Thursday, April 27, 2017
At the San Joaquin Asparagus festival we came across a vendor selling hot & barbeque sauces. I also noticed they had some packaged candy. I assumed it had some hot qualities but when I looked a little closer the label beckoned me with the promise of bacon. This vendor was the OSO Pepper Company. We are no strangers to this company and their quality sauces. I looked a little closer and these were spicy bacon caramels. There was a thermometer heat level that rose to medium heat marker. Say, no more and here is my money. When I buy a new bacon product I always have high hopes for the bacon promised. Today we have a double whammy of bacon and pepper love. Let's give it a try.
I will spare you the ingredient list but bacon and ghost pepper powder are listed. I ripped open the top to reveal a sexy vanilla and caramel aroma. This smells fantastic. Each caramel is individually wrapped. I tear open one and taste. I then immediately tear open another and taste. Right off the bat I want to say this Cry Out! Spicy Bacon Caramel is fantastic. The caramel is soft and luscious. There is real bacon in this caramel with real bacon flavor, really. The Ghost Pepper powder is an added bonus which joins this candy party later in the experience with a gentle warmth. The product claims to be of medium heat but I would put it more on the mild side. Mild but wild with caramel, bacon and chile love. This product is a winner. Bravo, I am happy.
Monday, April 24, 2017
We did not have any barbeque competitions this weekend but Ms. Goofy wanted to clear the plugs in the Racing Honda. We fired up the Racing Honda and sped to the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival. This is a yearly pilgrimage that we look forward to. This year we not only experienced some of the best deep fried asparagus ever but found some new bacon themed products. Will I ever give up? Not likely.
There was a lot of asparagus themed food products that we did not try such as asparagus ice cream and asparagus margaritas. Maybe next time. What we did find was some of the best deep fried asparagus on the planet. Ms. Goofy especially liked it because of the very generous sprinkling of parmessan cheese to make this even more decadent. I tried to keep my bacon blinders on but I did fine bacon fudge and a spicy bacon caramel from Oso Pepper Company. (More on the caramels on a later date.). The fudge was rich and had most excellent little bacon bits throughout.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Well that was a mouthful of a relish label. We are trying a product from Original Juan’s that has an ingredient in the title that I have an affection/addiction for. Yes, we are trying another bacon product. Will this deliver the bacon goods or is this another false promise? Dare I read the ingredient list? Put on your bacon socks and let’s give it a try.
The top is removed to unleash a smoky aroma. This chimney of fragrance includes roasted onions and a vinegar twang in its bouquet. I glanced at the ingredient list and half-way down the long list was “Natural Bacon”. Now we are talking. I took a spoonful and saw little specks of bacon. It was thick and chunky as a relish should be. I tasted caramelized onions. I It had sweetness but I did not get maple flavor. There was a gentle warming and smoky component from the chipotle pepper. It was pleasing and had a nice flavor. There was also a slight relish tang from vinegar. I am not sure how to use this product. The label suggested mixing it with cream cheese. That we did.
The cream cheese added smoothness and mellowed out the tang from the vinegar. We had some with some chips and enjoyed it. This would be nice as a sandwich spread. Okay, the million dollar question. Does it taste like bacon? I am a little torn about this. Yes it had some bacon flakes and this relish did have a smoky component to it. I enjoyed it and Ms. Goofy loved it, which is important. Bacon may be my Achilles heal.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Ms. Goofy and I have added another badge to our growing list of barbeque credentials. We are now Certified Kansas City Barbeque Society Table Captain’s. This last Saturday we attended a certification class to qualify for this position. What is a Table Captain, you may ask? This is the person who presents barbeque entries to the barbeque judges. When judging a KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) contest there are lots of rules, procedure, protocol, etiquette and not to forget fantastic bbq to sample and score. The cooks turn in their bbq entries to a KCBS representative in a given time frame. The entry is re-numbered to ensure blind judging and then presented to the Table Captain. The Table Captain then enters the entries in a specific method on a tally sheet. A tray that usually contains six different entries is brought to the judges table by the Table Captain. The Table Captain then presents the entries in a specific prescribed manner. These procedures must be followed to allow for fair and just judging. It is not a difficult task and can be rather fun. It is another position in our judging world that we are now officially certified to perform.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Akaushi steaks are for dinner tonight. Akaushi are the prized ‘Red Cattle’ from Kumanoto, Japan. These cattle were bred to withstand the challenging climate and terrain of Kumanoto. We have found these steaks at the Golden Gate Wine Country Meats, Inc. Ms. Goofy and I were on a meat adventure to visit our good friend Angelo from Angelo’s Meats. Angelo mentioned that he had tried the Akaushi beef from Golden Gate Wine Country Meats Inc. Golden Gate runs a wholesale meat company that specializes in high end beef for restaurants and other meat markets. It also happened to be located near our lunch stop. We went to lunch and afterwards poked our head in the doors to Golden Gate Meat Company.
