Chilebrown at home

Sunday, January 31, 2016


We are making some cornbread with some freshly ground cornmeal from  ‘Bloody Butcher Corn’. Bloody Butcher Corn is something with such a fun name I could not pass this up at the farmers market. It was procured from ‘Full Belly Farms. This is an organic heirloom variety of dent corn. Dent corn is a field variety known for its high starch content. This variety dates back to the 1800’s. The name Bloody Butcher gets its influence from the blood red kernels of the corn. It has been coarsely ground leaving a beautiful red flecked cornmeal.  Let’s make some cornbread.

I will refer you to a past post for the cornbread recipe. (Recipe Here).  I changed the recipe slightly by using a half cup more of the Bloody Butcher and a half cup less of the white flour. This cornmeal is really colorful. The batter has a red hue that really catches your eye. The house smelled wonderful with roasted corn aroma as the bread baked.  The cornbread had a beautiful reddish hue as it emerged from the oven. This particular bread turned out a little denser than normal possibly because of the flour ratios. The flavor department went to the top floor on this bread. Deep rich corn flavor delivered  with this wonderful bread. Ms. Goofy made some honey butter to make this a decadent accompaniment to our meal. I think I will attempt to make some polenta next.

Friday, January 29, 2016


All is quiet on the bbq front. Things may be dormant in the bbq competition world but that does not stop our bbq cookers from cranking out fantastic meals. Ms. Goofy gifted me an assortment of Snake River Farms steaks for Christmas. We broke out the filet mignon last night. Oh what a beefy treat. These were so tender and rich with 'Umami' flavor. (Umami, for the non-hipster crowd, is a term that describes a savory delicious flavor). Did anybody mention, I love steak?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We have 'Macon Bacon' on the table today, another bacon themed product from Tres Bien Cremery, which we found at our local farmers market..The label promises real bacon and cheese, two of my favorite ingredients.The ingredients are few with no preservatives added.  At 32 dollars a pound this better be good. We will give this a test run with some burgers.

The wrapper is removed to reveal a smoky bacon fragrance. I take a small nibble and yes I do taste bacon. The bacon is chopped very fine too also give this cheese a little texture. Cheese and bacon as promised and delivered with Macon Bacon. A couple of chunks are used to top a burger. It melts fine enough. The cheese is good but the bacon flavor and textue gets a little lost with the burger. This cheese and bacon product from Tres Bien Creamery is fine enough but at 32 dollars a pound I will pass.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


The football playoffs are about to begin. It may be a good idea to lay a brunch foundation for all of the revelry and couch coaching ahead. We are going to Sunday brunch at the Galileo Club in Richmond California. My application was recently put in for an associate membership. I have been accepted and only have to attend the business meeting to make it official. I can only apply for an associate membership even though I love pasta, Dean Martin and grew up in the Rockridge District an Italian neighborhood. My heritage is not Italian but I am privileged and honored to be accepted as an associate member. We now have dining privileges and will be partaking in Sunday brunch.

The Galileo Club was founded in 1932 in Richmond California. Richmond has seen better days.  During World War II this neighborhood thrived with its ship building community. The building is plain except for its marquee sign and Italian colors but once inside you are amazed at the beauty and warmth of this social club. There are two large halls with bars, amenities and even several bocce ball courts. Then there is the main dining hall where the food action happens. Let the brunch begin.

What a spread we have today. Eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, potatoes, mimosas, and even a special station for biscuits & gravy were available. Now that is what I am talking about. There was a very special station of home baked goods made by the women’s auxiliary. Cakes, cookies and my all-time favorite, biscotti made for many choices. I had to use restraint with all this great food. I did grab a piece of fruit to make this a healthy meal. This was the perfect way to start out a football Sunday. Look out couch, here I come.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The Berkshire breed of pig is one of the heritage breeds. The Berkshire can be traced back to the herds from the British House of Windsor. Its dark meat is known for having a lot of intramuscular fat which translates to flavor and tenderness.  We had some very tasty chops the other night so when we saw some Berkshire for sale at the farmers market we were happy. Hanson Family Farms who also offers dog training sold frozen cuts of Berkshire pork. We found a pork shoulder steak which weighed out at 2.7 pounds at 10.00/pd. Let’s fire up the smoker.

