Were loading up the Racing Honda and heading to San Jose for Sparta-Q-III. This is a fundraiser for the San Jose State University women's softball team. Hope to see you there.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
All Hallows Eve brings out the pumpkin flavored treats. Cheesecake and a infamous San Francisco ice cream novelty,' It's-It' is on the plate today. We first go to Lucille's Smoke House a chain bbq restaurant and procure a piece of pumpkin cheesecake to-go. This creamy piece of flavored cream cheese has a wonderful sweet crunchy top. The pumpkin flavor was pleasant with cinnamon accenting this Halloweeny treat. Thumbs up is the verdict here.
Next up is a San Francisco ice cream novelty treat. It's It is a chocolate covered oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich. Around Halloween time the pumpkin flavor is released. The pumpkin flavor is nuanced and not very pronounced. The chocolate covered oatmeal cookie sure is good. Overall the pumpkin flavored ice cream novelty is good but I prefer the mint flavored version. Oh the sacrifices we make.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
This sad story begins at the end. Our friend Amber Stipicevich has passed away. Amber Stipicevich who went by the name of Amber Stippy was a friend from the barbeque community. Amber lost her struggle from complications at the hospital after a surgery preparing her for a heart transplant. She was a young woman in her forties with a young daughter and husband. Amber did not want a funeral but a gathering of family for a barbeque event. This should not be a sad day but a celebration of her life. As in life she is still a beacon of sunshine.
Amber had a smile that greeted you immediately. Amber was a KCBS CBJ. That is how we first met her. She was a meticulously smart judge that came from her profession as a scientist. This past couple of years she started to compete with her young daughter introducing her to the bbq world. She even started to teach bbq at the ‘Advanced Barbecue Judging “classes offered by the California Barbecue Society. Barbeque was a big part of Amber’s life.
Amber and I shared several passions. She loved hot sauces. We would share and compare notes about different sauces. Amber re-introduced me to a San Francisco ice cream novelty ‘It’s It”. She generously gifted me a case just to give them a try. She knew of my weakness for sweets.
Today the barbeque community is gathering at the Elks Lodge in South San Francisco to celebrate Amber’s life. All the food will be prepared and donated by her barbeque friends. Ms. Goofy made some wonderful sweets to share with our friends. A trust fund has been set up for her daughter. Today is a celebration for our friend Amber. Amber Stippy we miss you.
Friday, October 23, 2015
It is 7:30 A.M. Pacific Standard time. My coffee is hot and I have a craving for bacon. The only bacon in the house is 'Uncle Oinker's Gummy Bacon (strawberry flavored). Against my better judgement I open the package. I scan the ingredient list to find no actual bacon is in this product. It is also made in China. Oh my! Here we go. Sweet & sticky with strawberry flavor is this chewy stick of baconesque looking object. It is not terrible but is not something I can give a Chilebrown seal of approval on.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
This Meat Adventure brings us back to Chico California. We meet up with bbq competitor, certified KCBS judge and friend John Chips. John Chips is head honcho of the competitive bbq team; ‘Drunk Uncles’ (Ruining family gatherings for over 20 years). John is not afraid to wear a man kilt and he wears it well. He did not wear his kilt today but he was gracious enough to chauffer us around Chico on our Meat Adventure.. We knew we were in for a wild ride by the mascot on John’s dashboard.
One of our stops was The Butcher Shop which is part of the market; ‘S & S Produce & Natural Foods”. At one time the Butcher Shop was a separate business but in 1997 a wall was broken down and the two merged. The Butcher Shop prides itself in being a full service butcher catering to customer’s needs. The emphasis is in local and natural meat. No hormones or antibiotics will be found in this shop. A 16 foot refrigerated case is devoted to nothing but fresh seafood. Local pork from Llano Seco is featured at this shop. Chicken and pork sausages are house made. So many choices, so little room in the portable ice cave. (ice chest).
Sausages, stuffed pork chops and uncured bacon were added to our shopping cart. I will spare you my rant on the uncured bacon until a later date. The Butcher Shop is a great place for Chico locals to one shop stop for a ‘Natural Food’ and meat meal. We made some other stops in town and had a great lunch. John was a great host and tour guide. We always look forward to seeing him at competitions. Let’s go cook some stuffed pork chops.
