Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cash Strapped Consumers Bring the Steakhouse Home.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Meat-loving consumers in the United States are eating out less, but they are not forgoing taste and quality as researchers have found that more restaurant-quality prime- and choice-grade steaks are being served on family dinner tables.

Beginning in 2008, cash-strapped consumers shifted to at-home dining. As a result, with restaurant business on the decline, meat companies are now shipping more of their restaurant fare to grocery stores and consumers are buying it, according to data presented on Thursday at the Worldwide Food Expo.

"Before, if you wanted a great steak you had to go to a restaurant. Now you can get it in the grocery store," Merrill Shugoll, president of Shugoll Research, told Reuters on the Expo sidelines.

Supermarket sales of all meat have improved this year, which had Shugoll optimistic for better sales ahead. This improvement has been attributed to lower prices and to supermarkets aggressively marketing meat.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Bistro Tupaz; Rustic, Seasonal, A Hidden Gem.

Wikipedia defines Bistro as follows:
A bistro, sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. Slow-cooked foods like braised meats are typical. Bistro patrons do not necessarily expect professional service or printed menus.

Bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time. Wine and coffee were also served. The limited space for diners in these cramped corners prompted the tradition of adding table service to the footpath. As the idea caught hold, architecture and menus both became more specific.

California Culinary Academy trained Executive Chef Deo Tupaz has taken the principals of this Old world Parisian concept and translated it to modern California. In a part of San Jose where the strip mall is king and the fast food joint its queen Bistro Tupaz is a welcome deviation from the norm. In fact Chef Deo has vowed to abide by his mission statement:

“Provide a rustic style bistro that offers a seasonal menu and dishes made with customers’ well being in mind, using fresh ingredients whenever possible, supporting ingredients grown through sustainable farming, and avoiding ingredients which are detrimental to our health. We will never serve any dishes which we will not make for ourselves, families, and friends.”

The concept of bistro dining is a bit foreign to us here in San Jose. You order at the counter, pick up your table settings and take a seat. The staff at Bistro Tupaz takes it from there and provides some pretty fantastic table service. We have dined here twice now and both times the service was top notch. Having forgotten that we prepaid for our meal digging up some cash for the tip was the only problem we had.

Once seated the server brought us a basket of fresh house baked bread and grissini. This was served with a delicious blend of butter and goat cheese. I had ordered the French Onion Gratinee; Gruyere, Crouton, Veal Broth, a small crock for $5.95. This was rich, hearty, and delicious.

For the main course we ordered Wild Boar Osso Bucco; Braised Wild Boar Shanks, Gremolata, Herbed Polenta $27.95. Moussaka; Eggplant, Lamb and Beef served with Rosemary $15.95, and Seafood Fettuccini; Calamari, Prawns, Alfredo $14.95. These dishes were all beautifully presented and delicious. The freshness and integrity of the ingredients becomes apparent upon first taste and there is no doubt corners are not being cut here. We were shown by our server that many of the fresh herbs used in the preparation of our meals were grown right on the premises.

With the entrée out of the way the only thing that was left was dessert. Make sure you leave some room for dessert as Bistro Tupaz makes all their pastry in house in the classic patisserie style. From scones and biscotti, to opera cake and other fancy gateaux; Bistro topaz has a selection of pastry and desserts from simple to sublime. On this occasion we sampled a wonderful bread pudding and a gateau of three chocolates. Needless to say the three of us made quick work of the delectable sweet finale.

If you are looking for an escape from the usual chain restaurants and fast food options of south San Jose, and you want a place that will serve you a hearty, rustic meal that utilizes fresh, quality ingredients; Bistro Tupaz is the hidden gem you are looking for. Don’t wait until you can’t stand to eat one more pizza or wait in one more drive thru, get yourself to Bistro Tupaz.

Bistro Tupaz
5899 Santa Teresa Blvd
Ste 103

San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 578-5860

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review: Neal's Coffee Shop, Burlingame, CA

My reviews are usually quite long and detailed, however after the painfully mediocre dining experience I can't even bring myself to write a whole lot about Neal's.

Here's the short of it; lunch... not good! I ordered a Cobb Salad and got what appeared to be a salad of leftover ingredients; three slivers of brown avocado, four paper thin half slices of tomato and some grilled chicken crumbs. Don't let me forget the bacon; it was totally dried out and tasted like old deep fryer fat. On the bright side the lettuce seemed fresh and the blue cheese dressing was fine.

My lunch companion ordered the corned beef Reuben with green salad. Lets do the good stuff first; the side salad was OK and the marble rye croutons were nice. As for the sandwich; the filling was meager and the corned beef was full of gristle and as tough a shoe leather.

This place is like being time warped to the 80's; the menu, the food, and even the music. It's also the average age of both the patrons and the servers. My guess is breakfast is better here. How else would they get that four star rating that led me to walk in. I should have read more reviews...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Best Recipe In The West Casting Amateur Cooks!

Do you have a family recipe that has people begging for more? Is there a recipe that your family has passed down from generation to generation?

Perhaps it's something regional like Burgoo from Kentucky or Fish Taco from Baja. Is your recipe worthy of the title “America’s Best Recipe?”

PARADE Magazine along with a major network are shooting a Pilot episode to find "America's Best Recipe". They are casting for the Pacific Regional Pilot and you can be part of it by simply emailing them.

