Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The pantry was bare. It was time to take a trip down to my favorite hot sauce shop;"Heat Hot Sauce Shop". I was a kid in a candy store. Dylan, the proprietor guided me through the latest, hottest and most flavorful sauces he had available. This should last me a few months. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017


The never ending search for the best Chileverde received a hot tip from our local PBS television station show "Check Please Bay Area" Los Arquitos is a small family run Mexican restaurant in Vallejo, California. Vallejo is only 15 minute away with a bridge crossing included. Parking Karma was a little challenging today because of street construction. I did get the first open parking spot after a slight detour so I will proclaim Parking Karma is good.

The inside is fairly plain with a counter for to-go orders with around a dozen tables for dining in. This is a family run restaurant and I got to meet the owners sort of. I mentioned I saw the restaurant on 'Check Please". There was a slight language barrier but she smiled and nodded. The next three customers that came in also mentioned the show. I ordered Chileverde and a side of chile relleno. Immediately she brought me chips and salsa. The chips were a little stale and the salsa had a slight pepper punch but was pedestrian

The chile relleno was hot and full of molten cheese. The egg batter had an oily soggy texture that tasted of frying oil that needed to be changed. This dish had a home made quality but just was not very appetizing with the tainted oil.

The Chileverde was delivered steaming hot with chile goodness. This was a very generous plate of cubed pork bathed in green chile gravy. This was comfort food that I enjoy. This plate of verde was on the mild side.  I have to mention the house made corn tortillas. All previous food transgressions are erased when home made tortillas are delivered. The thick and hot fresh tortillas really complemented my chileverde. This plate was devoured with delight.

There were some hit and misses today. We shall return for further research and fresh tortillas. This may not of been the best plate of chileverde I have had but it was comforting and satisfying. The prices are more than reasonable. This is home cooked Mexican food with an explanation point. Below is the video from Check Please that inspired this adventure. The journey continues.

Los Arquitos
630 Broadway St,
Vallejo, CA 94590

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Grass fed, all natural, no hormones, humanely raised, dry aged and a local rancher (Susanville, California) are all the right descriptors for Arrow J Beef Co. We visited their farmer’s market booth in Susanville and picked up a 7-blade roast. As some of you know I am not a big fan of grass fed beef but am willing to give it another try. The Arrow J Beef Co. is a family run business. They also have a fancy brochure that touted all the health benefits of grass fed beef. Did you know 100 % grass fed beef is high in a nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid? (CLA). CLA has health benefits from combating osteoporosis, inflammation and so much more.  We are going to make some chili today.

The first thing we notice about this well marbled three pound piece of beef is the deep red color. It is the 7 Blade roast which needs to be braised to become tender.  We are going to simmer this meat in a pot of chili but first we are going to sear it on a very hot bbq grill. We seasoned the meat with a rub. It was then cooked for aprox 5 minutes a side turning a quarter turn to give grill marks. We let the meat cool briefly and then chopped into cubes. It was then simmered for an hour in a pot with garlic, onions, tomatoes, roasted green chile’s, spices and chili powder. It was time to give our chili a try.

The beef cubes had a little chew to them. They also had a touch of gaminess typical to grass fed beef; that I have experienced. This beef also had a deep rich beef flavor. This was a great meat for chili. It was savory and the little beef love (fat) it did have rendered and flavored our chili broth. We enjoyed this flavorful pot of red. I am still not a big fan of grass fed beef but Arrow J Beef Co. produced some beefy good meat for our chili.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


The D.A.M. Dog Society had their Fall Dutch Oven Gathering at the Galileo Club this weekend. The weather could not been more pleasant. Blue skies and no wind made for perfect weather to fire up the charcoals and heat up our black iron. This group of like minded people shared food, recipes and fellowship. This gathering revolved around the Dutch oven. With a little imagination you can cook anything that any conventional oven can .We would like to share a few images with you.

This women is folding wrappers which are filled with bananas, brown sugar and jack fruit. They are then deep fried to create the most wonderful dessert. The cake below, which was one of my favorites was a pound cake that was maple frosted and then topped with bacon. Now that is what I am talking about. Creativity was abundant today.

This was my contribution today . It was a sourdough bread made with a starter which had a name; Sally. Sally originated from a long gone restaurant in San Francisco. Cioppino stew is represented in the pot below. We saw stew, several lasagna variations, broccoli/cauliflower, fried chicken, biscuits, and so much more. You really needed to bring your appetite today.

 These are the banana desserts being fried below and the finished product above. They were delicious. Abram, one of the original members of our competitive Dutch Oven team is hamming it up in front of an old team picture.

It was dinner time. There were so many choices. This was a great afternoon to reconnect with our dutch oven friends. It never ceases to amaze me what can be cooked in a dutch oven. One is only limited by their imagination. I can guarantee nobody left this event hungry. In fact as I type this my belt is loosened a notch. I cannot wait till the next D.O.G.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


The French Laundry is a symphony of culinary genius. It has many talented musicians and the finest instruments that all come together to perform beautiful edible music. Our meal was so much more than just food but a form of performance art with many sensory delights. This restaurant has been on my bucket list for many years and we finally procured a coveted reservation. We would like to share this memorable meal with you.

“Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayan” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oyster and White Sturgeon Caviar

The French Laundry is located in Yountville, California which is very close to the current wildfires.  They were closed the previous week and assisted in feeding responders. We arrived for our 5:00 pm reservation. The building is nicely landscaped and does not give you a sense of the things to come. That is until you walk into the courtyard and see the window surronded showcase kitchen. We see numerous chefs, scurrying around the kitchen doing various food preparations. We start to feel  the greatness to come.

Winter Radishes, Brokaw Avocado Mousse and Tender Garden Herbs

We were seated in a small dining room and were presented with an  I-Pad menu. We had several options of tasting menus. We could choose a vegetarian option or the more popular all-inclusive Chef's Tasting menu. We could order upgrades with foie gras, caviar, and even white truffles. We choose to start out with the basic tasting menu and I use the term basic with a smile on my face.

Garden Eggplant “Conserva,” Nantes Carrots, Nasturtium Leaves and Sweet Curry Emulsion

I want to touch on the service as being an art form. We were served in flights beginning with a server bringing the proper utensils. She would suddenly appear with a knife, fork, spoon, (bone for caviar) in multiple combinations. When she would appear we knew the next course would shortly follow. When our food was delivered it would be delivered by sometimes two or more waiters. The dish would be served in unison like a choreographed dance. The waiter would then describe the dish. We tried our best to remember what he or she had said but it was all a little overwhelming at the time.

Navel Orange, Belgian Endive, Cilantro Purée, Marcona Almonds and “Maltaise Mousseline”

Bitter Cocoa Laminated Brioche and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm Butter

No two ingredients were repeated in this meal. Each dish had many components. This brought up the question; how do we eat this? Do we eat the dish as a whole or should we savor each ingredient? There is no right or wrong answer. We would do both. Each ingredient had its own merit and flavor. When combined with the other ingredients a marriage of flavors transformed the parts into a whole. Oh the dilemma of fine dining.

Chestnut “Ravioli,” Garden Turnips and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

My beloved crumb sweeper appeared with a silver plated crumb tray and a matching fine tooth comb. You should have seen the smile on my face. We explained why I was so amused so she came back several times to sweep the table even though it was not needed.

La Ratte Potato Purée, Creamed Garden Kale, Amarosa Potatoes and Spanish Caper-Brown Butter Jus

Matsutake Mushrooms, Broccoli Purée and Rosemary-Pine Nut Jus

One thing we noticed was how rich and flavorful the dishes were. Butter, cream and salt was used throughout. Meats and fishes were highly seasoned. I would even say they were seasoned to perfection. I did notice I was consuming a large quantity of water. When I judge barbeque water consumption also rises because of the high level of seasoning. It was all a good thing. We did have our choice of sparkling or plain water which was refilled after every course.

This was a memorable meal. The final act was when they filled our table with numerous desserts. The waiter even brought us a bag with two tins of sugar cookies to-go. He asked us if we wanted to see the kitchens were the magic occurred. We took him up on this offer to witness a beehive of culinary activity. What a fun and flavorful meal. There is a reason this is a Michelin Guide 3-star rated restaurant and we got to experience it.. Someday we hope to return.  When I returned home I hit the couch and still had a euphoric feeling from the symphony of culinary genius we had just experienced.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Next weekend is our semi-annual D.O.G. (Dutch Oven Gathering) of the IDOS Norcal Chapter. (International Dutch Oven Society). Twice a year we get together and cook and share all things dutch oven. I usually make bread and this meeting will be no exception. This meeting will be the unveiling of my new sourdough bread with a starter that actually has a name; Sally. This sourdough starter originates from a restaurant from San Francisco that went out of business many years ago. I have been nurturing and feeding this living yeast culture for the last five days. I made a test loaf yesterday for quality control sampling. Oh yeah!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Wildfires in Northern California are out of control. Human life, property and communities are experiencing a devastating loss. As I write this the fires are still burning with only 10 percent containment. We live twenty five miles away from this disaster. The air quality is horrendous.With this crisis, humanity shines. The barbeque community has banded together through several groups to cook and feed; firefighters, first responders and anybody connected with this turmoil. I had an opportunity to help with the effort. I wanted to share a couple images of my friends and hero's.

We had the option of wearing respirators because the air was thick with smoke. In the background we could see helicopters with drop buckets going to deliver their payload. We had an assembly line of volunteers making sandwiches. These sandwiches consisted of pulled pork, brisket and chicken. The community have also donated drinks, fruits and assorted foods to distribute to the crews. Many hands made light work and even though it was a terrible situation we made the best of it.

We hope this disaster ends soon. Thank goodness there are people that care and are trying to help. I am blessed that we are safe and could help just a little.