Chilebrown at home

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Musso & Frank Grill is one of Los Angeles oldest restaurants that still survives. Since 1919 this iconic steakhouse has served famous authors and a who’s who list of movie stars. Today yours truly has dined and would like to share his experience with you. This restaurant has been on my bucket list for a while after seeing a Huell Howsers episode showcasing this famous establishment.  We were at the Santa Anita Winners Circle bbq competition and I had several hours to kill before the awards ceremony. With L.A. traffic I needed this time to get to and from my destination. Parking Karma was available and I will explain in more detail in a note at the end of this article.

Musso & Frank is located on busy Hollywood Blvd. One must slice and dice their way through tourists and walk over the stars embedded in the sidewalk. Once through the doors you will take a step back into the glory days of Hollywood dining. The maĆ®tre de greets you and asks if you have reservations that are mandatory in the busy evening hours. It was midafternoon and I had no problem getting a booth. These are wooden booths with worn red leather plush seats. There are even coat racks on each booth when fedoras were a staple of proper attire. The walls are adorned with a faded mural. The lighting is low. There is an old fashioned wooden phone booth with a really old horn style phone inside. This place shouts gracefully style and old school elegance.  The red bolero wearing waiter (busboys wear green) arrived and began my Musso & Frank experience.

The menu had all of the usual suspects for a steakhouse. A lot of familiar steaks & chops favorites are available. There are daily specials such as duck confit, braised short ribs and on Fridays; Bouillabaisse Marseillaise with Shrimp, Lobster, Mussels, Clams and Cod.    I had done my research and knew to order the famous flannel cakes. Pancakes with dinner sounded a little odd but I wanted to experience them. New York strip medium rare, salad and a side of mushrooms was my choice.

My meal arrived on elegant monogrammed dinner plates. The salad was refreshing and the steak was perfect. The mushrooms were rich and elegant. The waiter asked me if I was ready for the famous flannel cakes. They were delivered piping hot off the griddle. They were already buttered and served with a beaker of syrup. These were not heavy flapjack but more light and crepe like. They were sweet and filling. It was a unique way to end my dining experience.

Musso & Frank Grill is a historic and wonderful way to experience a little bit of Hollywood past. My dining experience was elegant the way I believe a good meal should be. The food was fantastic but it was more than just a meal. I almost could feel Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacalls presence with me. This is a must place restaurant to experience.

Note: Hollywood is bustling with tourists. They all need to park so spots on Hollywood Blvd are very limited to a few metered spots. There are parking lots that will charge you a flat fee of 20 dollars. I circled the block and almost gave up and went into one of these lots. My parking Karma led me to a metered spot one half a block away. Later on I discoverd Musso & Frank has their own private lot located behind the restaurant.

Monday, March 26, 2018


This is the image of an intense bbq competitor at the 7th Annual Winners Circle BBQ Championship. This is also the face of Bill Sousa, half of the bbq team 'Big B's Down & Dirty" who won First Place in the brisket category. We just spent a fantastic weekend at the Santa Anita Race track judging our first contest of the year. We would love to share some images with you. 

The image above is a generator to provide power. This contest charcoal and wood is allowed but some competitors have some very fancy rigs that need electrical power to run blenders , knives and various tools of comfort for their brief stay during competition. Our friend Kevin actually runs an essential Margarita machine that is very popular. This weekend brought out 78 teams. Most were parked in the infield of the race track while some of the larger rigs parked in the lot with these generators for their use. 

The weather was a little unsettled this weekend. The skies were a little overcast and threatened a few drops of moisture but never delivered rain. This did not stop the crowds from enjoying championship bbq. There was music, craft vendors and do not forget we were right smack middle in a race track if you wanted to place a wager. This event takes place in a really special venue. All you have to do is look up and you will see thoroughbred horses racing around the track. This and the roar of the crowd just adds a magical feel to the air. 

It is time for the awards ceremony. A couple of our friends took walks to the stage. "Son of Smoke' took first place in the chicken category. Bill & Yvonne of Big Bs' Down & Dirty the competitor in the first image took first place in the Brisket category.  Big Poppa Smokers took the Grand Championship. Congratulations to our friends. Everyone was a winner today. This was our first and one of our favorite competitions of the year. Let the Competition Season begin.