All the information is available is at the Parade magazine website.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: H Butler Bar-B-Q

Why is it that as of lately, taking a chance on a new place to eat equates to massive disappointment? I remember not too long ago stopping in at a new mom and pop restaurant meant someone put their heart and soul into providing you with an experience that would be comparable to dining at their home. You know, something they would be proud to serve and say; "This is our family recipe." I'm not sure if this was once the scenario at H. Butler BBQ, but it's certainly not the scene there today.

My dining companion and I were famished this afternoon having sustained ourselves on coffee and sugar free butterscotch candies during a seminar we attended earlier. We found ourselves driving down El Camino looking for a place to get some lunch. Amass the countless now vacant restaurants we happened upon a sign that said BBQ. As we are barbecue lovers we decided to give it a try.

Walking into H Butler's BBQ did not set off any immediate alarms. It was approaching 2:30 so the few patrons inside would not be an indicator of the heinous BBQ violations that would unknowingly be committed. It's not the cleanest restaurant in which I have eaten, but if you know BBQ, you will know that some of the biggest dives produce some of the greatest food! Unfortunately, not the case here!

There were a couple of patrons at booths and no one in line so we walked straight up to the register. There was no one on the other side of the counter but the owner arrived in a reasonable amount of time. We ordered two lunch combo #4s; brisket and ribs, one with slaw and beans, the other with mac and cheese and beans, and both with corn muffin. Since I had decided I would review this place I ordered some sliced pork and a polish sausage ala carte. Denied! I was informed by the owner that they would no longer add extra meat to any orders since it would cause a huge slowdown in the kitchen and this would create a line or a crowd. Are you kidding me, there were three people in the place including the two of us? I told him I wouldn't force anyone to take more of my money than they wanted and concluded our order.

After about twenty minutes the first plate of food came out. It was accompanied by some crusty silverware that I asked the server to replace. The second plate of food and the new crust free silverware came about seven minutes later. I guess it's hard not to get side tract when you are walking across an empty restaurant.

On to the food, and I have to say I'm glad the owner wouldn't let me order any more. Can we talk brisket? I should rather starve than to eat this lousy brisket! It resembled a desiccated pot roast you might find in a hospital cafeteria. There was no smoke ring, no pinkness, and no flavor! I take that back there was a flavor, and that flavor was salt. It was so salty that it was barely edible at all; perhaps that's what drew all of the moisture out?

The pork ribs were a little more on the edible side. The seasoning was not as obtrusive, but also not great. I tried to put some barbecue sauce on them to help with the flavor only to find that it was fermented in the bottle. Prison wine with your brisket anyone?

The side dishes were equally horrendous; there was the bland and cold mac and cheese, baked beans straight from the can to the microwave, and the overly sweet and mushy, water logged coleslaw. I think the corn muffin deserves its own description as it was quite a bit worse than the other sides. This was without a doubt the single worst pastry I have ever put in my mouth. It was as if the muffin was perhaps baked from the corn husks instead of the corn itself. There was not even any butter served to help lubricate the walls of your esophagus enough to choke it down. I can only assume the baker ran out of flour and ground up a sheet of drywall to use in its place.

While H Butler's BBQ is permanently scratched out of my book of places to try, I still have hope that the mom and pop restaurant is alive and well. We need the charisma and personality of local, independent businesses to rise up and succeed so we are not left with just the cookie cutter chains and franchises.

568 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 738-4996

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Foodbuzz Tastemakers: Emeril's Gourmet Chicken Broth

Our good friends at Foodbuzz have sent us a selection of fine Emeril's products to sample and report out findings. One of those items
was some of Emeril's gourmet chicken broth. We decided to make a local favorite meal that would definately feature the full flavor of Emeril's broth; Chicken PHO.
Below is the recipe we created. This dish can be made with a variety of noodles; we cooked three kinds to suite everyone's desires. The tasty PHO was equally delicious
with both egg and rice noodles, and was even great with low carb shirataki noodles.


2 ounces rice or egg noodles

1 piece ginger root
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 spring onions, chopped

3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped

6 cups Emeril's chicken broth

4 ounces raw chicken, sliced in strips
1 bunch baby bok choy

4 large carrots peeled

2 ounces bean sprouts

1 small bunch fresh cilantro stems

4 cloves

2 star anise

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 lime


1. Add the ginger, garlic, bok choy, carrots, fish sauce and lemon grass, and spices to the broth and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Strain and reserve.

3. Add the chicken pieces to the strained stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Cook the noodles in boiling water for four minutes.

5. Drain and divide the noodles between the soup bowls.

6. Pour the soup over noodles.

7. Garnish each bowl with some of the bean sprouts, cilantro and a wedge of lime.

Serve with Hoisin and Sriracha hot sauce.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Foodbuzz Tastemakers: Nakano Rice Vinegar

Thanks to the great people at Foodbuzz and Nakano brand foods we have the opportunity to bring you a great recipe from their booklet.

The awesome flavor of the Nakano rice vinegar gives this soup that wonderful tang that is reminiscent of your favorite Chinese food restaurant. This soup is incredibly easy to make at home and as delicious as any restaurant will produce. All the ingredients are available in most regular grocery stores.


4 cups (32 oz.) chicken broth
2 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
114 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or 1 tsp.
hot chile oil
4 ounces firm silken tofu, well drained,
cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 can (15 oz.) sliced mushrooms or
straw mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup drained canned bamboo shoots
3 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tsp. dark toasted sesame oil

Combine broth, Nakano Seasoned Rice
Vinegar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes in a
large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium; simmer 2 minutes.
Stir in tofu, mushrooms and bamboo shoots;
heat through. Combine water and cornstarch,
mixing until smooth. Stir into soup; cook until
soup boils and thickens, about 5 minutes,
stirring frequently.

