Recently in REVIEWS Category

MississippiC001.jpg

Alright, gather close. Raise your hand if you've driven by a restaurant or food truck and swore to yourself that you really need to stop by and see what they're up to? Yup, nearly all, myself included. Okay, how many of you drive past the same place day after day, week after week, then year after year saying the same damned thing? Oh, comon, tell the truth. Yup, nearly all, myself included.

Back when they started up, in the parking lot of Mel & Son's Muffler, they were in a stark white catering trailer. Even had tables set up outside for people to enjoy their food stuffs. They spent 7 years there, and a few years ago moved in to a brick & mortar building right next door. I drive past anywhere from 4 to 6 times a day, watching & waiting. What a noodle, why not just stop the hell by and see what's going on?

It wasn't until I saw a smoker on a trailer puffing mightily away that I started twitching and biting my lip. Okay, I give up, you got me.

Parking is a little odd what with being surrounded by auto related service stations, not a biggie though. The place is exceptionally bright and clean, very inviting and well taken care of. A few tables in the center with the kitchen facing you in the back. If Pops is there, the conversation is boisterous and all smiley. Earlier in the day his son is in the kitchen, I hear his daughter comes in later in the day. Ordering was easy because the son helped, me. I mentioned I'd never been and looked lost. He suggested the Lunch Delight with 2 pieces of catfish, 3 hushpuppies, slaw or fries for $7.25. And it comes with a soda !!!

MississippiC002.jpg

Ain't that somethin'? The cornmeal coating on the fish is thin, tasty and has a nice toothy crunch. The meat is firm, yet yields, then goes down quickly. I've been 3 times now and so far I've never just received 2 pieces, it's always been a bit more. The hushpuppies were perfect in every way, crunchy on the outside, creamy steamy on the inside with nice savory wafty flavors. On the first one I did the fries, having 3 fried things at once was too much. On the second visit I ordered the slaw, was good, had raisins in it, didn't ask if they make it er not. Oh, make sure you ask for an extra hot sauce packet or two if you're getting it to go. It comes with 1, 1 is not enough and they're happy to oblige.

All in all it was an uplifting experience with really tasty catfish & hushpuppies. Heck, I'd pull off the freeway for those 'puppies! Oh, and the best part? I've always been the only white boy in there!

Mississippi has other items on the menu as well, snapper, prawns, wings (I think) and L&D BBQ Thursday through Saturday. Start with the catfish, yes start there and move your way around the menu as you see fit. I'll get to the que as my budget and time see fit.

xo, Biggles

Mississippi Catfish, inc.
12440 San Pablo Avenue
Richmond, CA 94805
510.682.5377

Wellness001.jpg

I received this meat for free, I did not pay for it. I was asked kindly if I wanted some free meat to review on Meathenge. I contemplated this on The Tree of Woe until the answer came to me, "Free meat? Shit yeah!"

These two meats kinda surprised me, first I wasn't expecting beef bacon and when I see the word tri-tip I think roast. I held these two little guys and giggled, "This ain't no tri-tip." And brother, or sister, I know tri-tip, I'm from California. It's supposed to have 3 tips to the roast and these were little meat logs. Next, I kinda stared at the beef bacon, a little disdain coming forth. You see, both myself and Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius are bacon snobs. He and I have been through quite a bit of bacon that was not made from a pork product and it's rarely above mediocre. This isn't because it was bad or whatever, but it's tough to beat grilled pork belly bacon. We'll have to see.

This last week we were lucky enough to have not only a dry week (rain, not booze), but the days got up to the high 60 degree mark. What with the mold problem in our tiny home, I spent each evening grill-side cooking dinner. Even if it was dark and had to cook by flashlight, it was a necessary therapy.

If'n yer interested, click on through to the other side and let's see how all this came out, eh?

IMG_0001 copy.jpg

Editor's Note: Joe Bob of Denver CO, our ace reporter out standing in his field, checks in with this most awesome taco lead.


IMG_0007 copy.jpg

After commenting on the Ice House in Ozona, TX I had to run down the street to Tacos Tijuana for a end of 2009 Meathenge review.

This joint has been here about forever and has the best tacos in Denver. I grabbed 4 pork units to go and it cost me all of $4.28. They serve all kinds of other great Mex food which I have had but for a quick lunch this can't be beat. The usual double corn tortilla with pork and required pork lube, grease, flowing everywhere. Topped with onions etc.

I provided the hard cider which has a fancy label but is bottled over in Modesto by E.J. Gallo. Taste more like Gallows though. Yikes. Tijuana is open 7 days a week and often runs an outdoor spit under a pop up tent for quicker taco fixes. Complete with ethnic jukebox. A must stop when in NW Denver.

Joe Bob

Tacos Tijuana
4406 Sheridan Boulevard, Denver, CO 80212
(303) 477-0121 (West 44th. at Sheridan)

Wellness001.jpg

By "review" I mean that I got this bacon for free to see what Meathenge Labs thought of it. Pretty cool, huh? I spent some time reading through U.S. Wellness Meats web site, there's tons of decent content in there. Wellness was founded by John Wood, a fifth-generation farmer. In the beginning he used traditional ranching methods, but over time took a sideways look at how he was doing things and thought there could be a better/different way. Starting in '97 he raised a few of his cuties on a 100% forage diet, rotational grazing and making sure they had the best forage action on a daily basis. By 2000 it was in full swing, the tests proved he could make a better product this way.

I read in their FAQ page addressing how come their not certified organic, made me sick to my stomach. They state it better than I do, so I lifted this from their page without permission:

"All U.S. Wellness Meats pastures and animals have been maintained with organic principles in mind since 2000. Unfortunately, the state of Missouri dropped a state-run organic-certification program and turned it over to a private certifier several years ago. The private certifier wanted 3% of the gross income of the preceding year to maintain the license. We politely said no, and felt if Thomas Jefferson were still alive he would concur. Sadly, greed has infiltrated a noble cause. 50% of the Missouri organic producers have let their certification lapse since this situation was created by the Missouri legislature."

You read that correctly, ranchers have to give up 3% of their income to maintain certification. Sigh.

Anyway, enough of that it's making me mad. I had to take another look at the bacon to make myself feel better. Listen up, they got good bacon! The meat is substantial and the fat is creamy, very mild & clean odor upon opening up the package. I preheated an old 14" cast iron fry pan and set to cooking, used a bacon press. It's nice and thick, so it takes a bit to brown and finish. Once it was patted dry with paper towels, it went in to my mouth. Excellent meaty texture on the teeth, low on the sweet cure, a good clean finish. For my package, I noticed it was quite lacking in smoky flavors, kinda surprised. A while back I had a chance to get two packages of bacon to try, one was smoky, one was not. So, I can't say whether the lack of smoke flavors is typical or just something that happened. Maybe it wasn't rotated and/or flipped in the smoker, that could have been it. I just don't know.

In any case, I'm going to give this pound of bacon 3.85 out of 5. With good smoky flavors, I would have given it a 4.75 out of 5.

xo, Biggles

No Name Bacon - a review

| | Comments (9)

NoName001.jpg

Lordy, it must have been 3 weeks ago when Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius gifted me more than a few pounds of No Name Bacon. It wasn't long after when he posted his review of No Name Bacon. He and Ms. Goofy are a machine, they can get it done. I'm not a machine, I'm lucky to find clean underwear and get my wagon gassed up on a weekly basis.

After going through 2 pounds ourselves here at Meathenge Labs and 1 pound to my sister and husband Meathead, we're giving the No Name Meat Company more than a few thumbs up.

NoName002.jpg

It's a good, solid commodity bacon. Good fat to meat ratio, great smoke flavor while cooking, good smoke flavor for eating, a nice semi-low sugar content with an easy finish.

If you see it, and want good bacon, buy it. This bacon is Meathenge Approved.

xo, Biggles

DeepTurkey001.jpg

Earlier this year I received an email from a large ad agency, a man wanted to know if I was interested in reviewing Butterball's new table-top deep fryer for turkeys. Hmm, free fryer and it's large enough for a turkey? Duh. We'd chatted via email a few times for over a year, wasn't just some nameless droid in a cubicle somewheres, actually had a personality and seemed to get Meathenge. Butterball's version of the Masterbilt turkey fryer wasn't out yet, was going to have to wait a few months, no big deal.

DeepTurkey002.jpg

It finally arrived! Pretty darn large box, pretty darn large fryer. I opened it up and peered in. I looked, crooked muh hillbilly neck a bit and exclaimed, "Dang, no turkey is going to fit in that basket!" You see, I had a 5.2 lb chicken in the fridge and compared sizes, using just one eye ball. No way. I pulled and checked the instructions, up to about a 12 lb turkey, maybe 14. 11-12 lb was optimum, and it showed the little bird laying inside the basket. I wasn't seeing it in reality though.

Those of you who know, finding a turkey under 12 pounds is nigh impossible in the off season, this being not Thanksgiving. Birds that small are a special order and even then youse takes yer chances. So, over the next few weeks I stalked the local mega marts, searching for my tiny bird. I finally found one, just under 12 pounds. Set to the fridge to thaw for the next week.

I could have gone fancy here with a brine, herbs, bacon stuffing or whatever, but I wanted to do a test run and see what the scoop was. Once that's taken care of, then one can move on to some fancy steppin'. I got a real shocker on my next stop to my local grocery, 10 dollars a gallon for inexpensive cooking oil! And this cooker requires a full tub of oil, that's 2 gallons to deep fry a turkey. While that is a lot of oil, that's about 3 gallons less than the outdoor propane powered situations. Of course they'll do a 14 pounder with ease, I'm still not convinced this table-top model will do a 12. I had my turkey, I had 20 dollars worth of cooking oil and I had the time, it was deep fry turkey day!

Translation: It was Thursday night (a work night), after a week in the fridge it still wasn't thawed, it was dark out and I was having second thoughts about having 2 gallons of 375 degree oil on my counter and nobody around to call 911 for me. I'd just got over putting a burning ember hole in my left foot and the thought of deep frying myself wasn't making me feel very good. So, I called my sister and brother inlaw over.

30 minutes later they were here, the oil was at 375, the turkey was thawed (soaked it in cool tap water), then thoroughly dried inside and out. It was time. I've deep fried things quite a few times and know now that one wants to lower the food slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y. With the instructions in my left hand, I lowered the turkey with my right, set the timer for 48 minutes and closed the lid.

DeepTurkey003.jpg

The fryer has a filtered lid, so while there was quite a bit of steam, the smell of cooking oil was really minimal. After the 48 minutes went by, this is what I got. Um, not a bad looking bird, eh?

As expected it was moist, juicy from one side to the other. The breast meat was a little over done, would cut the cooking time down to 40 minutes next time. I rarely have over done breast meat, so I was kinda shocked at that. Still more than perfectly edible and it was consumed right there in the kitchen.

One can probably guess the bird fit just fine in the basket, I would not recommend anything over 12 pounds though. It'd be stuffed too tightly in the basket and would not allow the oil to completely cover the bird, and this is what you want for the best possible golden brown results. The machine seems to be built well enough, everything removes easily for cleaning. It's got a drain pipe for the oil and it's large enough so you don't have to wait 20 minutes for all the oil, nor does it get clogged with bits. I left the machine on my counter for 2 days with the lid closed to see how smelly it might be and I have to say it was nearly undetectable. I did wake up the next morning with the Deep Fried Kitchen Smell, but it was easily dissipated with a few hours of open doors. No oil spray on cabinets, thank goodness. A cool feature I noticed while fumbling with the power cord, it's held on to the unit with magnets. Which means if something happens, all you have to do is give it a gentle whack and the power is separated from the unit. As for clean-up, the oil tub and basket fit in my dishwasher with the top rack removed. All in all, I give this fryer two greasy thumbs up.

I did notice the box and instructions boasted that you could also use this fry for steaming and boiling food. I haven't tried it, but I do know something about table-top fryers, once you use them as intended, they're a dedicated machine. Getting that fried oil smell out is near impossible and any steamed or boiled food would have a fried oil flavor, so I wouldn't actually plan on using it as such. You can try of course, but don't be surprised when your taters come out tasting like yer oil.

DeepTurkey004.jpg

All that said and done, I'm not hip to the deep fried turkey thing. 20 dollars worth of oil, gone. While the clean-up was "easy", it's still a pain in the ass. And now I have 2 gallons of waste oil I have to drive down and dispose of properly at our local hazmat dumping site. No waste cooking oil can be put in our recycling bins. But Biggles, it was oh so tasty, isn't it worth it? Um, I like my turkey roasted in the oven, it's a personal thing.

If deep frying a turkey is something you want to try or something you enjoy regularly, this rig will do it and with far less oil than the larger outdoor method. It's safer too! No 911 call was made.

xo, Biggles

Author's note a day later: I understand I can filter and reuse the oil. The issue is that I wouldn't get around to using it for 3+ years. Annnd, just because I reuse the oil 2, 3, 4 times doesn't mean I still don't have to have it properly disposed of. Cheers!

