Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Recipe: Three Wings, Mild - Medium - Incredibly Hot!

A trio of wings that are very different from each other; yet work together to walk you through a tasting journey. The first is the G-Town Stinkin’ Wings; savory and garlicky with no heat. This gets your tastes buds ready for the next level; Paradise Heat Wings. Named after the main ingredient; Blair’s Heat hot sauce. They are spicy, but not quite there yet. Finally, the journey climaxes with Rabid Baboon Wings. The vicious bite of these ferocious wings will have you sweating and frothing at the mouth; not for the weak willed. Have plenty of blue cheese dressing nearby; a familiar inoculation for baboon rabies! Enjoy the journey!

G-Town Stinkin’ Wings

12 Chicken wings; the more the better!
1 tblsp Cugino’s Garlic butter rub
Oil, enough for frying
2 tbsp Dried garlic- slices
1 stick Butter, melted
1 tbsp Garlic, chopped or crushed
1 tbsp Parsley, chopped

  1. Cut joint off drumette & french meat back
  2. Put wings & Cugino’s Garlicky Butter Rub in a Ziploc bag; shake to coat
  3. Deep fry wings until crisp & golden
  4. fry dried sliced garlic until crisp & golden (garlic chips)
  5. Melt butter in a small pot
  6. Stir in chopped or crushed garlic
  7. Chop fresh parsley; as much as you like
  8. Toss wings in garlic butter
  9. Garnish with garlic chips & parsley

Named after Gilroy, CA also known as G-Town; the garlic capital of the world. Feel free to increase any ingredient that you like. For extra crunchy wings add more garlic chip. For a fresher feel add more chopped parsley. You can’t go wrong unless you leave out the garlic!

Heat Wings

12 Chicken wings; the more the better!
2 tbsp Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
Oil, enough for frying
8 tbsp Blair’s Heat Mango Habanero Hot Sauce
1/2 stick Butter, melted

  1. Cut joint off drumette & french meat back
  2. Put wings & Jerk Seasoning in a Ziploc bag; shake to coat
  3. fry wings until crisp & golden
  4. Melt butter in a small pot
  5. Stir in Blair’s Heat Mango Habanero sauce
  6. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

These wings are sweet, sticky and spicy. They remind me of a warm tropical breeze blowing past a mango orchard, next to a habanero field, beside a Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. Uhhh Sorry, my mind wandered. Trust me they’re awesome!

Rabid Baboon Wings

12 Chicken wings; the more the better!
Oil, enough for frying
4 tbsp Baboon Ass Brand Habanero Hot Sauce
1 tbsp Gone Rabid Extract Sauce
1 stick Butter, melted

  1. Cut joint off drumette & french meat back
  2. fry wings until crisp & golden
  3. Melt butter in a small pot
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in “Baboon Ass Brand Habanero Hot Sauce”
  5. Drizzle a few drops of “Gone Rabid” hot sauce on the wings.
  6. Serve with lots of celery & Blue Cheese dressing (cures the sting of the rabies)

These are for true Chile-heads only. Do not torture non-fire eating guest with these as they may go into respiratory distress and die in your living room; leaving you with a messy corps to dispose of, and ruin the Superbowl for you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Review: Nanny's Jerk Marinade - Mild

With the Fancy Food show behind us, I finally have the time to get back to doing some more reviews. It can be nice to stay in a fancy hotel and have meals prepared by a chef at a hoity-toity restaurant, but I find that both my budget and my patience are tested each day by the bland restaurant food, too soft bed, and the $50 a day for parking…It’s good to be home!

Initial Impression: I’m a big fan of Jamaican Jerk. When I saw this bottle I definitely smiled. I have not had a decent jerk chicken since the Caribbean Zone shut its doors years ago. Nanny’s looks like a quality product and I am excited to try it. I think I will break out the new tumble marinator I got for ChristmaKwanannukah; let’s not leave anyone out!

Ingredients: Organic onions, water, organic soy sauce, organic green onions, organic hickory smoke flavor, garlic, distilled vinegar, habanero peppers, allspice, salt caramel color, organic cane juice, thyme, chili powder.

Hey, there are a lot of organic ingredients in here. Do you think this stuff might be organic? Are the peppers organic? It doesn’t say. Hmmm? Well, the ingredient list looks great; no funky stuff, no fillers, preservatives or colors. Me Likey!

Appearance: Nanny’s has sort of a strange look for a bottled product. It looks like brown pulp in water. It doesn’t really stay together; rather the pulpy stuff settles together and sticks to the sides. This looks more like a homemade recipe than something you would expect to see in a bottle. When I poured it over the chicken in the marinating hopper I got the same results; the liquid went to the bottom and the pulp collected on the meat. Well, it’s nothing that bashing around in the marinating hopper under a vacuum for 20 minute won’t fix.

