Archive for the 'Food' Category

Feb 08 2014

Santa Maria Roadtrip

In researching tritip for my smoking experiment, I learned that it was “invented” in Santa Maria, CA, so I’m sitting in a hotel here now!  I live in San Diego, so the wife and I jumped in the car and drove 5 hrs north and started hunting for good tritip.

Our first stop was at the Rancho Nipomo, and it’s been the best one so far!  The tritip is sliced very thin, and made into a sandwich.

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I was more interested in the meat than the bread, but then the owner, Richard, came over and said he forgot to tell us about the salsa that we HAD to put in the sandwich.  Wow!  It’s a pretty simple, fresh tasting salsa – made with canned tomatoes.  The combo was excellent.  He also had us try a hot salsa, made with Manzano peppers.  I think I’m still sweating!

You can tell he loves what he does.  He threw in a pulled pork sandwich

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and kept bringing us over other stuff to try, like the amazing chili on some chips.  My wife had the pork with a red sauce and nopales.

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It was great, with a good heat.

For Saturday lunch, we tried out Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA, but failed to read that the BBQ pit doesn’t open til 4, so I got a pretty good bbq sandwich.

Next, we headed up the coast, stopping for a bit to see some Butterflies:

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And llamas:

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But the pony ride was a lie!

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Very disappointing 😉

We headed back to Arroyo  Grande, CA to the Oak Pit BBQ.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got the sampler, which at $15 isn’t too bad!

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Pork rib, beef rib, tritip, pulled pork, and sides.  Oh, and corn muffin.  mmm! Like Rancho Nipomo above, their tritip was not cooked rare.  It was good, but not as good as Rancho.  Or mine 😉

Elaine was missing vegetables, so she got a salad.  A tritip salad!  😉

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The cook was VERY nice and told us that they smoked on red oak, just like I’d learned from my research.  I asked where I could get some and he pointed across the street to a market.

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So now I have a trunk full of red oak pieces that are too big to fit into my smoker.  Elaine thinks my solution will be to cut it down, but it occurs to me that maybe the REAL solution is a bigger smoker!  😉

On Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Rancho Nipomo for more BBQ!  Here’s a tri tip sandwich with the proper salsa:

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Also tried his ribs, which were very good!  Not as smokey as I like, but still great!

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And here’s a picture of that super hot sauce I mentioned above:

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3 responses so far

Feb 02 2014

First try at smoking tritip

Published by under Food,Fun

I got 4 tritips from Major Market in Escondido, 2 plain and 2 marinated. One was wine and pepper, the other just wine, I think.

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I put Emeril’s steak rub on them all. Mostly it’s salt and pepper. They range in weight from 1.77 lb to almost 3 lb.

I put them on at 10:30a, hoping I can get them to a 2p Super Bowl party.  I’m sticking to around 225F and will start pulling them at an internal temp of 130-135F

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11:20 and I’m at 115F internal temp on the 1.77 lb one, pit temp is hovering around 226F.  Worried that I might have put it on too early.

Oh yeah, woods are cherry, oak, and hickory.  The hickory was a huge chunk – hope it doesn’t overpower everything.  Also wonder if I should have rubbed the marinaded pieces, but I like a good crust.  I haven’t done much beef before, just lots of pork.

12:00p and the smallest is at 129F.  I’m going to let it get to 135F.

12:30 and I pulled the small one at 135F, and the next size up at 133F.  I left the others to heat up some more:

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1:00 and the other two were 133F, so time to come out!

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I let each of them rest for 30 mins, then cut!

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Thoughts later:

So I brought most of the tritip to the Superbowl party and it was a big hit.  People I didn’t know hugged me.  Grown men cried.  Someone snagged a bunch to take home to her husband 😉

I’m thrilled with the results.  The pepper rub really accented the beef.  It was really rare, which people liked a lot.  I brought some buns and horseradish sauce, but no one used it – there was so much flavor in the slices alone.

One of the cuts had a really chewy vein of tissue which didn’t detract from the flavor, but sure lengthened the chewing time 😉  Not sure what I could do about that, other than make smaller slices.

Slicing was kinda hard, so I ended up with much thicker slices that I wanted.  I need to work on my knife skills so I can get it thinner for sandwiches.