McBees002.jpg

Editor's Note: This just in directly from Hondo Texas. Joe Bob and JLee are meandering their way through Texas as we speak. Texas Barbecue is on the menu and Shiner's Mesquite Smoked Lager Beer is the grail. Will let you know when the holy grail is discovered.

Meal was great! some of best brisket we ever had. Really good Polish sausage too. chicken was chicken but amazing skin like turkey and rub of some sort. we kept leftovers for later and they did not last long. Brisket had killer smoke ring and crusty outer layer. Most....not that tired dry stuff you normally find on the tour de Texas.
This is brisket country no doubt. No pork yet but we keep searching. Tried another place in Del Rio but that come over tonight. We in Marathon now at cool hotel, RV park and got last room. Now we off to James Evans gallery and French Grocer store. Searching hard for Pearl Beer !! (Search for Shiner you knob!)

McBees001.jpg


Joe Bob

McBee's BBQ
1301 19th St
Hondo Texas 78861
830-426-4045

MirePoix004.jpg

Eeek! The chicky is leaking!

Laurel of Mire Poix sent me some fancy Perigord truffles for review, what do to? Maybe I should ask Tinker and Tanker? They knew what to do! (Odd Richard Scary reference, sorry!)

I checked their web site and they had a nifty recipe for using the truffles under the skin of some game hen action. That's something I could do, enjoy and complete without causing myself any undue grief. But where to find decent game hens? I didn't want to buy the ones at my local grocery and my other haunts just don't have them. I rested on my laurels for a few days and decided I was going to actually have to drive a distance to find what I was looking for, or did I?

While picking up the boys out in Lafayette, I remembered and spied Diablo Foods across the street from where I was idling at a traffic light. Diablo Foods isn't for the feint of heart or the low in wallet funds. Their meat department is vast and well staffed, and breathtakingly expensive. I found what I wanted, good game hens, right there in the middle! Just in case I flubbed a run, I bought 4. Only came to 28 bux, sigh. I succeeded though and was on my way.

I'd had such great success with Kevin of Seriously Good's gastrique recipe, i decided to try it with apricots (there were in season at the time). And instead of actually following Mire Poix's recipe (rules are meant to be broken), I decided to smoke the birds instead of roasting them or using their sauce.

I shaved the truffle and slid it under the skins, rubbed with salt-free butter, then a little bit of kosher salt over all. Install to smoker after the temp has settled, easy peasy. When dark meat has reached 160, pull and let rest. The gastrique recipe is dead simple and comes right together. J was lucky enough to be able to attend that evening and we dined like a king and queen on this exceptionally tasty meal. The truffles lend a nice earthy flavor, so delicate, so nice. The gastrique however, was a complete miss. It didn't pair with the dainty truffled bird whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, the apricot simmered with butter & vinegar was amazing, but it completely missed its mark. Oh, we suffer so. All things said, it was a great way to dress up those little birds and we enjoyed the meal greatly.

Thank you so much Laurel for thinking of me and my staff here at Meathenge Labs. Your gift was most certainly enjoyed and appreciated!

Biggles

MirePoix003.jpg

As everyone knows, I can cook. I do cook, but I don't consider myself someone who cooks. My mettle hasn't been tested in way too long, sad really. So when Laurel of Mire Poix the premier site for foie gras, truffles & caviar offered to send me a bevy of fresh fancy pants ingredients to review, I jumped in with both feet.

Then I spent a week losing sleep and fretting about every little angle. In my cooler were fresh duck chops, fresh truffles, truffle butter & rillettes du perigord. I decided to break it up in to a few posts so I didn't lose all my marbles (don't have many to begin with).

My first email, then a phone call was to Kevin D. Weeks of Seriously Good, "Halp!" He and I have been online buddies for quite some time and I needed a little reassurance and guidance. Given he does this kind of stuff both in the kitchen, teaching and in written word for a living, I figured he'd calm my squirrelly ass down. He did and I was on my way with a list for a 12 hour brine and a peach gastrique (French sweet & sour sauce), hot smoke that duck!

All seems simple, right? Ha! Yeah sure, later that same day I came home with a few pounds of absolutely amazing FREE cherries. Peaches? Cherries? Duck, oh my. It was then I remembered that Rick the retired butcher used to make a cherry & apple brine for his fowl and it was fricken amazing, I wanted THAT brine. See, if I'm going to take the time to brine something, I want more than just salt and sugar, seems like a waste of time to me.

Ain't it fun taking something simple and throwing a wrench in to it? It's what I do best. Hell, I could have just salted the duck and grilled it. But I felt I should pay some respect to the duck and Laurel for sending over free food.

MirePoix001.jpg

I really took my time and was careful with it all, got the duck in the brine without any mishap. It was halfway through the brining that I realized, Rick still makes money off this brine. But then I thought, anyone who gives me a recipe or has their picture taken of me surely has to know it's going to be on the internet for all to see. But out of respect (this doesn't happen that often) I called Rick back and talked to him about it. Sure enough, he wasn't comfortable letting his labored over brine recipe hit the streets. Figures. Here I am, Meathenge and I can't give you the exact recipe. I love my life, and what I've done to it.

So, let's just say I brined the duck and leave it at that, eh?

Next up the gastrique, eeek! French cooking oh my! As I found out pretty darned quickly even an anxiety ridden hillbilly with no hair can make one of these sauces. I had planned on doing a test run, but in my traditional way of doing things, I didn't. It was dead simple and can whip one up without even giving it a second thought today. And if you haven't made or tried one? You need to. The absolutely amazing flavors will astound you. The rich bright flavors of the fruit, then the tiny bite of the vinegar muted with the rich love of the butter and shallot cannot be matched.

Oh! I have a funny story! Kevin sent me a link to his recipe, which when I needed it, could not locate. I did what I hate to do, pull one off the net, look over the ingredients and procedure and make it in my mind to see if it might do the trick, I found one! A few days after I'd made it? I noticed it was Kevin's recipe at about.com. Dang.

Fruit
Butter
Shallot
Sugar
wine or cognac
vinegar
salt

See? What part of that doesn't totally rock, here's his recipe for: Gastrique - French Sweet and Sour Sauce

When the sauce was done, I waited for the duck to get to 160 and pulled it. Truly smoked it in the traditional sense with a hunk of peach wood for flavor that Chilebrown gifted me. I let it rest a bit, sliced and poured some sauce over it. The duck was fork tender with a solid but not nearly overpowering waft of smoke. The gastrique was a compliment and didn't even remotely over power the duck, oh lovely duck meat!

But now the true test, would my picky 14 and 9 year old boys dig it as much as I did? The 4 chops never left the cutting board in the kitchen, oohs and ahhs were heard during the entire time. They talked to nearly everyone they saw over the next few days saying how good the smoked duck with a peach gastrique was. The look on people's faces, then staring at me. Oh yeah baby, I can cook.

Thank you to Laurel, thank you Kevin, thank you Rick and thank you Chilebrown for an outstanding meal. If you can't get such things locally, then Mire Poix of Napa California can get you what you need.

xo, Biggles

ps - There's more to come from Mire Poix, stay tuned!

GaryWest.jpg

Well now, it looks as though Meathenge has turned in to Jerky Review Henge. Gary West Smoked Meats in Jacksonville Oregon sent me a good sized box filled with jerky treats. Doin' the jerky dance!

As you can see, the jerky comes in thickish round sticks, not in sheets nor is it in flat strips. They have bison meat, elk meat, beef meat and all the flavors are represented. It's one of the few jerkies we've had here that are on the softer, juicier side. Just take a look at the picture above and you'll see, ain't it nice?

I rate Gary West among the top, the meat is natural and well cared for. The recipes are solid and taste great. The standout though were the Cajun Steak Strips. If I were to order, I'd get a gallon of those. The pungent flavors that this flavor brought forth are worth a ninth trip!

While this post is short, Gary West is long on flavor and quality, did I mention I really, really liked the Cajun Steak Strips?

Gary West Smoked Meats

Biggles

CastIron002.jpg

Big D emailed me more than a few weeks ago and had stumbled on this new product (came out in June). This new product is a cast iron grate that is a replacement for the old chrome grill in a Weber kettle. Cool, eh? He emailed the guy extolling Meathenge's virtues and said I just had to have one for review. Who am I to argue about such things?

CastIron001.jpg

It showed up directly and I monkeyed with it, figuring on dusting off my old kettle and seeing what this new fangled thing could do on a Meathenge Review. The deal was, the following weekend the boys and I were due up in Calistoga for fun and merriment. I usually cook in a hole in the ground, makes things so much simpler and less expensive. Not only do I not have to haul a grill up, but Jeffrey doesn't have to buy one just for me to have when I'm there. Just toss an old grate on a few rocks and we're done. An epiphany, I'll bring the cast iron grate and use that over a hole in the ground! Duh.

I'm glad I thought of it. Sunday afternoon found me cleaning out my hole, the rocks were in fine shape. A fire was started, let it mellow a bit and set the grate down. It's pre-seasoned, all ready to go. I grilled sausages, chicken parts, country style pork ribs, bacon directly and a beef tri-tip roast and all came out perfectly. It was a dream to cook on, although squatting next to a fire pit for 3 hours does have its drawbacks. Ouch!

The inventor contacted all the major players for distribution of this grill and had no takers. Personally, I believe they really screwed themselves. Now it's being sold directly, bypassing all the major corporations, go man go!

I will be doing another review wherein I install this to my kettle, but I felt this product really needed to hit the street sooner than I could get that ready. And this was a perfect opportunity to test its mettle, heh. It performs exceptionally well, the build quality is high and it's a joy to use. I know the 2 guys that have weber kettles at the party will be ordering this very soon. Don't even remotely wait to order yours, you need it. Remember, you're not sending your hard earned money to some large corporation, you're sending it directly to the guy who invented it.

Craycort's Cast Iron Grate replacement for the Weber kettle grill. Price is approximately 85 bux for the 22.5" one.

Biggles

CastIron003.jpg

Orion001.jpg

I don't know where to start with this one. I am proud of myself for waiting 24 hours to post this though, gave me a chance to calm down and catch my breath.

What is an Orion Cooker? It's a stainless steel rig that cooks your food by convection, the heat source doesn't see the food. The food is placed inside, on racks or hanging from racks, the match-lite charcoal (manufacturer's spec) is placed in the tray that surrounds the outside bottom of the cooker and in a little tube pot thing up top. Smoking chips are placed inside between the drip tray and the cooker's outter wall. Once all that is done, put the lid on and light the charcoal.

For 3 racks of baby back ribs, you do nothing for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Pretty neat, eh?

Since I knew a real wood fire wouldn't be introduced to the food directly, I had an idea as to what kind of smoked product to expect. It's really good, juicy, smoky, but lacking the character only a real fire can introduce.

Um, I didn't get that. I spent nearly 40 bux on 3 slabs, I didn't get that. What I did get was steamed meat. MmMmmmm, steamed meat. No browning, no smoky flavors, an odd texture and they were over-done. Over-done steamed meat! Oh joy !!! The boys opted for Top Ramen instead. Even a dry rub of 2 kinds of pepper, dried basil, garlic powder and salt produced a very bland product.

After 24 hours of mind numbing reflection and a few conversations, I don't think I added enough smoking chips and I think I should have pulled the meat at an hour or even 55 minutes. Even so, the looks of a pale rack of pork ribs, all funky with moisture, really turned my stomach upside down. I buried a few ribs in some jarred sauce and it was 100% better, so I tossed them in the trash. Even at 100% better they weren't worth keeping.

All that aside, it's an excellent cooker. The damned thing is all stainless steel, built well and built with good thoughts behind it. The screws, washers and nuts are all stainless as well. It went together very easily, every hole matched up and all the threads were perfect.

Considering the briquettes are exposed, small children and pets need to be kept at a safe distance. The instructions say you need about 15 pounds of match-lite, which is about 12 some odd bucks. So, if you're going to fire this sucker up, fill it up. There's no damned sense in putting a 3 pound chicken in there. If you have food that flourishes in steamy heat? This cooker just can't be beat.

I took a handful of pictures of the Orion Cooker and they came out really great. Come for the pictures, leave when the food arrives.

xo, Biggles

Descoware.jpg

I've been monkeying around on ebay since no later than '98. And, only 4 years ago put myself on an absolute rule, don't go unless you're actually looking for a specific thing. Don't go, don't do it and never, ever after 6pm. Man, the crap that's shown up on my doorstep! I'm not the only one, am I?

Been wanting another enameled cast iron oven for a long time, years. Odd that I only have 1, but there it is. To be honest, the cost has kept me away. Rarely, if ever, do I buy anything new. Cameras and kitchenware can be had used, in great condition, a great price and usually of higher quality than I can afford new.

Last week, after my other Descoware Danish Oven developed a chip during some over-heating abuse, I decided just to look on ebay to see what there was. I still use the old oven, but can't store leftovers in it over-night, gets all rusty. Other than that, it's still in weekly use.