Aroma: Wow, when I opened the cap and inhaled the savory bouquet it was not at all what I had expected. Nanny’s Jerk marinade smells like a fine steak or BBQ sauce. It is rich and sweet smelling with hints of garlic and onion, and a smooth toasty finish. I was expecting the usual overpowering smell of clove and pimento that so many of these sauces have. I was pleasantly surprised.

Taste: As I expected an out of the bottle taste was not so pleasant. It was a little salty and the flavor was flat and oniony. There was not much else going on. This is not really an appropriate taste test for this kind of product since it needs the magic chemical reaction of heat to make it all work. We’ll have to wait for the Food test before we can really know!

The Food Test: Now that the chicken breast tenders are done flopping around in their Caribbean fun house, it’s time to cook! I opted for the indoor grill, since it is cold and raining here. These tenders cooked up nicely in this marinade. Some of the pulp that was on the chicken formed a savory and delicious crust where it hit the grill. The flavors defiantly developed during this process and the saltiness that we detected in the bottle was gone. The flavors of the crust, along with the onion, and the spices, came alive and were now a complex and pleasing blend; that happily dance on your tongue.

Conclusion: Nanny’s Jamaican Kitchen Jerk Marinade is a wonderful change from the over sweetened and over perfumed jerk marinades and spices you usually find. This feels like the real deal. If you went to someone’s home in Jamaica and were served an authentic Jerk meal I bet it would taste just like this. Since this was the mild version there was very little heat to speak of, but they make a spicy version and I fixed mine with some Caribbean Red habanero sauce. “Dis ees a real winna mon!”

Packaging 9/10 – Looks Authentic
Aroma 9/10 – Savory & Delicious
Appearance 6/10 – Strange & Pulpy
Taste 10/10 – “It make everyting Ire”
Heat 0/10 – Mild Flavor N/A

Overall 9/10

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

San Francisco Fancy Food Show- A Point of View.

The NASFT Fancy Food winter show is now behind us. All over the Moscone center vendors were hocking their wares. People were sampling little tasty tidbits, while flocks of suits in power clusters; moved from booth to booth inking deals that will possibly change the lives of the small companies that are struggling to get their attention. This is the typical side of the Fancy Food show. This is what you expected and wanted to see. I have another side of the story to tell you about.

If you traveled to the farthest corners of the show, and not many did. You would have found a different scene developing. Just like the crowded, bustling aisles of the main floor, you will find booths, and you will find vendors hocking their wares. What you won’t find there are the crowds, you won’t find the power deals going down, and the vendors that have been exiled to these small semi-annexed rooms dealt with their unfortunate location.

Fortunately for my company, our business did not rely on the thousands of drive by hits to make our show. We already had meetings set, and we have brokers working hard for us; hand holding and bringing clientele to our booth. This show was just fine for my company. But what about the booths around us, they sit or stand waiting for potential customers to come by, but they don’t. They waited for that big wig from grocery store XYZ to discover their incredibly unique products that consumers just can’t live without, but no one came?

Did they pay any less for their booth? No. Were they aware that they would spend an average of $3600 for a ten by ten slot on the floor; annexed from the bustling crowds of buyers power shopping for the next great thing? No. These vendors have come from all over the US with the dream that this would be their big break. They would invest the money they have begged, and borrowed to chase their dream; because this show will be the turning point for their specialty food company.

Where were the signs to direct the crowds into these rooms. These booths, with owners that sit quietly waiting for customers, are not on the maps or guide books. I asked the information booth attendant; “where is the section for booth 5200?” The reply; “it’s not on the map just keep looking”. There were black fabric panels that made it appear as if the rooms don’t even exist. How did we get so lucky to get this location? It is certainly less stressful, no crowds to control. If you are preparing samples, you have less to cook; so you won’t run out! You have to look at the bright side, right?

Well, today passed like the other two days. Business was done in the incredibly busy main isles of the show floor. The vendors in the annex also passed the day. Their feet tired just the same as on the main floor. But think of all that was being saved. Business cards were saved, samples were saved, ink in the pens to take notes and paper on which a note would be taken, all saved. Nerves were saved since there were no large crowds around your booth, all trying to talk to you at once. Salaries were saved for the people whom you could send home since the booth was so slow.

Next year it will be in San Diego, bigger and better than ever! Hopefully, the vendors from this year’s annexed halls will be around to reap the rewards of the new venue. With all that they saved, perhaps they will.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rain... Now it's Gourmet Too!