The meat buying public goes into a small office to place any orders. I inquired about buying several of the Akaushi steaks. Jamie Lloyd, manager told me that the smallest order would be $ 150 dollars. I was a little skeptical with this price tag because I was unfamiliar with this beef. Jamie and I talked about the quality of this beef. These cattle are raised in Texas by Heart Brand Beef Company. The herd originated from true Red Cattle imported from Japan. Heart Brand Beef Co. has a brochure touting the healthy aspects of this particular breed. According to Heart Brand Beef: The beef has “unique composition and ratio of healthy fats helps to lower cholesterol and support weight loss. “. I am not sure what to make of this claim and think of P. T. Barnum’s classic quote; There is a sucker born every minute. I asked Jamie if I could see the beef.
I also asked if I could come into the meat processing area and take some photos. Jamie asked the boss and I was informed I would have to wear a yellow smock and a mesh hair bonnet. I was allowed into the inner sanctum of Golden Gate Wine Country Meats. We walked past several workers cutting and wrapping various cuts of meats. We then went into a walk-in and saw rows of boxed meat. I was showed the whole New York Strip steak and it looked fantastic. I was sold on the marbling. We then returned to the cutting area where I got to witness the cutting and trimming of the whole primal cut. I asked him to cut them into 2 inch thick steaks. They then wrapped them for me as requested. It was a lot of fun being able to go behind the scenes and witness this process. Everybody seemed to really enjoy their butchering duties and extended every courtesy to this Mad Meat Genius. I also walked out of the door grinning with a whole box of steaks.
We could not wait to get home and cook one of these good looking steaks. A high heat grilling on the bbq with salt & pepper as the only seasoning would cook this beauty. This was one fine steak. It had all the right moves. It was very tender with big beef flavor. This also had a lusciousness in each and every bite. This is a high end steak that needs to be appreciated. According to Heart Brand Beef this steak is good for you too. We would like to thank Jamie Lloyd of Golden Gate Wine Country Meats for the tour and the over the top fantastic service.
Golden Gate Wine Country Meats
1095 S A St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Mother nature is not done with us yet. That did not dampen the spirits of forty bbq competitors to cook ribs & chili this wet morning. We had our umbrellas and judging badges ready to offer our services to the 'Hog'n Heat competition held in Redwood City, California. Today we are at St Pius Church for wet but enthusiastic competition. We judges were lucky to be hunkered down in a grade school classroom for our judging duties. This classroom brought back memories of being a juvenile Mad Meat Genius. Although I do not remember paste being flavored.. We would like to share a few images with you.
This is Jack Simmons from Big Shot BBQ. He is showing us some mighty fine ribs here but he is also an accomplished chili cook. He and Gina took second place in the Chili competition. They set the bar high in the chili world. Their chili is the perfect balance of heat, sweet and spice. They did battle against 19 other fine competitors.
Congratulations to our friend Joe Z from Canyon Rider for taking first place in ribs. Please notice the home made hot sauce Joe Z is holding in his hand. It is roasted home grown green habanero sauce. This is serious real deal hot sauce. This was a fun day had by all. Mother nature may have spoken but she did not rain on our parade..
Friday, April 7, 2017
A5 Kagoshima Wagyu fillet is for dinner tonight. This beef steak from Japan will cross off another line on my bucket list. The ninety dollar a pound price tag makes this fillet a special treat. What is A5 Kagoshima Wagyu? Let’s break it down. A5 is a Japanese grading system similar but more complex than our USDA classification. “A” of “A5” means the yield grade, while “5” shows the quality grade. Getting an A5 grading means you’re getting the best grade possible. Kagoshima is a prefecture (Japanese division like our states) of Japan. Wagyu translates to cattle. In this case, the highly prized black cattle. This steak is characterized by its high grade of fat marbling
We found this beef at Alexanders Prime Meats & Catering in San Gabriel California. We had a little reservation on the authenticity of our purchase today. How do we know we are getting beef from Japan? There is a little faith involved here but Alexanders is a reputable butcher. They had a certificate of authenticity posted on the counter. Unfortunately this certificate was in Japanese. One look at the beef proved that this was a very special beef. The helpful butcher showed us several steaks. Take a look at this New York strip and the marbling of fat. Wow! We passed on this cut and got a smaller fillet.