The Weber Smokey Mountain cooker was put into action tonight. A few chunks of apple wood fired by charcoal briquettes would be our fuel. The preparation would be simple dusting of our rub of the day. The meat was smoked for approximately 3 hours at 240 degrees. We did not really have a target temperature today. We just pulled it 20 minutes before dinner. It was pulled at 165 degrees and given a 15 minute rest. (Pork is done at 145 degrees and shoulder is usually cooked to 190 or higher for pulled pork).  This steak looked and smelled fantastic.

The pork had a nutty mild beefy like flavor. This was porky delicious. Berkshire has a pork flavor that needs to be experienced. The texture was firm with a little chew and that may only because of our ending cooking temperature. Flavor trumped all on this meal. We served our pork in chunks with sides of stuffing and broccoli mustard slaw. Berkshire pork is a treat and we want to experience more.

Hanson Family Farms

Monday, January 18, 2016


There is a lot of excitement going on in the ‘City’ with the long anticipated 'Grand Opening' of the bbq restaurant Black Bark. We broke the cardinal rule of going to a new restaurant on day three of its Grand Opening. I guess we had the ‘hardly can waits’. The Great White Hunter and I were on a mission to see what all the hype was about. I know it pains The Great White Hunter to admit, I really do have good parking karma. Granted, I pulled a highly illegal maneuver to secure said spot but we parked almost right in front. We got in line and prepared ourselves to experience Black Bark.

David Lawrence is the chef/co-owner of this new dinning establishment. He owns another successful restaurant across the street; “1300 on Fillmore”. He made an investment of buying two brand new ‘Ole Hickory’ smokers to feed the bbq hungry masses of San Francisco. He also hired a former pittmaster Lance Nicholson  from  iconic bbq restaurant Memphis Minnie’s. He hopes this combination will be a success. The place was jumping and packed with fellow hungry bbq enthusiats. David Lawrence took the time to come greet and talk to customers even though he was definitely very busy. If the crowd is any indicator, Black Bark is off to a good start.

We move through the line and make our bbq choices from a menu billboard. The usual suspects for bbq are available with meats sold by the half pound.  Our orders are placed and we received a number. We luckily grabbed one of the last tables available even though the place had only been open half an hour. Our orders were delivered very promptly which was impressive because of the crowd.
Each table has three house made bbq sauces. Two were tomato based sauces, one hot and the other mild. The third was a mustard based sauce. They all were tasty with the mustard being my favorite. Our plates were delivered and they looked fantastic. The entrées are served on a butcher paper lined cafeteria style trays. The Great White Hunter had a Cheshire grin with his delivered tray. Okay, drum roll please.

I ordered a three way combo of pork ribs, brisket and pulled pork with the sides of slaw and beans. I also had to order a side of corn bread and house made cucumber pickles. Let’s start with the brisket. Wow! This could have been entered into any competition. It was beautiful with its smoke ring. It was tender, had a flavorful bark and just the right amount of smoke. The pork ribs were spare ribs with the rib tips attached. These were cooked to perfection. The seasoning was not overly assertive but pleasant. I dipped them into all three sauces and finished with finger licking. (Sorry Mrs. Macintosh). The pulled pork had perfect smoke flavor, tasty bark and was tender. I especially liked this with the mustard based sauce.

Side dishes are so often pedestrian at bbq joints. Not at Black Barks. The beans were not traditional bbq beans but more of a creamy white bean cassoulet style. They were fantastic. The slaw was tangy. The cornbread was moist and corny good. House made pickles rocked my boat. They had a vinegar tang that was sweet and fresh. We are hitting the mark on all cylinders today.
     Black Bark is a reason to get excited about Barbeque again. I was impressed by the quality and enjoyment of all my food offerings today. The Great White Hunter will finally have to admit that parking karma is real. He enjoyed himself but only communicated this by his usual grunting. We wish David Lawrence the best with his new bbq restaurant. Black Bark is open and ready to impress.