No, I’m not talking about the droplets of water that form and fall from the sky.

On my recent trip to the south, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. I had the pleasure of stopping by the Buffalo Trace Distillery. We toured the various parts of the distillery, enjoying the historic grounds on which it sits, on the uncommonly warm and sunny December day. After watching a short video on the history of bourbon, touring the warehouse and finally the bottling facility, it was finally time for the tasting part of the tour. Being somewhat of a bourbon snob I found myself salivating at the opportunity to try another premium brand that I had not yet had.

Enter the tasting room. Our tour guide positions herself behind the par and says the following unexpected phrase, “Would anyone like to try some vodka?” HUH? Did she say vodka? Why did she say vodka? It turns out the parent company that owns Buffalo Trace also makes Rain Vodka. I don’t recall if they actually make it at that distillery, but what the hey, I’ll try some vodka! Boy, was I glad I did. The bourbon was just average, but the Rain Vodka was exceptional.

Rain is made from organically grown white corn. When you smell Rain you will get the scent of toffee, pear, moss and hay; aeration allows the aroma to deepen, especially the appealing earthy mossy perfume. The first taste is feather-light, and at mid-taste there’s a firm but satiny taste of sweet grain. Rain is delicious and delicate.

Before you mix Rain with tonic, orange juice, or your favorite bloody Mary; have a smell, have a sip, and let the rain flow.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The New Black is Chile Pepper

CARLSTADT, N.J. --Pantone Inc., the global provider of professional color standards, on Jan. 16 named Pantone 19-1557 Chili Pepper, a deep, spicy red, as the color of the year.

"Whether expressing danger, celebration, love or passion, red will not be ignored," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a prepared statement. "In 2007, there is an awareness of the melding of diverse cultural influences, and Chili Pepper is a reflection of exotic tastes both on the tongue and to the eye...Incorporating this color into your wardrobe and living space adds drama and excitement, as it stimulates the senses."

On March 12 during the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, Eiseman will be the keynote speaker. In her seminar, "Future Color/Design Trends: Fulfilling Consumers' Needs," Eisman explains and illustrates the most important influences in design and color trends that will entice the customer and drive the sales.

For more than 40 years, Pantone, based here, has provided design professionals with products and services for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Review: DENZEL’S Dangerous Goods Hot Sauce

Good Mornining and Welcome to another frigid 36 degree Northern California Morning. I know its warmer here than at Denzel's place in BC, but dammit I moved to California to get away from this shit! Well, I’m gonna need something spicy to get things started; so this morning I’ll be tasting Denzel’s Dangerous Goods. I hope it’s the antifreeze I’m looking for!

Initial Impression: When I picked up this bottle I was not to sure what I was in for. The mostly black and brown label is somewhat elementary. The label resembles a packing crate and it says Dangerous Goods on the label, but it’s not really scary. As a matter of fact I think I didn’t believe that the contents were dangerous at all. I was however, pleased to see the gold foil Scovie sticker in the label, but I had to move it to access the ingredient list. I noticed that the English ingredients were covered. Hey Denzel, you’re not gonna move to Quebec and try to become your own country are you?

Ingredients: Vinegar, onions, habanero peppers, garlic, salt, basil.

Short and sweet with no complicated words that I can’t pronounce, that’s the way an ingredient list should read! Well, I take that back; the ingredients are written in French directly under the English list, and I can’t pronounce most of those words! I like to see an all natural product with no colors or preservatives added.

Appearance: Denzel’s Dangerous Goods comes in the standard 5oz woozy bottle that you see most hot sauces packed in. The brown label almost matches the color of the thick and chunky potion inside the bottle. There are visible pieces of vegetable and herb matter suspended in this sauce. In fact it’s so thick and chunky it sticks to the sides of the jar; you could almost make a small mound on your plate.

Aroma: When I uncapped this sauce I expected to get hit with the vinegar tang, after all it was the first ingredient listed. This was not the case. Habanero is the dominant scent that hits your nose, and hits it hard. I took in a large whiff after shaking and uncapping the bottle and found myself coughing as the chile perfume hit my esophagus like a box of tacks. Totally unexpected! I backed off on the enthusiasm and a more reserved smell confirmed the initial finding; this is definitely a habanero sauce. With the overwhelming habanero scent it was hard to pick out any other aromas.

Taste: Out of the jar you taste peppers and garlic. It is an extremely clean flavor; uncomplicated by a lot of herbs and spices. The fundamental design of this sauce makes it taste like it is home made. This is an unadulterated pepper and garlic sauce.