Remove from heat. Stirring soup constantly in one direction,
slowly pour egg white in a thin stream into soup. Stir in green onions and sesame oil.

Ladle into soup bowls. Serves 4 (makes about 5-1/2 cups).

Tip: Silken tofu is sold alongside regular tofu
in the produce section of your supermarket.
Its creamy texture is excellent in soup. If
unavailable, diced cooked chicken or pork
may be substituted.

Total preparation and cook time: 25 minutes

Nutritional information per serving:
111 calories; 7g protein; lOg carbohydrate;
5g fat; Omg cholesterol; 1,573mg sodium

Monday, July 27, 2009

10 Gourmet Foods That are Illegal in the US.

Some illegal foods are illegal for health reasons, others are for the survival of a species or against acts of animal cruelty. Some may be delicious and others may be downright nasty. Different cultures all have their own palette. The United States has banned these 10 foods whether you’d eat them or not. Take a look and see what you can’t eat and what might be worth the risk to you.
  1. Unpasteurized cheese – Unpasteurized cheese is not your typical Kraft block of cheese. This cheese is full flavor and is touted by enthusiasts as the best cheese to ever hit your taste buds. It carries a dangerous health risk: bacteria. The FDA warns against eating any unpasteurized dairy products, but cheese lovers from across the country are willing to take their chances.
  2. Beluga sturgeon caviar – The eggs of the beluga sturgeon fetch prices as high as a few thousand dollars for as little as three ounces, but you can’t buy it in the U.S. The Federal Fish and Wildlife Service added the beluga sturgeon to its endangered species list in 2004 and approved a nation-wide ban on the import of all Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon caviar in 2005. Caviar from the fish is often considered the best available, but the fish are dwindling in numbers from overfishing and poor habitat conditions.
  3. Foie gras – A French favorite, foie gras is made from the fattened liver of a duck or goose. Two states have imposed bans on foie gras – California and Chicago. California’s ban will not take effect until 2012. Chicago’s foie gras ban started in 2006, but was overturned in 2008. What’s all the fuss? Foie gras is traditionally obtained by force feeding the waterfowl and then harvesting it. Many people continue to eat and enjoy the duck delicacy, despite surrounding controversy.
  4. Chilean sea bass – While Chilean sea bass are not illegal to consume, the U.S. government closely regulates the illegal fishing and importing of the buttery-tasting fish. According to the Department of State, consumers and restaraunteurs should ask about where the fish comes from before eating or buying it to help prevent the illegal harvesting of the pricey import.
  5. Mangosteens – Until 2007, fresh mangosteens were illegal to import into the U.S. because of the potential for Asian fruit flies to endanger crops. Now people can enjoy the delicate fruit for a high price from specialty stores. The mangosteen had some famous fans including Queen Victoria who would offer rewards to anyone that could bring her a mangosteen.
  6. Sichuan peppercorns – These little Asian fruits are the mainstay of many traditional Chinese dishes. The peppercorns are no longer illegal in the U.S. provided that the peppercorns are heated to kill harmful, difficult to control bacteria, citrus canker, that can kill citrus crops. The FDA lifted the 37-year ban in 2005.
  7. Raw milk – Raw milk drinkers have existed for centuries and rave about the health benefits of drinking the unpasteurized cow’s milk. The FDA does not though. As a matter of fact, the FDA has attributed illnesses and even deaths to drinking unpasteurized milk.
  8. Sea turtles – Sea turtle soup is a European dish that has been around for several centuries. A mock turtle soup must now be cooked from the gelatinous area of a calf’s neck and head since catching a sea turtle, much less eating a sea turtle, can land you in serious trouble with the law for poaching. Sea turtle soup is famed for being delicious, but the endangered species tops the list as a higher priority than soup for the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service and for the millions of people that stopped eating it.
  9. Moonshine – A product of the abolishment of alcohol, moonshine is still around today intoxicating those brave enough to sip it. The home distillation of moonshine is illegal, but for those who sneak the drink, it’s a delight worth tangling with the law over.
  10. Horse – While many people would probably not eat a horse in the U.S., Texas passed legislation to ban the slaughter of horses for consumption in 2007 to prevent American horses from ending up as dinner in foreign countries that routinely eat the animal.

Now you know some of the illegal foods in the U.S. so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Provided by

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gourmet Sauce Business Thrives in Soft Economy.

Our good friend Gary at The Black Market Condiment Company could use your vote! Click the image and vote for BMCC today and everyday until they win the Home-Based 100 contest. No registration is needed so vote daily to show your support!

Black Market Condiment Company are purveyors of gourmet-style condiment products including pepper sauces, dry rubs, marinades, grilling sauces, grilling sprays and more. All of our products are all natural, contain no additives or preservatives, are gluten free and vegan friendly.

We are a true home based start-up company in the truest sense. Founded in December 2005 in our kitchen, Black Market has already had it's fair share of bumps and bruises and almost didn't happen at all. In our first year of business our contract packager built all of our products wrong and would not make good on their mistake. After a lengthy (1-year) attempt at arbitration, we decided to cut our losses and liquidated our entire inventory for nickles on the dollar. We then spent the next 14 months, and a bunch more money, working with a new contract packager who flawlessly took us from point A to Z of the process and in March of this year delivered three delicious pepper sauces that are now on the shelves of major and independent grocers all across the California Central Coast. With the sauces selling very well, we are now in the process of initial talks with a handful of distributors with the goal of moving into the northern, central and southern California markets in the next six to nine months, and other states in the southwest corner of the U.S. in the next year.