Black Bark
1325 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


“No Mo Bo’s”

Bo’s bbq restaurant located in Lafayette, California was loved by many. Bo has relinquished this location for Bonehead’s Texas BBQ. We were not enamored with our visit to Bo’s so we return with a clean slate to give Bonehead’s a try. We park in their convenient parking lot around 11:30 am. The place is totally empty and I even wonder if they are open until I am greeted with a familiar odor. The smell of sweet bbq smoke permeates the premise. No visible smoke is present but the odor is teetering on the verge of being toxic. We scan a familiar bbq restaurant menu on the wall and place our order.

The interior has been cleaned up and has a modern industrial style look. With no customers it is empty and has a cold feel. We are tasked with retrieving our plastic silverware and drinks at a self-serve station. Here two bbq sauces are offered; one plain and one hot. These are tomato based sauces that are decent. The hot is the best and has no real heat unless you believe ‘Taco Bell’ sauce is hot. Our orders are delivered promptly.
Ribs and brisket with a side of Cole slaw & beans are both my friend Ted and my choice of entre today. The meal is served on a paper plate. The first thing I notice is the slicing with the grain of the brisket. This raises a red flag because this is ‘BBQ 101” to slice brisket against the grain to insure a more tender bite. I slice a bite with my plastic knife and taste. Like the aroma of the restaurant this piece of brisket is very smoky. It is so smoky it is teetering on the verge of being over smoked.  It is seasoned nicely with a good tasting bark. It is on the dry side so a dousing of the bbq sauce helped with this offering. The ribs were also smoky and dry. They also have a texture like a cured ham. We are the first customers of the day and the ribs just seemed like they have been held for hours before serving.  They are not terrible and with another dousing of sauce they were consumed.

The sides were unmemorable. The cornbread was served with rock-hard butter and was so dry I literally had to take a sip of water to unstick the bite from my throat. I later found out this was honey butter but never sampled because my plastic knife was useless to serve.  Boneheads Texas BBQ has big shoes to fill by occupying this location. Looking back at our dining experience nothing here excited us about bbq. The food was not terrible but it is not a place I would return to.

Bonehead’s Texas BBQ
3422 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette , California

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


This is not a review or an endorsement by any means. In fact this is a miniature rant and or observation. As you may know the mere mention of bacon will open the purse strings for my purchase. Fat Cat brand hot sauces makes quality fun hot sauces. This sauce, Bacon-Flavored Sriracha is a quality good sauce. But. Why do they feel the need to put bacon on the label? I have smelled, tasted, and retested this sauce to not find an iota of bacon essence. A fellow hot sauce reviewer suggested the bacon flavor was nuanced. This may be true if you close your eyes and wish very hard. My issue is the label states and or promises bacon. This sauce is a good sriracha style of sauce but lose the 'Bacon' promise on  the label. Ok, I am done. (till the next bacon product arrives)

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Ms. Goofy's favorite comfort dish is pork chops and stuffing. Do you ever have the conversation; What do you want for dinner? Well, Ms. Goofy volunteered to make pork chops and stuffing if I procured the chops. Say no more. Faster than you can say 'pig in a poke', 'when pigs can fly' and 'this little piggy went to market, I went to 'Clove & Hoof' in Oakland. This meat market had some beautiful brined Berkshire Porterhouse pork chops. These chops looked elegant with a price tag reinforcing the decadence. I raced home to give Ms. Goofy our prize.

Ms. Goofy is wonderful cook when she makes dishes from her vast repertoire of comfort food. Her stuffing is made from scratch. Plenty of fresh vegetables and even a small amount of sausage goes into her stuffing. She lightly browned the chops on the stove-top and then finished them in the oven cradled in a stuffing cocoon. The house smelled fantastic. What a treat! You have to experience Berkshire pork. This is pork the way pork should taste. I hate to admit but even the huge fat cap was delicious. I almost forgot. This meal included a bucket of gravy to gild the lily. Oh my! This was a memorable feast.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Sunny California has been gifted with a much needed soaking of rain these last several days. This was the perfect opportunity to continue our search for the best Chile Verde. Our journey brings us to Martinez California to sample the Chile Verde offered by the small chain of Cinco de Mayo. Parking karma did not apply today because they do have a small lot right in front. Once inside there is a counter with a signboard menu offering many food combinations.  The prices are very reasonable. An order is placed and you are directed to a small self-service salsa bar.

