Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


Fresh New Mexico Chile powder is a thing of beauty. It has been awhile since I have ordered fresh chile powder. Boy am I glad I did and it is like discovering something new all over again. Go into your cupboard or pantry and throw away all of your chile powder. Chances are the containers you have are over 6 months old and stale as sawdust. You will thank me later. Find a source. I used the New Mexico Chile Pepper Connection which is a good place to buy products from New Mexico. I ordered the 'medium' level of heat for this powder. I learned my lesson by ordering the 'hot' powder last time. It was too hot even for this experienced Chilehead. Our order arrived and it was time to make a 'bowl of red'.

  True chili has no beans or fillers. In competitions they do not even use fresh vegetables but powders and meats only. Today we did use fresh onions and canned tomatoes but no beans. My protein of choice was barbequed steak. The steak was grilled, cooled and chopped into cubes. A base of chile powder, beef broth, chopped onions, canned tomatoes and salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and a small pinch of sugar was combined. The meat was added and all was simmered for an hour.

A bowl of red is a comfort dish that is simple but so rewarding. The flavor and medium heat of fresh chili powder is a religious experience to me. I hope you will give fresh chile powder a try. 


Monday, December 20, 2021


 Love it or hate it fruitcakes are my Holiday passion. I found one at Alpine bakery in Concord California. It is a pretty decent rendition. I did make some home made fruitcake that I will share with you in the future.

 Rocky, my emotional support monster wants to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2021


To be honest Smokin Wood BBQ was my backup plan to have a bbq meal today. I originally had planned to go to the latest popular and cult like bbq establishment Horn BBQ. At ten minutes before opening Horn had a line of 25-30 people and I was not prepared for the crowd. Smokin Wood was a short drive and my parking Karma confirmed my choice with a metered spot across the street open. Smokin Wood is located on the busy Telegraph Av. A once four lane thoroughfare is now a crowded two lane bottleneck because of bike lanes and restaurant parklets. Smokin woods has a large parklet which kind of gives me the creeps when you realize you are sitting in a former lane of traffic. I go to the entrance a mysterious voice greets me. I realize there is a lady behind a sliding window greeting me over an intercom. You place your order with her and choose indoor or outdoor dining. I ordered my usual ribs, brisket, cole slaw and beans.

The inside has a sportsbar theme with full bar and plenty of T.V. screens for your enjoyment.  My meal is delivered on a cafeteria tray that seems to be the new industry standard of bbq delivery. The plate looks fantastic. I am going to cut to the chase right away and tell you I liked this meal. I did not love it. Mediocracy or my new favorite term “meh” comes to mind. The ribs were pleasantly seasoned and cooked well, the brisket was tender but not the beef bomb that I crave and the sides were fresh out a can and deli case. The side dishes seemed to be an afterthought that they might of picked up at the local supermarket. The bbq sauce immediately got thumbs down for the liquid smoke it reeked of. Only one little container was provided with each meal and an extra at 75. Cents was charged for more. One whiff was enough for me. 

  Smokin Woods BBQ might be a fun place to have a drink and watch a sports game. The bbq was not really bad. It also was not exciting and worthy of a return visit. 

Monday, December 6, 2021


Firelli is a unique hot sauce imported from Italy. We thought we would give it a try. This is a fairly mild sauce. The pepper that fuels this warmth is the Calabrian chile. Balsamic vinegar adds a freshness and sweetness to round out flavor. A unusual ingredient of dried porcini mushrooms is also on this ingredient list. This flavor adds that extra little umph which translates to the umami sensation of craving the next serving. This combination works. It is a perfect pairing for pizza or pasta. These jars will not last long. I bought them mail order for a reasonable price. They are making their way to local supermarkets and I will probably pick up some more. 


Sunday, November 28, 2021




What do you do with leftovers? We make potato bread. This loaf has a cup of leftover mashed potatoes added to the dough. It is a very soft bread and works perfectly for sandwiches when toasted. One of the best things about making bread is the aroma that perfumes the house. I think I will make myself a turkey sandwich. 


