Chilebrown at home

Thursday, September 28, 2017


I love a good piece of cheesecake. Operating from a hot tip from our bbq friend Ben, we were told about Zanze’s Cheesecake.  Zanze’s is located in the City. (San Francisco). Cheesecake is the only thing sold at Zanze’s so this sealed the deal and I needed to brave the drive to S.F. and pick up a cake. Parking Karma was present today because I found a parking spot two doors down from my destination. This is a good sign for cheesecake bliss to come.

Zanze’s is a small shop. It is also very popular by the amount of customers waiting for cheesecake. Inside, there is a small counter with a window displaying some plain cheesecake and only plain cheesecakes. There is a sign board listing several variations of topping for this plain cake. It was my turn to order and I received a quick “Seinfeldish” lesson in Zanze’s cheesecake etiquette.

I asked for a cheesecake with a cherry/kirsch topping. The clerk said I had to Pre-order. I asked for a medium size plain cheesecake. The clerk said Pre-order. I asked’; what can I buy? She said a small or a large cake.  I choose a small. She then explained the cutting procedure which uses included small plastic floss like string. (Pictured on upper left of cake box image). I took my cheesecake and rushed home as fast as Bay Area traffic allowed to give this cake a try.

I followed the cutting instructions with ease. This cheesecake is very light, airy, fluffy, and mousse like. This is heavenly and of course rich. The crust is light and crumbly too. It is very good. This cake is so light that it does not even fill you up like traditional N.Y. style cakes. The locals that live near Zenze’s have a great asset for cheesecake. We now know the rules involved to purchase a Zanzes cake; Pre-Order.

Monday, September 25, 2017


We live in the small town of Rodeo, California. Once a year we have a festival held at the baseball field of our downtown area. It is not hard to find because our downtown area is only three blocks long. What we lack in size is made up by enthusiasm, hot chili and local pride. It is time to show some cars and cook some chili. The whole town shows up for this fun & spicy event. Fireman, local restaurants, bartenders, churches and yours truly.. Ms. Goofy and I decided to dust off our aprons and help our friend 'Joe the Bartender' retain his "1st Place Chili' title.

We used to compete at this competition but for various reasons, mainly bbq judging we had retired. Our friend Joe needed a helping hand prepping and serving his award winning chili. I arrived at 8:00 am with a sharp knife to slice and dice some ingredients. Joe has some very secret methods and ingredients that I have been sworn to secrecy to share. Ms. Goofy showed up at 11:30 am to help serve samples to the chili hungry masses of Rodeo.

The weather could not of been more perfect. It was a calm bright day with the thermometer hovering in the high 70's. The cars were polished and proudly shown. Check out this motorhead enthusiast. I also wanted to show you this custom bbq. This vendor was selling tri-tip sandwiches made on a bbq built by the local high school; John Swett. We never made such nice projects in my shop classes.

There was a salsa contest held with the chili contest. From what I heard there was a very spicy salsa entry. It was a good thing there was frosty beverages to put out the fire. The public got to taste all the entrants and then voted for their favorite. There also was a set of judges who also voted for their favorite.

The votes were tallied and team "Cowboy Chili" took the trophy. Our town event is a wonderful way to connect and have a little fun. We ran into a lot of friends and neighbors.  Rodeo is a small town but big in heart and possibly with a little heartburn today. Joe the Bartender has sworn to return next year to regain his lost title.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Candied bacon was found at the Foothill Meat Company in Oroville, California on our last meat excursion. We have three different fun flavors today. Let's start with the white chocolate. This has a mellow sweet white chocolate that has a salty smoky interior.. Next on the plate is a satisfying dark chocolate with more bacon center love. The last flavor is interesting with its honey coating and possibly a dusting of cayenne peppers. It starts off sticky sweet but then grabs your attention with a mild pepper warmth. Needless to say, I love candied bacon.

Foothill Meat Company, Inc.
3311 Foothill Blvd,
 Oroville, Ca.   95966

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


The Ghost Pepper is one of the hottest exotic peppers around. Combine this potent pepper with tortilla chips and we may have an explosively hot snack. My fellow bbq judge friend Jon gifted me a bag of Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper tortilla chips and we are going to give them a try. We are no strangers to the Paqui brand and have enjoyed their products in the past. Paqui describes their chips: " Light, crispy and freakin hot! Witness the Haunted Ghost Pepper, the scariest of them all. These chips will terrify your taste buds. Ours are still hiding under the bed". We shall see.

I briefly looked at the ingredient list and Ghost Pepper is listed as one of the first ingredients. The Cayenne and Chipotle Peppers are also listed in this list. We open the bag to reveal a fresh aroma of spices and tortilla chip like smells. I take a bite of this fresh crisp orange-ish colored chip. . I immediately feel heat all over my mouth. The instant heat I believe is from the cayenne. I can also taste the smokiness of the chipotle. The Ghost pepper flavor is present in the lingering after burn. This chip is hot. My sinuses started to run which is my personal heat alarm. I love these chips. The heat meter will actually rise to three and one half stars out of 5. Once you have got over the heat rush you will realize these chips are flavorful and balanced with its salt and spice mix. Like other snack products you will crave another chip. These chips are not for everyone. They are hot. I challenge you to be brave and enjoy the heat. I love them.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Will You Marry Me?

