Chilebrown at home

Sunday, April 28, 2019


It was a beautiful day for a Beerfest & BBQ Championship in Lodi California. Lodi is known for stoplights and wine but today we were here to judge and cook some bbq. Ms.Goofy actually joined a cooking team to help out her sister on her quest to become a Master Judge. One must cook with a competition bbq team to qualify for the Master Judge title. Peggy and her sister cooked with "RBQ Barbecue" Team run by Rick Brandini.

The bbq competition was held outside of the actual beerfest but several teams vended so festival attendees could sample and purchase great bbq. The judges were sequestered in an air conditioned building which is always nice for our pampered judges lot. It was a beautiful day with the thermometer hovering in the high 70s. This is a popular event and usually sells out.

There were 48 teams today. There also was an maxillary category of Turkey Breast. This was an interesting category. They could not reshape the breast so many entries were presented sliced. The cooks were on their A game today proved by all the fantastic bbq I was able to sample and judge.Congratulations to Burn'n & Loot'n for the Grand Championship and Son of Smoke for Reserve. What a great day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


 As some of you may know I am a collector of custom kitchen and Buck knives. This weekend was the Oregon Knife Show. Yours truly was solo in attendance. It was held in rainy Eugene Oregon. When I am in a unfamiliar town I always ask the locals for the best steakhouse in town. There was a consensus of the Oregon Electric Station. Let's go take a look.

The Oregon Electric Station building was built in 1914 as a station for the Oregon Electric Railway. The beautiful building has been converted into a restaurant. Inside restored train cars serve as your dining destination. This was a fun modern re purpose of Oregon history. Parking karma was not needed because they have an adjacent lot. I was seated right away because it was early.

 The service was fantastic. My USDA Choice New York strip was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was served with a side of mushrooms, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables and a very rich demi- glace brown gravy. This was a very good dinner with fun surroundings.

To top of my decadent dinner cheesecake was in order. This slice had a reduced bourbon caramel glaze. I received my dinner bill and was pleasantly surprised. I am so used to California inflated prices that this dinner seemed like a bargain. It was around half the price of a comparable dinner in the Bay Area.

This is not a picture of me. It may be me in five years from now. This gentleman was an attendee of the knife show and he was prepared. I am back in California but still have memories of a great dinner at the Oregon Electric Station.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


We embark on a Farm to Table adventure today. This journey involves the Red Wattle pig breed. I met a competition barbeque cook who raised Red Wattle pigs at his property which was located in Brentwood California. He had some meat for sale and said I could pick it up and see the pigs. Say no more. We arranged a time for a Meat Adventure rendezvous.

The property was located in a rural area of Brentwood. I would refer to this breeder as a 'Gentleman Farmer' who is really only getting started in the raising of the Red Wattle breed of pigs. He owns a pair of breeders which are very large and beautiful. The Red Wattle has an obvious red color and a noticeable red wattle hanging from its chin. They are considered a heritage breed which is an endangered species. The breeders are registered to insure blood lines.They actually seemed to be pretty smart coming to the fence when called. They are very large animals and I was quit content to be on the other side of the fence.

The breeder pair had a litter of pigs which were harvested. I bought some pork chops which we are cooking tonight. The pork is a pinkish color and has a very nice layer of fat surrounding. We browned the chops in a skillet and finished them in an oven on a bed of bread stuffing. The flavor was mild with a noticeable lusciousness that gave a very pleasant mouth feel to each and every bite. It had a Umami (I really do not like to use this word but it is appropriate ) type sensation where you craved the next bite. They were very tender. These were not your everyday supermarket variety of pork. We really enjoyed our meal.

This particular breeder is not set up to sell his meat commercially just yet. You can find more information and contact through Facebook "Farm to Table Group" "Red Barn Farms".

Monday, April 8, 2019


We start out with a disclaimer on our post today. Restaurants usually have a few hiccups when they first open. Visiting a new dinning establishment in its second week is usually not a true snapshot of its true potential. With that said what a disappointing visit to El Agave Azul the self-proclaimed “Coolest, Hottest, and Delicious Food” new Mexican restaurant in Richmond California. El Agave Azul opened two weeks ago. It was greatly anticipated revamping the old popular Gonzales Restaurant site. The new owners run the very successful La Strada Italian restaurant right down the street.

Parking Karma was turned off today because El Agave Azul has a parking lot. But! Here was the first of our list of hiccups. The parking lot access off the main street is blocked by huge traffic barriers and a food truck. We drove around the block and found an unmarked driveway to find access to the lot. I can see people circling the block looking for this driveway. Once inside the newly paved lot we see beautiful murals painted on the side of El Agave Azul exterior.

   We walk in the doors to a fresh, new, modern and inviting dining area. The very polite host seats us right next to the door even though there are only two other diners this afternoon. We ask to be seated somewhere else and she obliged. Even the copper covered photo book menus have a brand new look, smell and prices to match. There was a lot of work done and care to create these picturesque menus. We order our usual dishes, Ms. Goofy a burrito and I Chileverde.