There were many times that we would have liked to have thrown in the towel and called it quits, but the desire to succeed at something we are passionate about outweighed any sort of adversity and in the end has only made us a wiser and stronger company.

Recent press release:

New Paso Robles Condiment Company Launches First Products

PASO ROBLES, California – June 08, 2009 – Black Market Condiment Company, a new Paso Robles based producer of innovative gourmet-style condiment products, announced today the launch of the first three products from their Original Black Market Brand line of pepper sauces.

The first three products to be released are their fiery roasted garlic pepper sauce, chipotle pepper sauce, and black pepper blend pepper sauce. All three contain no additives or preservatives, are all natural, gluten-free, vegan friendly and in the medium heat range. Being gourmet-style products, they are fairly complex and are made with only the finest ingredients, perfect for beef, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood, veggies, and of course, taco night.

Original Black Market Brand pepper sauces are currently available at all central coast Albertsons stores, select Spencer’s Markets, Meridian Vineyards, and New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, with more stores being added weekly. They are also available online at

“All three of the Black Market pepper sauces have been very well received by local consumers,” says owner Gary Gannon. “We are thrilled to finally have our products out there and available to the consumer. Everyone who’s tried them absolutely loves them. They become instant fans and repeat customers,” he added. “We’re going to begin doing tasting demos at the stores that carry our line so that those who haven’t tried our products can have a taste and see for themselves why people are excited about them.”

Black Market Condiment Company is committed to providing high-quality and creative new products to those who wish to bring a new flavor dimension to their meals. Future product releases will include a full line of gourmet-style marinades, grilling sauces, dry rubs, and grilling sprays.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Turnkey Gourmet Food Business at Bargin Basement Price!

Monty's Gourmet Food has been in the business of selling specialty sauces, spices, pickles, and even oxygen, going on 10 years now.

Recently, due to Monty's declining health and the increased responsibility of caring for his elderly parents; Monty has decided to shut down the business and sell it off.

Monty's sauces hold the bragging right to over 50 awards and the Monty's Gourmet brand has been shipped to nearly every state. "This is a complete brick and mortar business in a box" says Monty Fritts.

Monty is looking to get only $9,000 for this entire set-up which even includes the inventory and fixtures to set up your own retail outlet. This is way below the value of the itemized listing provided by the accountants.

If you are wanting to get into the specialty food business; here is an inexpensive way to get everything you need to get started. If you are already in business here is a great way to get some inventory and fixtures at a steal.

The Last Bite would like to wish all the best to Monty. We hope that you have success in the sale of your business and take care of your health.

If you are interested in Monty's Gourmet Foods you can contact Monty directly for details at

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Food Was Hard To Get At The Great American Food & Music Festival

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, either way it was certainly interesting! The Great American Food and Music Festival was no doubt one of the most screwy events I have ever attended.

We arrived at around 3:00pm with the intention of grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying the big band beat of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The wait to get parking at Shoreline was pretty reasonable; no worse than any other event or concert. Once we parked and exited the vehicle it started getting a bit weird. As we made our way to the pedestrian crossing we encountered hoards of festival goers only they were moving in the wrong direction and yelling; “Rip Off!” and “Don’t waste your money, there’s no food here!” This went on for about 10 minutes; all the way to the entrance! There was even a line that was several hundred people deep waiting for refunds!?! Could the food festival actually be out of food? I really didn’t want to stand in that Disneyland E-ticket length line to get a refund and then go find something else to eat in Mountain View. Besides, I still need to see BBVD.

Taking matters in my own hands I decided to speak with the gate security and find out what all the hullabaloo was really all about? It turns out that there had been several logistic breakdowns throughout the day; not only were the vendors unable keep up with the demand for food, the credit card system they had in place was no longer working and had to be taken offline resulting in a cash or ticket only situation. This apparently wreaked havoc amongst the masses. The kind security person assured me there was plenty o food to be had and if we were not happy with the situation once we entered we could always leave and request a refund. We decided to take our chances.

Wow! There are a lot of people at this event; we passed booth after booth of food purveyors with most incredible lines I have seen. The thing about these lines is that they were not moving. It has become a game of “Is is worth it?” The game goes like this; Pinks Hot Dogs? Not worth the line, LA is close and we’ve been there before. Burgermiester? They are in San Francisco; we could go there tomorrow, not worth the wait in that huge line! We finally ended up in the Katz’s Deli/Anchor Bar & Grill Line, it might be worth the wait, how long will the wait be? Let’s give it a shot, and wait we did, for two hours to be exact!

Do you think a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli and twenty wings from Anchor are worth a two hour wait? Well neither did we, but once you have invested over an hour it’s hard to leave, especially when you are literally three feet from success. Unfortunately success never came. We got to the window to order and they informed us that the pastrami people have gone on some kind of extended smoke break but we could have 20 wings to share amongst the 4 of us. You see they were now rationing the wings at five per person! WTF!?! If we want pastrami they recommend coming back in an hour… Uh, right?

Wings in hand we are now on a mission to scrounge up something else to eat and make it to the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert. I can’t believe we are starving at a food festival! Look! There is no line at Barney Greengrass; the Sturgeon King. We run up and grab two bagels with cream cheese and Nova Lox, well at least two of us will eat well, Muahaahaa! Maybe three if the young one is hungry enough. Off we go to the amphitheatre to catch the end of the Bobby Flay’s burger throwdown and BBVD, Woohoo!

