Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Choplifting"; A New Trend in Meat Larceny

By ROBIN STEIN - St Petersburg Times

TARPON SPRINGS — The chase ended before it began on a Saturday morning last month, the getaway plan foiled by a fatefully positioned curb in the Winn-Dixie parking lot. By the time police arrived, the tripped-up culprit was lying face down on the asphalt, trailed by his loot.

But there were no cartons of cigarettes, boxes of Sudafed or hair dye — none of the traditional fare of supermarket bandits. The bounty targeted in this score was three plastic-wrapped packs of six, seeping red, nicely marbled rib-eye steaks.

Curious, perhaps, but not unusual.

Meat seems to be quite popular among local shoplifters, a review of recent Tarpon Springs police records shows. Of the seven theft calls from the local Publix and Winn-Dixie stores officers responded to in January, six involved some sort of flesh.

And evidence suggests the trend extends far beyond the city limits.

One indicator is the emergence of the Web site — www.meatthief.com — a hub set up to honor humankind’s “unconditional love for meat” and the “extreme measures a few will undertake to possess its glory,” the welcome message states.

The anonymous host — “Baron Claus von Lambshank” — posts commentary about “outrageous” incidents involving “meat larceny throughout the globe,” along with links to media coverage.

There was a spate of “choplifting events” in Scranton, Pa., a “serial food thief” in East St. Louis facing his fourth arrest for stealing hams from the same store.

Bolstering this snarky compilation of anecdotal accounts is statistical evidence.

The Food Marketing Institute, an industry group based in Washington, D.C., conducts annual surveys of supermarkets across the country.

“Losses of meat were up if you look at the long-term trend,” said William Greer, a spokesman for the institute.

“Typically they are very high quality cuts.”

Meat — along with pain killers — topped the list of most frequently shoplifted items in the institute’s most recent report, which analyzed data from more than 7,000 stores owned by 42 retailers

Data shows that after four years of decline, shoplifting accounted for 35 percent of total product loss in 2005, up from 30 percent a year earlier.

Meat loss dropped off a bit since the unprecedented high of 2004, but not nearly as much as health and beauty care products, which propelled flesh-eating thievery to the top spot.

The biggest factor, according to Greer, is a growth of professional theft rings, which have orchestrated major resale scams of batteries, cigarettes and baby formula in recent years. Now, similar operations — on a local scale — have emerged in meat trade, Greer said.

“It’s a perishable item, but you have people who will go around with a cooler in their car and take orders at bars and restaurants ...usually for choice pieces of meat.”

The extent of the informal meat trade is unclear, since the survey captures only the volume of loss stores find out about —a fraction of what’s actually stolen. But supermarket companies, from independent operators to publicly traded chains, have been taking notice.

Greer said retailers have developed several hi-tech countermeasures. Digital cameras are being installed to monitor meat cooler areas. Tiny sensors that trigger alarms are embedded in labels and cloths placed underneath meat.

On the legal side, an industry-wide coalition has been pressing lawmakers to stiffen penalties for shoplifters operating as part of an organized theft ring, arguing that the petty theft measures currently on the books do not provide a strong deterrent.

Currently, only about half — between 44 and -59 percent-— of the shoplifters caught are turned over to authorities, the FMI survey shows.


Even with the weak laws, Tarpon Springs police are responding to plenty of meat theft calls.The curb-foiled getaway at Winn-Dixie, for instance, resulted in three counts of retail theft for 24-year old Brady P. Kusmierczyk, of New Port Richey.

Two days earlier, police responded to call from Publix about 10 minutes to noon. A loss prevention officer for Publix observed a woman stash a bottle of shampoo in her purse, proceed down aisle 4 to the sushi cooler, and slip two packs of the raw fish in her bag. After the suspect sauntered past the cash registers, a confrontation ensued. The suspect reportedly dropped her loot and dashed to her 1995 Chevrolet Tracker, which a police officer later traced to one Sarah Dale Waguespack, 24, of Holiday.

Records showed Waguespack had two prior theft convictions.

Also at Publix, a 48-year-old man from Tarpon Springs was caught with sushi, along with Nathan’s franks and a pack of ground sirloin. Loss prevention officers also thwarted a middle-aged woman’s attempt to skip out without paying for her chicken tenders.

Back at Winn Dixie, less than a week after Kusmierczyk and his steaks were cleared from the parking lot, Gigi Sessions was spotted entering the rest room carrying a pack of boneless rib-eyes. When Sessions came out, she appeared to be holding only a jeans jacket.

After failing to locate the meat inside the rest room, store employees approached Sessions to find out what she was carrying under her jacket.

