Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I wondered what happened to our leftover 'trick or treat' candy. We rarely get costumed ragamuffins begging for sugary treats anymore. This produces lots of candy for yours truly. For some reason this years confectionery collection was amiss. Ms. Goofy had stockpiled this assortment to make a "Candy Cake". This was the 'kitchen sink' of chocolaty treats. Oh my, this is one decadent cake. It has Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, M & M's, Snickers, and Milky Way's. Needles to say this cake is delicious. In closing I would like to leave you with an image of the pecan pie Ms. Goofy made for Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


This was too good not to share. The Pt. Reyes Cheese Company is offering their version of pimento cheese. The Pt. Reyes Cheese Company is a regular vendor at many farmers markets in the Bay Area. They also sell a fantastic blue cheese that is Ms. Goofy's favorite. When we saw this, we immediately had to purchase a tub. It was not cheap at 8.00/small tub. It was a treat with its quality mix of cheeses, spices and pimento peppers. Did I say pimento peppers? After further inspection the label stated red bell pepper. It did still have a good pepper flavor distinction. We made some of the best meat loaf sandwiches ever. I wish pimento peppers were is season because this has inspired me to make some pimento cheese of my own.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Sometimes you just get lucky. We were on a Meat Adventure, on our way to lunch in Occidental California when we drove right by a barn with the sign Panizzera Meat Company. I shouted; ‘Go back!’ We did and what a meat treasure discovery. We pulled into the driveway and noticed several white coated, hard hatted butchers scurrying around the property. At first we were not sure that Panizzera was a retail operation. We asked one of the butchers and to our meaty pleasure the fun was about to begin.

Panizzera has been in business since 1914. Constante and Margaret Panizzera, Italian immigrants ran a slaughter facility and small butcher shop to process animals for the local farmers. Josh Cerda and Ryan Taylor are the new owners continuing this local meat company tradition. They make 15 different sausages. They still process local meats with custom processing options. At this time there is no actual retail shop but they had a signboard with meat options. Our butcher/owner Josh told us they had aged beef for sale too. I asked if I could see the products. He said; of course but I would have to put on a smock and hard hat to go into the walk-in. I put on my uniform and saw a display of hanging aging meat that made me drool. I picked out a beautiful T-bone steak that had been dry aged for 60 days. You should have seen the smile on my face.

We made several other purchases including sausage and aged New York steak. I could not wait to get home to try my aged T-bone. The marbling of love (fat) in this steak was spectacular. It was seasoned with salt & pepper and seared over a very hot charcoal fire. I have had a lot of great tasting steaks in my life and this one scored very highly. The beef flavor was so intense with lusciousness and tender to boot. Sometime you just get lucky on Meat Adventures. This was a meat find that made us grin. We shall return.

Panizzera Meat Company
3905 Main St.
Occidental Ca.
(707) 874-9770

Saturday, November 19, 2016


There is never a dull moment in the Chilebrown kitchen; literally. A sharp knife makes cooking preparation easy and safe. Over the years I have had numerous sharpening systems. Most of them take a certain amount of skill and patience to properly sharpen my knives. I have found and purchased a new sharpening device called the ‘Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener. That is a mouthful of a title. Ken Sharp is a legendary hall of fame knife maker and has designed this tool for the Work Sharp Company. It will easily sharpen any and all of your knives. It even has a scissor sharpening function. Let’s sharpen some knives.

This tool comes with multiple sharpening belts with varying grits. Depending how dull your knife is will determine the appropriate belt. The belt slips easily on and off of the machine. Once your belt is loaded you need to set the angle to sharpen. Most kitchen knives are ground to twenty degrees. There is a simple trigger switch that controls the speed of the motor which turns the sharpening belt. You draw the knife through the machine through the appropriate slot. This slots guide your blade at the correct angle. A couple draws for each side of the knife will do. You then change the belt to a finer grit and repeat. This system could not be any easier to use.

I have been sharpening my favorite knives to razor sharpness. My new sharpener is a welcome addition to the Chilebrown arsenal of cooking tools. This tool actually is fun to use.  Now that my knives are sharp it is a simple task to use a hone to keep them sharp.  We will see you next time I am off to sharpen some scissors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


My downtown in now “Uptown” and a brand new steakhouse has opened their trendy barn doors. We are talking about ‘Izzy’s Oakland’ a branch of the popular San Francisco restaurant; Izzy’s Steak and Chophouse. The Oakland Magazine had just written a favorable review about Izzy’s Oakland.  Izzy’s website made this proclamation; “Locally owned and operated, Izzy’s Steaks & Chops has long been a favorite of Bay Area residents who appreciate the very best Midwestern steaks and chops. All our beef is corn fed and our New York Steaks are aged at least 21 days to produce a one of a kind flavorful product." . We also found a ‘Groupon’ a discount to seal the decision to dine at Izzy’s Oakland.