The Food Test: This morning I was pleasantly offered a nice California breakfast; No, not granola and redwood bark, an egg scramble with turkey, tomato, broccoli, and cheese. A few pieces of sausage to go with the eggs and a little cottage cheese with fresh berries. So my typical modus operandi is to slather my eggs with hot sauce. Having just tasted this sauce I probably should have known better. The delicate flavors of the egg scramble didn’t stand a chance! The heat of this sauce completely trounced my breakfast like a squirrel on the interstate. Fortunately; Dangerous Goods taste great, because I have no idea what the scramble tastes like. I would rate the heat at about 8 out of 10, and the garlicky flavor comes through more when paired with food. Next time I will be sure to pick a dish that can withstand the bold heat and flavor of this sauce.

Conclusion: Denzel’s Dangerous Goods definitely warmed my chilly bones this morning. It also made my brow sweat and my nose run. This is a great sauce that features the clean flavors of fresh roasted habanero and garlic and that’s it. It is brilliantly designed in its uncomplicated nature and provides plenty of heat and lots of pepper flavor. If you are looking for a simple sauce that puts peppers up front and will make you sweat this is the sauce for you!

Packaging 7/10 – Label is a Bit Dark
Aroma 9/10 – Habanero Kick
Appearance 9/10 – Thick, Chunky
Taste 9/10 – Pure & Clean
Heat 8/10 – Habanero Heat

Overall 8/10

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Review: Burning Asphalt Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Catching up on the many items I have to review is a task that I am enjoying. There is nothing better to a Chile-head than having an array of fiery foods to sample and share with you guys. Today I tasted Burning Asphalt Hot Sauce Jalapeno.

Initial Impression: I’m a little confused by this product. I’m not really sure if I’m supposed to eat it or pour it on myself and go into a Ricky Bobby; I’m on fire psychotic episode. Hang on while I strip down to my underwear and run around with hot sauce on me because the bottle says: racing is dangerous, but safer than burning asphalt hot sauce. Help me Lord! Help me Buddha! Help me graphic artist? Break out the Adobe Illustrator ‘cause someone need help.

Ingredients: Jalapeno Peppers, water, green peppers, ground mustard seed, vinegar, sugar, modified food starch, fruit juice for color, salt, sodium benzoate, spices.

When I first started reading the ingredients I was pretty happy, peppers were the first ingredient and that is always a good thing. There was an ingredient however, I always avoid; sodium benzoate. I’ll not go into detail of why I would want to avoid preservatives in food. You can do your own research on this ingredient and make your own decision.

Appearance: When I took off the wine capsule; I hate when packers do that! I saw something that both surprised and disturbed me. The surprise part came in the form of a metal cap. I have not seen a metal cap on a hot sauce before. The disturbing part came in the form of the rust on the metal cap. Hey BA, are you trying to kill me? The doctor said I need more iron, not iron oxide! Apart from the rusty cap and the homemade appearance of the label the product in the bottle looks great. It was nice and thick yet still pourable and has some nice chunks in it, giving it good stick to your food qualities. Beside, there was no rust inside the cap!

Aroma: Bright and fruity. This is what I pick up when I take a huge snoot full of the delicious vapors coming from this bottle, mostly the smell of sweet green peppers with a hint of jalapeno. I feel like I’m getting some garlic and onion as well, but those are not listed in the ingredients. Perhaps they are in dry spice form, I’m just guessing? In any event a very pleasing aroma; it made my mouth water!

Taste: Straight from the bottle, I tried a small drop. The label says it’s a 6/10 so approached with a little caution. Hey, this stuff tastes great! I move to a full teaspoon. I could eat this stuff alone, maybe a nice jalapeno soup? Well, I gotta tell you, this sauce has great flavor, it is however more of a green pepper sauce than a jalapeno sauce. It is a little sweet and perhaps could stand to have the sugar taken out. I find myself chugging it right out of the bottle during this review, so I guess I like it! As far as the heat level goes it’s a 3/10 at the most. It barely warms the tongue. It’s gonna be hard to find a dish that wont burry this sauce.

The Food Test: What food will actually make a hot sauce seem hotter than it really is? Soup and I just happened to have made a nice big pot of meatball soup. This soup has sort of a southwestern flair to it so the jalapeno sauce should be the perfect accompaniment. As I suspected, this jalapeno sauce turned out to be a perfect match for my soup. The hot broth brought up the heat of the sauce enough to make it stand out, and the flavor profile of the sauce worked perfectly in the soup; giving it a spicy Latin flair.