The stuffing is of seasoned bread and chopped vegetables. These chops were huge. They were dusted with our rub of the day and brought to room temperature. A medium hot direct heat charcoal fire was built. The grates were oiled. A cast iron pan was lined with several slices of bacon. This would act as a sort of trivet later. The chops were seared on both sides. They were gently placed into the bacon lined black iron pan. The pan was place directly in the middle of the grill and the lid was place to cover. Thirty minutes until the internal temperature hit the 140 mark and the chops were removed.
I have died and gone to Stuffed Pork Chop Heaven. One eats with their eyes first and we had a feast. They were gorgeously mahogany brown. The stuffing had crispy edges. We also had the added bonus of crisped bacon underneath the chops. This was comfort food to the max. The stuffing was like a warm hug. Filling and satisfying, who could ask for more? Thanks John this was only a part of a great Meat Adventure.
S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods
1924 Mangrove Ave.
Chico, CA 95926
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Stefanie Reed is a cancer survivor. Today we are at a celebration for Stefanie and fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Placerville California at the Gold Hills vineyards made for a beautiful setting for 10 teams to have a rib battle royale. The weather was pleasant with a sprinkling of showers. This did not damper the spirits of all involved. Ms. Goofy and I originally planned to attend as participants but when we found out there were two judging spots open we just so happened to have our Kansas City Barbecue Society Master Certified Judges badges handy. (We do not leave home without them because you never know when a bbq judge may be needed).
Stefanie is the daughter of our bbq friend Dana so we knew a lot of the participants at this celebration. It is always a blast to interact and connect with our barbeque community. Since we were at a winery the vino was flowing. Gold Hills also produces great micro-beers. This made Ms. Goofy happy because she is my beer drinkin women.
There was a raffle and auction for various prizes all benefiting the LLS society. Raley’s donated the ribs for today’s competition. The participants bought tasting tickets to sample all the competitors ribs. I found a booth selling homemade English toffee and cake balls. After judging duties a few sweets always hits the spot. Speaking of judging duties, I would like to point out the custom judging plates for today’s event.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Our original post on the Man Grates garnered a little attention from the manufacture. Tiffany Thompson from Man Grate left a comment offering me a couple more grates to complete my set. This was an offer this Mad Meat Genius could not refuse. As fast as the Postal Service could move my new ‘Grill Enhancement System’ arrived. This package consisted of two more grates and a wire brush. These two grates with my existing grate would expand my cooking surface to a generous 15 inches long by 12 ¾ inches by 1 2/8 inches tall. This is more than enough room to have a party on my grill.
Let’s revisit what a Man Grate actually is. These are thick and heavy cast iron grates that rest on top of your existing grill grate. Why does one need cast iron grates? Cast iron will heat up and retain massive amounts of heat for a long time to sear and caramelize proteins that you want to cook. The searing process will leave those desirable and mouthwatering grill marks. Cast iron will develop an almost non-stick property once they are properly cured. This Mad Meat Genius has been a fan of black iron (cast iron) for a long time. With proper care these grates will last a life time and longer.
I did the simple curing process which you can view below. (Curing with Bacon) It was time to have some fun. Chicken, sausage and steak would be cooked over several days to give our Man Grates a work out. It was a lot of fun experimenting and designing grill mark patterns. This steak was cooked for two minutes before it was rotated for another two minute blast of heat. The grill marks were set and the steak was flipped. The maintenance for these grates is simple which only involves a wire brushing followed by a wipe down of an oiled cloth before and after each cook.
Man Grates are a great improvement to any grilling system. Cast iron has properties to build up and retain heat needed for consistent and almost nonstick grilling. When meat hits a piping hot Man Grate it sizzles and sings beautiful music to any barbeque enthusiast. I would like to thank Tiffany Thompson of Man Grate for generously completing my Man Grate set. I was sold on this product even before she contacted me.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
We found Boucherie Meats in the Montclair Farmers Market. This small stand sells sausages and artisanal cured meats. Peter Jackson, owner boasts his meats are hand crafted quality products. We were in a sausage type of mood and these looked great. Chaurice was our first choice. This is a Cajun flavored pork sausage. It is reputed to be hot and spicy. Our second choice was the Merguez a smaller lamb sausage that has an spicy earthy flavor. We loaded up our politically correct re-usable cloth farmers market bag and returned home to fire up the grill.