The marinaded tritips didn’t seem to taste much different from the plain ones.  That pepper rub probably didn’t give the other flavors a chance.  Maybe I’ll do a rubless one next time.


One response so far

Nov 28 2013

Thanksgiving Smoked Turkey

Published by under Food

I did this last year and didn’t document anything, so now I am!  SCIENCE!!!



So, we got a 17 lb Foster Farms fresh turkey from Costco.  We stuck it in the freezer because we got it about 10 days before Thanksgiving.  We pulled it out on Sunday night and let it thaw in the fridge mostly, with maybe 8-10 hours on the counter.  Even after leaving it out most of this morning, there was a little ice left in the cavity.

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Really, I’m not drinking.  Yet. For all things smoking, I rely on, a great resource for beginners and experienced folks.  I followed most of the instructions on turkey here. According to Foster Farms’ website, they don’t inject anything, so I was responsible for salt content.  I am a little worried I might have too much, but we’ll see.  I dry brined with salt a day ahead – just a little sprinkled on the skin and rubbed in.  When I got it out of the fridge this morning, the skin looked pretty dry on top, but the rest of the skin was still pretty wet and soft. I made a batch of AmazingRibs’ Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend & Baste (can you guess what’s in it?) and put it in some olive oil to blend into a wet rub.  I put a little salt in the rub too – this is worrying me that I have too much salt over all.

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Then I got all up under the skin and worked it in.

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I had trouble last year because I ripped the skin near the leg and it looked not pretty:


And I did pretty much the same thing this time:

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Dang it.  The skin is very thin there.  Elaine suggested stitching it, but I didn’t want to make a Frankenturkey. Next, I’d tried injecting last year and it came out great.  So I combined the little rub I had left with low sodium chicken stock, salt, sugar, and butter – I’m getting hungrier typing this…

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Years from now I’ll look back and wonder what the hell I was doing with that moustache…  It’s for Movember, a men’s health charity thingybob.  Please Donate!  😉 Now into the smoker, which has been pre-heating and has the water tray in already:


I covered up the legs and wings for the first hour with foil to keep them from getting over cooked:


Then I remembered I was supposed to put aromatics in the cavity!  I quartered an onion, put in some fresh rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic:



I used oak and cherry wood and sealed it up!  I got the temp up to 325ish (it keeps jumping around up to 340) and let it smoke:

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An hour later I popped it open to get the foil off of the legs and wings:

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That back wing was tricky to reach!

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The color is beautiful!

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It’s all sealed back up now, and 3+ hours in the meat temp is at 130F! An hour or so later and it’s done!  163F in the deepest part of the breast.


A proud daddy!


Up close:


Now it’s time to rest and get to the Thanksgiving party!

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I’ll try to get some carved shots in an hour or so!

I’m back!  Daaaaamn!  It was good!  Not too salty or dried out like I feared.  Very tasty and moist!


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Not too smokey at all.  My buddy made a rotisserie turkey and mine definitely had a smoky flavor while his had a more poultry one, so they were both good.

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Plated smoky awesomeness:

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Dueling Carci!  😉

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So, overall I’m very happy with the results.  The butter injection didn’t seem to impart a butter flavor, but it sure was juicy.  The skin wasn’t crisp, but I couldn’t expect that after an hour or so of foiling so we could get to our party.  It was still tasty but the smoke was super strong in the skin.  I wonder what a lighter smoke would produce.  We WERE drinking some heavy beers, so the heavy smoke complimented that well.

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Aug 05 2011

How to order a good beer

Published by under Beer,Food

I’m doing a small write up for a silent auction of “beer baskets” at work where I’m trying to help people who may be new to the craft beer scene get the most of out of a visit to one of our donor beer places. Below is what I have so far and I KNOW I’m over generalizing, but I don’t want to overwhelm people who are just starting. I describe how I help people who want to choose something new quickly, but I’m open to other approaches. Please drop your thoughts in the comments.