That's when I saw her, an unused Descoware 5 quart oven, in the original box with the original sticker on the front from 40 some odd years ago. The starting bid was 1/4 what a new Le Creuset is, I put in my bid of just a tad over. My first bid is my only bid, I gauge what I'm willing to pay and not a penny more.

I won.

Check that sucker out! You may or may not have heard about the ol' Descoware name. They started out in the 1940's and through the 1960's were plugged by famous chefs world-wide. Julia Child made mention of them and plugged them quite frequently on her cooking show way back when. The attention to detail, the quality of the cast iron and enameled coatings are unsurpassed, even today. Everyone's favorite color for enameled cast iron is Flame, that's an easy one right? Yeah, that was created first by Descoware. The signature dark grey interior of yore? Yup, Descoware first.

I tried it out last night and it was quite similar to using a non-stick combined with cast iron, flippin' amazing. I'm glad I decided to take a quick peek in to ebay, only if to look and see.

xo, Biggles

KingCompetition.jpg

I was looking at putting this together last week, but couldn't come with an angle that pleased me. Me & briquets parted ways over 10 years ago and I never looked back. I found that mesquite gave me what I was looking for in grilling and smoking. Plus it didn't have that telltale sign of a sulfurous smell during and after cooking. Why am I worried about what my smoker smells like after the fact? Grills aren't so fussy, but if your smoker gets tainted by creosote (smoldering fire ((brown smoke)) or similar nasty smells, it'll wind up on your food! Don't believe me? Take some oven cleaner, spray your kitchen's oven, turn it up to 350 and put a chicken in there. See if your chicken and house doesn't smell like a chemical factory coming to pay a much feared visit? Heh, no drama here, eh?

A few weeks ago a really nice woman working for one of Kingsford's PR companies contacted me, wanted to know if I wanted a bag of their new Competition Briquets. Fewer ingredients, burn hotter and longer. Sure, what the hell. Besides, she's contacted me before over the years and wanted to finally take part in something fresh.

Up until this last Friday, still couldn't come up with an angle. I googled a few things and read other people's reviews of charcoal, lump or briquet. Man, these people are nuts! In a good way though, they really go all out. Gram scales, infrared thermometers, timed images, comparison to older versions of the same. It was crazy, I sure as hell wasn't going to embark on such a journey. I just don't care that much. There is something I care about though, and that's how my food tastes. Let's see how these new briquets cook and what I can come up with in the arena of flavors, or lack therein.

OffdaGrill001.jpg

I ran off to Joya de Ceren for my meaty choices, they have the best flank steak around and it doesn't cost 9 dollars a pound. Flank steak tacos for lunch and figured maybe a smoked whole chicken for dinner. I used a chimney starter and a few pages from my local phone book (really, who uses these things anymore?), and the briquets came right to life. They smoked a bit and smelled like charcoal briquets. It didn't take long, about 10 to 15 minutes before they were ready to dump in the firebox. I let it go a bit longer, I was in no hurry and wanted to give them some severe heat for a little while longer.

Plus, as it turns out, a wasp was building a nest in the flue of my smoker. I figured this was a great opportunity to play! I got the kids in the house, made sure I had my escape route set up and dumped the briquets in the firebox. I gently closed the smoker and ran in the house. The boys and I spent the next ten minutes with our noses pressed up against the windows attempting to see what was what. The wasp finally came out, lit on the little hood of the flue. He kept trying to fly back down, but couldn't due to the heat pouring out. After a while the little hat over the flue was so hot he couldn't rest on it. Another 10 minutes rolled by and it was clear this wasp wasn't leaving. So, I snuck out to the barn and found my wasp death in a can. It didn't take long to take care of business and check on the briquets.

OffdaGrill002.jpg

These are the new generation briquets from Kingsford. They have these grooves on the back that supposedly allow them to light faster. More surface area, don't ya know. They could very well do that, it makes sense, in a scientific way. And these Competition Briquets are supposed to burn hotter, last longer with less ingredients. This could all very well be true, I don't know. I'm more interested to see what they do to my food. I would also think they'd be very spiffy for camp dutch oven cooking, hotter would be nice!

The flank steak cooked right along, done directly over the hottest coals. Good colors and as you can see, pulled when ready. Tasted just fine to me, the odor I usually associate with briquets wasn't there. After the steak was done, let the coals cook down a bit. Played with them, seemed to hold together just fine. I spent the next few hours adding more (cold, not pre-burned), playing, poking and seeing how they lit when added to a waning fire. As I remember, it used to take a bit to get the fire back up to snuff so you could add the food. That was one of my complaints versus their mesquite or hardwood lump counterparts, adding cold fuel with food on the grill is a nono. They seemed to fire up and gray over pretty quickly.

OffdaGrill004.jpg

After a few hours of goofing off, started prepping the fire for smoking. Added more briquets, got them gray, spread them out and closed the lid on the smoker. After the fire simmered down a bit, tossed on a whole, trussed and salted chicken to the side. Added some hickory chips, got them good and going, closed the lid. Came back about every 30 minutes, stirred the briquets and added more hickory.

I added some briquets halfway through, pre-burned in the chimney so the temp in the smoker didn't dip any further. In about 3 hours I had myself a whole, smoked chicken. Set the sucker aside for 10 minutes to cool. It smelled as it should, nothing that would have lead me to believe briquets had been used. I sniffed the firebox, not too close you knob, to see if I could get the sulfurous smell I remember so well. It wasn't there, eeeenteresting. Of course it didn't smell like mesquite or hardwood leavenings, but it didn't smell bad either. And that my friend, is a good thing.

OffdaGrill005.jpg

OffdaGrill006.jpg

Z and I sliced up the chicken to see what was what. Damn, that was one fine smoked chicken! And you know what? The breast meat was juicy. Ha! I say, "Ha" to you. Nyah. This chicken totally didn't suck, I'm impressed.

To sum it all up, Biggles used charcoal briquets for the first time in over 15 years, now that I think about it. While I found the briquets performance to be as good or better than I remember, and not quite as stinky, I'm not a convert. I'll still be using mesquite or hardwood lump, it's my preference. But I have to give it to Kingsford, this briquet is not my grandfather's briquet.

Biggles

GreenLight002.jpg

Last week I got a little delivery of some beef jerky, made by the people who contacted me. It was a gift and didn't have to post it. But damn, the stuff is good and well worth the post. Plus the pictures came out really well, I thought.

If you take a look at the Green Light Jerky Company and what they have to offer, you'll see it's different from what many other companies deliver. First off, they make it. They use local ingredients and attempt to make it as organic and natural as they can. There's no nitrates, no msg, no thickening agents, No food colorings. This is real beef jerky. I was sent their #18 Jamaican Jerk flavor, but they have a handful of others to try.

This version was of a medium thickness, on the dry and chewy side. Maybe 1" wide and 6" long. Once it hit the palate, the spices and herbs began to fly. Since it's "home made" one piece may have some different flavors from the others, and that's a good thing. On a finish, it was rich, nice and the habanero came in to play (heat).

If you're not going to make your own, then then these guys have it covered. I'm impressed, it's good jerky!

GreenLight001.jpg

Biggles

BillsPeppered.jpg

Editor's Note (that's me, eh): There's going to be a few of these jerky reviews and am going to use the intro from the first one, for all. So, if the first part seems a little redundant, it's because it is, foo.

A few weeks ago the fine people at Jerky.com sent Meathenge Labs a load of jerky for our consideration. MmMmmm, Review Jerky! I smell a party comin'.

A meeting of the minds were scheduled for a mid Saturday get together. These would be, Cookie & Cranky of I'm Mad and I Eat, Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy of Mad Meat Genius, Zoomie of Zoomie Station, Sourdough Monkey Wrangler & his monkeys (even if for a few moments to share some home brew) and a good friend.

If you so choose, please visit for a few snapshots of the afternoon.

Here's the new stuff, you knob.

This jerky comes to us in a thin, dry form that takes quite a bit of pull. And I believe I've figured this Western Cut thing out, huge pieces! What I wasn't expecting right off the top was a warm, rich beef meat flavor. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but one can actually see the fat between the meat there, this my good people is a flavor delivery system. It says it has some teriyaki & brown sugar in there, and it does. But there's also wine, which cuts the sweet to some degree so it doesn't go too far. The black pepper is a warm peppery ride that takes a little while to finish. Since it is quite dry and has fat in there, the flavors mingle for quite some time as you chew along.

I like the fact that the meat flavor is given a chance to play, it's a good thing. So far, this jerky brings more to the table than most. An excellent performer and there's plenty in the bag for everyone.

Thank you so much Jerky.com for your care package, we enjoyed the afternoon greatly.

Biggles

PS - My new glasses won't arrive to next week or the one after. I'm using an old pair from years ago and working on the computer or any reading is quite difficult and makes my head hurt. Not sure what the next few weeks will look like, here.

Jalapeno001.jpg

Editor's Note (that's me, eh): There's going to be a few of these jerky reviews and am going to use the intro from the first one, for all. So, if the first part seems a little redundant, it's because it is, foo.

A few weeks ago the fine people at Jerky.com sent Meathenge Labs a load of jerky for our consideration. MmMmmm, Review Jerky! I smell a party comin'.

A meeting of the minds were scheduled for a mid Saturday get together. These would be, Cookie & Cranky of I'm Mad and I Eat, Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy of Mad Meat Genius, Zoomie of Zoomie Station, Sourdough Monkey Wrangler & his monkeys (even if for a few moments to share some home brew) and a good friend.

If you so choose, please visit for a few snapshots of the afternoon.

Here's the new stuff, you knob.

This is a handmade product from the Oregon Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Hmm, band of Indians? Okay.

At the start of this jerky taste off, I wanted to make sure each one was tasted and reviewed on its own merits. Not to compare it to others, or what-have-you. It had to stand on its own, by itself. To be honest, I don't have much of a sweet tooth, it's more of a meat tooth. Just in case you haven't guessed that already. Not that I didn't enjoy the others, but I like this one a lot. For my own personal tastes, this one hit the spot.

It's fairly thick, medium dry with a good solid chew factor. The fat and the chile pepper quickly send a green spike throughout your mouth. Not too complicated and finishes cleanly. The ingredients list some teriyaki & maple sugar, but they are very subtle. Jalapeno comes in #3 on the list and it shows. I like this jerky and it likes me, I can tell.

Thank you so much Jerky.com for your care package, we enjoyed the afternoon greatly.

Biggles

Pineapple.jpg

Editor's Note (that's me, eh): There's going to be a few of these jerky reviews and am going to use the intro from the first one, for all. So, if the first part seems a little redundant, it's because it is, foo.

A few weeks ago the fine people at Jerky.com sent Meathenge Labs a load of jerky for our consideration. MmMmmm, Review Jerky! I smell a party comin'.

A meeting of the minds were scheduled for a mid Saturday get together. These would be, Cookie & Cranky of I'm Mad and I Eat, Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy of Mad Meat Genius, Zoomie of Zoomie Station, Sourdough Monkey Wrangler & his monkeys (even if for a few moments to share some home brew) and a good friend.

If you so choose, please visit for a few snapshots of the afternoon.

Here's the new stuff, you knob.

Here's a jerky I wasn't expecting, a fruit. Hmm, okay, sure I'll bite. And we did!

This jerky is individually wrapped, very thinly sliced, as you can probably see. Tell you whut, it's huge in flavor. I've never been to The Islands and have always heard that the pineapple served there is by far the best you can get. And in these slices deliver. It's dried, but after a moment it rehydrates and sends a smooth, rich pineapple sensation throughout. I don't detect any smoke flavor, the package lists the ingredients as pineapple & honey. That's it. And brother, it's a winner. We all enjoyed this treat immensely and would most certainly recommend it to anyone, jerky lover or no.

Thank you so much Jerky.com for your care package, we enjoyed the afternoon greatly.

Biggles

Why cry for a soul set free?

| | Comments (8)

TriTipTry002.jpg

The good Doctor Reverend Biggles raises his hands, bends his head towards the heavens and draws forth the roast's true form!

TriTipTry003.jpg

Praise thine meat! Look what you've done for us! Time for 24 hours of marination oh heavenly body.

TriTipTry004.jpg

Bless you my child!

TriTipTry001.jpg

When you are tired and hollow of tummy
Go to the beef roasts we know
And bury your sorrows in eating well.

Dr. Reverend Biggles

GardenValleyNaturalOriginal.jpg

Editor's Note (that's me, eh): There's going to be a few of these jerky reviews and am going to use the intro from the first one, for all. So, if the first part seems a little redundant, it's because it is, foo.

A few weeks ago the fine people at Jerky.com sent Meathenge Labs a load of jerky for our consideration. MmMmmm, Review Jerky! I smell a party comin'.

A meeting of the minds were scheduled for a mid Saturday get together. These would be, Cookie & Cranky of I'm Mad and I Eat, Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy of Mad Meat Genius, Zoomie of Zoomie Station, Sourdough Monkey Wrangler & his monkeys (even if for a few moments to share some home brew) and a good friend.

