Saturday, March 28, 2009

Without Coffee There Would Be No Joy!

Especially on Monday Morning, am I right? Our friends at Happy Bean Coffee take the little Arabica coffee bean most seriously to bring you the finest coffee experience!

In the dreamy hours of the morning, the coffee bean begins anew to draw energy from dark, rich, volcanic soil and sunlight filtered through the remains of the previous night. The coffee bean stirs within and, to the first sounds of birds and the morning rituals of nearby inhabitants, the rain forest awakens around it.

It is drawn forth towards the day, guided by the call of nature and its own internal rhythm. It will be a gourmet Arabica bean or it will be nothing; it will taste rich and be aromatic or existence will be meaningless. It will surpass all expectations. It will start this day as it should and as it does always.

As the morning's milky fog washes over these young coffee beans, it convenes subtle harmonies in its eddies. The high mountain rain showers it with elixirs of stimulation and vitality. Fresh breezes carry the rain forest's earthy aroma and gently
stir perfect humidity and temperature against the bean's exterior. From the rich rain forest floor percolate flavors that define the bean's origin and gourmet heritage. Organic perfection is developing within. Along with it, develop the rich ­­­­complexities and exquisite body and acidity that are its hallmark.

But perfection ripens at its own pace. In the thin air of the equatorial mountains and in the shade of a broad, leafy canopy, an endless eon of eager anticipation must pass before the bean is ready. Dreams of lattes, French roast, decaf, espresso and perhaps, flavored hints of hazelnut, chocolate, or vanilla, may fill the time, but ultimate satisfaction is yet a long way off. For now, the gourmet coffee bean is tucked in the caring hands of the plantation farmer and there it will stay, until inevitability pulls it from its cozy mountainside home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review: Dave's Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

So Hot It’s Spooky! That’s the catch phrase pasted across the top of the Dave’s Gourmet Ghost Pepper Sauce. You would think that would have been enough to have me steer clear of this torturous elixir. But something drew me in, something eerie and unexplainable. Perhaps it was the lost souls whom have succumbed to the ghost pepper itself?

Initial Impression: FEAR! While I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost, I am afraid of the ghost pepper or Bhut Jolokia as it is known is the Tezpur region of India. This big daddy of hot pepper sauces looks harmless while trapped in its bottle, but even it slightly pinkish hue reminds me that something is wrong here!

Ingredients: Ghost pepper/Naga Jolokia peppers, hot pepper extract, salt, vegetable oil, roasted garlic pulp, acetic acid.

Extract??? Dave, are you trying to say that 1 million Scoville units of tongue blistering heat is not enough? This is a truly sadistic endevour!

Appearance: This is a very smooth reddish sauce with a slight pink hue. Upon closer inspection you can see tiny red globules of chile extract forming in the neck of the bottle, it’s hard to keep that extract in suspension so you had better shake this well before you use it!

Aroma: Wow. This is a really great smelling sauce. When I first uncap the bottle and take a slow smooth smell It makes my mouth water. The Jolokia peppers have super sweet melon like aroma. It is slightly smoky and has a little twang on the nostrils, something you would expect from vinegar. Interestingly, the is no vinegar in this sauce.

Taste: The very first flavor to hit me is uhhmm PAIN, no wait it’s sweet and smoky and you can actually taste the garlic in the back for a second, then the PAIN! Wow, this is some hot stuff! Interestingly enough you go from a few seconds of pain to completely numb. My gums are still tingling, but I guess the endorphins have kicked in and blocked the pain cuz’ it’s gone. I think this is actually one of the best tasting super hots I have tasted. The bitter extract taste is not present in this sauce as in other super hots. I think I can find a few uses for this super hot sauce.

The Food Test: Are you kidding? The food test is everything I eat until the fire in my face goes away.

Conclusion: This one is a doozy! I love the fragrant aroma and the smoky melon like flavor. This has more than enough heat for the serious Chile-head and is almost forgiving enough for a supervised beginner to bungee jump their tongue. Have your cream cheese or ice-cream ghost buster nearby just in case you need a rescue party. Who you gonna call?

Packaging 9/10 – Typical DG Packaging
Aroma 9/10 – Fragrant and Enticing
Appearance 9/10 – Thick and pinkish
Taste 9/10 – Smoky Melon Pain
Heat 10/10 – Respect the Ghost

Overall 9/10

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Exclusive Hell's Kitchen Interview: Chef Matt Sigel.

Here is a treat for all you Hell’s Kitchen fans! We recently had the opportunity to speak with Chef Matt Sigel of season four. While Chef Matt may have not won the prize of the executive chef position at London West, he did provide fans with a whole lot of entertainment.

The Last Bite wanted to know more about Chef Matt, what got him interested in cooking, and where his passion for the culinary arts comes from. Of course we threw in a few questions about Hell’s Kitchen and Chef Gordon Ramsey:

TLB: At what age did you know you were going to be a chef and why?

Chef Matt: I did not go to culinary school until Feb 2000 at Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as Peter Kumps) I always loved cooking and was offered the opportunity to go to CIA. I turned it down to go work on Wall Street. I starting meeting celebrity chefs in my late 20’s and realized there is no shame of being a chef.

TLB: Where did you attend your training and did you find it easy or difficult?