Now we are in a happy place, we are chowing wings, and lox and bagels, and grooving to the beat of the swing band on the stage. For the moment life is good, until the food ran out. My oldest son decided this would be a good time to grab a burger; hunger seems to have made him a bit less picky and the swing band is not quite the hiphop/hard rock stuff he likes, so off he goes to get us a burger. I have to admit Burgermiester make a really good burger. I felt like the Nova Lox were very fresh, but the bagels were wrapped and lost their outer crunch. After a two hour wait Katz’s lack of pastrami was a total disappointment, and the wings from Anchor were OK, but honestly Hooters original wings are just as good with only a fifteen minute wait and they aren’t a buck a wing! So far Burgermeister has my vote.

With the burger split four ways and the concert over we headed out to see if we could get another decent nosh, maybe some ice cream from Grater’s …Uhmm, nope sold out! There were some fantastic chocolate bouchons from Bouchon in Napa. They were crisp on the outside and fudgy and rich in the middle. They were reminiscent of a brownie, but so much more. I felt that they were worth the two bucks, but I really wanted the ice cream.

We decided to see if anyone incited a riot at the pastrami booth. While it seemed there were no casualties, we were informed that people have waited at least an hour and a half and they were next to be served. I hope they don’t run out again, for their sake, I’m not waiting.

So we finally find ourselves at the Tony Luke’s booth. The line is manageable and actually moving. This booth has security at the front of every line, I wonder what happened here. I heard Philly can get rough but sheesh! In any event the line is hopping and we get a Philly and an Italian Pork sandwich. Both of these are awesome! The meat on the Philly is shaved paper thin. I have never seen anything like this in California! There is a bit of cream cheese on the roll and that’s it, but that’s all it needs! This is juicy and flavorful and delicious. If you know of a Philly like this outside of Philly you need to write me and let me know where I can get it! The Italian pork was equally fantastic; sliced paper thin and perfectly seasoned, and topped with braised greens. Tony Luke’s was the new star of the food segment of this festival, for me anyways.

All in all it was a great day out with my family. Aside from the Deli Debacle perpetrated by Katz’s whose pastrami we waited for and never tasted, we had a great time. Nice weather, good food, great music! Would I do it again next year? I’m inclined to say no, but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy could convince me otherwise.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brew-B-Q Father’s Day Contest. Sponsored by MUG Root Beer

The Last Bite Food Network member "The BBQ Grail" is hosting a contest sponsored by Mug root beer. We love to support our members; especially when prizes are involved, so check out this great contest and win your Dad some awesome MUG swag!

MUG Root Beer knows 40 percent of dads have received a Father’s Day gift that wasn’t on their wish list. This year, MUG Root Beer is reinventing the Father’s Day tradition with Dad’s favorite past time-a frosty brew and ingredients for spending time with family and friends outdoors. I have received five MUG Root Beer “Brew-B-Q” Gift Packs. The gift pack contains a cooler, 2 liters of MUG Root Beer and all the ingredients to make their special Southern Brew-B-Q Sauce recipe

Does your dad deserve to win a “Brew-B-Q” Gift pack? Or maybe your husband? If you’d like to nominate someone, send an email to to and tell me why “dad” deserves to win. Remember, this is a Father’s Day contest so it has to be about dad, the kids and BBQ. You can include a picture if you’d like. (If you send me a picture, you are giving me permission to publish!) All entries will be posted on the BBQ Grail blog. Winner’s will be decided by me and announced here on Father’s Day. You’ll receive an email if you win, requesting your address.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pink's Hot Dog Stand in Hollywood, A Family Tradition.

Richard Pink and his wife and sister don't plan to franchise the nearly 70-year-old landmark, a big celebrity and tourist draw. They'll stick to its original location at La Brea and Melrose.

By Hugo Martín
June 7, 2009
The gig: Co-owners of the Pink's hot dog stand. Richard Pink, 65, his sister, Beverly Pink Wolfe, and his wife, Gloria Pink, inherited the stand near the corner of Melrose Avenue and La Brea Boulevard in Hollywood from Richard and Beverly's parents. Richard Pink, a real estate lawyer for ING Real Estate, holds the title of president. His wife oversees operations and promotions. The family took the business from a humble pushcart in a weed-choked lot to a Hollywood landmark.

The eatery seats a maximum of 80 people but serves as many as 2,500 hot dogs and nearly 170 pounds of chili a day. The wait time to order a meal ranges from a few minutes to two hours or more, depending on the time of day.

Pink's Hot Dogs will be available at the Great American Food & Music Fest this weekend!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: KHAYA Cookies 5 Flavors

Hey Foodies, It’s review time again! Today we are sitting down with some little cookies sent to us by the KHAYA Cookie Company. KHAYA cookies are made in South Africa and distributed in Philadelphia, PA. They have a business model based on giving back to the communities where they reside and help support those who contribute.

The KHAYA Cookie Company is currently holding a contest for their consumers where the grand prize is a trip to South Africa. Follow the link for all the details! Quest For Cape Town...

We have five flavors of KHAYA cookies to sample today, so we poured a big cup of coffee, and here we go!

The cookies fall into two categories; Krunchi and Shortbread. I’ll start with the Krunchi:

Orange & Chocolate Krunchi – this cookie is similar to a bite sized granola bar, only with much more intense flavors of orange zest and Belgian Chocolate. These would be very enjoyable as part of any breakfast or snack. It is not only delicious it boasts the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids in the flaxseed and essential fiber and nutrients in oats and sunflower seeds. A total of 13.5g of heart healthy Omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids per box.

