Monday, November 28, 2011

Does this beer make my ass look fat?

Interesting chart I found at

Damn, it seems I intake a hell of a lot of calories via beer.  My favorite seasonal, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale comes in at 214.  I guess thank FSM for my metabolism!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

So last Saturday, November 19th, Mrs. Pegleg and I woke up quite early and headed to SD for our volunteer shift at the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting at Embarcadero Park. We talked the in-laws into dropping us off, decided to take the train home so we could both enjoy all of the fine wine and spirits available. Arriving at six-thirty in the AM, we were there to work exhibitor support in the US Foodservice tent (they supplied all of the cups, forks, plates, napkins, ice, etc. for exhibitors). Work a six-hour shift, get a free $180 ticket to the event, great deal.

The event opened to VIP ticketholders at eleven o'clock, so of course the (286!) exhibitors didn't start arriving en masse until about 10:15. Since our shift ended at twelve thirty, we had pretty light duty; I'm sure emergency supply runs were getting crazy after the event opened to all at noon. Twelve thirty came, time to take off the volunteer shirts and get to drinking! And eating, of course.

Being San Diego, seafood was at the forefront, to my joy and the missus' chagrin. The most interesting dish had to have been the Black Cod Foie Gras from Sea Rocket Bistro, who had a crew of young, gangsta-looking chefs. My personal favorites were the Beet-Cured Salmon (served with watercress and a lemonade foam) from the Red Marlin and fresh crab claws from Truluck's. Mrs. Pegleg's favorite was Fleming's Prime, who had some delicious steak skewers, along with an even more delicious chipotle mac 'n' cheese. We both loved the pizza from Spinelli Mobile Wood-Fire Oven Catering--the mobile oven is a uniquely awesome setup. The new Aaron Sanchez-created menu at House of Blues was repped by a white chocolate banana bread pudding that was very tasty.

Other standouts included Donovan's Steakhouse, with some great steak sandwiches and filet burritos; the line there was never shorter than 30+ people. Fiscalini Cheese Co. had some fantastic cheeses out, I wanted to carry around a block while wine-tasting. Nobu brought a kimchi stew of sorts that I didn't particularly care for; kimchi is very hit-or-miss for my palate. Dick's Last Resort made a surprisingly good showing for a chain, their pulled pork was succulent, the sauce quite good. Whisknladle suckling pig cured meat (prosciutto?) was melt-in-your-mouth amazing.  Jake's Del Mar, a spot with a very good local rep, failed to impress with soft, fishy scallops.

On the beverage front, the folks we helped supply at the San Diego Symphony booth had some great symphony-branded wines from Fallbrook Winery, and were a great group of people. We found a local winery, Carruth Cellars, that we have yet to visit, and their wine was quite good. Our friends at Sunshine Mountain in San Marcos were out showcasing some of their fine wines as well. Other good wines were from Cliff Family and Gruet Winery, as well as import L'Aventure Languedoc. Indulge Wines is selling box wines minus the box, marketed as eco-friendly packaging. In my day, we called those space bags. Most Beavis-and-Butthead-funny name goes to Ca' Momi Wines.

Ty Ku, who we had seen earlier this year at the San Diego Spirits Festival, had some very good cold sake and soju, though it was somewhat jarring to drink among wines. Pucker was one of the larger companies out, it was, well, what Pucker is. Stella Artois had the best booth and best swag, giving out three different glasses with three different beers (Stella, Leffe, and Hoegaarden), as well as some Crown Royal-style velvet bags. The only drink I can remember really not liking was Magner's Irish Cider.

All in all a great day. Beautiful November weather on the San Diego Bay, tons of people, food and drink. We're told that this is now the second largest wine festival in the US, and I can definitely see why.

Master Chef Casting Call 2011

After a couple of weeks of recipe development, Saturday the 29th of October was go time. Headed to Hollywood for the Master Chef casting call at Le Cordon Bleu on Sunset. I'd auditioned last year and done well, getting a call back for an on-camera interview. A couple of days before the call, I got an email that I was a VIP--scheduled time to show up, no waiting in line. Sweet! Last year, I had to arrive hours ahead of time, and saw the VIPs walking right in. Well, this year it didn't work that way.

For some reason, the casting company decided to do a blog and radio giveaway for what appeared to be a ridiculous amount of VIP passes. Consequently, there was more VIPs than not. Add the fact that the entire casting crew took lunch while I was waiting in the hall, and I was there for like five hours, longer than last year! Finally into the food room, we had two minutes to plate our dish, ready for inspection by two "food experts" and our examination by casting personnel. My annoyance at the wait might have been apparent; although I got very good comments on my food I wasn't selected for a callback that day.

Here's the recipe for what I served the judges, Natchitoches Meat Pies with Cajun Mustard Aioil.

The filling:
1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork or mild sausage
1/4 pound chicken livers, cleaned and chopped finely
3 large shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly ground allspice berries
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
kosher salt, to taste
1/3 stick unsalted butter
1 bunch spinach or collard greens, cut and blanched

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, add shallots and sweat, then add meat. Cook until well-browned, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat. Drain and season.

The crust:

1 can evaporated milk (13 oz)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then whisk milk into egg until well, blended, set to side. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut shortening into the dry ingredients. Add the egg-milk mixture slowly until moist. Do not overwork, or dough may be tough. Form a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour (can hold up to three days), until dough is firm. Roll out to ~1/4 inch thickness, and use a bowl to cut 6-8 inch circles. Fill half with filling, add a few pieces of blanched greens, fold over, and crimp edges with a fork. Deep fry in oil quickly until crust is golden-brown and flaky.
The aioli:

2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pinches coarse kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup olive oil

Make a paste with the garlic oil and salt in a mortar and pestle or with the flat of your knife on a cutting board. In a bowl, whisk together garlic paste, cayenne, mustard, egg yolks and lemon juice. Whisking constantly, begin very slowly adding oil, starting drop-by-drop for the first 1/4 cup or so. If you overdo it and the emulsion separates, stop adding oil and whisk until it comes back together. Chill and serve.