Because the steak does have such a high level of marbling it should not be cooked as we are accustomed. I normally cook steaks at a very high heat on the bbq grill and this would probably not work with all this beautiful beef love. I asked the butcher for suggestions. He suggested we pan fry it I do want to mention that we also bought some beautiful dry aged USDA Prime steaks too. Alexanders is a destination market.
We are home and it is time to for dinner. We are using our trusty black iron frying pan tonight. The combination of stove top and oven will cook our one half pound fillet. This is a variation of an Alton Brown method. The oven is preheated with the cast iron pan to 500 degrees. With oven mitts we carefully transfer our smoking hot pan to the stove top put on high flame. We carefully lay the salt & peppers seasoned steak to the smoking pan. We count sixty seconds and flip the fillet over for another 60 seconds. After two minutes total we transfer to the oven. A long 2.5 minutes bake in the oven is patiently endured. The steak in then removed to rest for 6 minutes on a foil covered plate. This method cooked our steak to perfection. Oh my!
I love this money shot. We take our first bite. This may be the tenderest steak I have ever eaten in my life. It literally melts in your mouth. The beef flavor is mild. What you do notice is lusciousness in each mouth bite. The beef love (fat) is a very special component in this flavor profile. We have finally experienced the true Japanese Waygu beef. What a treat. Was this the best steak ever? It was very special and enjoyed immensely. I still have a love for my corn-fed, dry aged, USDA Choice steak. It is hard to beat the deep beef flavor. This was something different and very special.
Alexanders Prime Meats and Catering
6580 N. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91775
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
We would like to share an interesting product we did not purchase; Bacon Soap. It is pretty rare when I pass the opportunity to buy any and all bacon product. I did draw the line today. The packaging listed some interesting facts about this product. It is 100% Vegan, Sugar, Gluten, and dairy free. One of the most important ingredients was missing; bacon. Maybe it was the fifteen dollar price tag that made me walk right by this product.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
"And There Off", to the bbq races at the 6th Annual Santa Anita Winners Circle BBQ Championship. What a fun weekend; doing what we do best. We ate, drank, wagered and scored the best barbeque in the nation. This magical event was held in the center-field of the famous Santa Anita Race Park. This race track is glorious and has old school charm. Seventy seven competitive barbeque teams wagered their best offering of four meats (chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket) to win the coveted Grand Championship. There also was a whole lot of prize money up for grabs too. We would like to share a couple of images with you.
A special shout out to the one man team of "Slo-Dog Q". It takes a big commitment to turn out four meats by a one person team. Slo-Dog Q did take a walk with a tenth place in 'Pork". We had a blast connecting with our bbq community. We greeted old friends and made new ones. There were competitors from at least four different states and came as far away as Kansas. This made our 6 hour journey in the 'Racing Honda" very short. (and fast with Ms. Goofy at the wheel). The weather could not have been nicer. The high 70's and possibly breaking 80. It brought out a lot of people to enjoy the event.
The public was allowed to purchase and sample barbeque from competitor/vendors competing for a Public Choice trophy. The food price was very nominal to enjoy championship bbq. I was tempted to purchase some tickets but after judging duties I was a tiny bit full. There was a band to entertain that had Ms. Goofy dancing up a storm. If dancing and barbeque was not enough, there was the whole element of horse racing. So much to do.
Strolling the grounds after judging was such a treat. There just is a feeling and vibration of jubilation. I am not sure if it was the food, music or the excitement generated by the horses galloping by. Whatever the reason, this is an event not to miss.
It is after five o'clock and the races are winding down. It is time for the award ceremony. Promoter Ric Gilbert was the Master of Ceremonies while Ben Lobestein dispensed the trophies and monies. They had a attentive audience because it was time to get paid. The ceremony started and the results were revealed. What a great way to end the day. When the dust had cleared 'Burnin and Lootin' was directed to the Winners Circle to claim Grand Champion of the 6th Annual Santa Anita Winners Circle BBQ Championship.