Chilebrown at home

Monday, March 18, 2019


Backyard on the Grape was held in Lodi California this weekend. This was a private barbeque contest held for cooks and judges to practice and hone there skills. There were winners today but what they gained was knowledge by what judges thought when scoring their meat entries. The competitors would present an entry and it was judged right in front of them with the judges giving an oral critique in appearance, taste, and tenderness.

It was a beautiful Spring day with the temperatures breaking into the low 70's. Thirty five competitive bbq teams where ready for this learning experience. In a KCBS contest the judging is called blind judging. This means the cooks do not know who judges their entry and the judges have no idea who cooked the entry. The cook also has no knowledge why a judge gave a certain score unless an optional comment card is filled out by the judge. This was an opportunity for the judges and cooks to interact. 

Today, I was only a visitor. I walked the grounds and said hello to the busy cooks. I then went into the judging area to see the action. The cooks would walk into the hall with their entry. They would sit right in front of the judges. The entry would be passed around the judges and they would give it an appearance score. The judges would orally give the cooks their thoughts on what was wrong or right and how to improve the entry. The judges would taste and repeat the oral process of helping the cooks. This process also helps the judge to put into words why they scored what they scored. This is a win-win situation. 

This is a popular event that has benefits for judges and cooks. It is just a warm-up for the big events to come this summer. We will be attending a large and fun event at the end of the month in Santa Anita. Stay Tuned.

Friday, March 15, 2019


This Mad Meat Genius has found his Disneyland for meat lovers. Today we are visiting the Golden Gate Meat Company at their Richmond California location. Golden Gate Meat Company is more than just a meat wholesaler but an all-inclusive business that buys, processes, smokes, cures and ultimately sells high end quality meats. They have a retail shop in San Francisco and another wholesale location in Santa Rosa. We are visiting their new wholesale location in the industrial area of Richmond California. Brian Silveira, a BBQ competitor asked me if I wanted to go on a tour of the facility. This was an opportunity to good to be true.

I pulled into the Golden Gate driveway to a crowded parking lot full of company trucks and employee cars. I picked a spot that was very close to blocking the loading dock. A gentleman that had watched me “sort of” block the dock asked if he could help me and I explained that I was here for a tour. He was more than nice and personally guided me to the appropriate office. I later found out that this gentleman was no other than “Jimi Z”. Jimi Offenbach is the head C.E.O. and patriarch of Golden Gate Meat Company. This is a family run business. In the sales office I met Justin Offenbach who was is the Chief Operating Officer. We definitely had a common interest of quality meat. Brian and I were soon to learn that everyone we talked to was passionate about meat. This is my kind of people.

Justin suggested that his Dad give us the tour. We were very privileged to have Jimi Z guide us through his facility. The word I want to use is passion. Everybody we met was very friendly and passionate about the job they had to do. I just had a huge Cheshire cat grin the whole time of our tour. We started out in the warehouse. There were huge racks of boxed meats from all high quality farms. All these meats will eventually make it to high end restaurants, serious competitive barbeque teams and the San Francisco retail location.

We went through a room with lots of butchers all slicing meats. We proceeded to a very special area that was used to cure prosciutto. It was very impressive to see the pork legs being salted and hung for a long aging and curing time. Of course I personally liked to see the huge industrial smoker used for bacon. They have a signature recipe for sausage and bacon. I did see a couple of bins of wood chips that I was told was a blend of apple and hickory woods.

Golden Gate has a lineup of house made salume. To actually see the procedure and curing rooms was fascinating. There are a series of blue lit rooms that are temperature and climate controlled. This control panel is the brains to monitor each different room. Each room has a climate to mimic seasons. There is the ‘Spring Room and the Summer Room” with appropriate heats for perfect curing.
Jimi Z saved the best for last. He brought us up into the loft, an area used for parties and entertaining clients. Liquid libations and of course house cured meats are all available. There is a stage with musical instruments that are played by Jimi Z and fellow band members. Jimi Z also showed his pride and joy collection of guitars. The guitar on the far right was owned and played by John Lennon. WOW!!!!!

