup aged in a bourbon barrel sounds too good to be true. Blis Gourmet takes pure maple syrup that is from selected old growth, natural maple orchards and ages the syrup for several months in single barrel Kentucky bourbon casks. This sounds exciting.
The corked topped is opened to reveal an intoxicating sweet maple syrup with actual hints of bourbon aroma. I pour some on a spoon because I cannot wait for our corn fritters to cook. The syrup is thin and pours easily from the bottle. My initial thoughts are vanilla, maple, sweet and chocolate. My impression of chocolate is possibly from the char of the barrel. This is a complex combination that was achieved by the barrel aging. A couple more sips reveal honey and spices. There is a lot gong on in this mix. I am not sure I taste bourbon but there is a presence in the aroma.
We tried this syrup on some corn fritters. The syrup is very fluid and did run off the cakes. It did not stop us from sopping up this nectar with forkfuls of corn cakes. Think of this as adult pancake syrup. The flavors are bold, sweet and complex. This product is exciting. What a taste treat.