Granola Fruit Krunchi – are really loaded with fruit and a little softer than the Orange & Chocolate Krunchi. Another healthy treat, these tasty nuggets would be perfect alongside your yogurt or as an energy boost on a bike ride or walk. This no guilt snack is loaded with dates and apricots and 14 essential vitamins and minerals. You also get 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. Perfect!

Orange Rooibos Shortbread – Imagine a buttery, crisp and crumbly shortbread cookie, now add the intense aroma and taste of citrus peel, paired with the antioxidant and health benefits of Rooibos you have a remarkable and healthy cookie for anytime snacking! We like it paired with a cup of delicate white tea, or with a glass of fine dessert wine.

Cranberry Rooibos Shortbread – A bite sized morsel that seems even more rich and buttery than the last ones. The tart bits of cranberry are just perfect for cutting through the richness and teasing your pallet. Again with the antioxidant and health benefits of Rooibos you have a remarkable and healthy cookie for anytime snacking! This cookie was a perfect accompaniment to my cup of dark roasted coffee.

Grapeseed Shortbread - This shortbread is made with grapeseed—known for their incredible nutritional properties including a potent dose of Vitamin C and antioxidants. This shortbread has pure grapeseed and tangy, tiny currents. We found it has a delectable depth of flavor—not too sweet and just buttery enough. The currents add another level of chewy texture and sweetness making this shortbread one of our favorites!

Delectable Khaya cookies are created with care to give you the kind of pleasure that only handcrafted, naturally wholesome treats can deliver. Khaya (Kī-ya) is the Xhosa word for home.

Khaya Cookie Commitments
#1 We use only the freshest, finest, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. All of our cookies are carefully crafted, by hand and with pride.

#2 We are committed to empowering people so that they can earn a living-with solid business and life skills.

#3 We hire previously unemployed women and men and turn them into highly skilled bakers. All Khaya Cookie Bakers participate in a Skills Training Program that gives them cross-training in every aspect of the business as well as personal budgeting and debt management.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: Miller's Secret Sauce Original Bar-B-Q

Hello Foodies, the Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and what better way to commemorate those that have given so much so that Americans can be free, than by surrounding yourself with friends and family and pay tribute to all of our military; past and present.

You will have to feed all those people, and the best way to feed a large group is barbecue. So here is another awesome review to help you make a choice when you are standing in the BBQ sauce section of your local grocery store. Today’s sampling is Miller’s Secret Sauce; Original flavor.

Initial Impression: Right off the bat I love the color of this sauce, it has a reddish, root beer brown color and it comes in a tall bottle with a narrow label so that you can see the actual sauce in the jar. The labels on both the Original flavor and the Spicy flavor are nostalgic and sexy looking and make me want to put the jar in my shopping cart.

Ingredients: Tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, water, liquid smoke, butter, molasses, chili pepper, spices, garlic, onion, salt, natural flavor, jalapeno, anchovies, tamarind.

The ingredient list is really nice and clean. There are no preservatives or artificial anything. Yes I noticed the High Fructose Corn Syrup and I’m not sure there is anything much worse than a stigma attached to this ingredient; it’s made from corn and corn is natural, right?!

Appearance: This is one rich, thick, and sexy sauce. It is reddish brown sauce and there are sparse but definite pieces of herbs and spices floating around. The consistency of this barbecue sauce lends it to many applications. It was super thick and brushes on and sticks to your meat nicely. It also makes a great dipping sauce since it won’t drip off of whatever you’re ‘queuing.

Aroma: Mouthwatering. Really, it made me drool. I popped the cap and took a whiff. It made my mouth water like crazy. Now that I calmed down I can tell you that this sauce has definite layers of aroma. At first you get a sweet tomatoey perfume, next the vinegar pops you in the nostrils and makes your mouth water. The velvety smokiness comes in for the finish and practically hypnotizes you; I could smell this all day. I wonder if they can make a car freshener in this flavor.

Taste: Sweet, tangy, and smoky with emphasis on sweet. This could be a dessert topping. Tasting it from the jar it has a definite tangy fruity flavor. There are some larger pieces of garlic in it. Like magic they appear in your mouth and add yet another layer of flavor. The garlic is pronounced but well balanced. The smokiness is very slight and more of a background note, any strong flavor will knock out that layer, but I suspect the BBQ will put it back in whatever you are grilling or ‘queuing.

The Food Test: Since we were having some nice weather I decided to fire up the grill and throw some yard stroller on it. Well, not the whole bird just some drumsticks and thigh sections. I gave it a quick rub down with some of Monty’s prototype Spicy Barbecue Rub and fired away. Once the chicken was done I brushed the Miller’s on them. Since there is such a high sugar content I didn’t apply it until the last few minutes. The Miller’s takes well to heat and the caramelization of the sugars rounds out all of the flavors.

Conclusion: Miller’s Secret Sauce Original BBQ Sauce has layers of flavors like molasses, garlic, and smoke. Secret Sauce Original BBQ Sauce has no detectable heat so it would be perfect for those in your family that prefer you don’t singe off their eyebrows. For those of you who prefer a spicier version I would recommend the Miller’s Secret Sauce Spicy BBQ Sauce or even a dry rub with some spice. If you love a sweet, sticky, BBQ sauce that caramelizes nicely and has layers of flavor, Miller’s Secret Sauce is for you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review:The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery, Gilroy, CA

A new restaurant opened in the downtown area of Gilroy. It’s called The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery. They have occupied the recently failed Happy Dog Pizza Co in the newly remodeled firehouse on Fifth & Monterey Road.

The new occupants have done a decent job spiffying up the place but there seems to be a cold cafeteria feel to it. There are some Mardi Gras masks and beads scattered throughout the dining room but I didn’t get the N’awlins feel when we entered the restaurant.