Thursday, November 25, 2021


Ms. Goofy made this pie yesterday just to tease me. She also made an apple pie so I do have a lot to be thankful for today. We will be cooking our turkey in the Weber kettle grill today. I hope your day is full of desserts, turkey and family.  Happy Thanksgiving 


Monday, November 22, 2021


Tyler Florence the food celebrity on the Food Network has recently opened a swanky new steakhouse in San Francisco called Miller & Lux. We had some friends visiting from out of town that wanted to take us out to dinner and this was the choice. Put on the old feedbag and let’s take a journey into a high end steakhouse dining in the City by the Bay. 

Miller & Lux is located in the sports complex for the Golden State Warriors. It was only built several years ago and is not only a sports arena but has shops and restaurants. We went on a Monday night when no game was scheduled. Parking Karma was enforced and we parked right across the street in a metered spot. (Game day would be a different story). The restaurant is bright and modern. There is an open kitchen were you can view the chef’s at work. Our hostess scooted the table back as we squeezed into a circular booth. The table was put back into place like a safety device on a culinary carnival ride. The menu was only a page with a short list of ‘modern’ steakhouse staples.  Let’s just invoke the “Do not ask rule” on the prices. I will say the prices of beef have double in the last two years.  I chose the 45 day age old New York strip Black Angus, Ms. Goofy a filet and our friends split a 32 ounce Tomahawk. These steaks were ala carte with sides extra. 

We were served warm fresh popovers as a bread course. Our server announced with great glee that this was butter made from grass fed organic cows.  We had multiple servers throughout our dining experience.  One would take a sip of water and a busboy would immediately refill your glass. I had sparkling water, of course. I did say busboy but I should have said busperson. This is San Francisco you know. Gender neutral bathrooms were something I was not really used too. I digress, back to the meal. Our Caeser salad was made at the table with great fanfare. The salad was topped with whole anchovies, parmesan crisps, extra cheese and the plate was garnished with a swirl of infused lemon oil. 

Dry aging a steak is normally a two to three week process. Miller & Lux serves a 45 day aged steak which is something that is pretty unique and wonderful. I have never had a steak with such a unique and rich flavor. My steak had a funk. A wonderful funk that is hard to describe. It was buttery. It was nutty. It might of not have been the most tender U.S.D.A. prime steak but each and every bite was a ‘umami’ rocket of flavor. I craved the next bite after finishing the first. This was almost a religious experience for me. We all shared a little bite of our different steaks and it was unanimous that my steak was something to behold.

Miller & Lux was a fun treat for the culinary senses and elegant fun. The beloved 'Crumbsweeper made an appearance. The dessert cart was the finish to a wonderful meal. I am still thinking about the 45 day dry aged steak. Fantastic!!!! 

My apologies for the crappy photos. I left the house without my camera and used a phone. It turns out my phone had a crack in the lens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


Is it too early to celebrate Christmas with the traditional Holiday fruitcake? Not in my book, because I love fruitcake. Frog Hollow Farms is selling their Holiday cake and it sells out quick. The ingredient list uses the descriptor "Organic" many times. This is reflected in the premium price tag associated with ownership. It does include dried plums, dried peaches, candied orang peel, walnuts, molasses and other ingredients. The last ingredient I will mention is rum. This is one boozy cake.

This cake comes in a fancy metal tin. The cake is wrapped in a muslin cloth to retain booze and moisture. When you remove the lid step back and be prepared to become overcome with alcoholic vapors. This cake is very moist. There was not small chunks of dried fruit like a traditional cake. The fruits had been pureed to make this a smooth texture with some small walnuts throughout. This is a very nice cake. This is a fruit flavored smooth textured booze bomb that works. Hot damn it's Christmas.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


  The Best Bacon in the Country proclaims Mahogany Smoked Meats of Bishop California. I had to find  out for myself and ordered a four pound slab to be delivered. Mahogany Meats uses a double smoking method for 24 hours which is not really explained. They also use mahogany wood as their smoke addition. I received my shipment in a Styrofoam box with some ice packs. I removed the shrink wrap to release the most wonderful smell in the country and possibly the whole wide world. The aroma wafted throughout the kitchen perfuming the air with pleasant comforting smoked meatful delights. This slab had the perfect ration of fat to meat. We immediately brought out the black iron and fried up a couple of rashers. This bacon had the perfect cure of sugar and salt. Sometimes bacon is cured on the sweet side causing the sugars to caramelize, char and even burn. This was not the case and the frying created a crisp product that brought a tear to my eye. Yes, Yes, Yes, this was bacon perfection. The pork flavor shined and complimented the fat, smoke, sweet, salt and texture of this bacon. Is Mahogany Smoked Meats the best in the country? I am not sure but it is most excellent and receives the Chilebrown seal of approval. I will continue my search for the Gold Standard.