Parking Karma was present by the open sparking spot right in front of the kitchen door. We walked through the front doors to take in a trendy, hip(ster), inviting, fun looking bar area. It was Monday 6:00 pm and there was only a handful of people in the bar and an almost empty dining area. There was a lot to take in surveying the kitschy art ordaining wall space. The restaurant had a casual feeling. There was even a shelf full of hot sauces and condiments that framed the room.

Our waitress was exemplary in professional service. From menu recommendations, positive minimal personal interaction and even an effort at bread crumb removal made our waitress the perfect server. You know I had my eye on the New York Sirloin steak. It is interesting that Izzy’s calls this a sirloin and not a New York strip. They are both correct but from my understanding using the sirloin moniker is usually when the bone is included. (Donna, can you help me on this?). Ms. Goofy ordered the skirt steak. What is nice about Izzy’s your entrĂ©e comes with two sides. That is almost unheard of in most steakhouses today. With our Groupon purchase we also had our choice of starters and a dessert. We were ready for a feast.

The kitchen graciously split our house salad. A generous proportion of mixed greens were dressed with oil and vinegar that was a tad on the sweet side. Promptly our entrees were delivered. Izzy’s does not skimp on the proportions. These were huge plates. My steak had all the right moves. Tender with massive corn-fed bliss was the verdict. I have to mention the side of creamed spinach. It was so decadent with several cheeses and rich cream. What a treat. Ms. Goofy enjoyed her flank steak but even though it had fantastic flavor it had a tug and chew to it. I sampled some of her flank steak and agreed. It was inconsistent in texture. One bite was tender and then next was a little tough.

   Our dinner crescendo was with a house made New York cheesecake that was delicious. One last observation of our dining experience was the waitress’s crumb removal technique. She took her hand and flexed her fingers rigid to form a human crumb sweeper. With one deft sweep she accomplished crumb removal to my enjoyment. Our dining experience overall was very enjoyable. Except for a little tug to the bite in Ms. Goofy’s flank steak we left Izzy’s with satisfaction and a smile on our face. Izzy’s is a casual Uptown trending great steakhouse. We shall return.

Izzy's Oakland
59 Grand Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94612

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Derrick from the competition bbq team 'Son of Smoke' gifted me a bottle of Kinder's Sweet Sriracha BBQ Sauce. Kinder's is a popular chain deli/meat market located in the Bay Area. Kinder's specializes in catering, sells quality meats and has a bustling lunch business. Their catering usually involves bbq which is very decent as far as cater's can produce. We sampled this bottle with some meaty chicken thighs cooked in a covered bbq. Let's check out the ingredients.

Ingredients: On second thought, this ingredient list is massive. The short version is there is whole lot of organic ingredients. Tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, sugar, molasses, vinegar, habanero powder and a whole LOT more of ingredients are listed. Natural Hickory Smoke flavor is a listed ingredient. Liquid smoke is not one of my favorite animals.

Straight out of the bottle, the flavor is very sweet tomato base with a mild earthy jalapeno kick. In the background is the influence of the hickory smoke. It is used in restraint and seems to be a welcome flavor component. This is a good balanced sauce. It has all the right components of sweet, heat, spices and dare I say it; liquid smoke. This should work well on our barbequed chicken.

Ms. Goofy and I give this sauce a thumbs up. The balance of flavors complemented and enhanced our chicken experience. There is an added bonus of organic ingredients in Kinder's sauce. This will appeal to the Bay Area hipster's and anybody that is socially conscious and concerned about the origins of their food. In our case it just tastes good.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Today, the ‘Great White Hunter’ and I are on a Meat Adventure to Greenfield, California to visit Roy’s Swiss Sausage Factory”. Before we start, I have to mention the Great White Hunter has a red shiny new vehicle. He was gracious enough to chauffeur (his words) us to our meaty destination. We did get lost sort off because of a glitch in his very fancy and expensive navigation device. It is supposed to work on voice commands and we are not sure if the map library had not been updated or the device just did not like the Great White Hunter. We did find Roy’s Swiss Sausage Factory eventually.

It is a good thing we did have a navigation system because Roy’s is located literally at the end of a dead-end country road in the middle of a field. You are not going to casually drive by this meat market. In fact Roy’s Swiss Sausage Factory is only a small cinder block building with no signage unless you count the small sign on the road. The inside is sparse with just a few processing tables and a couple of industrial walk-in refrigerators. What did make this meat market larger than life was Roy. He was busy sharpening his knifes when we entered. Roy is an animated and passionate butcher who seemed to enjoy sharing his zeal of sausage production.

There was a small signboard that listed his sausage and meat products available for sale. We had to find out what exactly was Swiss style sausage was. Roy explained that Swiss sausage was basically the scraps, and leftover of the butchering process. He likes to use a combination of pork and Angus sirloin beef. He also had varieties of chicken using chicken thigh meat. Both of these combinations are fairly lean of fat. These two meats are then flavored with wine and additions such as; artichokes, cheese, jalapenos and chile powder. Roy would not reveal ratios or seasoning secrets but the Great White Hunter volunteered that Swiss style sausage may have flavoring of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Roy also sells steaks (pork & beef), chicken, bacon and even a garden burger (?). The sausage is house made but the other items are sourced from a Del Monte Meats a local meat distributor.