The grill was hot and smoky for our cook. Both of these sausages were delicate and full of sausage love (fat). We had to use the kettle top to tame the flames from the dripping sausages. Lickety split they were done. Both of these sausages had a home made type of flavor. The Chaurice was our favorite with its spicy but not to hot flair. This sausage was full of porky goodness. The Merquez was interesting with its earthy flavor. I am not sure if I would be able to tell you it was lamb unless I was told the fact. We enjoyed our purchase from Boucherie Meats. Stop by the Montclair market and experience some for yourself.
Monday, October 12, 2015
We just wanted to share this image of some beef ribs that we procured from the House of Beef in Oakdale California. They were sold pre-marinated and cut into individual ribs. We smoked them for 3 1/2 hours with a combination of apple and hickory wood. It is a treat to find beef ribs that actually have a good quantity of meat on the bone. They were fantastic. Have a great Columbus Day.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
We travel to the Dogpatch district in San Francisco, to visit Oliviers Butchery. The Dogpatch (Meat Packing District) is located at the waterfront of the eastern area of the City. Once a gritty industrial and working class neighborhood this area has rapidly gone through a transformation. Trendy coffee houses, restaurants and now Oliviers Butchery. The only reason I bring this up is because of the parking situation. The parking here is horrendously impossible. My parking karma had totally vanished today. This was an experience in frustration and humility. I finally found a very small spot five blocks away. A red flag arose immediately. If I had such a chore finding parking, how can any other customer of Oliviers park?
Oliviers is very small shop located in a large industrial building. Their front door is an industrial roll up door. Once inside a couple of refrigerator cases and a wall shelf with sundries is it. What is inside of these cases is a collection of high end meats that Oliviers has for purchase. Oliviers considers itself an old fashioned ‘French’ boucherie. There ‘Credo’, philosophy embraces and uses all the buzzwords that hipster love; sustainability, grass fed, healthy environment, natural humane and etc. They do offer beef that is grass fed and grain finished. The cuts are displayed in refrigerated cases. They do offer pork, sausage, lamb and free range chicken.
Oliviers offers some non-traditional cuts of beef. I rolled the dice and took a chance on the “100 % Grass Fed Beef Surprise”. This was a grass fed and finished cut of beef that came off of the shoulder. The butcher recommends cooking it hot and fast. It was very lean. I seasoned it with salt & pepper to prepare it for a very hot mesquite charcoal fire. Here is the million dollar question. How did it taste?
This cut was called ‘Surprise”. The surprise was I actually liked it. It had a beef flavor that I would compare to the sirloin. The texture had a little tug to the bite which also compared to a sirloin. Another question to ask myself is will I return to Oliviers?. The answer is no because of the parking and the premium prices demanded for their products. The butcher did tell me people will park on the sidewalk right in front of the store. If you know San Francisco you know you are rolling the dice with the meter maid patrol. I pass.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
The Wagon Wheel Market is located 10 minutes from the Feather Falls Casino the venue of our last bbq competition. A trip before the award ceremony was a no-brainer event. I borrowed the keys of Ms. Goofy's Racing Honda while she was sampling different house made micro-beers. I would be back before she could finish her "Naughty Native American India Pale Ale". The Wagon Wheel Market has the best butcher shop in the area. Today's purchase included some beautiful slab bacon and bacon cheddar hot dogs. This is going to be fantastic.
The ingredient list of these dogs is short and absent of fillers or preservatives. This is a mixture of beef, pork, cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. To gild the lily we sliced some bacon and wrapped our dogs. The bacon was secured with toothpicks. A short trip on the grill to crisp the bacon and we were set.