When a police officer later asked why she had chosen to steal the most expensive meat, Sessions said, “If you’re going to go, you should go all the way.”

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Review: Monty's Green Scream Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Being an avid hot sauce eater, every now and then I find myself temporarily departing the blazing realm of the Habanero in search of something that teases me with slightly less heat and more complex flavors. Since this sauce took a second place Scovie in the Specialty Chile category I figured it might be worth the time and taste buds. IT WAS!

Initial Impression: When I first approached the bottle I was intrigued by the spiffy little lizard on the label. Upon closer investigation I came to learn, from the side panel, that the art was created by no other that the famous Dave Kellett. For those of you whom might not know Mr. Kellett, he is the creator of the well known Sheldon Comic strip. I really liked the art; this little lizard with his flaming chili in hand, and his devilish grin taunting you as if he is daring you to try his sauce.

Ingredients: Jalapeno Peppers, Tomatillo, Onions, Vinegar, Garlic, Cilantro, Spices, Salt, Xanthan Gum. This ingredient list checks out A-OK with me. All natural, no preservatives, and peppers are the first ingredient in this list.

Appearance: This sauce has an impressive appearance. It has a nice natural looking green color, no freaky kryptonite, day glo. Upon closer inspection you can see little bits of garlic and spice, and tiny little bits of cilantro. It has a thick yet smooth texture and a slightly glossy appearance. This is without a doubt one of the sexiest jalapeno sauces I have ever seen. I’m getting excited about tasting it!

Aroma: WOW! That’s how I feel about the way this sauce smells. When I uncap this bottle and take a healthy whiff at the neck my mouth instantly starts to water. You can actually smell this sauce in layers. I have the bottle uncapped and in front of me as I type this review. So here is what I smell; Jalapeno is definitely the first thing to hit your nose, followed by garlic and onion and then the tangy tomatillo comes through. A couple of more whiffs and you can clearly pick out some spices, to me it seems like chili powder and maybe cumin. Let’s Eat!

Taste: Jalapenos and tomatillo are a classic combination; this sauce gets the balance perfectly. The tangy tomatillo zaps the tip and sides of your tongue while the jalapeno heat kind of lingers on the center of your tongue and the roof of your mouth. There are garlicky flavors and cilantro and spices bounce around your mouth. You will actually taste every ingredient as it pops out and makes a guest appearance. On the heat scale of 1-10 I would give this sauce about a 5. While it might be little light in the heat department for the Chile-head that is always looking for liquid napalm, it is a very well balanced sauce and does not get lost in food.

The Food Test: Pizza was the weapon of choice for this sauce. Bad pizza at that, I won’t name names, but this is a $5 pizza from a warming oven. You can see from the picture I really wanted the sauce to fix the pizza, and guess what, it did! It was actually so good I ended up eating about 4 slices and consumed half the bottle of sauce. What a great fusion. The flavors in this sauce blended perfectly with the cardboard pizza and made it pleasurable. I figured if Green Scream can make this meal enjoyable, it is worth every penny I spent on it!

Conclusion: Tangy and spicy, green and fresh. This is one of the finest jalapeno sauces I have ever tasted. Alone, it was alive in my mouth showing off its complexity. On Food, it has the ability to revive any dish and bring happy hot sauce joo joo to your mouth. Whether it’s a cardboard pizza, your favorite omelet, a taco, burrito, or an awesome meal cooked by your Mom, Monty’s Gourmet Foods Green Scream Jalapeno Sauce will add flavor and excitement to anything it touches.

Packaging 9/10 – Dave Kellet from Sheldon Comics
Aroma 10/10 – Fresh, Green Alive & Tangy
Appearance 10/10 – Smooth & Sexy
Taste 10/10 – Complex
Heat 5/10 –Jalapeno & Tomatillo with Herbs & Spices.

Overall 9/10

Chile Prof Finds World's Hottest Pepper

Las Cruces Sun-News Article

LAS CRUCES — When Paul Bosland exhaled after taking a bite of the world's hottest chile pepper, it felt like he was breathing fire.

"Got milk?" was the first thought to cross his mind, he said.

The next thing Bosland thought, after gulping down a soda, was, "That chile has got to be some kind of record." He was right.

In the fall of 2006, the Guinness Book of Records confirmed that New Mexico State University Regent's Professor Paul Bosland had indeed discovered the world's hottest chile pepper, Bhut Jolokia — at 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units, the pepper is nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the chile pepper variety it replaces as the worlds hottest.

"The name Bhut Jolokia translates as 'ghost chile,'" Bosland said, "We're not sure why they call it that, but I think it's because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it!"