The service was Ok, although we were the only couple in the place. Drinks were served immediately and a basket of piping hot cornbread and butter was brought to the table, a nice touch, my expectations were raised.

We ordered the “Bucket Brigade” appetizer described as two crab cakes, four chicken wings and a generous portion of calamari $18. Unfortunately, it took a half hour before it arrived at the table. I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t waiting on an actual bucket brigade as the house would have surely burned to the ground before they got there! When the plate finally arrived at the table we were a bit put off by the presentation. On one side there was a giant mound of sprouts with a hole bored in the center, a green onion that had been flared open was standing straight up like some kind of vegetable geyser in suspended animation; a silly attempt at a garnish as it was not pretty nor was it edible. The crab cakes were the size of silver dollars and were loaded up with green and red diced bell pepper; in fact the only element I could taste in the crab cake was bell pepper. The chicken wings were fine with a BBQ style sauce, I didn’t get any N’awlins flavors but they were OK. The calamari was tragic. A calamari steak was sliced into thick strips, dredged in corn meal and deep fried to the consistency of crispy coated rubber bands. It took a lot of the Cajun mayo sauce to make these edible.

Being a huge fan of Cajun/Creole cooking and more specifically Gumbo, I ordered the Chicken Gumbo Soup; “Classic N’awlins soup with okra, Andouille sausage, and chicken” $6 for the bowl. Now I know a bit about Gumbo, I make a fine Gumbo myself, in fact on a trip to New Orleans I attended a class at the Louisiana School of Cooking to learn to make the classic Cajun dishes, Gumbo being one of those. What I was served was NOT Gumbo! It was loaded with carrots and crushed tomatoes and was completely absent of any flavor. It was based on a vegetable broth and seemed completely devoid of any roux. The only thing worse than this Gumbo fraud was the giant pile of overcooked rice dumped in the center.

My dining companion ordered the Bourbon Street Ribeye with Peppercorn Sauce; “10 Oz ribeye with a green peppercorn Bourbon Sauce served with sautéed vegetable and red potato mash” $22. The steak was ordered medium rare and I guess if you averaged out the doneness; raw on one end and well done on the other, that is sort of what she got. The sauce was bland and the steak, beside being under and overcooked at the same time was lacking of any seasoning and tasted of radiant char-broiler fumes, I suppose the veg and mash were Ok, but who could tell anymore?

Against my advice my dining companion ordered dessert; the Crème Brulee $6. It seems the perfect finale to a ridiculous meal. This was actually so bad the server offered to take it off the ticket. The top of the brulee was so thick with caramelized sugar on one side you could barely break through it by hammering the surface with the spoon, the other side had spots with no sugar topping and as a result were actually charred black by the torch. To make matters worse once you jack hammered your way through the caramel crust you were confronted with a tasty, yet runny custard. Anyone got a straw?

As much as I wanted to love this place I am hard pressed to find anything other than the friendly staff that would even bring me back for a second try. The food is not good and the atmosphere is nowhere near N’awlins. If it’s Cajun/Creole food you crave, I’m afraid you won’t find any in Gilroy.

The Firehouse Bar & Grill
N’awlins Eatery
55 5th Street,
Gilroy, CA 95020

Phone: (408) 847-2765
Fax: (408) 847-2619

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gourmet Cookie With A Conscience.

Our friends at the Khaya Cookie Company have just announce the following in their latest press release:

New York, New York, May 11, 2009
The Khaya Cookie Company™ is a socially-conscious
company that treats its customers to premium, all-natural, preservative-free cookies, while helping South African communities grow and thrive. As Khaya treats you to the unique flavors of South Africa, it is also providing jobs, education, and life-skills to the women and men whose hard work and dedication make Khaya Cookies so irresistibly great.

Made of all-natural ingredients indigenous to South Africa like rooibos and grapeseed powder, the Khaya Cookie Co.™ uses fresh dates, apricots, rolled oats, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds in its all-natural recipes. Khaya blends health, great-taste, and a feeling of home into a unique bite size cookie.

Khaya Cookies, shortbreads, and granolas may be small enough to eat with one bite but it is their cause that is as rich as their taste.

The more boxes of Khaya Cookies sold, the greater number of jobs created in their South African production facility as well as their distribution center in Philadelphia, PA. Khaya means “home” in Xhosa - one of the official languages of South Africa. For founder Alicia Polak, a former NYC investment banker turned social entrepreneur, South Africa is where she found her home.

A Dream Turns to Reality

Alicia was a NYC investment banker, and working on Wall Street who had aspirations of aiding those in need. Choosing to live out her dream of helping others, she changed the course of her life. She began consulting for the Freeplay Foundation, a non-profit organization in South Africa that produced and distributed wind-up radios that provided on-air education and helped those in times of disaster. She fell in love with South Africa, where she first visited years ago and found herself wanting to do more.

Taken aback by the country’s beauty and culture, Alicia began her quest to make her new home and community flourish.

The Quest for Cape Town

The Khaya Cookie Company™ believes in connecting good intentions with real-life action. And it is little surprise that the more cookies we sell, the more jobs we can create. We want you to be a part of our journey to Cape Town and embark on Khaya’s quest to contributing to a more socially conscious world.

With a minimum purchase of three boxes of Khaya Cookies, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an all expenses paid trip for two to Cape Town in March 2010. Beginning May 15, 2009, we’re offering discounts on every box of Khaya Cookies. You can have your choice of our delectable shortbreads or granolas purchased over a 60-day period.

