Chilebrown at home

Thursday, August 31, 2017


The Best in West Nugget Rib Cook-Off has returned to Sparks Nevada for its six day run. This festival celebrates the all-mighty rib. We will let the images do the talking for this post. Let's enjoy some ribs.

We always have fun at this festival. We actually did not eat any ribs this year but did have several snacks. When you are judging ribs every weekend the bar is set very high plus. we had dinner reservations. Needless to say we had a blast and love to come to this festival. Happy ribs!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


We have driven by the Famiglia Italian Restaurant several times in Pinole California. The location is a little off the beaten path for a restaurant. La Famiglia is located in a small strip mall with a gym and auto repair shops near by. We noticed a 'Grand Opening" sign inviting us to give it a try. It is a warm Monday night and we are ready to try some Italian food.

Famiglia Italian Restaurant is owned by two brothers; Miguel and David Guillen. They both have a lot of experience in the restaurant business. Our server Nancy was related to the owners and we noticed some children playing in the back of the restaurant. This is a family owned establishment. I want to tell you about our server Nancy. She was very pleasant and prompt with all of our dinning needs. It makes such a difference to a meal to feel comfortable and satisfied with the efforts of the server.

It was 5:00pm Monday night and we were the only patrons in the place. The inside is void of decorations and has a tall ceiling that still needs to be finished. The menu is brought with complimentary bread and a bowl of some decadent rich garlicky Puttanesca spread. Puttanesca is a type of Italian salsa consisting of tomato, garlic, anchovy and olive oil. I ordered Bistecca Di New York which is grilled New York steak, mushrooms & Marsala sauce and Ms. Goofy Spaghetti Alla Carbonara;spinach, pancetta & egg cream sauce

My steak was perfectly cooked to medium well. The Marsala sauce was rich with mushrooms and a hint of wine. I am not a big produce eater but my melody of vegetables was perfectly cooked and flavorful. Ms. Goofy loved her Carbonara and would not talk to me until she had slurped every last strand of pasta. I still had a little room for dessert. I asked for Spumoni and this gelato type pie was delivered. It was so good.

We are glad we stopped by Famiglia Italian Restaurant. It was a hit on all cylinders. They have a wood burning oven which they make many combinations of pizza. This needs to be explored in the near future. We have been searching for a local Italian restaurnat and I think we have found it. Thumbs up.

Famiglia Italian Restaurant
812 San Pablo Ave Suite 1,
Pinole, CA 94564

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Hot, Hot, and more Hot was Grills N Grills a fundraiser for United Way in Penn Valley California. The 100 degree heat bore down on a festive KCBS barbeque contest. This festival had twenty seven teams competing for the trophy today. The public was treated to a car show and music while enjoying this sizzling festival. Luckily, we judges were sequestered in an air-conditioned room to perform our duties.

After our judging we wandered the grounds and enjoyed the car show. There was shade to take in the music and liquid libations. We realized how lucky we were to be in the air conditioned judging area. This Bay Area boy is not used to the three figure heat levels. Spoil the judges is my mantra.

Congratulations to Nancy Martin for becoming a new certified Kansas City Barbecue Society Master Judge. After completion of judging 30 contests, cooking with a team, and passing a rigorous written test Nancy recites the judges oath before our judging duties to welcome her to the Master Judges fraternity. Nancy will receive a certificate, pin and the satisfaction that she is an experienced bbq judge. Welcome.

After judging a competition your stomach is stretched and your taste buds are a little dull. This Mad Meat Genius did find room for the pictured frozen chocolate covered cheesecake. It was the perfect ending to a very fun hot day. Congratulations to Smoky Luv pictured below for winning Reserve Grand Championship and DG Firehouse for the coveted Grand Championship prize.

Friday, August 25, 2017


We are not really sure what GL & L stands for at the GL & L Smokehouse in Susanville, California. This was our destination on our Meat Adventure before our barbeque contest last weekend. GL & L is located just out of town on a rural road. The giant pink pig out front reassured us that we were at the right place. I had also asked the owner for directions who I had met at the Susanville farmers market earlier.

There was not a whole lot to the inside of GL & L but a few refrigerator/freezer cases. They were chock full of tasty meat products. Bacon, ham, jerky, marinated meats, smoked pork chops, pepperoni, and several flavors of house made sausage. They had a printed list of meat combinations you could buy for a specific price. One thing we noticed was the very reasonable prices. We are so used to the inflated Bay Area sin tax adjusted sticker tags that we were pleasantly pocket book surprised. There was not any slab bacon but thick and thin sliced house smoked that we put in our cart. Smoked pork chops, several sausage flavors and bacon all made it into our cart.