If you so choose, please visit for a few snapshots of the afternoon.

Here's the new stuff, you knob.

This jerky shows up about twice as thick as the last batch and not quite as dry (this is neither good nor bad, just different). The meat can be cut with your teeth fairly easily. As you can see the texture is quite smooth compared to the last one. It's a very subtle, meaty little jerky, sweet with a little smoky and finishes fairly clean. The ingredient list is quite short and doesn't include all kinds of wacky language or preservatives (read here: I knew what was in there). Chomp!

Thank you so much Jerky.com for your care package, we enjoyed the afternoon greatly.

Biggles

BestBBQBook.jpg

Some things set me off more than others, elderly drivers being cautious does not set me off. Meandering motorists with cell phones glued to the side of their heads sends me in to a fury. Oh and don't even remotely attempt to say anything about that hands-free crap. It isn't the fact that you're holding your hand to your head that distracts you, it's the damned conversation. Moron. I've been reading studies for years about hands-free versus hand-held. The studies have been done from the Federal level, state level, universities and even The Myth Busters. Ah heck, the state of New York went hands-free years ago and they showed no drop in cell phone related collisions. Get it?

Here's another little tidbit you're not going to like, Americans are not the originators of Barbecue. OoOoOoOoOo, there, I said it. Ain't you fuming now?

Rick Browne has sent forth this small tome to take us in to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France (yeah right), Germany, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico (oh yeah baby), Morocco, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Tahiti & Figi, Thailand, Turkey, United States and Uruguay. Phew!

Ten Speed Press published it so you know the layout, photographs, text is all superb. I like this book and hopefully some day real soon I'll get to cook something from it, oh yeah.

So, to sum it all up, this is a good read and a solid performer for recipes from all over the world. I like the book and would be happy if I found it as a gift for this holiday season coming up. Take care and happy fire making,

Biggles

WesternPepper.jpg

A few weeks ago the fine people at Jerky.com sent Meathenge Labs a load of jerky for our consideration. MmMmmm, Review Jerky! I smell a party comin'.

A meeting of the minds were scheduled for a mid Saturday get together. These would be, Cookie & Cranky of I'm Mad and I Eat, Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy of Mad Meat Genius, Zoomie of Zoomie Station, Sourdough Monkey Wrangler & his monkeys (even if for a few moments to share some home brew) and a good friend.

If you so choose, please visit for a few snapshots of the afternoon.

This jerky is quite thin & chewy, broad pieces that can be easily torn for a mowful. The pepper is clearly visible and is the second flavor that rolls in. The first is the sweetness from the brown sugar, the pepper gets brighter and lingers for a while. The meat flavor is quite light and the chew is of an appropriate length, not going on for minutes nor does it disappear quickly. If you're a fan of some sweet with a back of pepper, this is for you!

Thank you so much Jerky.com for your care package, we enjoyed the afternoon greatly.

Biggles

Fatted Calf - The Store

| | Comments (9)

HappyDayOut001.jpg

Over a year ago I stopped posting the weekly Fatted Calf Newsletter. If you ain't hip to their newsletter, it's a weekly note to let everyone know what's going on in their world and the upcoming menu for the Berkeley & Ferry Plaza Farmer's Markets. It was something I did out of inspiration, love and devotion. But it was time to move on, times change. The only thing that didn't change is their love & devotion for all things meat.

If you've been lucky enough to sample any of their meaty gifts, you know of what I speak. I fondly remember showing up each Saturday in Berkeley to see what was new, rely on what's a family standard and to enjoy the market in general. Nearly each week Taylor and/or Toponia had cooked up something special for all, like a kid in a candy store I was! I thought I'd seen just about everything they had to offer over the years. And speaking of years, I triple dog dare you to use the search function here at Meathenge and type in newsletter. There's about 4.5 years worth of posts, pretty crazy.

Earlier this year Fatted Calf opened up their new shop at the new Oxbow Market in Napa. I've been more than a few times and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Again, I thought I'd seen it all.

HappyDayOut003.jpg

Jlee and I sped up early this last Saturday morning for another visit and to check out a small gun shop, just for fun. I found a cool wrist-rocket I knew the boys would enjoy, but guess what I found at the fancy charcuterie masters shop? That's right, hands down the most badass salumi sammich of all time! Nabbed that one big time! I don't know how many different kinds of hand-made pieces of meat were in there, but it was tremendous. The depth of flavor all delivered with a fresh made tapanade with a little more extra virgin all nestled in a wonderfully toothsome sammich roll. Luckily, Toponia was there and we got to hang out a bit and talk about stuff. The weather was cool, overcast with a chance of rain. Her eyes lit up and she reached behind the counter and produced a gratin! A hot, beautiful, steaming gratin that is! As with many items they have for sale, tasting each thing is a huge part of the experience. Floopf the spoon heavily laden with gratin went in to my mowf (I still have the spoon in my pocket, use it for flinging coffee beans at employees). A rich blend of delicious, gooey cheese, finished with some bright tangy version to finish. There's pasta in there! There's onions in there! "I'll take 1 pound please."

These are two things you cannot get at the markets, you have to visit their locale in Napa. You'll probably have to drive, but go. Now. It's worth it, every minute you spend behind the wheel embiggening your carbon footprint is worth it. I have no idea what it cost me, I don't care. I'm going again and again.

Biggles

ps - Check out the pork belly roulade, the gratin and the sandwiches there, see?

HouseBacon001.jpg

Sunday morning, cool & overcast. Slight ocean breezes bring a brief respite from the hellish, smoky airs. A very low rumble begins from down the street, Thor Sr. approaches. He creeps ever so gently to Meathenge Labs, like only thunder can. This Thor Sr. is our neighbor, Mad Meat Genius. A bacon delivery is in progress, oh yes.

TofuYu.jpg

Whoa, whoa whoa, hold on there Tex. I'm a complex man and I got my reasons for posting this. Just hang on a moment and give me a chance. Besides, the damned place ain't even open yet.

Some of you may or may not know, it could very possibly be, a vegetarian dish could be worth eating. Even enjoying, no really. Remember, a large percentage of the world's population eat vegetarian. The deal is tho', they have many dishes per meal, not just one plate o' shrimp.

Mudbugs001.jpg

On March 25th CajunGrocer.com contacted me and asked if I'd like 10 pounds of mudbugs for 'review'. Oh, let me think, YES. Remember them? They were the ones that sent Meathenge Labs a Turducken, yeah that's them.

The little guys come delivered to your door alive, moving, and making this clicking sound like rice crispies in milk. The party wasn't until Saturday, said crawdads arrived on Friday, not a problem. Hose them down, toss into cooler with a bag of ice (drain open), easy enough. But it didn't say whether to leave them all tied up in their sack or not, I decided to let them out in to the cooler. Free range crawdads ... dumb Californian. Wanna come see how it turned out?

Yeah, you heard it right folks. Richmond has its very own coffee roaster and place to drink said coffee beverages. I'm impressed and very thankful that Timber decided to pick our fine city for his place of business. Come inside for some pretty pictures, sorry I don't have any aromas for you!

Especially when you spend nearly every waking moment working your ass off.

It's no secret, Fatted Calf had secured themselves a space at the brandspanking new Oxbow Market up in Napa mumfs ago. So, while keeping their amazing charcuterie running, they were also building a fancy upscale kitchen & butcher shop with retail space from an old tire putter-onner-store. Architects, contractors, inspectors, oh my! Then? Take your entire operation, load it up and move to new an hour north. Do you have any idea what it takes to make a dream like this a reality? Brett does, but that's another story entirely.

Come along with Jlee and myself and see what Fatted Calf is up to at their Grand Opening.

You wanna start a fight? Get the conversation pointed towards bottled vs. filtered vs. tap. Go ahead, I triple-dog dare you.

I buy bottled water from time to time for the convenience only. Good for hiking, driving or whatever. The tap water we receive from EBMUD flat out rules. I've never even remotely considered blowing my hard earned cash on any filtration system. Okay, well I did buy one years ago. You know the ones? Those bulbous things that hangs off your faucet? Yeah, it made me shake and scream. TOSS.

Aquasana wasn't going to have it easy.

Whoa, hang on there Tex, slow down. Listen up, for as long as I can remember I've been a staunch supporter of grass roots organizations. And this woman is someone you want to know more about, at least read the following. This just now rolled in via email and my jaw was open through the entire thing.

YOU GO HANNAH !!! Kick some vegan ASS !!! And of course, this ass that would be receiving the kicking, is a vegan one.

Please read this, now.

This is the cold that never ends,

Yes, it goes on and on my friends

Some people started catching it, not knowing what it was,

And they'll continue being plagued by it forever just because—

You understand correctly, I'm going over week #2 with this fricken cold. It moved in to my sinus bone last Thursday and creates these wonderful headaches. The pain from the bright sunlight actually makes the pain almost bearable. Then it's off to the land of aspirin, yay.

Tee hee, Chilebrown goes on a meat spree in Oregon. Asks me if I want to come over Saturday morning (3 weeks ago) and have a tasting!

What do you think my answer was?

Generic pretty photograph I took the other evening at sundown. Click on the image, can you see the spider web on the left?


This is about as live as you're going to find for a food blog restaurant review. Joe Bob & Jlee are on the road at this very minute, no really. And apparently are in Carrizozo New Mexico.

I have a sneaking suspicion the images won't arrive until after their road trip, but was instructed to get this up immediately. Here's Joe Bob:

We finally found real food and real coffee
on our trip to Big Bend Texas. In Carrizozo
NM of all places. Open for only two weeks,
Planet ZoZo is doing a great business.
Open M-Th 6am-6pm, and F/S 6am-9pm for dinner too.
Chefs Dinner, three or so choices on Friday
and Saturday nights. Vegan friendly but meat
is served. Coffee beans by Ruidoso Roastery
in Ruidoso NM, just down the road 45 minutes.
Fresh beans within hours. Chef, pastry chef,
other employees too. An oasis in the vast desert of NM

113 Central Carrizozo, NM 88301
505-648-5637
Full story and pics to follow upon return to Denver.
Post this now on 'henge please.
thanks
Joe Bob

8:30am this bright Sunday morning found the Biggles with eyes open, yet still on the foggy side of awake. A moment later the throaty snarl of Black Bart making tracks away from Meathenge Labs at breakneck speed reminded me of my porky gift to be.

Yup, Chilebrown has struck again. Along with the Sunday paper, a pound and a half of slab bacon was resting gently. Moments later found our plucky hero with camera in hand and a 12" cast iron pan on the warm.

Slice the bacon Biggles !!!

First things first. This book is published by Ten Speed Press, a local to the San Francisco Bay area. They've had a long history of top notch books ranging from this book here all the way to do-it-yourself bicycle repair. Their Anybody's Bike book was a gift to me from my father back in about 1971. It was cause for celebration cause it was for my first 10 speed. Just so you know, that was a lot of gears back then. In fact, that was the most gears you could get.

So why am I here today with a food guide to Florence, Italy? After oh so many years, I'm on their food book review list! Why in hell is Meathenge having anything to do with traveling and food at such far away places? I'm on their food book review list.

Heh, heh. I'm totally going to open a book written by Emily Wise Miller.

Over a month ago, maybe two now, Alvarado Gardens reopened. The new owners remodeled the aged place that once housed an old-mans bar and barbecue joint. My neighborhood doesn't have a heck of a lot of excitement going on, so having the chance to eat at completely new restaurant is just too juicy to pass up.

While I'd like nothing better than to find out why and how "100% Organic" Bay leaves are different or better than what I get from any other most excellent purveyors in my area. I think I'll take turn with this post. See, Creepy E bought these fine leaves from our local Raley's market for about $7.29. The recipe he had called for Bay Leaves, and he needed some. Being as picky as most of us food types are, he opted for the organic ones. Wanna know what caused him to call the company?

Today we welcome Meathead to the table. Surely you remember the first time we kinda reviewed Smokey's Seafood Gumbo a year and a half ago? Well, the box has new art, let's see what Meathead thought about this lovely workaday lunch.

Take it away Meathead!


I spotted this flyer on the side table the other day, didn't pay much attention. Until I spotted the word Organic on it. What the HELL !?!

Does this matter? For something that has so little cheese in it that it can't have the word Cheese in it for the Canadians? Do we care? I don't and we have 2 boys that love the stuff.

Go save the world somewheres else, please. As JLee is fond of saying, "quiddit".

Biggles

Been feeling itchy lately, wanting to get out of town. This paired with the need for taking a day off spelled nothing less than a Meat Adventure. And to be honest, I've been on a bacon jag for the last month or so and the chance to try a new bacon really give my spine a tingle.

While I don't feel the urge to drive to Sacramento very often, Morants seemed like a good idea for a sunny October morning. Interested to see what bacon Morants gots?

Busy doesn't even remotely come to describe what I've been up to lately. And when I do have time? I'm so exhausted I sit down for my pre-bed nap. So, Monday I took the day off. I owed some friend a load of meat and I wanted to hit the road, do some travlin'.