Chips and Salsa were brought to our table. The chips were stale and seemed to be outsourced. The salsa was decent tomato/jalapeno mixture but did not impress. I asked the waiter if he had a hotter variety. He said yes but it never was produced. While not enjoying our appetizer we listened to canned Mexican music from the house sound system. There was a noticeable annoyable hum that I cannot understand how the staff could not hear or correct.

There were only three other tables in this fully staffed restaurant. Why did it take so long for our food to arrive? I joked that we go outside to the food truck and order snacks. Here is another question. Why is there a food truck parked in the parking lot? Our food arrived. The plates did look appetizing. Please take a close look at the size of Ms. Goofy’s burrito. 

This entre cost 17 dollars. Ms. Goofy told the waiter she was supposed to have rice and beans with her burrito. The waiter informed her that the rice and beans were inside the burrito. Okay, how did it taste? Ms. Goofy made an observation that there was not a lot of meat in this small sized rendition. (I like to refer to this as a “Wish”’ burrito. You wish there was some meat.) She also described the carnita meat as “catfoodish”. Ouch!

My Chileverde dish was unremarkable. It was served with some outsourced tortillas. Weak! Our waiter informed us that he was leaving, but there was no hurry with the bill. I understood; no hurry with our food but please hurry with my gratuity. That was a low blow because he was nice except for the fact he never did bring the promised salsa.

Overall, even though this was a new opening, we shall not return. We have not written El Agave Azul off of our books. We will just wait and listen to see if there is any improvement in food and service. We want to support local business but this is a difficult choice as it operates now. Seventeen dollars for a “Wish” burrito is unacceptable when there are so many other alternative restaurants to go to.

Thursday, April 4, 2019


The Great White Hunter and I were on a Meat Adventure and we needed some nourishment. ‘El Molino Central’ in Boyes Hot Springs, California has been a destination restaurant and on my bucket list of ‘go to’ restaurants. El Molino has been written up, reviewed and praised by numerous magazines and food television shows. They specialize in seasonal Mexican food with their specialty of freshly ground corn masa for tortillas and tamales. If you have ever had a tortilla made with fresh masa you will understand the appeal and the promise of a ethereal Mexican food experience. The Great White Hunter agreed to drive and as I like to, say chauffeur us to El Molino Central.

The Great White Hunter was driving so we did not park right in front but across the street. El Molino is a fairly small place. We went through the front door into a small room with a signboard menu counter/register and a refrigerator with to-go items. I knew there was seating outback so I suggested we walk around the building. We went into a covered patio with picnic tables. Outdoor heaters made this a very warm and cozy dining area. We did not see any waitresses so we asked some fellow diners how to order our food. They told us to proceed through the door and walk right through the kitchen back to the front and order. They would bring the food to you.

It was a little strange walking through the kitchen. You definitely get up close and personnel to your future meal. We place our order and bought several menu items to share. The menu was titled “Early Spring Menu”. El Molino is famous for their tamales so one was ordered. Chips and Salsa was an extra cost but very worth the expense. We went back through the kitchen and believe it or not the Great White Hunter was on good behavior by not sampling everything he passed by.

Our food was brought promptly. One dish was a “Chile Relleno” with three cheeses. The sauces covering the egg battered cheese stuffed chile was fantastic. A lot of layers of flavor; pepper, cheese, egg and finally sauce made this almost a great dish. Unfortunately the egg batter was a tad greasy. We shared some fantastic lamb tacos. This lamb was tender and mild in flavor. The tortilla was also a key player in this dish.

We ordered a large portion of guacamole. It may have not been necessary because our dish came with a generous scoop of guacamole on the side. We also ordered chips and salsa. The salsa was a roasted chile and tomatilla mixture. It was a little on the sweet side but very tasty. The tortillas chips were very thick and also on the greasy side which made them not so desirable.  I ordered a side order of tortillas which also was in excess because the entrĂ©e included these wonderful discs of masa wonderfulness. Chalk this up for future ordering procedures.

The tamale was the star of the show today. This tamale was packed and I mean packed with spicy tender pork. What really made this dish shine was the masa that surrounded the meat. It had the fresh corn flavor with a smooth lovely texture with just enough richness from most likely lard that made me swoon with tamale bliss. It was accompanied with a cabbage type slaw to cut the richness.

El Molino Central is warm welcoming hand shake of fresh masa and fresh ingredients for a wonderful Mexican meal. Walking through the kitchen is a little quirky but the tamale trumped all transgressions. (Greasy egg batter). “I shall return”, said this Mad Meat Genius. There are more menu items to explore. I will be sure to order another fantastic tamale too.

Monday, April 1, 2019


We spent a glorious and tasty weekend judging two barbeque contests at the Santa Anita Race Track. This was the 8th Annual Winners Circle BBQ Championship. It is Monday morning and I am a little speechless so I will let the images do the talking. I hope you enjoy.

What a great two days of fun, sun and bbq. Congratulations to a two time Grand Champion and overall winner. Burn's & Loot'n bbq team. Wow.