Chilebrown at home

Monday, July 30, 2018

40th Annual Garlic Festival

It is hard to believe we are at the 40th Annual Garlic Festival. We have been attending this festival for a very long time. Three years ago they have added a KCBS sanctioned bbq contest and we have been very happy attending and judging this stinking rose fueled event. We would like to share a couple of images with you.

The weather was very pleasant with temperatures in the low 80's. This festival has something for every garlic lover. Garlic ice cream? Yes. I have tried it in previous festivals and can attest it is sweet and garlicky. .

 This craft vendor had the most fun ceramic hanging art pieces. There was a section that had lots of arts and crafts for the strolling garlic laced public. There was a tent that had nothing but garlic related food items such as mustard, olive oils, relishes and so much more. Garlic. Garlic. Garlic.

Our good friends, the competition bbq team "Son of Smoke" which features Zack "The Kid" won Grand Championship today. Congratulations to all who competed. If you love garlic this is the festival you should not miss. We cannot wait till next year.

Friday, July 27, 2018


Being at a three day Buck Knife Collectors Club convention can really work up an appetite. I was out of town and asked the locals in Spokane Washington which was the best steakhouse in town. Churchills steakhouse was mentioned several times and I decided to give them a try. Parking was not a problem but brings some quarters for the meter. I would like to mention Churchills is located downtown Spokane and this area has seen better days. I was the first person to be seated at this empty house of steak tonight. Being the first and only customer you would think I would get top notch service.

My meal did not start off very well. I sat and waited for the waiter to show up. Ten minutes went by and I was going to give him five more minutes before I walked out the door. He did show up at the fourteen minute mark. He asked  me if I wanted to see the steak selection. He brought out raw cuts of the various USDA Prime Choice Black Angus corn fed bliss. (lobster too). I chose the sixteen ounce New York. My waiter, though tardy was pleasant enough but this was not the first time I would be sitting alone for extended times.

The steak was cooked in an infra-red broiler at high heat. It was also seasoned with a special spice rub. The rub and the high heat formed a very dark meat crust. The steak was cut open to reveal a perfect medium rare. Drumroll please. This steak will go down in my memory banks as being one of the top ten best steaks ever. Wow, this steak was tender and the meat crust added a texture component that could not be beat. Corn fed prime is so good. The sides of mushrooms peas and mashed potatoes were decent and filling. Churchill is also known for their dessert. Behold the 'Chocolate Sack'.

The Chocolate Sack is not the most imaginative name for this creation but it is impressive. It is huge. The sack is yummy dark chocolate. The filling is of cake, whip cream, chocolate mousse, raspberry, strawberry and more. The waiter, my new waiter (Did I mention my original waiter disappeared for what ever reason, suggested to cut down the center of the sack and dive right in. I did my best but I could not finish this sack. 

In conclusion come to Churchills for one of the best steaks ever but hope you do not get my tardy disappearing waiter. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018


It is always prudent as a bbq judge and competitor to have a trusted time piece to promptly make the appointed turn in times. I have had a pocket watch in my catch all drawer for many a years. It was a gift from my father that was passed down from his father and most likely gifted from his father. I brought it to a jeweler/watch repairman for restoration. He informed me that this was an Elgin 21 jewel pocket watch that dated back from 1895. The jeweler also said this watch should last at least another 100 years.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Sometimes you just need to move some charcoal around. I have used sticks, garden trowels and even my hands (heavy gloved hands). Adrenaline Barbecue Company is selling a tool designed to manipulated charcoal briquettes and we have purchased one. It is made of 430 stainless steel and has a rubberwood handle.(Rubberwood is a light-colored medium-density tropical hardwood obtained from the ParĂ¡ rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), usually from trees grown in rubber plantations) The tip of the tong is shaped to easily grip a charcoal briquette.

We lit a fire and gave our Cherry Picker a try. It works just dandy. I highly recommend wearing heavy gloves while using this tool because the fire still is very hot. Charcoal was easily picked up and moved around. The tongs felt comfortable in your hand. I did notice the steel starting to discolor and this is perfectly normal when heat hits metal. Time will tell if this tool will last but for now we have the correct tool to move our hot charcoal safely. .

Sunday, July 15, 2018


We lead off today's story with the Big Idaho Potato Tour truck. What does a giant potato have to do with a bbq festival? Well it is a lot of fun and that is what we are having today. This giant potato was parked right smack in the middle of the Clayton BBQ Cook Off. This was a festival in Clayton, California that also was a KCBS Pro & Backyard BBQ competition. Come along and have some fun with us.

Mother nature was very kind to us today. The thermometer was in the low 80's which made it very pleasant to stroll the grounds and eat championship barbeque. The public got a chance to see the competitors up close and personal at this venue. They then had the opportunity to purchase bbq from several vendors. A lot of local business and craftsman set up booths to inform and persuade your patronage.

Notice the electronics on top of these two Ugly Drum Smokers. (UDS).Technology is very important and widely used in competition. It adds consistency and convenience to make a superior bbq product. Speaking of superior bbq, this is what we came for. We were privileged to be able to sample and judge some of the best bbq ever.