Chef Matt: I attended ICE. I found it to be ok. I really did not like the majority of my classmates. So it made it difficult. Most of them went out after class while I went to work after class and worked till 1am and had to be in school by 8. They felt bad for each other being tired.

TLB: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Chef Matt: I would have gone at 18 and traveled to Europe.

TLB: What is best advice you would give a home cook that wants to go pro?

Chef Matt: You better learn to eat crow and be passionate. Having an ego will kill you. Always need to learn you can even learn from a dishwasher. Be patient not many make it in this business and don’t name drop.

TLB: If you had only one tip for the home cooking enthusiast what would that be?

Chef Matt: Know your ingredient and appreciate where it comes from and how it gets to your marketplace.

TLB: If you could only have your knives and one gadget, what would that be and why?

Chef Matt: My hand blender. I use that baby for a lot of things. Everyone should own one.

TLB: What is your favorite ingredient, and your favorite way to utilize that ingredient?

Chef Matt: LMAO! Asking a chef what his favorite ingredient is. I do love lobster. Nothing like fresh lobster off the coast of Maine waters. I had this experience in Bar Harbor Maine. I think people are so used to eating it baked or broiled. I have fun with lobster doing ceviche pairing it up with foie gras. Shocking people tempured style with a vanilla bean sauce.

TLB: What is your least favorite ingredient and why?

Chef Matt: I’d say tripe. Look I hate the stuff but I always try it. As a chef or a so called foodie you should taste everything out there. I hate beets. But I love them roasted. I would never ever known that if I just stuck with "I hate that."

TLB: Describe your funniest kitchen incident.

Chef Matt: There is so much funny stuff that goes on in a kitchen. It is high stress so the littlest things are funny. I think hells kitchen when I did you want to see crazy routine. People thought I was going nuts it was me being silly.

TLB: At home who does most of the cooking, and what do you like to eat?

Chef Matt: My wife does not cook. We go out a lot. She’s in retail we don’t have normal hours. But I am simple. We go out to eat a lot so its basic stuff. When we go out to dine which is occasionally we go to the popular places. I love Popeye’s fried chicken, white castle and pig out at taco bell. I do hate McD’s. Im just as human as the next person.

TLB: What is your favorite cookbook?

Chef Matt: I own a lot of cookbooks. But I do love Daniel Boulud’s Letters to a Young Chef. I know it’s not a cookbook. If you’re looking for food artistry Jean-George and Alfred Portale are two of my faves.

TLB: Hell’s Kitchen; what is your favorite story from your season?

Chef Matt: Chef Ramsey saying that was the best risotto to leave hells kitchen he only said that to me. I was the first one he said it to and everyone else he says it’s good.

TLB: Describe how you felt about Chef Ramsey during your time on the show. Do you feel the same way now?

Chef Matt: I love Chef Ramsey. He is a great chef. He reinvented me. Also people forget about Chef Scott and Chef Gloria on the show. Look Chefs yell; Ramsey wants passion and wants people to succeed.

TLB: Do you feel that you learned anything from the show that influenced your cooking?

Chef Matt: Yeah keep it simple. You can use flavors but keep it simple.

TLB: Would you participate in other cooking related productions?

Chef Matt: Yeah my own. Anyone want to produce a show?

TLB: What is Chef Matt’s dream job situation?

Chef Matt: I have a concept and concepts for restaurants that will put casual dinning over the edge. I need deep wallets to back me.

TLB: What do you want our reader to know about Chef Matt Sigel?

Chef Matt: I’m fun loving. I care about the customer. Personally besides cooking I love to read. Love politics. Have over 600 DVDs. And collect chef things (figurines, decorative stuff, have the Swedish Chef play set)

The Last Bite thanks Chef Matt for taking the time to answer our questions. If you would like to contact Chef Matt in regards to media, employment, or similar opportunities, contact The Last Bite or leave a comment here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Canadian Hot Sauce Company Heads South For the Winter

I was recently speaking with Denzel Sandburg of Denzel’s Gourmet Foods in British Colombia, Canada. He was telling me that he may get his fantastic products out here to the Napa area for the Mustard Festival. Denzel recently learned that his honey mustard sauce took the top prize at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival Worldwide Mustard Competition.

Then today while surfing my usual food related searches I can across this article about Denzel in the Vernon Morning Star:

Denzel Sandberg has to drain every grocery store along Highway 97 in the Okanagan to collect enough habaneros — the spiciest naturally-grown hot pepper — for his world famous hot sauces. It takes about 20 pounds of habaneros to make a batch of Fire Hazard, a hot sauce ranking eight out of eight on his spicy scale because it uses twice as many habaneros as his next-hottest sauce (Dangerous Goods, a seven) and which he uses the word really three times to convey how hot it is.

“It’s my drug of choice. This one is ‘aahhh,’” he says, widening his arms as if he were imitating a bear.

In the four-hour process of grinding, chopping, and roasting the habaneros for Fire Hazard, his eyes burn, his skin flares and his nostril hairs seer.

“It smells good but it burns,” said Sandberg. “It hurts.”

Making hot sauce is hard work, which is why the Enderby entrepreneur/chef, whose bottles have been bringing him international awards since he started Denzel’s Gourmet Foods seven years ago, entertained the idea of getting into the barbecue sauce business. Less than a year later, three of his four barbecue sauces have won some of the world’s top sauce prizes.

We hope that we will see you in Napa!

Read the rest here...