It is important to me that you get the most out of your visits to the restaurants and breweries. On the breweries tours, you will be presented with a spectrum of beers to choose at each location. At the restaurants, though, you will see menus (even books!) that list beer after beer. This can be very intimidating and I urge you to take this opportunity to try something new or unfamiliar. Most locations offer small “tasters” of a beer for $2, and some of them will even splash enough in a glass for you just to try for free.
Talk to your waiter or bartender and tell them what you like. These locations are well known for knowledgeable wait staff who can discuss beers quite extensively. There are books written about the myriad beer styles, but here is how I help someone decide what to try:
Decide if you’d like to go lighter or darker. While this is not always true, lighter colored beers often accentuate the hop flavors, which can range from bitter to grassy to floral. They are more often dryer than darks. The dark beer range starts with reds, browns, and ambers and extends all the way into barrel aged stouts. They can be heavier and contain more alcohol. They often have a lot of flavor, especially when they have aged for a while in an oak or bourbon barrel.
Next, if you’ve gone lighter, decide if you’d like floral or more bitter. Different types of hops are used to shape these flavors and your server should know the range. If you’ve gone dark, decide if you’d like bitter or sweet. Some really nice stouts are given a bitter flavor with unsweetened chocolate, and others are so sweet they can serve as a dessert.
These are REALLY rough guidelines, just to help you tell the server what kind of mood you are in and what you prefer. I highly recommend you try a range of what you think you’ll like. Then ask for a taster of something strange to you. There is a whole world of sour and fruit beers that is just amazing.

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Jun 13 2010

Taste of Adams 2010

Elaine and i just finished up trying out the Taste of Adams and had a few reflections:

When we started researching the event, there were 2 different dates referenced on web sites. In fact, the Blind Lady mailed out that they had confused the date too.

The tickets cost $25 each, but Mercedes found a $5 off deal. Still, the ordering site added a $2.50 processing fee, so that kinda sucked. For what we got, we think it was over priced by about $10.

Parking was about the same as normal for Adams, so about 5 mins of hunting side streets. The ticket booth was quick, with laser zappers that read the 2D barcodes nicely. Then we got a necklace badge with numbers that some of the vendors punched, I guess so you didnt come back for another whole bite of soy chorizo burrito.

We started at Blind Lady – a slice of nicely spicy margherita pizza. Then we hit Mariposa ice cream and they were very generous with two scoops of whatever they had. The Mexican chocolate was great! Next was Tams Thai which had a line too long to wait for so we skipped it. Next was Gold Donuts. They gave you a piece of a donut or fritter, or 3 donut holes for yer card punch. That was actually a pretty nice portion and fulfills my donut needs for the next year.

Then we met up with our buddies Kay Marie and Gerardo, and headed back in the other direction. Country Kabob Greek had some steam tables on the sidewalk with a tiny piece of pita with really spicy yogurt, and a bite of yummy spanikopita. Portions too small, but very tasty.

Lestats had iced coffee and brownie bites. Elaine liked the coffee, I never touch the stuff. The brownie was fine – kinda dry. Then we ran back across the street to TAO Thai and had some nice spicy tofu and a great chicken in some sweet sauce with mixed wild rice. No skimping on the portions here! They even had a mini dessert with mochi and bean curd. Right next door was Viva Pops! where they make their own Popsicles. The blood orange was yummy, and the girls said the chocolate banana was great too.

Elaine really liked El Zarape – rice, beans, carne, and chicken. Then a nice margarita shot! Well be back! Then we walked all that off and stopped into Incredible Cheesecake where I think they gave us a wafer thin hint of a smell of a taste of some cheese cake. Really chintzy.

Next was Jaynes Gastropub, who did the best job of all of the venues to treat us as more than a bother. We were seated and served bangers and mash. The portion was tiny, but we liked the service and the friendly people. We stayed a bit and ordered some beers to keep our strength up. Senior Mango was next, and I had a berry smoothy that was a nice size. None of the others had been inside AC Lounge before, so we popped in and were greeted very warmly by the bartender. They were serving half off drinks, but we were worried about running out of time, so we pressed on.

We skipped Twiggs because of time and tried Cafe 21. They had some dried out hash on dried out bread crumbs on a tray. Quite meh. Then we jumped on the trolley, which was a really nice part of the event, and went to the Farm House Cafe and had ricotta pancakes in a butter sauce with oranges. Very rich and tasty!

The trolley driver was cool and let us take our food on board so we didnt have to wait another 10 mins for the next bus. One of my main goals was to get to Ponces, someplace Ive heard great things about, so we rode the trolley all the way to the other end of Adams to Kensington. This was about 2:40, so we had 20 mins until the end of the event.