A good indicator of the food to come is the salsa bar. Does the restaurant take the time to make quality salsas? This salsa bar will receive only a passing grade. It was the standard fair of canned pickled carrots and jalapenos, verde & red salsa and a fair rendition of pico de gallo. This salsa bar did not pop with excitement. Our orders were delivered to our table very quickly. We did time our dinning perfectly. We arrived seconds before a big lunch rush.

Both of our plates looked great. The proportions were generous. My Chile Verde was seasoned nicely. The green sauce did have pepper flavor. The cubes of pork were leaning to the chewy side. The beans and rice were filling. This rendition of Chile Verde was decent but just did not sing out with pizzazz and vibrancy. Ms. Goofy was not enamored with her “Wet” Super Carnitas Burrito.

Cinco de Mayo is an inexpensive place to grab a decent meal. It is popular with the local residents. My Chile Verde was decent, the salsa okay and Ms. Goofy’s burrito not memorable. With so many other Mexican restaurants to try our journey will continue.
Cinco de Mayo.
2250 Pacheco Blvd
 Martinez, CA 94553

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


   Mustard based barbeque sauce is a flavor that is associated with the Carolinas. We rarely experience mustard sauces at the judges table here on the west coast. We have sampled several brands in the past that have been just okay. I believe mustard is a wonderful flavor with pulled pork. I do love mustard and I also love chile peppers. ‘Sam & Oliver’s Molten Gold’  a mustard based bbq sauce combines habanero peppers, mustard and a shopping cart full of ingredients to form their sauce. Let’s give it a try.
   We took a gander at the ingredient list below and found an ingredient that was very unusual for a bbq sauce; butternut squash. Yes, butternut squash. The sauce is mustard yellow in color. It is thick and fluid with an unidentified ingredient speckling throughout. The initial taste straight out of the bottle had a little pepper kick. This bite was from the habanero pepper. It was not a kick in the head but a gentle nudge. We found later, when used in cooking the pepper flavor and bite was perfectly warm The initial flavor burst was a welcoming sweet, savory mustard lover’s delight. The all important factor of balance of flavors was a winner. I still am a little puzzled on the butternut squash element because to this tester it was only a listed ingredient. We tried it on some barbequed chicken. It was offered at a football gathering. It was a hit. One football fan volunteered the information that this was the perfect heat.

  Molten Gold has rung the bell with mustard flavor and habanero warmth. We were very impressed with the balance of flavors combining to create a sweet and savory sauce. This sauce is a smidgen over mild and can be served to the pepper challenged crowd. We are now big fans of Molten Gold and hope to purchase in the future. I cannot wait to try this with some pulled pork.

Mustard (distilled vinegar #1 mustard seed, salt turmeric and spices), apple cider vinegar, sugar, dark brown sugar (sugar and molasses) water, coconut oil, tamari sauce (water soybeans, salt, alcohol (to preserve freshness) natural smoke flavoring, black pepper red habanero peppers, butternut squash,  dice tomatoes ( tomatoes, tomato juice, salt) kosher salt xanthan gum are the listed ingredients

Molten Gold

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Long time friend Zoomie of Zoomie Station has been gallivanting around the country with her newly retired beloved; Buzz. They were in New Orleans and saw a product that they thought I might enjoy. They generously brought back a package of Leah's Bacon Pecan Brittle. I am one lucky Mad Meat Genius. This fun confection had little bits of real bacon dispersed throughout. It had the perfect combination of salty, sweet and pecan crunch to satisfy this sweet tooth. Thankyou Buzz & Zoomie.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Happy New Year to all my readers. Ms. Goofy made me this special cheesecake with salted caramel topping. So much for new years resolutions. Happy New Year!