We met the owners soft speaking Father who was very nice. His wife generously gave us some ice packs for our portable ice cave. GL & L has small town charm that we love. We have sampled the bacon since our return and can say it is very decent and made some very tasty BLT's. The next time we are in Suanville we shall return.

GL & L Smokehouse
702-865 Richmond Rd E
Susanville, CA 96130

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I love farmers markets. I especially love the farmers market in Susanville California. This last weekend we were there for a barbeque competition. We had a little time before the contest to explore the little local farmers market. I am not kidding when I say little because there were only six vendors. What made this market so very extra special was half the market was devoted to local meat purveyors. Now that is what I am talking about a farmers meat market. There was a vendor selling ripe fragrant melons and also a bakery with sugary sweet treats but you know I was in meat farmers market heaven.

Arrow J Beef Company specializes in grass fed, grass finished all natural , no hormones, no antibiotic local beef. As some of you may know I am not a big fan of grass fed beef but I did buy a nice looking 7-blade roast to make some chili. Hulsman Ranch was across the aisle with more grass fed meats. They are another local rancher that have been around since 1862. One grass fed purchase was enough for this grain fed Mad Meat Genius. I still had one more meat vendor to check out.

GL & L Smokehouse was actually on my itinerary for later in the day to visit  their smoke house several miles away. (More about GL & L on a later date) The owner was present selling his products. I introduced myself and we had a brief conversation about some of his meat offerings. You know I had to visit the bakery booth and I actually did purchase a fantastic cantaloupe. The Susanville farmers market is my kind of market.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


We are traveling to upper Northern California to Susanville to attend and participate in the Lassen County Annual BBQ Cookoff. Susanville, formerly known as Rooptown is a small whistlestop that had origins of being a mining and logging town. We are at the county fairgrounds for a KCBS sanctioned bbq contest. We are privileged to attend and judge this four meat contest.

I love the fairgrounds. This is the way a fairground should be. It has plenty of shade to hide from the blistering 90 plus degree heat. There are lots of show buildings that are decorated with local themed murals. There is a race track that we did not get a chance to see this time. We did see the accompanying small car show that had plenty of polished Chrome for everyone.

Lassen Senior Services was our host today This was a fundraiser with the goal of enhancing the health and well being of the senior citizens here in Lassen County. There was a raffle of a beautiful quilt and pellet bbq, neither one did I win. The public was charged a nominal 10 dollars for entrance and an opportunity to taste and score Championship BBQ. The public could also purchase other foods from the competitors like this plate of bbq nachos. One of the building hosted local craftsmen with homemade art and wares.

Today we had 15 teams competing. The competition team "Cynical BBQ" took the Grand Championship trophy. Speaking of trophies, check out this unique cleaver trophy. They were very nice. We want to thank the good people at Lassen Senior Services for rolling out the red carpet for everyone involved. We cannot wait till next years event.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Contrary to popular belief I eat other foods despite award winning barbeque. In fact I love Italian food especially raviolis. I am a card carrying member of the Richmond Galileo Club an Italian social club even though I am not Italian. Today we had lunch at La Strada Italian Cuisine. I received a very high recommendation from an old Italian friend; "Whitey" This is a direct quote from my friend "Whitey"; "Every Dago in West County goes to La Strada" If it is good enough for Whitey it is good enough for me.

When we sat down we were treated to the most decadent freshly baked french bread. I say decadent because it was served with a bowl of olive oil , garlic and herbs. That is not all, three different types of vinegar were brought to add to this fragrant mix. Dipping the bread into this mouth tingling elixir could of been a meal in itself. Vampires look out.  I started off with a house salad that was refreshing and vibrant.

The raviolis were house made and had a meat filling. It was served with your choice of sauce which today was marinara. I also ordered a couple of meatballs which were for an extra charge. The sauce was rich with tomato goodness. The raviolis were cooked on the al-dente side and had a bite to the tooth. The filling was meaty as described. This combination of pasta, filling and sauce was a hearty comforting mix of Italian love. The meatballs seemed to have been re-heated and a little hard to cut through. The meatballs will be left off the next order. Our dining companion Ron said we had to order the spumoni.

Spumoni was just the perfect ending to this lunch of Italian faire. Pistachio, chocolate and strawberry ice cream with candied fruit was yummy good. We plan to return to La Strada to try some other menu items. Whitey was right about this being a good Italian restaurant.  Tomorrow night I will be at the Galileo Clubs Men's dinner and raviolis are on the menu too. When the moon hits the sky.

La Strada Italian Restaurant
2215 Church Lane
San Pablo, CA 94805