Conclusion: Burning Asphalt Jalapeno Hot Sauce may be more dangerous than racing. But it’s like that because of the preservatives and rusty metal cap, not the heat. The flavor rocks the house down and I would be happy drinking this stuff right out of the bottle. It goes perfectly with soup and I have consumed over half the bottle in one tasting/meal. If it had a little more heat it could stand up to more challenging dishes and I would be a loyal customer. Errr, once the rusty thing gets taken care of!

Packaging 1/10 – Weak label, Rusty Cap
Aroma 9/10 – Bright & Fruity
Appearance 9/10 – Thick, Chunky
Taste 10/10 – I Drank it Straight
Heat 2/10 – Not Jalapeno Hot.

Overall 6/10

Really, It's Gourmet - Casu Marzu

It’s time again for another installment of “Really, It’s Gourmet”. Where we look at some of the delicacies other regions of the world hold in high regard. While here in America we have been able to embrace the caviars and fois gras, some of the worlds gourmet foods just don’t seem to stick. One such delicacy is Casu Marzu.

While we might stick our noses up at it, the people of the Sardinian region of Italy hold this treat in high regards. In fact there is a large network of underground or black market sales that go on in Sardinia since Casu Marzu or worm cheese is illegal.

That’s right Casu Marzu, as it is known in Italy, is nothing short of Pecorino that has been aged in the open air and allowed flies to lay eggs within, thus resulting in thousands of fly larvae (maggots) to infest the cheese. The enzymes produced by the feeding maggots aids in the fermentation of the cheese, in fact causing the milk fat to decompose and a soft pungent interior to form. This product can cause burning to the esophagus and stomach and has even been known to cause hallucinogenic effects. The maggots are eaten directly with the cheese, and are typically consumed with Sardinian bread (pane carasau) and Cannonau, a strong red wine. However, they'll not have any confusion that they eat bugs for the fun of it... it's all about the cheese. In fact, any Casu Marzu not sporting these creepy crawlies is considered "no good". Heck, if the bugs won’t even eat it... how good could it be?

Italian health officials don’t agree with the Sardinians in their practice of eating worm cheese, and it is forbidden to sell. Several food safety issues have been raised with Casu Marzu:

  • Anecdotal reports of allergic reactions.
  • A risk of the decomposition advancing to a toxic state. (Folk wisdom in Sardinia holds that still-living larvae are an assurance that this has not yet happened.)
  • Risk of intestinal larval infection. Piophila casei larvae can pass through the stomach alive (human stomach acids do not usually kill them) and take up residency for some period of time in the intestines, where they can cause serious lesions as they attempt to bore through the intestinal walls. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, and bloody diarrhea.

Because of these health threats, or simply because it is considered a contaminated product, casu marzu cheese cannot be legally sold in Italy. Within Sardinia, enforcement of the ban is sporadic and the cheese is available as a black market item, selling for about three times pecorino's price.

That doesn't stop the fine people of Sardina from making their own home-made delight. Just like momma used to make?

The Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn

Catherine and Pappy Bosley bought the Moonlite for $50,000 from Sonnie and Sadie Bertram and J.C. & Betty Stinson. The Bosley's used the 5,000 dollar profit from selling their house to make the down payment, moved in with Catherine's mother and entered the restaurant business with no experience, and little formal education. Then, the Moonlite was a fourteen year old barbecue joint with 30 seats including stools at the counter. He was 48 and she 42, they had five children.

Pappy drove a cab for Veterans Cab Company, and worked at Fleischman's Distillery. Catherine was a foreman at Glenmore Distillery. It was Pappy's layoff from Fleischman's that caused them to reexamine their opportunities. The owners of Moonlite were ready to sell, as they were looking to retire. The restaurant had been around then for 14 years and was well known to the Bosley's being near Catherine's mother's house. Their five children grew up working next door to the Moonlite at the Big Dipper (a local hamburger joint).

In this time of large chains and merged companies Moonlite has grown as a family business. Hugh and Catherine, along with four children and several grandchildren work together to keep things going and growing at a slow, steady rate that now requires a staff of over 120 dedicated members working various facets of the business. These areas now include a 350 seat restaurant, a U.S.D.A. inspected processing plant, an extensive catering department (capable of serving 15 to 15,000 with unparalleled quality and professionalism), a wholesale division serving the region with Barbecue and related products through distributors in a four state area, as well as a busy carryout department.