So, you get to enjoy delicious Khaya Cookies, granolas, and shortbreads, help create jobs, and feel accomplished in following-through on that good deed you’ve been “meaning to do.” Something so small can go towards something so big.

And there’s more to be earned as well. For every additional (3) boxes you buy, you’ll increase your chances of winning this rare, once-in-a lifetime trip. We should also mention that additional gifts like the Amazon Kindle™ (fully loaded with South African literature, culinary books and wine magazines), 5 quart Kitchen Aid Mixer ®, a Handpresso® (this is really cool!) and complimentary boxes of Khaya Cookies will also be up for grabs!

Anytime you share a friend or anyone that you think is a generally pretty cool person’s email address with us– we’ll give you another entry into the contest (of course, only valid emails count).

Enter beginning May 15th at, get your “Quest” code and start sharing about The Quest for Cape Town – on Facebook©, Twitter©, your roommate’s girlfriend’s blog – all a step closer to a South African dream.

Buy some cookies and have a chance to experience the sights, smells, and sensations of South Africa. You’ll be saving the world a little too.

Khaya Cookies: Great Taste, an Even Greater Cause

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Nurse, Get the Glaze STAT!

It was like most other Sunday afternoons around here. We were heading home from the Farmer’s Market; downtown Campbell, when the eerie site entered my peripheral vision. It was a new sign, a simple shop sign. It was not very large, and not outrageously colored, but it did grab my attention. All I could think about was “What in God’s name would make a donut Psycho?” A quick U-turn into the parking lot would begin the journey to find out what makes donuts psycho!

According to their website they have taken donuts to the next demented level. They bid a fond farewell to the tired, round ring of lameness, and the drab, time-weathered environment of donut past. Psycho Donuts has taken the neighborhood donut and put it on medication, and given it shock treatment.

Psycho Donuts are very unique and, well, crazy. They are committed to not only be the craziest/fun donut experience you’ll ever have, but one of the most unique places in the South Bay. This is apparent from the minute you step in the front door where you find yourself face to face with a rubber room. I understand if you are lucky enough to find yourself there at the right time you can be strapped into the rubber room and fed donuts by one of the lovely nurses on staff. The walls are covered with an abundance of quirky local art and sculpture, and psychotic memorabilia, and the counter is filled with donut flavors that could only be described as eclectic.

The S’more is one of the signature donuts in this asylum of sweets. While a s’more does not seem that crazy it gets a bit wacky when you translate it to donut. First you take the fluffiest yeast raised donut you can imagine, these are fluffier! Add a glaze of chocolate icing and top it with gooey marshmallow. Then shards of smashed graham crackers are added and the whole thing is drizzled with more chocolate. I can hear the campfire crackling, can you?

Who can resist a MHT (massive head trauma)? The Psycho Donuts answer to the boring old jelly filled. Another incredibly soft and fluffy yeast raised donut is topped with vanilla icing and a face is drawn on it with chocolate. The center is then filled with berry jelly and the donut guy’s skull is then caved in with a crowbar (kidding), exposing the delicious cerebral jelly!

We tried several other donuts that day, for research purposes only of course, and every one of them was incredible! Some were round, some were square, and some even triangular. No matter what the shape or whether they were stuffed with banana custard and iced with chocolate and topped with dried banana chips, or glazed and filled with juicy chunks of apricot, these are without a doubt some of the best donuts I have ever tasted. Having been a donut baker in the past I feel confident in making that statement.

If you want to experience great donuts and an uber fun atmosphere we definitely recommend Psycho Donuts in Campbell, CA.

Psycho Donuts
2006 Winchester Blvd
Campbell, CA 95008

Monday, April 27, 2009

Foodbuzz Tastemasters: Buitoni Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

After a long Sunday loaded with household chores, a visit to the farmer’s market, and some light gardening it was time for dinner. Feeling somewhat drained I was looking for a simple solution to a tasty meal without a lot of mess and prep. Thanks to Buitoni and The Foodbuzz Tastemaster program I had that solution close at hand.

Buitoni’s new Riserva line of fresh pasta has eclectic flavors such as Quattro Fromaggi Agnolotti, Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, Chicken and Four Cheese Ravioli, and Braised Beef Sausage Ravioli. I received the Wild Mushroom Agnolotti in my package.

Buitoni describes it as follows:

A blend of earthy mushrooms, including sweet, rustic portobellos and delicate criminis, creates an impeccable pairing with fresh-roasted garlic and imported grana padano and parmesan cheeses, wrapped inside thin layers of stone-ground semolina pasta.

I wanted to keep the sauce light to compliment the pasta, so that we could taste the pasta and filling. So many sauces bury the flavors of the pasta so all you can taste is the sauce. I created a light garlic-sage cream to elevate this fantastic pasta. I sautéed a little garlic in olive oil and added in a splash of chicken stock and sage. Remove the sage leaves once the sauce has begun to reduce. Just a splash of cream and the pasta goes in to finish cooking. I arrange the pasta on two plates and finish the sauce by mounting with a little butter. The mounted sage cream is spooned over the Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. This pasta was fresh and delicious and the mushroom, cheese, and roasted garlic filling was earthy, smooth, and sweet. You could taste the individual elements of the filling and the combination of those elements was sublime.

This pasta was a perfect with the broccolini and vine ripened tomatoes that we picked up earlier that day at the farmer’s market. The broccolini was lightly sautéed and the tomatoes were sliced and sprinkled with kosher sea salt and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

The Buitoni Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti was the perfect center of the plate for our farm fresh produce.