A marriage proposal at the awards ceremony was the icing on the cake for two competitive cooks at the 3rd Annual Hot Q's & Cold Brews BBQ held at the Feather Falls Casino. A motorcycle rally, music, gambling, hot sauce, cheesecake, micro-beer and a four meat Kansas City Society Barbecue sanctioned bbq contest was all experienced this weekend. The weather was perfect with the temperature hovering in the 80's. Hop on your motorcycle and lets take a look. 

It was great to see our barbeque family friends this weekend. It is getting towards the end of the season and we are bracing ourselves for the bbq dormant winter. Today was a hot and spicy celebration because my friend and hot sauce vendor Enrique of Monroy's Original Hot Sauce Company had a selection for me to choose from. I had another treat from a local bakery The Jokers Bakery. I bought a almond amaretto cheesecake; "That's what I am talkin about".

A motorcycle rally was held to whet the bbq appetite of many enthusiasts. It was fun to see all the polished chrome on these bikes. After their ride the riders could imbibe of cold micro-beer made right at the casinos house brewery. After one had their fill on 'Hot Q's & Cold Brews they could go into the air conditioned casino and place some wagers. This festival had something for everyone.

The local high school cheering squad was on hand today. I did not want to seem too creepy by just taking pictures of them so I asked first. They enthusiastically asked me if I wanted them to cheer my name. Chilebrown was a little long so they shortened it to the P. A. U. L. cheer. What fun.

Congratulations to 'Mar B Que's for winning the Grand Championship today. This was a wonderful day to wind down the bbq season. Today's event had something for everybody. We are still smiling. Thankyou Feather Falls Casino for hosting the event. This casino is a class act and we plan to return again and again. 

P.S. She did say yes. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017


You know you are having a fantastic meal when they clear the table and out comes the crumb sweeper. With a deft flick of the wrist and a clean effortless sweeping motion your transgression of spilled crumble is wiped away for eternity or until the end of the dessert course. It is just that little added touch by a professional server that adds that little touch of elegance.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Ms. Goofy, for my birthday last February gifted me a voucher for Snake River Farms. Snake River Farms is famous for their premium American Waygu beef products.  A good number of bbq competitors are using SRF’s products in competition. They are winning with this product and there is a reason. It is some of the best beef around. A whole brisket will set you back two hundred dollars plus. We have cooked this brisket before with stellar results. Ms. Goofy generously gave me this gift certificate and let me choose anything I wanted. I have never had a Manhattan Roast. I bet you are wondering what a Manhattan Roast is?

The Manhattan Roast is cut from the same tender area as the New York strip. It weighs from 2.5-3 pounds. It is trimmed and tied with butcher twine to keep its ‘artisan’ cylinder shape. This also creates simple carving duties. Let me reel off some attributes of this roast given by SRF.
  • It is graded SRF Black……………This higher than USDA Prime
  • BMS (Beef Marbling Scoring) is 6 to 8
  • It is a Wagyu crossed with high quality Angus 
  • 100% natural, with no added hormones
  • Wet-aged 21 + days for improved flavor and texture
Look how beautiful the marbling throughout this roast is. To be honest, I am a little afraid to cook this for several reasons. The price tag of this roast is so very high and just a  small overshooting of a temperature target could ruin this roast. I actually wanted to cook this in our indoor oven for more consistent heat but it is late summer and the house is just too hot. We opted to cook it on our covered kettle. You know I will be monitoring this cook like a newborn child; my meat baby.

We used an indirect heat with a drip pan under the roast. A simple liberal dusting of salt & freshly ground pepper to only accent the meat was used. My target temperature was 115-120 degrees. My alarm went off and I took it off for a 15 minute resting period.

  The smell alone made us drool. This is premium beef that begs to be experienced. Ms. Goofy proclaimed this to be some of the tenderest beef ever. The beef flavor is so deep and rich. A quality of Wagyu beef is a lushness that is savored in each and every bite. Umami (not my favorite term) creates a longing to experience your next bite with each and every bite. This roast was all that and more. Ms. Goofy you are the greatest.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


Sometimes our best meat finds are tips from locals. We were told that we must try the chorizo from the Idaho Grocery in Susanville, California. We actually had driven right by it on our way to the fairgrounds. Ms. Goofy spotted the sign but we did not stop because we were on our way to the bbq competition. Julie, the KCBS rep asked us if we had stopped at Idaho Butcher Shoppe and we must try the chorizo.  Say no more. I hopped back into the racing Honda and sped back to Idaho Butcher Shoppe.