During our visit to the Moonlite I had the opportunity to spend some time with Pat Bosley. He was more than happy to take us on a tour and show us his operation. Part of the tour was his schpeel about the process; it was obvious that he had told this story more than the one time. It went something like this;

“Our Bar-B-Q is slow cooked over a Hickory log fire in our custom built pits. This method of cooking imparts a distinctive flavor to our beef, chicken, mutton, pork, and ribs. Real Bar-B-Q, according to government standards, must be cooked to lose at least 30% of its original weight. This can be done in many ways, but the only way we do it is with our slow cook method, our pit cooks dipping (basting) each piece several times during the process. We don’t even put sauce on our meats until after it’s cooked. Most places are afraid to let their Bar-B-Q be tasted unless it’s swimming in sauce. (At this restaurant, you put the sauce on at the table.) When we started we had 30 seats, today we BBQ and average of 15,000lbs of meat a week.”

“Our Burgoo is a thick hearty soup made with lots of mutton, beef, chicken, and vegetables. In this part of the country, early settlers made a stew that consisted of any meats and vegetables available. That often meant game meat such as deer, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit or quail. As time passed, each cook fine tuned his or her recipe by adding special ingredients that made their Burgoo the “best”.”

Now that you know everything there is to know about the Moonlite BBQ Inn let’s talk about the food a bit. I wanted to try as many different things as I could so I opted for the buffet; a steal at $8.75. It was hard to focus on what should be a simple task of getting a plate of food. I have never seen a BBQ buffet of this magnitude before, come to think of it, this may be my first BBQ buffet ever. There was every kind of slow cooked meat you could imagine, and equally as many side dishes. Know the limitations of both my plate and stomach I realized I would have to be somewhat selective in my sampling.

Since we were in Kentucky; famous for BBQ Mutton and I had never had mutton before, I know this was where we would have to start. I also added some chopped beef and sliced pork to the plate. On the side was some bread dressing, green beans and ham and beans. Oh I threw in a tiny bit of mac and cheese, out of curiosity.

So let’s start with the sides; the green beans were sweet and tender with just a little vinegary tang. The dressing was moist and flavorful with little pieces of celery and onion; it was better than most dressings I’ve had on a buffet but maybe not as good as Mom’s. The mac’n’cheese was good as well, again better than most buffets. The bean’s and ham were awesome. The beans were tender but not mushy, the broth was sweet and salty at the same time and the chunks of country ham melted in your mouth. These were without a doubt some of the best I’ve had.

Onto the meat; I found the chopped beef to be just that, chopped beef in BBQ sauce. I was tender and it tasted just fine, but to me it lacked excitement. I think perhaps it may have been chopped down to fine for my preference and I found it to be a step away from pulverized. The sliced pork should was very good, it was minimally seasoned with just salt and pepper and barbecued to perfection. It was tender and juicy and took to the sauce quite nicely. The mutton was definitely the star of this show; having been unimpressed with the chopped beef I selected the sliced mutton. The sliced mutton was fantastic; also minimally seasoned it was barbecued to a moist and tender perfection. It was extremely flavorful and surprisingly not gamey as I thought I might be. There was the perfect amount of caramelized crust on the outside pieces that created the slightest crunch. I also tried the mutton dip; this sauce is basically an au jus for the meat. Its purpose is to add a little moisture and bring out the natural flavors of the mutton. I found the dip to be a winner. If you were to taste the dip alone you might be disappointed, however it truly comes to life when applied to the meat. There were other sauces on the table to help enhance your meal; a sweet barbecue sauce for the meats other than mutton, and a hot cayenne pepper sauce; which I would have like to have it hotter. It was definitely a pleasant upgrade from the typical Tabasco you usually find on tables.

Overall I give the Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn a two thumbs way up! I truly enjoyed the food. The dining rooms and buffet areas were well maintained and clean, and the staff and owners were extremely hospitable and friendly. If you are ever in Owensboro, KY make sure you go there. If you are anywhere nearby it would be worth the detour.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn
2840 W Parrish Ave.
Owensboro, Ky. 42301

Review: LEGENDS The Premium Habanero BBQ Sauce

I just got back from a 10 day trip to Tennessee, Illinois, and Kentucky; so it’s good be home tasting sauces again. I have some catching up to do so you might see a few of my reviews coming up quick. Today I tried LEGENDS, “The Premium Habanero BBQ Sauce”.

Initial Impression: When I got the bottle of LEGENDS BBQ sauce in my hand I sort of had mixed feelings. I was excited about having a habanero BBQ sauce, but the label made me feel that it might not be that great. The grainy, old comic book look and feel of this vast label stretched across the 12.5oz flask bottle made me think of an old paper book cover and the smaller text is hard to read. I most likely would have not picked this up if I had seen it on a shelf.

Ingredients: Tomato puree, water, brown sugar, molasses, orange juice, horseradish, worchestershire sauce, habanero peppers and natural spices. No MSG.