Friday, March 23, 2018


The journey to find the ultimate plate of Chileverde had a wonderful encounter at El Aguila Mexican Cuisine. Some of our best discoveries are by word of mouth and this discovery was by a fellow certified Kansas City Barbecue Society Master Judge Aaron. He mentioned this restaurant a while back and I recently saw an article about their cheesecake. Say no more. Mexican food and cheesecake are two of my favorite food groups. We ventured to El Aguila on a rainy day to discover parking Karma was in full gear evident by a parking spot right in front.

The inside of El Aguila was packed at the noon hour which hopefully was a good sign. You place your order at the counter to receive a number for serving. The tables were small and placed close to each other. In fact I had to move from our original table because I was feeling claustrophobic and really did not want to hear about nearby Grandma’s sweet children.  We now settled in to our small table and promptly our drinks, chips and salsa were delivered. These chips were not complimentary but always a necessary indicator of the meal to come. These were not traditional tortilla chips but potato chips. Thin potato slices deep fried and lightly salted. They were hit and miss. Some chips were greasy and limp and some were crisp and addicting. The salsa was a pepper and oil emulsion that was a touch over mild and pleasant. I have my fingers crossed for better things to come.

We were not disappointed with our entrees. The Chileverde came to the table looking like it had jumped straight out a food magazine photo shoot. At first I did not really know what to expect. There was a mound of something with strands of something else all sitting in a pool of green sauce. The mound was a generous chunk of braised all natural Homestead Farms pork. It was tender and full of porky goodness. It was covered with strands of squash, ribbons of nopalitos (cactus) and grilled tomatoes. The green sauce was fresh and tart with mild chili love. This was a study in textures, flavors and scrumptiousness. Did I mention they were accompanied by house made tortillas and a plate of black beans with rice? Wow.

Ms. Goofy had a sandwich (torta). This was breaded chicken covered with melted cheese. Lettuce and lots of tomatos were also layered on this meat and all of it was served between two halves of a very fresh Mexican style bread. Ms. Goofy really enjoyed it. We then shared, well Ms. Goofy had a bite and I devoured some very decadent cheesecake covered with a caramel sauce.

This was a wonderful stop on our journey to find the ultimate plate of Chileverde. It will be put near the top of all-time favorites. El Aguila Mexican Cuisine serves a high end rendition of some traditional Mexican dishes. Today we award El Aguila bonus points for house made tortillas and decadent cheesecake. Our dishes were fantastic and will be worthy of return visits. The house made chips and seating arrangements were our only agitations to a wonderful meal. El Aguila is a keeper.

Monday, March 19, 2018


A little known secret of the U.C. Davis college is their Meat Sciences Lab meat market. The Department of Animal Services runs a functioning meat market that is open Thursday and Friday afternoons. This allows the public to purchase some of the best meat around for reasonable prices.The students raise different breeds of animals and process them all in the name of academia. We made a stop and purchased a really nice pork loin roast. Grab a fork and let's cook dinner.

This was a small 2.5 pound wrapped and tied pork loin roast. It was seasoned and browned in a skillet over high heat. We then took some raw rice, vegetables, chicken stock and formed a bed in a skillet to cradle the browned roast for a braising in a 350 degree oven. In about an hour the internal temperature of the roast reached 145 degrees. It was removed and allowed to rest for 10 minutes. The string was removed and the roast carved. It smelled fantastic.

I am a little hesitant to tell you about the U.C. Davis Meat Labs because it is such a fantastic place to buy meat. This pork had real old fashioned pork flavor. It was not your bland Wally World cut of pork. The roast was so tender and moist. The rice that had received the pork drippings was an added bonus in this satisfying meal. You can actually place an order at the U.C. Davis Meat Labs if you want to buy a larger amount. We are taking advantage of this and will be returning this Thursday. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


There was a green beer sighting at the Galileo Club last night. We had a pre-St. Patrick's day celebration Italian style. This celebration included a Bocce Ball tournament with plenty of refreshments (green beer optional) and concluded with a corn beef dinner to satisfy all competitors. Ms. Goofy and I participated in the activities minus the green beer. I think anyone that is familiar with celebrating St. Pat's day has their green beer story and I will spare you mine.