It was finally time for me to visit Bud's Custom Meats in Penngrove California. But that was Monday Biggles, how come it's Thursday morning and you still haven't tried the bacon? No time, that's why. I thought I just got done telling you that. You did, but then how come this entry? Well, because I had a great idea. What's that Biggles? Since I spend all day at work, why not just fry up the bacon here in my office.

D70.jpg

How do you say thank you to someone who you've only known a short while when they hand you their 1200 dollar camera and say, "Here, borrow mine. We're going on vacation for 2 weeks, you use it." I declined at least 3 times, but she wouldn't have it. Nope, I was to use it in her absence. With a lump in my throat I accepted and we agreed to meet for lunch during the week so I could pick up the gift.

CB001.jpg

Well, it looks as though our buddy and meat pal has gone on a little vacation. This time he hit up 2 places and brought back a cooler or two of fresh sausages and cheese. What does this mean to you and me? Well, for me it means I'll have to get busy and hop in the pickup for a little drivin'. It's a perfect time of year too, I can hardly wait! Come along and have a little sit and see what he and his wife brought back.

Please continue to read Chilebrown's story not written by me.

How many of you have these stupid crazy nutcase passions for things? Raise your hands, excellent. How many of you kinda loose rational thought when even remotely near them? Raise your hands, excellent. Apart from the obivious, I have a few of those quirks myself. One of which being real wood charcoal.

Wanna come see what I did this time?

Every epoch or so I'm compelled to come down from the hills and move about the city streets in an effort to enrich my life. Sometimes it's for fancy restaurant food, sometimes for movies or books. This time I was wrastled out for a musical. I believe a musical is like a play, but it's got a lot of music thrown in there.
Chilebrown said he had a ticket for me if I'd like to go this musical. It sounded like fun and besides, we wanted to visit Big Nates Barbecue.

Sheeyit that's good bacon. And I don't mean just good bacon. No sir, that's good bacon. Wanna know how I know? Cause I probably had 1/3 of that pound I bought, that's how. Interested to know why I ate so much?

Do you ever get that feeling you're the last one on planet earth to find out? Find out that Pappy makes a fricken great out of the jar experience rub? I feel like a dope.
As with many of us food nutcases, I shop at many food related stores. And I find myself at our local Raley's from time to time. I'd go to Safeway, but our demographics won't allow it to be worth visiting. Unless all you need is vinegar or diapers. Anyway, I've been shopping at our local Raley's since maybe 1991. And I remember seeing this rack of seafood spices and jars of glop since way back. Since I don't pay much mind to 'grocery store' mass produced rubs and sauces, I passed it up, and over and up again.
I did until this last week. I decided to finally walk over and see what was in it. Kosher salt flakes, paprika, pepper, coriander, mustard, celery seed, garlic, onion and fine herbs. There's nothing in there that sucks. Well, except the garlic, but that's another rant of mine for another day. This stuff is good, very good. I've used it as a dry rub on meat and last night did stir fried onions over the grill (mesquite and hickory). Mama and I snarfed the onions before the burger! Well, at least I did anyway. Go Pappy go!
Turns out Pappy's Choice Seasoning is only one of many fancy things they make. There's a salt free one that I want too. This version with the salt flakes can get out of hand pretty quick if you don't watch it. But if you do? You'll most certainly be rewarded. I found it excellent on beef roasts, chickens, pork and veggeis. I would think the salt free version would be better for things like soups & stews where you more than likely have enough salt already and don't need to be adding no more saline action.
I think next week I'll place an order for some large containers of this stuff, yessir. Thanks Pappy for making such a nice off-the-shelf product and I apologize for blowing you off for so long. I'll do better!

Biggles

More than a few months ago Chilebrown stopped by to drop off some bacon he'd made and gave me this Air-Grill thingy. It's a hand-held hand driven portable blower that allows you to get a jolt of constant air in to your grill or smoker fire. At first glance it seemed jicky and didn't seem to me that'd blow much air. CB said he felt it worked quite well and I left it at that.
Over the coming months I used it more and more frequently. While I don't need help with getting the initial fire going, when you add cold hunks of wood to an existing fire, it's nice to give it a jump start. Plus it means less of a temp drop in your smoker. My next job for the little beast was to assist the hickory chips to ignite cleaner. See, if you add too much smoking chips to your fire, you'll get a lofty white smoke with clear tinges of brown. That's bad, that's creosote and it's bitter. The Air Grill now allows me to get the chips going, worry free. I consider this tool as essential as my leather gloves, lighter and wood. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be good for dust/coal maintenance for outdoor dutch oven cooking. Thank you CB for the best grill gift EVER.

Biggles

The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least around Meathenge Labs. It's only today I've come to a place where my chakras would allow me to semi-coherently write this without just spending 10 minutes swearing, gesticulating and planning public demonsrations. You see, the compressor on our 3.5 year old, 1200 dollar refrigerator went out, 13 days ago. Where's the repair person? We may see them by June 9th.
While this post isn't necessarily about food, it is about something that nearly everyone has and it holds food. It keeps all your favorite condiments, beverages, icey creams & meat safe. If I were you, I'd sit up and pay attention. Come along for a few minutes, this involves everyone.

top_left_image1.gif

ACK !! HANG ON !!! It's not what you think. Hang with me for a moment.

I'm not a huge fan of frozen meat. I'm not a huge fan of freezing many foods. Ice cream freezes really well and so does stock. Ice cubes are a perfect candidate for your freezer, either a top mounted rig or the fancy bottom freezer models. And I'm still not a fan of frozen meat. Mostly because living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can get some world-class fresh meat on a daily basis with little or no effort. So, why should I bother with Omaha Steaks?

I was sitting there, in my recliner, minding my own business, when a little package arrived with my name on it. I didn't remember ordering anything, but it had my name on it. So, I opened it. Made sense, since it did have my name on it. I turned it over a few times, looking for the word Nikon or All-clad on it, somewhere, anywhere.
Nope, it was a book. "Oh great." I thought, "a book." Hmmm, says Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook. Well, our kitchen is pretty darned small, let's see what Mr. Justin Spring has to say.

A month ago Rworange and I were swapping emails, talking about hot dogs and other meat related news. I said while I really enjoyed a good dog, I really don't keep track of who made what dog for what restaurant and where these people might be. Using a fair amount of zeal, RW mentioned Dittmer's down in Mt. View. I put it on my list of todo's and thought it sounded like a good Meat Adventure.
I mentioned it to Chilebrown, we mulled it. Turns out Uncle Franks BBQ is right around the corner, so we set a date to visit both places.

Are you ready for a Meat Adventure that left a warm homey feeling that I feel even 3 days after? Can you handle it?

Chilebrown sent me an email in late February about a new meat market opening in Moraga. C.B. wanted to know if I'd like to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony and have a Meat Adventure. Gee, I dunno. I considered it for about .0001 of a second and said, "YES".

A month ago or so I picked up the boys from my uncle's place, it'd been Ralph's Day.
See, one day a week the boys get to spend the majority of the day with my uncle doing everything they're not supposed to. Candy, ice cream, sodas, pop corn, top ramen, canned soup and toys in huge quantities, all afternoon long, with no restriction.
While I was attempting to round up the boys (akin to bathing a wild salmon), Ralph mentioned that a close long-time friend of his Cheryl Koehler, is the editor of a new local publication, Edible East Bay.
I know, I know. I mentioned my complete and total lack for food magazines a few weeks ago, so why am I interested in this one? Edible East Bay isn't about New York, it isn't about Sidney, it isn't about Portugal, it's about my neighborhood. And as everyone knows, I'm all about me.

When I pulled Sherlock off the shelf for this shoot, I had no idea there was a little mystery going on. You see, a little over a month ago I got an email from Chilebrown about a deal where if you pay the shipping, you get a free bottle of some new hot sauce. It's name was and is, Tabanero. Back then, right above the name, was the word Tobasco's. I figured it made sense, Tobasco has been branching out over the years. Even if the label didn't have the branding, it said Tobasco's on it. Having a habanero hot sauce made sense to me, so I ordered my bottle. It finally arrived the other night and I was quite pleased. It doesn't have any vinegar in it, but still gives you a nice beginning tang with a nice warm finish. This would be your "go to" sauce for anything you'd want to add spring to. Such as, pretty much anything in your pantry or refrigerator.
Uh, wait a minute there Sherlock. The label seems to be lacking the name Tobasco's on it and those aren't habaneros, they're Selected Red Peppers. Seems as though maybe the Tobasco company had something to say about Tabanero's use of their tradename. Nick at HotSauceBlog also took a whack at the sauce and felt it was quite close to Marie Sharp’s Fiery Hot. Maybe initially, but Tabanero falls off VERY quickly in the heat department. Tabanero is what the little words on the label say it is, Authentic Salsa Picante Mexicana. It is good, but for me has been quite misleading. Even if my mind did translate Tabanero to something containing Habanero.
In any case, I hope the creators can do well after the label fiasco. I'll enjoy the bottle until it's empty.

Biggles

Notice: Adult Language & Content Included (from me and the movie)

This movie has been on my list to review for far too long, it's time to lay this bitch down before it's too late. The title of this film is what grabs you first, whether you read it or hear it. I ordered my copy immediately from LastGasp and Chilebrown ordered the first film by Tina Tankdog, Hot Chick Stoner BBQ. It was hard waiting by the door each day for the maillady to come, peering through the curtains as the sun set each day. Within the week, there she was with my package. Given the content I had to wait until the kids were asleep. Shower, jammies, bed & it was time. In it went ...

The gift giving time of the year is here and some of you are looking for a gift for someone, special or not. Maybe someone who enjoys grilling and/or smoking? A cookbook maybe? But not those cute little books with white wine reduction sauces, not the ones that extoll the use of one grill over another. You're looking for that special cookbook that differs from the others, one that you keep for years due to it's solid content. The receiver of your gift is someone who enjoys cooking outdoors and wants to learn more. Or someone who would like to find out what it's like to compete in the national BBQ circuit. Yeah well, Dr. BBQ (Ray Lampe) a long time professional pitmaster, has stepped up and written a book.
Finally, this overbearing, highly opinionated Master of BBQ has put his knowledge down so those of you who are interested can enlarge your skill set. Read on good friend ...

I don't know. However, I can tell you where not to go, retinning.com.
I'm so mad, evil bucktoothed mad. Crazy, evil, bucktoothed, out of my mind, shaking mad. Got it?
Listen up, for the first time I'm going to swear on Meathenge. So, cover your tender eyes and ears.
I'm really p.o.'d. These lameass fucktards received my most coveted favorite fry pan of all time on 4/28/2005, says so on my invoice. They wrote up the invoice on 5/27/2005 (that's 1 month later in case you're wondering), how do I know? Says so on my invoice. I called, usually just rang and rang. I wrote a few letters asking where my pan was and could they please return my pan. I received a 3" toy pan in late August, nice for melting a teaspoon of butter or an ash tray. Where the heck is my 8" 3mm solid copper FRY PAN ?!?! I called and wrote letters and returned the ash tray (2 mm thickness).
Keep in mind, they never called, wrote, faxed, nothing. Sure, but they cashed my 60 dollar check on the spot! How convenient for them.
Guess what rolled in the other day? It's early November, by the way. An 8" fry pan that resembles mine, but I don't remember putting a sharp divot IN THE BOTTOM OF MY SOLID COPPER FRY PAN !!! Plus the tin is slopped over the edges, all messy. Sure I should be happy to have my pan back and I am. But waiting nearly 7 months and receiving zilch for communication blows whale snot. Screw you Atlantic Retinning, you've left a bad taste in my mouth, PAHTOOEY !!!

Last week I received my little shipment of hot sauces I ordered. Included as a freebie was this teeny little container of Bottled Up Anger. The bottle says it has lime juice, serrano peppers and finishes with the warm heat of the habanero. First off, I LOVE lime or vinegar in my hot sauces, LOVE. It works so well with the fiery hotness and excites the tongue so you're ready for more. I tried some on a cracker and found the cracker muted the flavors too much, so I started taking sips directly from the bottle. And within a few moments? Gone. The lime and serrano hit you first, going back and forth as you refresh the intake. Then, the warmth of the habanero takes you out the door. While it does make you suck fresh air a bit, it isn't nearly overwhelming as some sauces can be. This would be an excellent hot sauce on nearly anything and in soups as a garnish. With the lime it'd excite the rich chickenny or ham flavors greatly.

As you can see it's a pretty liquidy situation and has a few bits of serrano floating around in there. So, this'd go right through a saltine or anything similar. I will be getting a larger container of this soon. I hope it doesn't come in too small of a bottle, because of it's consistency, it'll go QUICK. Maybe I'll just get 2 or 3.

I place this sauce pretty high on the usability scale. It's got enough heat and the lime would take you in to nearly any menu with ease. A definite winner in my book.

Biggles

I've recently rediscovered my taste for hot sauces and hot foods. 10 to 15 years ago we had hot sauces. We had chilies of all shapes and sizes, good ones too. But we didn't have the huge volume of really cool hot sauces being created by the masses. That's right, there's more to life than Tobasco, Crystal & El Yucateco.