Pictured  here on the left and in the bright orange is Rob Ryan. He took Grand Championship and first in pork ribs in the Backyard division. Rob is a fixture at competitions. He owns Robs Smokin Rubs. He makes  very excellent bbq rubs and sauces. Congratulations Rob.

Below is Scott and Tracy, two Master Judges who ran the KCBS information booth. They are rock-stars in the judging tent. Congratulations to the team Smokey Hog Island Love for winning Grand Championship in the Pro. Division. This was another great day for barbeque. What fun we have.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


It is not officially summer until your first tomato is ripe. Our gardening endeavors have been held hostage by some very frustrating gophers. This has not totally stopped us because we have several plants in containers. When you finally see that first ripe beautiful red orb the first thing that comes to my mind is BLT. We are using some very nice bacon from Journeyman Meat Company. Let summer begin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Being a member of the Galileo Club of Richmond California you meet members of other Italian social clubs at the dinners. I have been to most of the clubs here in the East Bay. When I received an invitation to have dinner at the Italian American Social Club located in San Francisco, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a Tuesday evening and we are going to the City. Anyone familiar with Bay Area traffic knows going to the City can be a challenge with the sea of traffic on our local highways. Luckily we were in reverse commute traffic and the journey was swift. Parking Karma was turned off because I was a passenger but we did get the last coveted spot in a parking lot across the street from the club.

The Italian American Social Club has been existence since 1938. The outside of the building has a lot of old school historic character as it beckons us in for dinner and fellowship. We walk through the doors into the full bar area. I am sure this lounge has seen many a parties and cocktails served. There is a small side room where men are playing cards. This is a relatively small club (200+) members  but it huge in hospitality. One of the things I love about Italian social clubs (besides raviolis) is the comradery displayed. At 7:30pm the dinner bell was rung.

We proceed into a large dining room with long checkered clothed tables. One end has a mirrored wall to give the illusion of being even larger. On our table is a very nice looking anti-pasta plate of olives, salami, peppers and another plate holding a mixed salad dressed with Italian dressing; of course. Immediately an older Italian lady rolls out a cart that contains bowls of some of the best minestrone soup I have ever had. It was thick with vegetables, pasta and surrounded by a very rich beefy broth. We piled Parmesan cheese on this hearty dish. The server kept replenishing our bowls with fresh hot soup but it was prudent to use restraint because we had more course to go.

Bowls of meat balls followed by plates of sausage and then a huge plate of spaghetti was our main course. Oh my, was my stomach beginning to stretch. Everything was so good. Even the French/Italian bread was fresh, slightly chewy and of course since this is San Francisco it was sourdough. We were not finished yet because we had dessert of ice cream and coffee. Oh yeah, this is the way I eat on a Tuesday night.

The Italian American Social Club is an old school club which I love. The cost of dinner was 30 dollars and did I mention this included all the wine you wanted to drink too? I have been invited back for next month’s dinner and how can I say no? My dance card is getting full at all these social clubs but I love it.

Sunday, July 8, 2018


The last eight years have been a fun festive time at Wine Country Big Q. This was an event that showcased championship bbq, local wines and benefited the local Veterans. It was sad to hear during the judges morning meeting that this possibly was the last year of this event. The promoter Judy Walker who has been a champion for this event told us it that the future of Wine Country Big Q was uncertain. Despite the sad news it was time to enjoy the day and judge another fun filled KCBS sanctioned bbq event. We would like to share some images with you.

I totally loved the "Prius Killer' pictured above. We live in Prius country and to some of us old gas guzzling drivers this sentiment was appreciated. This event was special to wine lovers because lots of local wineries poured their finest fermented grape nectar's. Live music entertained while the event attendees strolled the grounds.

Pictured above, Three 'Foo's and a Soo' was a competitive bbq that was comprised of some heavyweights in the bbq community. Harry Soo (celebrity bbq chef), Derrick Galiste, Kevin Barteaux and John Hendrickson all champions teamed up with goals to sweep the field. These champion women also teamed up behind the 'Die Freundliche Schweine' banner.(translates to 'The Friendly Pig"). They too were a group of heavy bbq hitters comprised of Cindy Hayter, Donna Fong (Butchers Daughter) and Kristy (bbq judge).

Rich Brandini is in line to get a piece of Chocolate Bacon dessert. This was a piece of battered deep fried pork belly covered with chocolate . Oh my,  was this porky delicious. The weather was perfect today with the thermometer just breaking the 80's mark. We judges were sequestered in an air conditioned room to provide perfect conditions to judge some of the best competitive bbq in the nation. 

The scores were tabulated and Big Poppa Smokers took the Grand Championship today. We were all winners today. Supporting the local Veterans is a cause that everyone can support. During the award ceremony Judy Walker was presented with this trophy plaque for her contribution to making this event such a success. We have our fingers crossed and high hopes this event will continue.