You may wonder what makes this celebration Italian style besides the Bocce Ball tournament?  My answer to that is the buffet line included a green tinted pesto pasta dish lined with Brussell sprouts. The traditional offerings of cabbage, potatoes and carrots were available too. They also had plain yellow mustard which is a must have item for corned beef. Of course I had to bring my German Lowensenf mustard from home which has a mean spice kick that is not for the faint of heart.

Below the green tinted pesto past is pictured with broccoli rabe next to it. I actually tried one Brussel sprout and it was very decent in a vegetable kind of way. We did have dessert of pistachio pudding, fruit platter and a florescent bright green vanilla pudding. I will spare you the image and just tell you it tasted better than it looked.

This was a fun way to celebrate St. Patricks Day eve and we have a full belly to prove it. We are really looking forward to next week when we will be traveling south to SoCal to participate in our first barbeque contest of the year. It will be held right smack in the middle of the Santa Anita Race track. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 5, 2018


Our barbeque judge friend Lori asked me the question; have you seen the Kettle Brand Chile Verde flavored potato chips? No I had not but I went right out and bought a bag. Lori knows I am on a quest to find the best Chile Verde ever and Kettle Chips are fair game. You know I do not do a lot of shopping except for meat products, so I got a little sticker shock when I paid 4 bucks for this 8.5 ounce bag. In the name of research for Mad Meat Genius readers no expense is spared. Let’s give them a try.

I will spare you the whole ingredient list but a couple of standouts are green bell pepper powder, chili powder, jalapeno powder and the usual suspects for a Kettle style ship. The aroma of the opened bag is familiar of potato chips of a fried oily aroma. I grab a couple of chips and chomp away hoping to experience green chile bliss. I am not going to lie, I was disappointed. If I had done a blind taste test I would not be able to identify any chile flavor. Was there any heat to speak off? There was a mild and I mean mild warming sensation that was disappointing. Dissapointing seems to be the theme of this review. This is good Kettle Style Potato chip and they are addicting but the Chile Verde flavor must have been left back at the marketing department.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


My Big Fat Birthday Month Celebration is over but is it?. Ms. Goofy gifted me the most wonderful box of American Wagyu Black Grade Tomahawk Snakes from Snake River Farms. Oh my! She knows what I like. This is a 2.5 pound rib-eye steak with a huge bone to mimic a tomahawk. It is also some of the best beef available comprising of the Black Grade American Wagyu beef. This grade is higher than USDA Prime. It has been wet aged for 21plus days. Needless to say they are very expensive and sought after by chefs and beef connoisseurs such as myself. We are going to cook one tonight.

I always have a little anxiety when cooking such a prize piece of beef. I want everything to turn out perfect. We used our new Weber kettle for tonight's cook. A large chimney full of charcoal briquettes was lit and placed on one side of the kettle. We wanted two cooking zones. A direct and indirect side would be used. This fire was smokin' hot. The steak was placed on the direct side of the grill which immediately produced flames because of the very high marbling fat content of this steak. The steak was seared, then placed on the indirect side and covered with the kettle lid. Another 10 minutes of cooking until the temperature reached 115. We wanted to serve this steak medium rare on the rare side. After a 10 minute rest we feasted on some of the best steak ever.

This was a steak to remember. Ms. Goofy knows how to treat her man. How can I describe the lusciousness, savory flavor of this beef. The fat has an almost buttery quality to it. Serving this steak at medium rare on the rare side guaranteed the tenderness of this cut. Every bite was an invitation of craving for the next morsel. It was almost a religious experience. I hope that each and everyone of you someday tries this American Wagyu Black Grade Tomahawk steak. I am dreaming about cooking the second steak from my gift box which is taking a brief nap in the Chilebrown Ice Cave.