It was a lot of fun talking to Roy. You could feel the passion and love that he puts into his sausage making. Roy had fun talking and showing his operation. He processes game for the locals and showed us some hanging in the walk-in. Roy was impressed that we had traveled far for this meat adventure. He gave us both a free skirt steak for our troubles. Roy like to share and even gave us the recommendation to try the local Mexican restaurant; La Fuente.  Meeting Roy and sharing his passion makes Meat Adventure worthwhile.

Jalapeno & Cheese Swiss Sausage

Roy's Swiss Sausage Factory
40821 Cherry Ave
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-2070

Monday, November 7, 2016


We found La Fuente on a hot tip from a local resident on our latest Meat Adventure. We were in the Salinas Valley, a highly productive agricultural area nicknamed the; ‘Salad Bowl of the World” Soledad is also known for housing a large prison. We needed nourishment and a tip from the locals is something not to be taken lightly. Would this La Fuente end my quest for the ultimate plate of Chileverde?

There is more to this picture if you look closely

La Fuente is a small brightly colored establishment. We entered to an almost empty eclectically decorated interior. It took a few seconds to absorb all the art work decorating the walls, counters and any available nook & cranny. We took a gander at the fairly large menu listing the usual offering of a Mexican restaurant. The waitress brought a very nice Pico de Gallo and red chili salsa with a basket of chips.  We were off to a good start.

The large plate of Chileverde arrived steaming with the traditional warning of; be careful the plate is very hot. I dug in and did not stop until I had wiped the last drop of verde sauce off with a corn tortilla. This offering was very comforting with tender cubes of seasoned pork meat. The green gravy was fairly mild but satisfying. I had a good appetite and this plate filled a need. It was very decent but the journey will continue to find the ultimate plate of Chileverde. If you are ever in the Salinas valley I would recommend La Fuente.

La Fuente Restaurant
101 Oak St
Soledad, CA 93960

Saturday, November 5, 2016


The Great White Hunter marches to the beat of his own drum. He is also a free thinker and sometimes has flashes of brilliance. He informed me he had bought the whole 'rib eye steak primal' and was having the butcher (Mama Cho's) dry age it for 30 days. After 30 days this would be broke down into two inch steaks with the bone-in. The Great White Hunter was gracious enough to allow me to purchase one of these beauties.

I have to admit, I was excited to try this beautiful corn-fed USDA Choice rib-eye steak. The act of dry aging intensifies and concentrates beef flavors. Dry aged steaks are usually served in high end restaurants at a premium price. We seasoned our steak with salt & pepper only. A very hot charcoal fire was lit. I let the grates heat until smoking. When I placed the steak on the piping hot grill a beautiful sizzling sound told me we were on the way to a fantastic meal. The steak was seared on all sides and then moved  to the indirect heat side and finished until the internal temperature was 120 degrees. A 10 minute rest and it was time to eat. Dry-aged beef is such a treat. Flavors are intense and dare I use the term Umami? One does crave the next bite. This was one tender cut.  WOW!!!!! Thankyou Great White Hunter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


 It was a rainy gray Saturday morning and we decided to venture on a journey to visit Tootle’s Custom Cutting Butcher Shop located in Marysville California This would be an hour and one half rocket ride at break neck speeds in the Racing Honda piloted by Ms. Goofy. We arrived safely albeit my white knuckles and eyeballs that was sunken from the ‘G’ forces. All was right with the world once we walked through the inviting doors of Tootles.

Tootle’s Custom Cutting Butcher Shop must be a poplar place for the local populace. The first thing the attending butcher proclaimed was; it usually looks a lot better than this. He was referring to the meat cases being fairly empty. There was still a good sampling of products to purchase. While we were surveying the sparse meat displays we got to briefly meet the owners; Ron & Valerie Tootle. They told us they were originally from Bakersfield and ran a butcher shop there. I asked what their signature/popular meat was. Ron said Chileverde which they had just sold 600 pounds last week and were out of now. They make several varieties of sausage, Brats, meatloaf, country style sausage and smoked bacon out back. Since we could not buy Chileverde we filled our cart with plenty of other meat offerings.

The stuffed pork chops looked fantastic. They were stuffed with a bread mixture studded with dried cranberries.. A USDA thick cut T-bone also made it in our basket. Some sliced house smoked bacon and breakfast sausage was included too. Ms. Goofy picked out a very meaty smoked ham hock to make her mother’s simmered white bean recipe.

Tootle’s Custom Cutting Butcher Shop is a nice local butcher shop. They fill a need supplying the local Marysville carnivores with quality meat products. We were a little disappointed that Chileverde was sold out but that gives a good excuse to return. Maybe Ms. Goofy will let me drive. "Tootle-Loo"

Tootle’s Custom Cutting Butcher Shop
317 3 Street
Marysville Ca 95901
530 741-9174