Our tour was over. I am still smiling. What a fantastic day. I did not leave empty handed because I purchased some premium Snake River Farms strip steak. We also left with an appreciation for Golden Gate Meat Company. This is a family run business that sells more than high quality meats. They are selling pride and passion that is reflected in all of their products. One can find their meats at fine restaurants and for retail sales at their Ferry Plaza location. What a great day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Sunday was a great day to cook a prime rib roast. This beautiful hunk of burnin love was procured from the Chilebrown Ice Cave. It was originally bought from the local market during the holiday meat sales. It is U.S.D.A. choice grade beef and it looks fantastic. Salt, pepper and a trip to the oven is today's recipe. We start at a very high heat of 450 degrees for the first 20 minutes. The temperature is then dropped to 350 degrees and cooked till the internal meat temperature is 120 degrees. A twenty minute rest and a beautiful medium rare is the tasty result. I think I will have a sandwich.

Saturday, March 9, 2019


So Delicious It's Cin-full

We are no strangers to Cin Chili. This company has been around for awhile. You may remember Cindy Wilkins from several food network shows talking about her chili. A friend gifted me a package of this mix and we are going to give it a revisit. Grab your chili pot and let's get cooking. But first, here is a little bio of Cindy Wilkins freshly cut and pasted from their website. 

Cindy Reed Wilkins, aka The Chili Queen, is a legend in the chili community. She's one of the greatest champions in the history of chili competition. Cindy has won an extraordinary 15 first-place awards, over 100 total, in the world of championship red chili. Her highest honor is winning the coveted Terlingua International Chili Championship not once, but twice, in 1992 and 1993. She's the only person ever to win it back-to-back.

I am not known for following package instructions and this was no exception. We added a chopped onion, small can of pinto beans, several roasted chile peppers and diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. The rest of the recipe could not be simpler. Brown two pounds of hamburger, add seasoning, broth, and rest of ingredients. Simmer for 1/2 an hour and you are ready to eat. This is a very decent rendering of chili. It is a comforting and satisfying flavor that we all love. The heat level straight out of the packet is mild but with our addition of green chile the heat meter rose to one click over mild. We really enjoyed our Cin-full chili dinner.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


A friend asked me; 'Have you tried 'Supreme Tradition Chicken Wing Sauce?". When my reply was no, he immediately brought me a bottle to try. We love a good chicken wings and were excited to try. This sauce claims to be a marinade, baste and bbq sauce. We used it at the very end of our cook When the wings were done we coated them with sauce and returned to bbq for four more minutes to set the wing sauce.
    We were pleasantly surprised that this sauce was very good with a traditional buffalo wing flavor. It is buttery with a traditional Louisiana style hot sauce kick. The heat level is a tad over mild and this is what Ms. Goofy likes. I will spare you the ingredient list but nothing seems out of the ordinary and if anything the list is short. If you want a traditional buffalo wing style sauce this is the sauce for you.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


We were alerted by a hot tip from an acquaintance that Stanford's Restaurant and Bar was a dining destination worth checking out. It was our anniversary/birthday celebration and this sounded like a plan. I am not sure why we have not visited Sanford's at an earlier time because this has been around for over 20 years. This is a chain restaurant and we are at the Walnut Creek venue. Parking Karma was present because we parked right across the street in a metered spot. Parking is a mixed bag in Walnut Creek. The Stanford's parking lot is closed for construction. There are a handful of metered spots and there is a huge parking garage near by with a less than 10 minute walk. 

It is a Wednesday evening and Sanford's is not very crowded. We are greeted by a highly bubbly hostess and assistant. They are high energy which was a theme with the staff. The interior is dark but inviting with lots of polished wood and high back booths. It has a chain like old school vibe. Our waiter arrives and gives a perfect polished rendition of good service. He was friendly and seemed genuinely  appreciative of our celebration. The menu was a mixed bag of American comfort food. Ms. Goofy, fish & chips, crab cake appetizer and I; rib eye steak were our menu choices.

The crab cakes arrived piping hot off of the griddle. They were full of crab and made for a nice appetizer. We were also brought Stanford's famous cheesy bread. This was melted cheese on a focaccia style bread. It was fine possibly on the oily side from the melted cheese. It got us ready for the next course of a house salad and a soup. The salad and soup were presented in a picturesque plating which means a lot in any meal. We eat with our eyes first. I will spare you the image but they tasted fine.