Both Meathenge and myself have come a long way over the past few years. Initially, when I put down my thoughts about my local lunch haunts I wasn't necessarily thinking about anyone but myself. What journalistic ethics, if any, am I bound to? Which side of the fence do I lean to? Yeah well, I am NOT getting paid for Meathenge. Everything you see here is paid for by me. I've never received any cash money for my efforts and so, I figure, I'll do what I want to and damned everyone else.
That being said, I think it only fair that if I put up a review that gives a restaurant a hard time for one reason or another, that I should return in the distant future to see if anything has changed. I could have showed up on a bad day, it happens.
Back in 2004, June 17th to be exact, I had lunch at Jones' BBQ. I really tried to like it, but it fell short on some major points. Today's review? You'll just have to read on if you're interested.

Man, am I slow or what? It's been a few months or so since David Lynch of Torchbearer Sauces sent us a load of their new sauces to try and talk about on Meathenge. I set up Ms. Crepinette for a shoot on this last Sunday and knew it was time to grab another jar and see what the deal was. Uh, I grabbed #23 Fever Sauce and it was nearly empty. Aroo?

Where the hell did Andreas go? Over the last few years anyone who is anyone has fallen in love with this man and his love for his country's cuisine. Even the sponsor's commercials in the beginning sent shivers down my spine, who can forget the chug chug of the King Oscar sardine boat?
Recently I heard a rumor that Tina Nordstrom had taken the wheel. I was in shock and wanted to know, "Yeah, okay, but where the HELL DID ANDREAS GO ?!?" and "Why are networks so closed mouthed about what goes on and why?" Dammit.
Last night Tivo left New Scandinavian Cooking with Chef Tina Nordstrom for me and I set aside the time to give the show a shot. It was then clear that Andreas was gone and New Scandinavian Cooking was about Scandinavia and not specifically Norway and Andreas. They gave him a few seasons, now it's Tina's turn. Tina is to share with us her culture and cuisine, which happens to be Sweden. Hot, tall blonde women, Volvos and some episode of Sponge Bob comes to mind. Remember, I'm keeping an open mind. Tina starts out kinda awkwardly talking about a Midsummer nights meal. They have a big celebration and apparently have a maypole, cool. She does her first meal on a little folding table and I figure, "HA, Andreas got away with his kickass Ikea-like portable kitchen!" Score one for Andreas. Nope, the portable kitchen showed up for her second course. Score one for Tina.
It's painfully clear why the she was chosen. The woman can cook and she does it better than well. Once she gets in to cooking mode, she loosens up a bit. The name of this episode was and is, Midsummer Nights Cream. Given the abundance of fish in Scandinavia, I'm sure some salted fish will be going in to that cream. And probably some dill and a few other things such as berries. And I was right, two of her main dishes had just that. I'm sure they're wonderful, but I'm not interested. Heavy cream and herring? Shudder. However, she did finish off with this huge creamy strawberry cake. I can dig that baby, strawberries are good with creamy love.

I miss Andreas a lot and hope he surfaces soon on a well produced PBS series in the coming season. At least I have the first two seaons, but I've seen them all and was hoping for new ones. Tina Nordstrom is a new one and they've plopped her directly in to the New Scandinavian Cooking model. I don't think that was fair for Tina, she has some big shoes to fill. I believe it would have been a better move to rewrite the show for her, who she is and her ways. Kinda like sharing your neighbors underwear, it's wrong on an odd level.
That being said, Tina is a very capable chef and I wish her all the best. I'm sure in the following episodes she finds her crease and does really well, Good Luck Tina!

Biggles

Looky what I found in my inbox the other day. A restaurant review from Joe Bob in Denver, a barbecue joint no less. This is a good thing, it's nice to see what others are up to in other cities and get Smokey's on the map. Please read forward what Joe Bob brings us today.

I picked up a 1.21 pound package of Creston Valley's Fine Meats Shoulder Bacon on Saturday morning. I hadn't tried it before and have been loving the shoulder style cut (more meat). This isn't to say I don't love the standard American streaky bacon with its 80% fat to 20% meat ratio. Hell, how would we make cornbread without it? But after trying A&B Meats' version, count me in to the shoulder bacon.

This my friend, is a prerelease review of TorchBearer Sauces (available for sale starting approximately September 2nd, 2005), based in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Their president, David Lynch thought enough of Meathenge to send us a gorgeous basket of sauces a few weeks ago for our review and taste buds. Mama's tasters are a little tender for the habanero pepper (don't roll that N budro, no sir!), so I got to have all the fun. And fun it was ...

If you live anywhere near or pass the area of San Pablo Avenue and MacDonald Avenue in Richmond California you've stared and wondered at the large rock encrusted building that is, the Hacienda. Even if you haven't been in the neighborhood for 30 years, that's okay because it's still there and has been since the late 1940s. There are a few of these restaurants still in business today, Trevino's, Gonzalez and probably a few others. These restaurants are left over from days gone by and are usually patronized by an older set today. Interesting ingredients and far off flavors are not what they're looking for. Something safe and can count on each time is the staple. Which is probably why my grandmother and uncle Ralph brought us there nearly every week when we were growing up, picky eaters can be dealt with. So, with this in mind we decided to return to a restaurant I hadn't been to in probably 30 years.

Ah yes, the long awaited final chapter in our quest to spend the day eating barbecue. If you would like to recap or get aquainted with Part One, do so now.
Onward ...

It's been 8 days since we took this trip and if I don't get something down, it'll just kill me. Or my brothers in Que will, whichever comes first. The day actually took about 9 hours, 9 hours of either procuring meat or eating it directly and it's just too big. So, I'm going to split this entry up over two parts. Are ya ready? Click below to read on.

Earlier this month, June 8th, Jonathan Kauffman of the East Bay Express wrote an article about his travels around the San Francisco Bay Area in search of good meats to put on the grill. He hit some of the best around, Kinders, Bobby Lee's Country Smokehouse, Giovanni's in Pinole, you get the idea. He was also smart enough to stop by and pick up some goodies from the Fatted Calf. Unfortunately, he wasn't pleased to say the least.

Dear Emeril: You stink

| | Comments (27)

Many years ago I watched you arrive on the scene at Food TV, probably around 1997 I think it was. The idea of having a tv channel devoted to food & cooking sounded absolutely wonderful. Both my wife and I enjoyed your 5 O'clock slot. We grew weary and went on to other things. Over the years some love you and some have ridden you pretty hard, the name of Bourdain comes to mind. I decided not to jump in because there was enough of your name flitting about. Yeah well, that was then and this is now. I had the serious displeasure of tasting your salad "dressing" tonight. My first reaction was a screwed up face that sprung my tongue. "Gee, no sugar in there." I remarked. I turn the bottle over, I wish I had done that in the store and find High Fructose Corn Syrup right up near the top! I can tell you this, you sure as hell don't serve THIS to your family, do you? No sir. That Wishbone Italian is better than yours and that brother man, is pathetic. There is no excuse for putting your name and likeness on that bottle of crap. You sir, are a dirty rat bastard.

Biggles

ps - Yes, I know better than to buy bottled dressings. But I'm a dumb boy and saw something shiny when I was in a hurry.

Before I come right out and say how much this new salad dressing blows chunks, I feel there is some business to take care of.
First of which is that I'm still not eating much, if any, meat. You bet I've had some pork and chicken and goodies in the last month or so, but NOTHING like the previous days. I would also like to add that expect the photography around here to change a bit and this is the first issue (this doesn't mean it will get better, just different). I know I blew some highlights and could have used a tad more depth of field, but this is what you get when you don't pay. Over the last 3 weeks I've spent some time in the detached garage cleaning, tossing and making a place where anyone can come in and USE it. It will never be a place to dump crap again, that's saved for the new 10x20 barn. Not only do I have a nice PC installed, but an earthshattering (no kidding) bachelor type stereo system installed and working fine. Along with this all is a place where I can set up a small studio and get some shots done. This one is too basic, one direct light source (the setting sun), sitting on a speaker stand a close friend made 24 years ago with my D70 set up on a tripod. I used the spot metering off the neck and pow, here we are.
Brianna's New American Dressing doesn't really taste like much. I waited until we used the entire bottle to say anything. The last week I've added more evoo, fancy red wine vinegar and herbs and pepper and and and and. You get the idea. I checked out the ingredients and it isn't much of anything. Canola oil, herbs spices and stuff that apparently doesn't matter. Oh, but it says that's it's a good source of Vitamin E and there's no MSG. Oh joy, they care so much. If you care so much, how come you don't care that it doesn't taste?

Steer Clear.

Biggles


All images today taken with little Sony dsc-w1 point & shoot.

Today was the day I was fiercely in need of something good for lunch. Yesterday was a complete bust and my mood showed it. Be in charge of your own mood and get something tasty when you're feeling down.
Around 10:30 today the image of a crunchy Vietnamese sammich crossed my mind. I knew I had to strike because if you wait until noon, the El Cerrito High Football team shows up and you might as well cross the street to Burgler King. I struck gold today.

Maybe 3 weeks ago I was minding my own business, standing in line at the Fatted Calf stall in Berkeley when Sam bumped in to me. She was on her way back from The Ferry Building in San Francisco and was stopping off for a meat fix. We exchanged a few meaty words, this and that. Then she looked down in her cloth shopping bag with this funny grin mumbling something about jams, marmalades and "you gotta try this one". The upshot was Sam was aparently in a Marmalade Jag and thought I should wander across the way and get myself some of Loulou's Blood Orange & Rosemary Marmalade. It was sunny, I had meat and was in a decent mood. Why the hell not? Sugary treats are nice after meat.
What struck me was the contrasting flavors that did so well together. What hits your buds first is the orange part, very sweet. But it's quickly followed by the zest of that orange which brings you down to earth, then hangs a left turn at the Rosemary. Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional jams & jellies, but dang. This was fun. Fun is good.
Take part in spring this year and go find yourself some fancy preserves. Makes ya whistle!

Xo Xo

Cream butter, then add sugar. Not all at once, ya bone.

Pimpin' baking skills at local fancy kitchen supply stores is nice and all. The visiting chef has access to multiple mixers, stoves & ovens. There are assistants to set up, take down and wash dishes. But dangit, The House walks away with the bulk of the cash and the classes can get too large. This produces an impersonal class and the pupils wander away with less than a positive experience.
Yeah well, Pastry Chef Shuna Lydon thought she could do better and has headed out in a positive direction. A direction where her pupils aren't left with unanswered questions and her pockets have a tad more of a jingle when the day is done.
Today's Story: Meathenge Labs attends #2 in a series of baking/cooking/skill classes taught by Chef Shuna. Or how Biggles dares The Big City a second time and learns to walk fast past the watchful eyes of shaggy junkies in the Mission District. Near the Bart Station (subway) that is.

Over the years we've all probably had pets. Some owners are dog people, some like cats. I've have mostly cats and oddly enough, birds. I do like dogs though, don't get me wrong. I just don't feel the houses I've been in would be large enough for a dog, let alone the time I have to give. I remember when I was really a small boy, maybe 10 years old or so, I had rats. And later on, hamsters. I liked them enough, but as with all pets they require time, effort & a clean cage. In the last five years I've been lucky to live in the same house, not like the last 22 years. This means I get to see the seasons change, the plants grow and my birds play. But more importantly I've been able to spend time in the garden growing vegetables, flowers and so forth. All due to the lowly red worm. That beautiful red worm that makes the soil so rich and healthy. So, you know where I stand in regards to our bretheren.

Marcel & Henri's - Pate De Campagne ain't fit for my worms. I'm tossing this crap in to the garbage. Tightly sealed so it doesn't give the Gulls problems. Remember, I like birds.

Xo Xo

Over the past year or so Blue Bottle Coffee has been growing. And coming this January 23rd at 315 Linden St., between Hayes and Fell, off of Gough, Blue Bottle Coffee opens it's first kiosk.

Joe Bob, our reporter from Denver Colorado, checks in with this awsome man and his custom pits.

Down the street you'll find Jordan's Custom Made Bar-B-Que Grills and Smokers. Joe Jordan has been building his custom rigs for about 20 years now. I saw the sign and had to stop in.

Disclaimer: The following review was based upon my personal observation and not from reading these books nor did I cook anything from them. My goal here was to stop you from buying Jacques' new book because it blows. And Tony's new book Les Halles Cookbook is something to read from cover to cover several times and never sell.

Well, with that prelude I suppose you know where I'm going with this. The reason I decided to publish this highly irresponsible entry is because I wanted to stop anyone from buying Jacques's new book as a gift for their 'foodie' friend or relative. If you can cancel the order, do it now. If you're going to spend 20 to 40 dollars on a book, then make someone read or use it for reference, make it worth their time.