Well I’m pretty sure they mean Worcestershire sauce, but just in case I left it spelled the way they had it on the label. I’m not sure if it is standard practice to ad MSG to BBQ sauces but I feel relieved to know there is none in this one, whew!

Appearance: I really liked the way this sauce looks. It has a reddish brown color with little black flecks; my guess is coarse black pepper, but it could also be the result of roasting the peppers. A few seeds are present. I like the consistency of this sauce; it flow nicely and is still plenty thick. Now I’m getting excited about tasting it!

Aroma: Unexpected is the word I would use to describe what I smell when the cap came off. The aroma is very tangy, almost vinegar like. The most dominant scent is definitely tomato. If had had smelled this blindfolded and was asked what it was my guess would have been tomato soup with Worcestershire sauce…. Hmm, where’s that grilled cheese sandwich?

Taste: I always like to have a taste before trying any sauce on food. Sometimes the incredible complex flavors surprise and amaze you. Not the case here, but sometimes it happens. OK, sweet, spicy, a little tangy. That’s about it. I tasted it a few time and tried to pick up on that something special; but it’s just not there. No particular flavor stood out, nothing surprised me or was distinctly pleasing to the palette. But it does taste fine.

The Food Test: It just so happened that on this particular day my smoker has been stocked full of pork shoulder and loin roasts. What better test for a BBQ sauce than this? I must say LEGENDS BBQ sauce is better applied to a well seasoned and smoked pork loin than it is out of the bottle. The habanero flavors come to the top and the tomatoey flavors seem to be absorbed by the meat. The heat level is pretty mild for a habanero BBQ sauce; I would say about a 3 out of 10. I would have expected more heat since it is being sold as a Habanero BBQ sauce.

Conclusion: LEGENDS, “The Premium Habanero BBQ sauce” is ok in my books. I enjoyed it on my pulled pork and I am at ease knowing that there is no MSG in it! If I were buying a habanero BBQ sauce I would want it to have more heat and really present the habanero as the feature not just a supporting act. If you want a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce with a little bit of heat and a hint of habanero you will definitely like LEGENDS Habanero BBQ sauce.

Packaging 4/10 – Grainy & Hard to Read
Aroma 7/10 – Tangy, Tomatoey
Appearance 10/10 – Thick, Black Flecks, Seeds
Taste 6/10 – A Bit Flat
Heat 4/10 – Not Habanero Hot.

Overall 6/10

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Review: The Smoke Pit Barbeque

When traveling in Kentucky you will be faced with many food choices. Some of those choices will inevitably be barbecue. The most well known places seem to be located in Owensboro and until recently the little town of Campbellsville had none.

Pat Blevins took care of that problem when he built “The Smoke Pit” BBQ Restaurant for his Son. I took some time to speak with Pat about his philosophy on BBQ. Simple seems to be the key to his success and let me tell you it certainly seems to be working on his wonderful food.

We sampled his ribs, a full rack of baby back pork ribs. They were served with a rub of spices and no sauce on the ribs. There is a selection of about five or six excellent sauces that were available to choose from. We also sampled the sliced pork shoulder. This reminded me of smoked pork steak, they were sliced thin and had a nice smoke on them. The sliced pork was seasoned simply with salt and pepper; they were excellent for dipping in the homemade sauces.

Like the meats the sides were prepared with the same philosophy, simple, homemade and delicious. The potato salad was made with redskins and was creamy and slightly sweet; the coleslaw was finely chopped and creamy. I added some black pepper to mine.

Another item we sampled was the Kentucky Burgoo Stew. This is a regional dish that I have not seen anywhere other than Kentucky. The Smoke Pits’ Burgoo was fantastic, full of chicken, pork, and beef pieces; and loaded with potato, corn, lima bean and okra. You can get either crackers or crouton to go with your Burgoo. Get the croutons, they are made of their homemade yeast rolls and are perfectly seasoned, buttery and delicious. They are a perfect accompaniment to the Burgoo Stew.

Tomorrow we are off to Owensboro, but today in Campbellsville we ate some of the best Barbecue in Kentucky. Stop in and say hi to Pat ‘n ‘em at the Smoke Pit Barbeque Restaurant.

The Smoke Pit
1800 New Lebanon Rd
Campbellsville, KY 42718

Gourmet sauces at BigLots! You’d better believe it!

While historically budget and closeout stores are not known for having high end products. The primary reasons for this is price point, and the fear of manufacturers that seeing their brand in such a venue would greatly devalue the brands they worked so hard to build.