The entree's arrived and they too were picturesque. We both enjoyed our offerings. Now some of you may have gathered that I really like a good steak.This steak was good. Was it a memorable steak? no. Our meal was not done. A complimentary cream brule was brought to our table with a lighted candle. This is Ms. Goofy's favorite dessert and she attacked it with both paws.

There is a lot to like about Sanford's Restaurant and Bar. The service is top notch. The place is clean and inviting. The food is okay and is presented pleasingly. The food tastes fine. I cannot find any fault with our meal. A good meal is the sum of a few components. service, ambiance,and food quality. They hit on all spots. Will we come back? That is a good question. As you may know I am constantly looking for a great steak. Tonight the steak was only ok. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Ms. Goofy knows what I like. This is a special cheesecake recipe that has a sour cream topping. What a great way to celebrate a birthday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


It is that time of year which this Mad Meat Genius celebrates his birth date. I have been known to stretch this holiday out for a whole month. This year I have been on the down low and am trying to limit all frivolous extraneous extra curricular announcements of said event. My sister; 'The President of Cookies came over yesterday and delivered a pre-birthday present of some chocolate covered bacon. These cocoa covered cured swine treats are even differently flavored with maple and  with hot pepper goodness. Yummy. Since you asked; my birthday is tomorrow February 27.

Saturday, February 23, 2019


I may have been Italian in a different time. If hanging out in Italian Social Clubs is an indicator of Italian heritage, so be it. I am not Italian but I have gone to five dinners at four different Italian clubs this month. Last night I went to “The Monte Cristo Club” in San Francisco. This was a first time visit and boy was it a fun adventure. The adventure started with just making it to the City with Friday traffic. The second challenge was parking. My parking karma helped me find a spot one and a half blocks away. If you have ever experienced parking in San Francisco you would consider this a victory.

The Monte Cristo is located in the Protrero Hill neighborhood. This area located on a hill has lots of old Victorians with some light industry business mixed in. The club is on a residential street with no visible marking. In fact the only indicator present is a lighted bright red door. Open this door and you step into a private club that is a step back into time. The door is open and the noise is loud. You need to make your way through the crowd of older Italian men who almost all have a cocktail in hand. The bar is crowded with a cast of characters that could be extras for an Italian movie. We have several minutes before dinner and you can see the long dining hall with its checkered table clothes. The shrimp salad and antipasto are beckoning for you to enjoy.

The dinner bell is rung and the mad dash begins. We all have assigned tables to sit with our member sponsors. Bottles of Italian wine are ready to be poured. We finish our delicious salad and are looking forward to the seafood pasta to come. Shrimp, mussels and clams in a fragrant seafood sauce adorns the pasta. Little bowls of parmesan cheese are there if you want to break the silly rule of no cheese with fish.

The main course is cioppino, a fragrant tomato broth filled with plenty of fresh seafood. Dungeness crab, scallops, mussels, clams and shrimp make this a rich and flavorful stew. There is plenty of famous San Francisco sourdough bread to mop up any and all broth. We were provided with plastic bibs to make sure we did not wear this cioppino.

The dinner was complete except for a little ice cream cup, coffee and shot of brandy. What a fantastic meal. The ambiance, venue and people of the Monte Cristo club are a very special treat. I feel privileged to be invited and participate at this exclusive Italian Social Club. I am getting hungry all over again writing about last night.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


It is a Sunday afternoon and we are in Martinez, California watching a play. The play ends and we are hungry. Troy Greek Cuisine is a block away and it sounds inviting. Greek Cuisine will be a new experience for us. Parking karma is not needed today because we are already parked and will brave the full block walk from the theater.

Troy Greek Cuisine is a small chain restaurant with four other locations. It is a warm feeling restaurant with an open kitchen. There is a heated outdoor seating area which was full of families enjoying their meals. We choose indoor seating and are greeted immediately. We started our meal with an appetizer of Spanakopita. These are spinach and feta cheese wrapped in filo dough and deep fried. They are served with a tratziki  yogurt type sauce. They are fine tasting that are not high on the wow factor. They do get our interest and taste buds ready for the main course.