Thursday, November 4, 2021


The ballots have been cast. There was a tie for the most votes. This Mad Meat Genius is now an officer titled Board of Directors of the Galileo Club. I was a little shocked to tie with the most votes cast. I take office in January 2022 for a two year term. Long live Ravioli.

This last week the national newsletter of the Kanas City Barbecue Society was distributed electronically. Ms. Goofy and I made page 34 of their publication called the Bullsheet.  It has been a crazy week.


Saturday, October 30, 2021


Yours truly is running for office. I have never been a politician and actually have turned down positions of leadership in the past. I was asked to run for the Board of Directors at the Galileo Club. The Galileo Club is an Italian social club that I frequent. I presently attend dinners and do volunteer work. Apparently I have been noticed and the Board thought I would be a good fit. This humbled this Mad Meat Genius especially when you consider I am not even Italian. There are four spots open with 6 candidates running. I will run on the "Ravioli Platform". The election is this Wednesday and I have no idea what the results will be. One of the perks of being a Board member is free pasta. I have my fingers crossed. 


Saturday, October 23, 2021



We are on a wild journey to Black Star Pirate BBQ. I do mean journey. The location is somewhat of a challenge to navigate. One must drive into the Richmond San Rafael Bridge toll lanes and take the last exit before hitting the bridge. You then drive through a historic abandoned Navel fuel depot. You think you have hit a dead end and there is a sign pointing up a narrow, steep winding road. Carefully navigate this road and at the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Point San Pablo harbor. You still need to be careful making your way down the winding road to the large parking lot. We have arrived.

This is a working harbor that has a lot of history. Nearby was a whaling station. I used to go fishing from this harbor on charter fishing boats. When you get out of your car you will notice whimsical art installations. You will see the entrance to Black Star Pirate BBQ by the colorful sign. I immediately get a 60’s type vibe with the colors and flower child themed decoration.  There is a sign board with the menu and a hostess to take your order. Once your order is placed you have a choice of seats indoors or out. The inside is a very old coffee shop that is very busy with employee activities. There are numerous seating arrangements outside. This place is set up to handle a crowd. There is a stage for music. Most seats have a view of the Bay and the harbor. It is a fun and scenic way to eat your meal.

I ordered ribs, brisket and it came with my choice of sides; mushrooms, cole slaw and beans. It was delivered on a cafeteria type tray. It looked spectacular. One eats with their eyes first and I loved it before I even took a bite. I started with the ribs. They were not trimmed of excess fat. The rib had a crisp crust of seasoning and fat. I am not even mad. I took a bite and out oozed some of some of the most heavenly pork fat that has ever existed to mankind. WoW!. They were fall off the bone and I tasted a real pork flavor. I wonder if this was some heritage breed of pork. The brisket was very tender with deep beef flavor. It was seasoned very well and was very enjoyable. These meats were served with a generic bbq sauce but it was not needed

The sides were hitting on all garlic cylinders. I love mushrooms and these were rich and full of garlic. The assortment of beans was tender, rich and satisfying. Again, a garlic theme was present. Maybe I had achieved garlic overload but the Cole slaw may have had a kiss of the stinking rose. 