The Idaho Butcher Shoppe is part of a small family run grocery store. There were three butchers on duty. They were busy slicing and dicing in the back room. The refrigerator case had a nice display of the usual suspects of yummy meat delights. I asked one Butcher if they had the house made chorizo. He steered me to the freezer case in back. Sure enough there was a selection of their locally favorite chorizo. I did have the option of regular or habanero flavor. Both flavors were put into my cart. I had to rush back to the fairgrounds because I had judging duties.

Several weeks later I had a chance to sample this chorizo. I cooked the habanero flavored chorizo. The habanero pepper bite was on the mild side. This was a little surprising because habanero peppers have a reputation of being a super-hot pepper. Sometimes chorizo can be very greasy but this was not the case with Idaho Butchers sausage. The spice blend was complimentary and flavorful. This was a very well balanced sausage. It is always nice to get a heads up on a meat find. When we return to Susanville I will have to further explore Idaho Butcher Shoppe.

Idaho Butcher Shoppe
2120 Main St,
 Susanville, CA 96130

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


The yearlong anticipated wait is finally over and the ‘Smoke Gateway” has arrived. The Smoke Gateway is a Wi-Fi bridge for the Smoke 2 channel thermometer by Thermoworks. The Smoke thermometer is an invaluable tool that I use all the time in my bbq cooks. The Smoke Gateway will give me the ability to monitor and graph temperatures directly to my phone. The flexibility and ease of use may prove to be another important tool in my cooking efforts. Let me show you my new Smoke Gateway.

The actual unit is a little unassuming. It is a small 4in by 2in gray box with an on/off button and a led indicator. It comes with a cord to plug it into a socket to charge. We did plug the unit into the wall socket and when charged will have 100 hours of use.  The next step is to pair the Smoke Gateway to the Smoke Thermometer and then to your smartphone (through Wi-fi) This is all controlled by an App that is downloaded to your phone. The App will guide you through this process.

This Mad Meat Genius is a little smart phone challenged. The instructions are easy to follow and everything seemed to go right but that was not the case. I was stuck and needed help. I called the Thermoworks technical support. I talked to Kyle, who was very patient and walked me through the set-up procedure. I really want to sing praises for Thermoworks technical support.

Let’s talk about what the App can show you.  We access the App. and turn on your Smoke thermometer, Smoke Gateway and Wi-Fi' The units will all talk to each other ultimately letting you monitor this conversation on your phone. The first screen shows both channels of your thermometer in circle graphics. You can set high and low temperature parameters that will activate an alarm when they are met. The circle probe graphic will also turn red letting you know you have met your goal.  Another screen will show graphs of the progression of the temperatures of your cook. At the end of your cook you can save this cook. You then can export this cook as a file and send it to your home computer as an Excel file. It is easy to navigate throughout this App. This smart-phone challenged genius picked it up very quickly.

We did a test cook of some stuffed pork chops. I had a temperature probe in the chop and on the grill. I found myself staring at my phone the whole cook. I navigated around the App looking at the graphs and then back to the updated temperatures. The Smoke Gateway sends an update approximately every 70 seconds. I set one alarm at 140 degrees and it went off like a charm. At the end of the cook I saved the data and sent a file to my home computer.

The Smoke Gateway is as advertised. It is a bridge to have you connected to your thermometer through Wi-Fi and your phone. I do need to mention the Smoke Gateway price of ninety dollars. The Smoke thermometer is about the same price maybe a couple dollars more. I cannot live without my Smoke Thermometer. Do I feel the same way about the Smoke Gateway? I am still pondering this question. It is great to be connected in this modern world. I can run down to the store for coffee and still monitor my cook. I have graphs to see how my cook is going. I do want to mention the files that you export to Excel. I am not a numbers person and the data presented may not be helpful to me. If you are a competition cook and a numbers person this data would be invaluable. I am happy with my new tool and cannot wait for my next cook.  By the way the stuffed pork chops were delicious.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


To be honest we were not expecting too much with our purchase of Bacon Cotton Candy. We were pleasantly surprised. As a wee young Mad Meat Genius I never really cared much for cotton candy but I did love bacon. This product has a few healthful boasts; 'Artificial and Natural Flavors", 'No Cholesterol", "A Fat Free Food" and 'Gluten Free". Bacon flavor is listed on the long ingredient list. We open the bag to reveal a pink pillow of candy. It has a cloyingly sweet aroma like cotton candy should. Ms. Goofy and I both agree, it does have a bacon like flavor. It is very sweet and sticks too the roof of your mouth and teeth.  Surprise, surprise, this product tastes like bacon. If you like cotton candy and bacon this product is just the ticket.

All of a sudden cotton candy has entered my life. We were having a very nice dinner in South Lake Tahoe at the "19 Kitchen & Bar" at Harvey's. The bill is brought and low and behold; cotton candy. I am not sure if this was to sweeten the blow of the sticker shock of our bill. Sadly, this cotton candy did not taste like bacon.