Beef Souvalki sounds like a safe choice for me. Charbroiled rib-eye steak on a skewer served with vegetables, rice or salad and a tratziki sauce is perfectly satisfying. Once again this plate was perfectly fine but just did not excite. There was a couple of house made hot sauces that I did enjoy spicing up this dish. Ms. Goofy had a gyro wrap which is a sort of Greek style burrito. Her dish followed the theme of tonight's dinner. It was fine but nothing to write home about.

Troy Greek Cuisine was a nice place to have dinner. The service was great. The meal was satisfying but to be honest a little boring. Maybe we are just missing something here. There was nothing wrong with our meal but it was just not our cup of tea. It was a nice day to see a play and have a Troy Greek Cuisine dinner.

Monday, February 18, 2019


We tried out a easy convenient tortellini product from Giovanni Ranna. I would like to say it is easy and fast to prepare and it tastes great. Ms. Goofy made a cream sauce with ham and mushrooms to make this a satisfying weekday dinner meal. The filling of these little pasta pillows is cheese & uncured bacon. Did I say bacon? Yes, and it is uncured. Here we go. There is no such thing as uncured bacon by definition. Merriam Webster defines bacon as; "a side of a pig cured and smoked". The government has allowed manufacturers to call bacon uncured if they uses celery juice extract which has natural occurring nitrates/nitrates which ultimately cures the pork. As you may have gathered that this is a personnel pet peeve of mine. It is cured pork and it is bacon. By the way, you really could not taste bacon in the tortellini. It did have a meaty cheesy flavor and was enjoyed by all.
That is my Monday rant. Have a great week.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


"Check Please" is a local PBS television show that showcases restaurants around the Bay Area. This is a valuable resource to find new and fun dinning establishments. Antipastos by DeRose was featured and is a deli in San Jose who also happens to be a meat market. The icing on the cake was they make home made raviolis. Say no more. We jumped into the racing Honda and braved the rain soaked highways to carefully travel to Antipastos.

We pulled up to a fairly nondescript building with some neon beer signs adorning the windows. Parking Karma was not needed today because they had their own lot. It was pretty full when we left. Once inside we were a little overwhelmed with the layout of this place. There were meat cases with plenty of choices of quality beef, pork and seafood. There was also a refrigerator case showcasing mulitple beers with a great selection of micro-beers. A small counter in front of a smally tiny kitchen that also had a hot tablle of prepared food. Where do we start? I broke the man-code and asked a clerk for directions. He explained the ordering procedures.

There are so many choices for lunch and dinner. One can order prepared pastas, soups, salads, and make a deli sandwich with any combination they can think of. One can pick a steak from the meat case and they will cook it for you for market price plus five dollars. This was the option I chose. I also had to try the house made ravioli. I was getting excited. Ms. Goofy ordered minestrone soup, steak sandwich and a micro-beer that was freshly poured from the tap. You pay at the small counter and they will bring your meal to the table.

Ms.Goofy went on and on how great her thick and hearty minestrone soup was. It was more of a thick meaty sauce type gravy that was studded with soft vegetables. She really liked her steak sandwich and could only eat half of it. The seating in Antipastos is a little haphazard. Tables are located throughout the deli.You are sitting right next to the beer case or display shelves lined with lots of imported Italian food products. The owners are definitely Oakland Raider football fans evident by the football memorabilia on the wall.

The steak was grilled to a perfect medium rare. They seasoned it with a really flavorful rub that made for a flavorful bite. The raviolis were little pillows of comforting joy that had a meaty interior that made you crave the next bite. These were a treat. They were a tad overcooked but that did not stop me from finishing the plate and going to the counter to order some to go. They were that good.

Antipastos is a great place for a meal or to pick up some steaks to go. Steaks and raviolis are a combination that makes me swoon. There are so many food choices that we would have no problem returning to sample more. We both enjoyed our food choices today. The house raviolis are special. Ms. Goofy could spend a lot of time sampling all the different micro-beers. There is a slight problem for us,unfortunately Antipastos is over an hour away from our house and with Bay Area traffic that is a conservative time. If we are in the neighborhood this is a must stop destination.