Are specialty foods made for people at a certain income level? Should lower income shopper or even those who chose to be frugal be excluded from an entire sector of products? Well, Ron Levi and Joe Cloutier of Innuendo Enterprises LLC don’t believe this to be the case. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy high quality sauces,” says Ron.

Innuendo has created an entire brand dedicated to those shoppers who don’t spend $5-$6 a jar for a gourmet sauce. “here&now” is a brand created for just such a customer. With private label products making huge leaps in the US market, Innuendo Enterprises LLC has created a private label brand, not for a particular store. They have created a private label brand for an entire market sector.

“These are the same great products we market under other brands,” but they are available at a fraction of the price. The reason for the huge discount is marketing, or lack there of. When a brand is created a marketing program must be put together to support that line. With private label products the retailer provides the marketing budget. In the case of the here&now line, no marketing is even needed. This line goes right to the stores that already have dedicated shoppers waiting for great products.

Currently in place at one of your local BigLots! Stores are; under the here&now label: Buffalo wing sauces in Mild, Spicy, Hot, Roasted Garlic, and Teriyaki Flavors. Also look for All American BBQ Sauce, Thai Peanut Satay, and Japanese Teriyaki Sauce. Coming soon under the here&now label are flavors such as Lemon Garlic, Roasted Garlic, and Garlic Artichoke Culinary Sauces. Under the Pebble Creek Kitchens label you will find their Original Steak & Grill Sauce and the Whiskey Pepper Steak & Grill Sauce. Future products include a line of culinary sauces from around the world under the New World Gourmet brand.

Now that Innuendo Foods is bottling gourmet sauces, you can have Champagne taste on a beer budget. Visit your local BigLots! and find your favorite flavor of a here&now, Pebble Creek Kitchens, or New World Gourmet culinary sauce. You will save a ton of cash and your taste buds will thank you!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bucky Goldstien's for Steaks & Chops

Innuendo Enterprises LLC, makers of the Golden Chile Award winning Bucky Goldstien's Hot Sauce has done it again with these two amazing steak sauces. Bucky Goldstien's has brought home yet another award from the National Fiery Food Challenge, hosted by Chile-Pepper Magazine in 2006.

The Original Recipe was created with the finest steak and chop houses in mind and is an all natural premium steak sauce. The rich flavor and balance of this gourmet sauce makes it perfect for all meats and even grilled vegetables. Bucky Goldstien's Original Steak & Grill Sauce will enhance all of your favorite foods.

The Whiskey Pepper Steak & Grill Sauce was inspired bu authentic western steak houses. This all natural premium steak sauce is finely crafted with a masterful blend of premium whiskey and cracked black peppercorns. This gourmet sauce is a lively accompaniment to any succulent steak. Bucky Goldstien's Whiskey Pepper Steak & Grill Sauce enhances all of your favorite foods.

Bucky Goldstien's sauces are produced in small batches to preserve the original Chef created recipes and never contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Bucky Goldstien's Steak sauces are available nationally on amazon.com or locally in the San Francisco Bay area. For more information on availablilty visit http://www.chile-heads.com/retailers .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Review: Neely's BBQ Nashville

I would first like to say Neely's BBQ in Nashville is not the easiest place to find. As a matter of fact we actually missed it, and we had the address programmed into our TomTom GPS nav. After making a U-turn we saw the red neon Barbecue sign. Make the effort to find it, it's worth it!

Walking in, Neely's is just as you would expect a Nashville BBQ joint to look like. Lots of wood, red checkered table cloths, and a friendly staff waiting to help you make your choice.

The choice was a difficult one, so I refused to make it; my dining partner and I each got a two meat combo and shared them. That means four meats, four sides, and some sweet tea that you could probably put a string in and make rock candy.

First combo had pork ribs and pulled pork with coleslaw and beans, the second combo had smoked beef sausage, sliced brisket and sides which include bbq spaghetti, and potato salad. If I had to sum this meal up in one word and was held to just one word it would be tender. In fact the meats at Neely's were so tender you could literally shake the ribs and the meat would fall off the bone. The brisket was so tender and juicy I never picked up my white plastic knife, and the pork just melted in your mouth. The side were all fresh and delicious and the BBQ sauce was quite nice. I usually prefer a spicy sauce but I felt the mild had a better flavor. Perhaps if the spicy had a little more heat I would have prefered it.

If you find yourself in Nashville, do yourself a favor, find Neely's BBQ. Tell them RoJo Sent you!

Neely’s Barbecue ( Nashville TN.)
2292 Metro Center
Nashville , Tennessee 37228
615-251-8895 phone
615 251 8897 fax