According to Bosland, Bhut Jolokia is native to northeastern India. A member of NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute visiting India sent Bhut Jolokia seeds back to NMSU for testing in 2001.

Bosland reported that the variety has compelling potential in the packaged food industry as a food additive. The pepper could be pickled while still green, dehydrated and used as a seasoning. Because the heat is so concentrated, less would be needed and food manufacturers would save money.

"This isn't something you'd pickle whole and eat," Bosland said, "but it could replace dehydrated jalapeno as an additive."

Bhut Jolokia is not NMSU's first brush with chile greatness; the record-holder for world's largest chile pepper is a specimen of the 'NuMex Big Jim' variety. The record-holder was grown near Hatch, but the variety was developed at NMSU.

What are Scoville Units?

· A pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville invented the Scoville Scale in 1912 to measure the heat of peppers. A "Scoville Unit" is actually a measure of capsaicin (the chemical in hot peppers that is responsible for their heat).

· Scoville’s test was a comparative taste test that is considered subjective by today's standards. A more sophisticated method is in use today, but in honor of Wilbur Scoville, the unit of measure is still called the Scoville.

It seems to me if Professor Bosland wants the last bite here he can have it!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Prehistoric Chile's Found in South America

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Here's a hot, new discovery: archaeologists have traced what they believe is evidence of the first home-grown chili peppers, used in South America 6,100 years ago.

And it was people in tropical, lowland areas of what is now western Ecuador who first spiced up their cuisine, not those from higher, drier Mexico and Peru as was previously assumed, said Scott Raymond, a University of Calgary archaeologist.

Raymond and his team made the finding by analyzing starch microfossils from grinding stones and charred ceramic cookware recovered from seven sites in the Americas. Their report is published in the journal Science.

"What's very satisfying about this evidence is that it comes from residues on pottery, so the association of these crops with food, with the pots and with the dates is all very tight," he said. "We can, without any kind of reasonable doubt, argue that these plants were there at that time."

The pepper species cultivated in the villages -- the earliest known settlements in the Western Hemisphere -- grew naturally only to the east of the Andes. That means that the people in the villages of the tropical region transported them across the mountains to grow them, Raymond said.

Results from the Canadian-U.S.-Venezuelan project yielded evidence that peppers were farmed in the region more than 1,000 years before the plants were cultivated in Peru or Mexico, Raymond said.

It is not known yet if chili peppers were used only as a condiment for the culture's diet of maize, beans and yams, or if they were also grown for medicinal purposes, he said.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's Huge, But is it Gourmet?

An internet company that makes a giant burger kit is offering a $1000.00 prize to anyone that can successfully make and consume one of these gianormous culinary delights.

The rules are spelled out quite clearly and they state you must make and completely consume the entire monster burger; including all condiments in the list.

You can see all the details at The Giant Hamburger.

Good luck to anyone that tries this. I would try to find the Giant Tums to go with it!

I wonder who got The Last Bite here?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Review: Brooklyn's Best Marinade

This delicious marinade was like Tony Soprano meets Martin Yan. Today we’re sampling Brooklyn’s Best 1-Minute Marinade. I have been doing a lot of cooking lately; depending on who you talk to. It’s can be a good or a bad thing. My cooking is fine; it’s the heat level that I have to watch. I have to really hold back when I cook since I’m the only Chile-head in the house. The kids won’t eat anything I’ve spiced up; even the dog won’t eat off my plate!

Initial Impression: On first Impressions I’m not really sure what to think about Brooklyn’s Best marinade! There is nothing about the packaging, the label, or the appearance of the sauce that screams out its nature. I think if I saw this on the shelf at the store I would be confused; and I would probably choose something that made me more confident of what I was getting.


Hey, this looks pretty good as marinades go; all natural and no funky chemically engineered foodstuffs. The list of ingredients looks very much like what you would find in an Asian dressing or Chinese chicken salad. I guess we’ll see as we progress.

Appearance: So I thought I was confused before, but now I am completely perplexed. What does two fat, bald, wiseguy looking Goombas in matching suits with power ties, have to do with an oriental style marinade. Are these guys Capos in the Brooklyn Chinese mafia? Don’t get me wrong; I like the label, it’s colorful and whimsical, I’m just not sure how it relates to what’s in the bottle. The marinade itself is brown with little black pepper flecks. It looks tasty and is quite viscous. It should stick to your meat quite nicely.

Aroma: Helllooo Chinatown! As I suspected this stuff is full of Asian influences. The first thing to hit your olfactory sense is the toasty scent of sesame oil. The layers of ginger, garlic, and onion seem to wash together in the mellowed soy sauce. This familiar fragrance is really making my mouth water!