The hot dogs split on the grill because of the eruption of molten cheddar cheese. They were removed when the bacon was crisped. These dogs had a wonderful snap when bitten. One had to be careful to not be scalded by the volcanic hot cheese. I am not really sure if we could taste the bacon inside the hot dogs but was not missed with our bacon topping. These were high quality and fantastic tasting dogs. I am not sure if the cheese and bacon filling additions were necessary. The Wagon Wheel Market is a destination stop for meat products.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
The venue is the same but the names have been changed to protect the innocent. We return to Feather Falls Casino in Oroville California for a weekend full of bbq and fun. We have returned to judge a brand new named bbq contest: '1st Annual Hot Q's & Cold Brews Championship. This contest promised to be bigger, better and a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event. This means it is a four meat contest involving chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and brisket. It is also a qualifier for the Invitational Jack Daniels competition. Even more important this events goal was to benefit local charities. This contest and event fired on all cylinders to provide entertainment and great bbq for all. We would like to share a few images with you.
The ultimate goal of this event was a fundraiser for local charities in the community. The casino generously donated the venue, food, house made micro-beers (Ms. Goofy can personally vouch that this was some fantastic micro-beer) and staff to make this a successful event. The competitors competed for a 'People Choice' award with some of the proceed going to the charities. The public had the chance to purchase sample tickets at a nominal price to eat award winning barbeque. This was a win-win situation for all involved.
We donned our shiny Master Judge badges to sample and score some of the best bbq on the West Coast. Forty two teams were present to do battle. This was a significant number of teams considering there was a big bbq contest in Southern California and the big event in Missouri; The American Royal.
The line was long to get in . The public knew this was a spectacular opportunity to have a great day eating bbq, imbibing in micro-beers, listening to fun live music and be able to help local charities. The weather was perfect with the thermometer hovering in the low 80's.
It was award time. Big Bs Down & Dirty took Grand Champion with Mr. Applejacks taking Reserve Grand Champion. Both of these teams were favorites to win and did not disappoint. This competition was one of the last KCBS contests of the season in our area. What a great season we have had. The competition is not over by any means because we have a rib contest in several weeks. This weekend was a lot of fun because Feather Falls Casino rolled out the red carpet for all involved. Thankyou!
Feather Falls Casino
Thursday, October 1, 2015
The Colombo Club is one of the largest Italian social clubs active in the United States. Its origins go back to 1920’s Italian quarry (Rockridge) workers gathering to eat, drink and socialize. The present club was built in 1951 on Claremont Ave.. in the neighborhood I grew up in. I no longer live in this area but once a month I return to partake of the dinners hosted by the Colombo Club. At this dinner I reunite with my old cronies that I grew up with. At one time there were numerous Italian clubs in this area. The Colombo Club has survived and thrived to be a popular destination. There still is a waiting list to become a member. To become a member one must have an Italian heritage in your background. I am a guest and become an honorary Italian at these dinners.
It is traditional to start the evening at one of the several bars inside the hall. This is a time to reconnect and relax before the dinner to come. We tell the same old stories we have always told. Of course the tail may have grown and possibly embellished but we do not care. That is half the fun of storytelling. The noise level in the hall is quiet loud and boisterous. At 7;30 pm the dinner bell is rung. We all proceed to the basement dining hall.
Once seated at the long dinner tables the conversation becomes challenging. The ceiling is low and there are several hundred men conversing to make the noise level very high. Regardless, we still tell stories until our voice becomes hoarse. The dinner starts with anti-pasta of cheese, salami and mortadella. The meal is served family style in large serving bowls. A nice salad starts the first course. The pasta is next and tonight it was penne pasta bathed and coated in wonderful tomato gravy. This was filling and satisfying. The main course was chicken cacciatore. You do not leave these dinners hungry because if you want more the servers will gladly bring you more. To finish the dinner ice cream, coffee and an optional shot of brandy is served. It is time to loosen the belt.
I look forward to our monthly meetings. It is a great way to reconnect with old friends. We are all grown men and have taken different paths in life. This one evening we return to our youth with the added bonus of a great dinner. The Colombo Club is a wonderful tradition and I am privilieged to be able to participate.