Overall Black Star Pirate BBQ is a destination restaurant. Be prepared for a drive and rewarded with a fun dining experience. This is not competition bbq but who cares when the food is passionately made with great results. The grounds are fun, making for a most enjoyable meal.  I hope for success for Black Star Pirate BBQ.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


I was just informed by an alert reader that Belcampo has shuttered their restaurants and meat markets. Belcampo is not a victim of the pandemic but of SCANDAL Accusations that go back as far as May infer the company sold meat cuts by other purveyors and labeled them as their own. Meat that was cornfed raised by traditional methods and bought for 10 dollars a pound was then resold as grass-fed Belcampo meat. It was then resold for 47 dollars a pound. Co-founder Anya Fernald claimed this was an isolated incident and the Santa Monica store did not follow protocols for sourcing products and failed to inform customers on the true origins of the meat products. This was fraud and went against all the principles that Belcamp claimed they stood for.
  I have mixed feelings about the closure. The concept of Belcampo was farm to table using sustainable farming practices. They charged a premium price to participate in their philosophy and products. One has to applaud and appreciate the business model. The line was crossed by possible greed. R.I.P. Belcampo


Saturday, October 16, 2021



This was an unplanned Meat Adventure but when the opportunity knocks one must seize the moment. I actually was at the Livermore Farmers Market and I parked a block away from the Livermore Butcher Shop. This was a nice local butcher for the people of Livermore. It is a small shop but packed full of meaty delights. There was a lot of employees present to handle any rush of customers. When I walked through the doors I was a little blown away by the selection of meats and accompaniments. The left refrigerator case started with house made sausages.. Moving counter clockwise the nest two cases had various cuts of premium pork, beef and lamb. The final separate refrigerator was dedicated to game.

Mustards, sauces, oils and vinegars aligned the busy shop shelves in the center of the store. It was a little overwhelming because there were so many food items that caught my eye. I initially scanned the refrigerator cases, then the condiment selection and repeated. My instincts brought me to the house made sausage case. Now I had to decide which flavor out of  almost a dozen diffenrent flavors. The clerk was patient answering my questions.

I ultimately chose an Italian sausage and a Southwestern sausage. The Southwestern pork sausage is pictured. It had mild chile and cheese throughout. It was spiced with cumin, oregano, cilantro and various other spices. It had a very comforting and warm (not pepper hot) flavor. Ms. Goofy complimented the snap of the casing.
  We will return to Livermore Butcher Shop to explore more of their meat offerings. I was pleasantly surprised and not prepared for this meat adventure. I could return for just the selection of mustards they carry. The locals are lucky to have the Livermore Butcher Shop. 

Monday, October 11, 2021


 This Mad Meat Genius attended the Blade Show West in Long Beach California this weekend. I stayed in the Swanky Hyatt right across from the Convention Center. Across the street was a bunch of chain restaurants which included “Q Smokehouse”. It was a no brainer to walk across the street and give it a try. Walking through the door my senses were assaulted with BBQ kitsch. It reminded me of a Famous Dave’s. I actually kind of like it. It is fun and puts one in the mood to be delighted. I was seated immutably.

The menu had the 4 meats represented. Brisket and pulled pork with beans and slaws was my choice today. It was delivered on a paper lined cafeteria tray. The presentation was very nice showing the kitchen took pride in their food. I dug in and was pleasantly surprised. This offering of bbq meat and sides was actually pretty good. The meats were not competition style but I was not expecting that either. The brisket was a tad dry but slathered in the sweet house brand sauces made for a beefy treat. The sides were good with the cornbread winning this round. It was cakelike, warm and delightful. Smokehouse Q was a good choice for dinner. It hit on a lot of cylinders. Do not expect competition bbq but expect to have fun and a decent enjoyable bbq meal.

Sunday, October 3, 2021



Ms. Goofy and I were doing our happy dance in anticipation of the "Pig Jig" bbq competition to be held in San Jose California. BBQ competitions are few and far between these last several years and it is a joyous occasion to break out our judges badges. Today's competition was a fundraiser for the NephCure Kidney International organization. The teams were all corporate sponsored. We did see a couple professional cooks today but it was all for a good cause. Let's get right into the competition. Ribs , tri-tip and a very fun third category called; "Wild Card". Be prepared to become hungry.


Yes, it was crazy. Squid to cheesecake made for some very interesting and tasty treats for the judges. Did I mention we did have some traditional bbq ribs. Each corporate team had their decorated cook site. They would offer food and swag to all participants. This event was not open to the public. One must be on a team or a donor to get an invitation to this event. There was live music, bouncy things for kids, ice cream trucks, photo booths and even an axe throwing venue.


What a great day for fun, sun, bbq, and a category Wild Card that impressed. We left with a full belly and big smiles on our faces. It is always nice to know the day was dedicated to a good cause.