Taste: First taste as always is right out of the jar. Yikes! I think one of those cicciobomba on the label just tried to whack my taste buds. This stuff is way to powerful out of the jar. Don’t bother subjecting yourself to that particularly bad experience. The salty taste alone is enough to make your blood pressure cuff explode. Once my tongue desensitized itself I could taste some of those flavors we smelled a minute ago. I guess that’s why it only takes a minute to marinate with Brooklyn’s best!

The Food Test: It just so happens some chicken thighs were left out to thaw for dinner tonight. Since I still love my Reveo tumble marinating machine, I thought this would be another great opportunity to play with it. The whole deal went into the marinator for 10 minutes then onto a sheet pan and in the oven to bake. MMMmmmm, Mmmm! This is some of the best chicken I’ve had in a long time. The flavors have melded perfectly with the chicken and the saltiness has completely dissipated. You can taste the layers of sesame, ginger, garlic and soy; each hitting a different part of your tongue. Partner this with the crispy chicken skin and juicy meat and you have heaven in your mouth!

Conclusion: Brooklyn’s Best 1-Minute Marinade will certainly impart flavor to any meat in one minute. For a little more intensity I would marinate longer and maybe even brush some on during the cooking. While this is not hot or spicy it does have plenty to offer in the flavor department. I found that a generous squirt of sriracha can add some desired heat to this delicious potion. If you like an oriental style marinade this would make a nice addition to your pantry.

Packaging 7/10 – A bit Confusing
Aroma 9/10 – Savory & Delicious
Appearance 8/10 – Smooth & Viscous
Taste 10/10 – Complex & Flavorful
Heat 0/10 – Mild Flavor N/A

Overall 8.5/10

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fifty-Four Year Old Cabbie to be World Chile-Pepper Eating Champion

Manuel Quiroz squeezes chili juice into his eyes in Mexico City.
Photo: AP

Reported by MSNBC:

MEXICO CITY - For most people, even the smallest bite of a raw chili pepper means a flushed face and a rush for a gulp of water. But Manuel Quiroz can guzzle down dozens of Mexico’s spiciest chilies, rub them on his skin and even squeeze their juice into his eyes without so much as blinking.

The 54-year-old Mexico City taxi driver said Saturday that he has made thousands of dollars with his talent and wants to become the world champion chili eater. But first he needs to find an organization that can crown him with that title.

“Chilies don’t sting me. They don’t affect me. It’s just like eating fruit,” Quiroz said at a market in the Mexican capital. Shoppers stared in amazement as he crunched on a habanero, the hottest chili pepper in a country that likes its food spicy.

Quiroz said he discovered his talent when he was 7 and grew up betting people that he could eat more chilies than they could. He never lost.

“I’m the best. No one can rival me,” he said.

His biggest windfall came when he entered a competition organized by a local television station and took home the $2,000 purse.

‘Eating chilies makes me feel great’
Quiroz said he plans to try to get his abilities recognized by Guinness World Records. To his knowledge, no one in the world can swallow more chilies.

“Chilies are the pride of Mexico,” Quiroz said. “The world chili-eating champion has got to be here.”

Quiroz said he has never been examined by a doctor to find out if there is a medical explanation for his extraordinary endurance to the spice.

“Why would I go and see a doctor?” he said. “There is nothing wrong with me. Eating chilies makes me feel great.”

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rare, Beautiful, and Dangerous. Insanity Incarnate.

After months of anticipation; it's finally Here! Dave has completely outdone himself this time! The Dave's Gourmet Super Limited Reserve Hot Sauce is Insanity Incarnate! You wont be puring this stuff on your tacos or pizza. Imagine 14,000,000 scovilles of blazing heat in the most collectable hot sauce of the year.

Not only is Dave the creator of the entire extract sauce industry; he is also an innovator in the hot sauce world. His creations include; the Adjustable Heat Hot Sauce and a Hot Sauce and Garden Spray.

The Holiday Edition Super Limited Reserve Hot Sauce is another example of Dave's out of the box thinking. This beautiful jar feature an etched label and every bottle is personally signed and numbered by Dave himself.

Only 200 of these have been created and once they are gone; it's forever! We are the first to have these in stock, but our supplies are extemely limited, and by extremely I mean five. We most likely will not see anymore as all 200 jars are allocated. You will be surprised by how fast these sell out!!!! Don't waste time staring at your collection, wishing you had one of these. Get your today before it's to late!

You can get one today at RoJo's Gourmet Foods