Not too long ago I posted an entry that detailed my adventures with smoking my own chile peppers & red onions. The product was and is today, a-fricken-mazing. In the midst of that was a promise to review the newish wireless temperature probe that I bought for the 'experience'.
Piece of crap.
It isn't a long review, but one worth paying attention to. Save yourself 30 bux or so.

Early this morning Emil bounded in to my office looking as though he'd eaten a chesire cat for brehfast. He'd dropped his muffler yesterday, ouch that's gotta hurt. Which means first thing this morning he stopped by Mel & Son's Muffler shop in Richmond to get the sucker welded back together. As he pulled in he noticed they had a handful of smokers & grilling machines lined up. As he got closer there was a table being set up, tablecloth out and was informed he should come by for lunch. Every Wednesday they smoke huge amounts of meat. Today was Wednesday and at noon I was out of here like a bullet.

Alright, I can't keep quiet any longer. I don't usually mention TV Chefs, most of you already have ones you watch for whatever reason. It's so damned easy to find cooking shows these days, I just don't bother saying anything. But Andreas Viestad has me hooked. And besides, the jury isn't out yet on The Hippy Gourmet.

Lodge Cast Iron Goes Enamel

| | Comments (4)

Hooyah it is a darned slow week. I'm truly not inspired for much of anything and you know what? I don't care. Relax I say. Sit down and think about stuff. And speaking of thinking & reading, I was perusing the tv guide this last weekend and ran across a new cooking show, Camp Fire Cafe.

Inexpensive Kitchen Gadgets

| | Comments (2)

This last Friday Big D and myself headed out to Oakland to East Bay Restaurant Supply. It was an impromptu adventure born from the sheer need to leave the company compound. I have some other photographs that I took and up until yesterday evening, I would have used them. I believe however, this really ties it all in together.

Professional Knife Sharpening

| | Comments (3)

After years of sharpening my own knives I decided to see if someone else could do it better or at least not screw it up. This isn't to say I'm not able to get an edge I can live with from my stones & steels. I've always wondered if they could do better? Or worse? A co-worker took their knives to a local guy and it came back with a VERY shiny edge, about 1/2" up. That may be okay for a high-carbon blade, but it would ruin the look of my old carbon steel blades. I held back for a while.

Grape Beef

| | Comments (1)

MeatHenge Fun Post #12c

Groceries aren't getting any cheaper, by a long shot. As you know, if you take the time to visit a few different stores and keep your eyes open you can really save a load of cash. Sometimes this amounts to tens of dollars or more. And sometimes it amounts to less than a buck. We'll take whatever we can get. This time it came in the form of Grape Jello under the Western Beef label. Personally I believe it was a pretty bad marketing move to put the word BEEF and Grape on the same side of the box. Not to mention the T in Western is a cactus with a cowboy hat on. This isn't right, no sir.

Xo Xo

Pat de Campagne

| | Comments (2)

It's Saturday afternoon and a sunny one at that. The afternoons now are a bit shorter and quite a bit cooler. I'm still in shorts, this is a good thing (hey Marfa, hope you're doing well).
Yesterday I took the boys on their first camping trip to Lake Chabot (less than an hour drive away). All went very well, good company blended with good food makes an event. Surely you're wondering, damn man you totally missed the Farmer's Market. Nope, Mama headed out this morning instead. SCORE.

Aaaiieee !! It's today! September 10th that Chef Benjamin Christie's new television cooking show premiers. For those of you in Asia able to watch ABC Asia Pacific, please TIVO Dining Downunder.

Check out some of the highlighted recipes for this season:

Mud crab and paperbark smoked kumara gnocchi
Japanese pumpkin frittata with baby rocket and bush tomato chutney
Panfried monkfish with bunya nut hash and macadamia nut pesto
Wattleseed pavlova with riberry syrup
Bread and butter pudding with stewed quandong

Go check out his web site and read his Bio, the man may be a youngin but he's accomplished a lot. One of which being appointed to the position of Executive Sous Chef at Laguna Bintan, which comprises of 3 luxury properties on the Island of Bintan off Singapore.

I'm hoping his show will hit the states on PBS soon, something this good will surely be passed over by FoodTv. (even typing that makes me say, "blech")

I'm sure Ben will do just fine, probably nervous the first few shows. But he'll roll and come out just fine.

Good luck!


Joe Bob heads out to Wheat Ridge Colorado.

I have been meaning to stop in here at El Jaliciense for ages and since I just
left the Arvada Arts Center seeing a cool car show.....
Ordered up pork chops with iced tea for Sunday lunch. I was the only gringo
in the place so I was hopeful.

Joe Bob, Route 66 and BBQ.

| | Comments (2)

Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Tulsa...July 2004

I was enroute from New Mexico to Tulsa and decided to take old Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. It sort of follows the newer toll road but is a great way to see the real OK. They had lots of rain the week before so everything was green and muddy with red clay soil. Beautiful drive and food along the way.
Right away near Welston....I came upon Pioneer BBQ.

Joe Bob calls in this one from ... Walsenburg

On the way to NM in July 2004....going through Walsenburg Colorado....

Andy Popejoy's BBQ

Screeched to a halt when I saw this place. They advertised a smoked Tamale that sounded interesting. The gal inside was braying into the phone forever and several folks left. I stuck it out for my one tamale. It was smoky.....like smoked yesterday and reheated maybe?
Interesting smoky murky musty flavor. I would like a fresh one next time. The Q was out to the side in its own carport hut affair. Not going either.

I think this place is worth another visit. Downtown Walsenburg. Can't miss it.

New Container for Sugo!

| | Comments (2)

MeatHenge Mini-Entry

Not this last Saturday, but the one before the Fatted Calf decided to change the container the Sugo Di Carne came in. I thought the previous container was fine, but I understand the motivation. Taylor didn't like the plasticky container, seemed cheap and all ... well, plasticky.

I found out first thing yesterday about Saturday's special. I had to call J. Lee first thing, hands shaking. Fatted Calf's special this week are Hoffman Farms naturally raised quail, stuff with lemon zested savory sausage AND a fig !!!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe. Aaaahhhhhh.

Man, I was SURE the Arista roast from last Saturday was the pinicle, the piece of resistence. From where I sit, this meat slinging rolly coaster is still going up, up and up. Up. I need another slab of pancetta, but how do you think I can remember to even SAY pancetta with those stuffed quails waiting for me? I'll have to stencil PANCETTA TOO PLEASE on my forehead, that is the only way I'll walk home with what I need on Saturday morning. This is too cool.
See you there!

Ha !!! No, we didn't make a trip to Mobile. No, this isn't Uncle Cindy's Rib review for 2004. Although she was kind enough to share this slab. What you're looking at is a frozen, vacuum sealed slab of pork ribs, sauce & bread included. Me being a BBQ/Meat snob, I questioned the whole frozen meat situation. However, pork is pretty damned versatile and I have to say, this easy smoked pork rib meal was worth every penny Uncle Cindy spent.

Joe Bob checks in from Denver Colorado. This time with juicy lookin' foods

Jack n Anna Martinez only opened their Mexican food joint in 2000, and it has been a huge hit in Denver ever since. They came up from New Mexico in 1994 and had the "Chile Shop" for a few years, roasting chilies and doing catering. The demand was such that they had to open a real restaurant.

I have finally been stunned by a plate of pork.

This just in from Joe Bob in Denver:

Tom's Home Cookin' has this reputation in Denver for authentic Home Cookin'/Comfort food. I am not sure how they garnered this rep. More like Castle of Mediocrity.

Meat Love & Hearts

| | Comments (2)

Last night Mr. & Mrs. Meathead celebrated their first anniversary. And here is what they did, they went to The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco:

House of Prime Rib was awesome! Much more hoppin' than I would have expected on a Wednesday night at 8:30pm. The place was packed. Real nice joint. Olde World San Francisco style, lots of charm, and leather booths. We got a nice intimate one that unfortunately happened to be squashed up the backside of a large party crammed onto a four seater table. But they left half way through our meal, and once the cocktails were served, we were too happy to care.

Uh, ya know, I may be cutting my own throat here, but getting to the Berkeley Farmer's Market at 10am could be too late. Sure they open at 10, but when I got there last week at 9:53, Taylor had already sold out of the Sugo Di Carne (meat sauce). So, now that he has his Wild Mushroom Crepinettes listed, I would have to say getting there by the time he is supposed to open might be a little late. Maybe 9:30 or so? I know this week I WILL come away with the Crepinettes, Sugo and some of the Saucisson Sec.
I for one, would like to see the Wieners with Wild Mushrooms. Yes.

... on with the news

Here at MeatHenge Labs we have two semi-small children. What this means is that from time to time we end up at a drive-thru fast food place. Wendy's is pretty darned close so that tends to be what shows up on our dining room table. Well, here I was waiting for the sewer guy and my wife pulls up waving the Kid's Meals from Wendy's. Turns out you have an option other than FRIES. That's right, a container of Mandarin Oranges! INSTEAD OF FRIES !!! How cool is that ?!? Of course Z wasn't fooled and got the fries & the oranges, but just the sheer thought of some fast food place offering a replacement for Fries I thought was earth shattering news that warranted an entry. I say, bring it on.

meat above; beef roast with a bacon blanket of love

Some days it pays to just stop by your butcher to see how the day was, chew the fat so to speak. Guess what week this is ?!?! That's right, you guessed it. It's Smoked Beef Brisket Week at Rick's Quality Meats in El Cerrito!
To those of you who understand brisket, really deeply understand that cut, this is something special. To those of you who don't, please lend an ear.
The brisket for the most part is a really fatty tough cut of meat that can ONLY be dealt with over a long slow heat. If you're willing to put in the time, the result is something that just can't be matched in the meat arena. In a smoker this means 8 to 12 hours, no kidding. This is a premium true barbecue moment. This week is special.
Briskets come out of the Beef in about 12 pound slabs and Rick is probably doing maybe 6 slabs or so. He only does briskets once in a slow while and each time they're ALL SOLD before they come out of the smoker. This is without the Meat Alerts.
MeatHenge is giving you a heads up so you can call RIGHT NOW, or tomorrow and get yourself a half slab of brisket. This is special and doesn't happen frequently. Let Rick take the time to smoke these hunks for you and just show up late Thursday for your treat. If you hesitate even the smallest, you'll lose. I have my name on one, you call and git yours. This will be good enough to make a special party for.
Plan to make a trek in to little E.C. and get the ONLY decent smoke beef brisket in town. GO !!!

Rick's Quality Meats
510.233.9390

1600 Liberty Street
El Cerrito, CA 94530

p.s. please let Rick know you got this notice from Meathenge. I don't get any kickbacks, it's just nice to know whether MeatHenge works or not.

Hey, the Fatted Calf Newsletter just rolled in. Looks like we have a really nice layout for tomorrow. If there is any chance you could possibly make it in to the Farmer's Market in Berkeley, do so. Just because Taylor is there every weekend right now, doesn't mean he won't hit the big time and open his own shop somewhere and ditch the market. So go now, while you can.

The image above is from our July 4th meal this last Saturday. If you look to the right of the image you'll see two little puffy crepinettes and Taylor's wieners. One little crepinette got a little dark, that darned caul fat really splatters. I can assure you, the inside was perfectly done. The large pile of meat to the left are two cut up chickens and a load of country style pork ribs all smoked with raw hickory chunks. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I put a home made dry rub on both the chickens & pork the day before. Well, okay it was a wet rub. I doused everything in olive oil first, then the powdery love.

I forgot to get most of the makin's for sauce, so I had to improvise with the sauce. For some odd reason it came out REALLY well. Ha ! I like to make most of my sauces on the thin side. This way you're getting mostly meat flavor and the sauce just adds a little something plus some juicy squeeze.

I hope to see you at the market!

Here's another reason to try out the Farmer's Market. Check out those heirloom 'maters from last week. Absolutely amazing. Get off yer rear and get out the door before this summer is over, foo.

On to the Newsletter ...

Yup, been about 6 days since my last post. Between the July 4th weekend and about enough inspiration to get my lazy ass out of bed in the morning, this post is about all I can handle at the moment. Inspiration will return, I'm sure. Let's take a quiet interlude and explore the evil & dark world of 'frozen prepared foods', like the ones we find at Costco and large retail super outlets.


Well, here we are. Summer. In this part of the world that means cloudy mornings and foggy late afternoons broken up by wind & racoons. Mid day though you can expect a spell of nice sparkly warm weather. Wouldn't it be nice to have something that gets you up and going and yet isn't steaming hot? Yes, it would be nice. For quite some time now The Blue Bottle Coffee Company has had their New Orleans Style Iced Coffee at their stall in the Berkeley Farmer's Market on Saturdays. Well, I have a gift for you, from them, right now.

This week Globey tries his turn at a cured meat slice

Saturday, along with assembliges of bunk beds, rendered me some really spectacular meats. The little 2 lb ham roast and the Hock & Simmered Bean Experiment I'll share with you tomorrow. Right now I'd like to show you some Saucisson Sec.