We tried out the Kensington Cafe, which had really nice people staffing sidewalk steam tables, but served up a minuscule bite of the aforementioned soy chorizo. Double meh. Burger Lounge had a 5 minute wait while they whipped up some more food, so we skipped it and hit Bleu Boheme. My old buddy JenBen was hosting and directed us back to a gentleman serving escargot in a rich sauce. Id never had them, and they were kinda like mussels or salty, chewy mushrooms with a slightly grainy texture. Oh, and they were snails… So that was different. I liked the place and the vibe tho.

Finally, with 10 minutes to spare, I get to try out Ponces!!! But no, theyre rejecting people at the door saying they ran out of food. WTF? How the hell do you run out of food? Youre a restaurant! The snails didnt leave a bad taste, but Ponces sure did. What a shitty way to treat people.

So, all in all, it was a nice event but many of the venues didnt do themselves any favors by being cheap on the offerings.

3 responses so far

May 31 2010

Yelp Review for West Coast Tavern

Elaine and I had dinner out at West Coast Tavern and liked it so much that I wrote a Yelp review.

Click here to read it.

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May 09 2010

Happy Mothers Day, E!

Published by under Declan,Elaine,Erin,Family,Food,Fun,Nathan

To celebrate Mothers Day, we went and picked up the boy at SDSU and went to Ali Baba in El Cajon. We had the 4 Person Feast, and it started with a blanket of bread:


and ended with a trough of lamb, chicken, rice, and so much food that we filled three take home boxes. All for $60! Very good deal. Then we dropped the boy back at school:


and I snapped one more picture:


One response so far

Mar 01 2009

code4lib 2009 in Providence, RI

Just got back from one of my favorite conferences of the year, code4lib 2009, this year in Providence, RI. It was great seeing a lot of my liberry geek buddies, and it was a nice reminder of why I live in San Diego and not the God forsaken hinterlands of the East. Cold is just dumb.

I took a lot of pictures as usual. They’re all up on Flicrk, but here are a few I really liked:

Our hotel was right across the street from the Rhode Island State house. I forgot to fix my white balance before I shot it, but I kinda like the effect:

If all of the cars in front were as old as the one in the middle, I could have pretended it was an old slide 🙂

Here’s a more “accurate” shot:

We headed over to the local mall’s food court for lunch:

Lotsa folks in that one – Mike Giarlo, Rob Cassion, Ross Singer, Phil Cryer.

I really enjoyed spending a few days with our intrepid Esme:

(He lives in Florida, Mike.)

Here Dan Chudnov does his Bollywood routine in celebration of Slumdog Millionaire’s big Oscar wins:

Jodi Schneider was thrilled to see me, as always:

I finally met Ed Summers, in the middle. It’s good to see him inspiring others as he does me. Bess Sadler is enjoying the fracas as well:

Gabe Farrell, on the right, forgot he owed me $20. Never do that. It gives me WAY too much license… 😉

Mike Park left me waiting to be picked up at the airport:

Well ok, he mailed me 3 weeks before the event asking if I needed a ride and I sent him an itinerary and said I’d confirm closer to the flight. Three hours before the flight takes off doesn’t really count! 😉 Mike drove me, Esme, Brad, and Dan all over the place, either because he’s a great dude, or I’m good at making people feel guilty. Either way, I win! 🙂 Thanks Mike for being a great host.

Actually, I gotta say that the whole Brown Univ (or is that Univ of Providence?) crew kicked ass in prep and execution of this conference. BRAVO Birkin, Jean, Bonnie, and other names I can’t remember because I drink a lot.

I also take a lot of pictures, so I’ll inevitably get something cool like this:

Heehee! I love my Lensbaby!

Pizza is good!

Did you know the lead singer of Saliva is a librarian?

Ross pretends to laugh at something while trying to ignore the fat dude sticking a camera in his face:

Just looking at this costs me 14 points:

Brad, Dan, and I visited the inside of the RI State House before we ran to the airport, and decided that we should hold the next code4lib in the Senate chambers:

Never get on that end of a canon, especially when I am on the other end…

As usual, way too many pictures here:

Awesome seeing you all again!

One response so far

Oct 03 2008

For Mike

Published by under Food

Just to make mjgiarlo feel worse about missing Access!

One response so far

Oct 02 2008

Cookie Trap

They always try to get ya with the coffee break cookies.

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