Today's lunch makes about 2 decent meals this week. For me, that's a pretty good ratio. Most of the time it is some dumb sandwich or something equally manky, grey or dripping something you wouldn't normally ingest. Today I decided to go somewhere different, even if it is the same type of food, Mexican.

Hey, here is a post-note: The weiners were right on. Home made looking and very rich with yummy snappy snaps. Very nice.


This week the Fatted Calf brings us all kinds of goodies to our Saturday Farmer's Market. Our special this week are their own savory, garlicky pork and beef doggies, lightly smoked with a nice, snappy casing. Sign me up for a few, eh. Another offering they have is Glace de Viande (meat jello). A nice addition to soups, sauces & reductions of some sort or another.
A point of interest might be Mortadella and Crepinettes with Morels. I don't see it listed, but see if Taylor has any of his Rabbit Pate available. What a tasty smooth happiness that was. Oh my and you know what else? I see Ham and the Hocks I missed from last week !!! One should arrive somewhat early. I am to understand he sold out of many things quite quickly last week. Yay.

I know I missed last week, I hope to see you there. (I think I'll bring my special cloth meat bags to assist me in leaving without looking like a freak, this time).

I write to you today with the lingering flavors of Rick's smoked Hot Italian Sausages. He smokes something each week, last week it was 75 pounds of assorted hunks. This he tells me, was gone within 24 hours or so. That's without a Meat Alert. Dang.

Introducing Shelly & Amelia, MeatHenge's new ace reporters. Please let's give them a helloooo. Helllooo.

Credit for images & article are theirs.

It's Sunday in the city. It's hot, for once, and everyone has come out of the woodwork for the Giant's game on Father's Day. We are headed to Sadie's Flying Elephant to review the weekly Sunday afternoon barbecue, and we pass the Hotel Utah, a recently reopened landmark, of sorts, for those who have been around the City awhile. What should we see? nay smell? outside? A big, glorious grill, with meat stacked as high as the SoMa condos, smoking as high as an Oakland fire. "Oh to be there!" we cry. But alas, we're on a mission from Biggles.

Ever have one of those days you find yourself running maybe five to six million errands? Today was one of those, zippy yet you never really get anywhere. One of those errands took me past Jones' BBQ on San Pablo Dam Road in El Sobrante. I'm almost glad I took the time to stop.

Arrr, here be the Fatted Calf news letter for this week.

Have you seen all of the Spring produce at the Market yet? Is it just us, or is spring the most exciting produce season of them all? It must certainly be the most anticipated. We are truly inspired by the bounty: Asparagus, English peas, morel mushrooms, favas beans. Broccoli is good and all, but thank God we don?t have to eat it unless we?re actually craving it now. And, please, put that parsnip away. This is probably going to surprise you, but you know what we think of when we think of Spring vegetables? Meat. Yup, there are a lot of yummy things to do with meat that are just made all the better by the pristine pale green (and brown) things. We suggest English peas sauted with Little Piglet Pancetta, asparagus on the grill along side Pork Crepinettes with Duck Liver and Pistachios, or scrambled up in some eggs with Breakfast Sausage. And, back by popular demand, one of the most perfect marriages of Meat and Spring Produce: Skinny Pork Sa usages with Morel Mushrooms. Like all spring things, these won?t be around for long, so come early and buy lots.

Are you over the whole Tuscany thing yet? You know, the rolling hills, the Chianti, the autobiographical I-fixed-up-my-crumbling-villa books, the films, blah, blah, blah.... Everyone, they say now, is vacationing elsewhere in Italy. Elsewhere is cheaper, they say, Elsewhere is less crowded. But, the thing is, Tuscany is just great. Still great. And, as a company of people who make food, cook food, write about food, sell food, and love food, we cant give up on Tuscany just yet. Sure, our most recent trips were to Sicily and Umbria, but we always return, physically and culinarily, to Tuscany. Um, excuse me, but, fresh pork, rosemary, white beans, and, yeah, Chianti...whats not to like? We thought of Tuscany this week when a tender little piglet came into our possession. Roasted pork, anyone? Rosemary? Chianti? In the oven, or on the grill like a true Tuscan. Come on, you know you want to.


piglet pancetta (above)

Do you ever feel lazy? Sometimes the raw, breezy Springtime weather makes us feel restless and distracted, and doing something as simple as planning a meal becomes either boring or just too much trouble. The problem is, being outside gardening or hiking really works up an appetite, one that might call for a hearty supper. Don?t worry, we have you covered. All you have to do is keep a conatiner of Sugo di Carne in your fridge or freezer. This Tuscan style meat sauce is made of pork, beef, onion, carrots, celery and vin santo. It is very aromatic and extremely versatile . Add a can of Italian tomatoes (we like the San Marzano variety), simmer briefly, and pour over pasta or polenta. Top with some grated Parmesan or Pecorino. Butcher Taylor?s lovely and talented wife Toponia chops, spices and simmers so you don?t have to! Toponia, who handles all of the administrative duties at The Fatted Calf, is also a chef and in the kitchen every week producing all of the product for the markets alongside Taylor. To quote Taylor : ?My wife is the best cook I know, and this one of the best things she makes?. Need we say more?

Another fine restaurant review from our very own Joe Bob in Denver.

Jackson, Wyoming.

Bubba's Barbeque.
This was the only barbecue joint I could find in Jackson, Wyoming. So of
course we had to go. The place was jammed with locals and tourists in a lame
attempt at a Wild West facade. The wait staff had these agonized looks on their
faces as they grappled the masses into place....also perhaps from serving the
horrid excuse for food to all of us. I had ribs and chicken with corn and beans.
Beans were awful....corn was cooked early that morning maybe....chicken was ok. The ribs were an odd grey color and tasted as if they were cooked a couple of days ago. Nothing was hot. The whole meal was a listless uninspired mess. The iced tea was even tragic. I believe there is no way to serve anything approaching decent food in such a large volume. Avoid Bubba's like a stubbed toe.


M & D's - Denver Colorado

| | Comments (5)

Another fine restaurant review from our very own Joe Bob in Denver ...

M and Ds Cafe

Started back in Texas in the 1940s by Johnny Holiday, SR. He was barbecueing rabbit, armadillo and turkey along with the usual. His daughter and son in law, Mack and Daisy have been in Denver since the early 70s, and on 28th street since '77. This is the best barbecue I have had in a sit down restuarant.

I feel as though I've been keeping a secret from you. Not that you don't already have a bottle handy. I've had mine now for just over a month and haven't said anything. Actually, this is my second bottle and I'm a third through it. I have a problem that reared its ugly head a while back. I'm a Extra Virgin Olive Oil whore.

Finocchiona & Duck Confit

| | Comments (3)

I'm so excited I don't know where to start. I'll just go this way and see how we do.
I haven't been out to the Berkeley Farmer's Market in a few weeks. I miss my pals there, but I've been a busy boy. What with smoking meats and all. I finally got a chance to head out today (saturday) and go see what was new. I usually park in this one area that puts me directly in the path of the Fatted Calf's stall. I had to stop by and see Taylor & Kim and catch up. I met a new friend there, Christine. She and her family have been MeatHenge fans and spend their days cooking as well. She'll send me her email soon so I can go get those nice cookbooks she mentioned. I'll post the info as soon as I get it myself.

Go see Page 65 of April's issue of Gourmet Magazine.
This is either pretty cool or quite silly. Probably a good dose of both.

Here are the other fine sites that made the article:

The Radical Chef
Chocolate & Zucchini
MeatHenge
The Food Section
Bourrez Votre Visage
eGullet

p.s.
I'll be signing those issues by appointment only.

Hugs.

Fatted Calf's Salami

| | Comments (4)


Yeah !! Clearly I had fun taking this shot. Uncle Laurent's gift to the children (dinosaurs & palm trees) almost made it to their hands. I just had to knock off a few shots before E tore the leaves into tiny bits.
And yes, this last Saturday I visited the Berkeley Farmer's Market. I wanted to see what Jan was up to at the Blue Bottle Coffee company and see what Taylor had in the way of sausages. I was hoping for the Spanish Chorizo, but it wasn't ready yet and most of it was ear marked for the Spanish Table in Berkeley. He said he's save me one, yay!
I walked away with this little salami. It is amazing, the first hit on the texture is bright and not too forgiving. Then, you break into the middle where it's like butter in your mouth. The finish is clean and smooth without the bite of too much damn salt. YUM !!! This time I didn't eat it all though ...

Meat Alert !!! Smoked Sausages

| | Comments (1)

Hey, Rick made another batch of his Kwoliguica. It's an old family recipe and he says it's a combination of German and Portugese something or other. The way he figures it, they must have been loaded when the put it together.
And this time they spent 5 hours in the SMOKER !!!
They're pretty darned rich sausages so they'd be GREAT with eggs Saturday morning. I just called at 10:46am on Friday and he has a dozen left. So get there soon cause I'll be getting a few early this afternoon. BOOYAH !!

Rick's Quality Meats
510.233.9390

1600 Liberty Street
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Cast Iron Cookware Love

| | Comments (0)

This last Wednesday in the SF Chronicle was a wonderful article by Shanti Wilson. The article entwines it's way through her personal life, recipes and coherent methods on keeping your cast iron cookware in great shape.
I highly recommend taking the time to go read it!

Shanti's
Article

Fast Food Treat - ALERT !!!

| | Comments (12)

Ha! Looks as though Wienerschnitzel has a new gift for us! It's called a Tamale. And this beast comes covered it what looks to be some kind of chili and cheese sauce. After some deliberation we decided the filling is supposed to be beef. It was Ed's wonderful lunch treat, so I asked him what he thought. His response was, "exceptional". You can take that however you wish.
If you're looking for a really great home made looking fresh and tender Tamale, then look no farther! Wienerschnitzel has what you need. Emil says you can get this fine sauce treatment on fries as well ...

Ha! It was our 9th anniversary last night which means we get to go out for a night without the chillins. Something, so far, we've only done once a year (going out to eat without kids in tow). I was giddy with thrill of getting something to eat that has flavor. Something spicy, wild and I didn't have to prepare.
The upper portion of Solano Avenue in Berkeley usually pulls us in. There are a handful of places to dine or spend time in a book store pouring through the cookbook section. That type of stuff. Or try a dumb over roasted or stale cup of coffee at Peet's or Starbucks. We parked a few blocks away and hiked up. We could see across the street one of the Indian places was pretty darned busy, I suppose 8pm is dinner time for some. I poked my nose over into the Boran indian restaurant, but since both my wife and I have already been there and done that ... maybe the Indian restaurant with the fancy white curtains would do. It looked pretty upscale and maybe we should have had reservations. They didn't look nearly as busy, so we made our way in.
Again, I want to make sure you understand since we only make it to one nice restaurant a year, maybe I shouldn't be writing a small review. Clearly I have nothing to compare it to.
Even so, my initial reaction was that we had chosen the right place. The decor was pleasing, welcoming and well, damn they had huge color murals on the walls with naked women sporting huge round breasts. I had arrived. The staff were very well dressed, very attentive and all had a purpose with where they were going. Not just madly dashing or meandering. They are professionals and their timing was perfect from the very first moment we walked in to handling of the check towards the end.
After a few moments with the menu it was clear there wasn't anything on there I wasn't willing to come back time after time for. I was going to try some new dish they had with simmered chicken, but noticed they have a tandoor oven. That sealed it, I had to try the swordfish dinner from the tandoor oven. I can't remember what my wife had ... why? Because I'm a bad note taker and my memory fails me at every turn. She was happy with it though, I can tell you that.
The appetizer was some very light and flakey deep fried wafers with cumin seeds. I don't know how they got the seeds to stay in there, the seeds were thicker than the wafer. Since we were having a nice quiet dinner a bottle of Indian white wine was necessary. The fish came on a loudly sizzling cast iron platter I could hear from ten feet away. This I wasn't expecting, so it was a nice suprise. Both meals came with fluffy basmati rice and a little sauce action. The naan smelled great! The pieces of fish were done just right. The temperature of the tandoor oven was apparently right on and chef was watching.
Between the food, the wine and the company it was a wonderful evening out. Oh and don't forget those delightful murals, I really liked the murals.

Ajanta
1888 Solano Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707
510.526.4373

www.ajantarestaurant.com

Spanish Chorizo Sausage

| | Comments (2)

Earlier this week I foned Taylor at Fatted Calf (I've repeated his url and address enough at my site, you can darnwell search for it yourself or feel free to email me directly) and asked about his whether he'd be at the Farmer's Market in Berkeley today. I also gave him a heads up that I was going to need a dozen some odd sausages and some cured meatses. I'm thoughtful and didn't want him to run out, just cause I needed a cooler full.

Fatted Calf Charcuterie

| | Comments (1)

This last week I heard a juicy rumor. A butcher had left Cafe Rouge a few years back and had started his own charcuterie. Saturday at 11am found me at the Berkeley Farmer's Market searching for Fatted Calf.

Contact

Send Biggles a communication!
drbiggles(at)cyberbilly(dot)com

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the REVIEWS category.

Restaurant Food is the previous category.

SIDES is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Monthly Archives