Last Sunday evening I was enjoying our patio while grilling up some sausages on the Weber for dinner. It is hard to beat the sound and aroma of pork fat sizzling on hot coals. Mix in some bubbling cheese squishing through the casing and magic happens.
HEB’s brats and jalapeno cheese sausage are pretty darn tasty I must admit. Anyways, that’s a nice Sunday evening right there is what I’m saying.
This time of year the jasmine on the fence fills the air with a sweet aroma that lingers. Our Ecuador cacao has this flavor note in the chocolate we make using the Arriba Naccional varietal.
All that was left to do was sip on a good Texas bourbon which I amply did.
Then a mosquito the size of a hummingbird landed on my wrist where I was holding my iPhone. I slapped the crap out of the bug, myself and my phone.
Sweet. That’s a solid move right there let me tell you. Photo blogging just became hazardous for the rest of the week or two, or until Alex gets back in town.
Monday evening Greg and I attended the pit master meeting for the upcoming Houston Barbecue Festival. The meeting was held at the new location for Gatlin’s Barbecue. Their new restaurant is really nice and the barbecue is excellent. Highly recommend.
At the pit master meeting, the group discussed important barbecue festival details like where the beer tents will be located and what time they start serving. It was fun to spend time with our meat head peers chatting about the business of barbecue. Everyone there was super friendly and supportive of each other. Htown has a nice fraternity of barbecue people.
Got to meet JR Cohen in person.
Yeah I’m not sure were that JR name came from either.
JR and I have been Instagram & Twitter friends for a long time. It’s cool to put a cowboy hat with the avatar from cyber profiles. We shared phone damage stories.
We’re thinking that our sample boat at the festival will look something like this.
Brisket, carrot souffle’ and a chocolate shooter of some sort. There will be a special top secret additional item for holders of VIP tickets. The Houston Barbecue Festival is next Sunday May 22. We are happy to be invited as a participant.
As the week unfolded so did controversy about our potato salad. Maybe it wasn’t really a controversy until I made it so to be honest about the whole deal. Regardless, Tatergate was born because a Yelp reviewer said our tater salad is no better than store bought.
Them’s fighting words right there. Wish my grandma was still around to take that Las Vegas living jack wagon to task. She would have lit him up and I would have enjoyed cheering her on. What she would have done in reality is simply said “if you don’t like something then just say no thank you”. She was a formal southern woman.
Gammann’s legendary potato salad never made it to the end of a Sunday brunch. She would fill a large glass serving bowl with potato salad and top it with thinly sliced hard boiled eggs. Her final touch was a dusting of paprika as a pretty red garnish. The table presentation of this potato salad was as spectacular as it tasted.
My mom makes a great version of this dish all the time too. The maddest I ever saw my dad was when I snagged the last bit of left over potato salad as he was looking the other way while making himself a sandwich to have with that last morsel of potato salad. It was a good thing I could move a little quicker than dad in those days.
Michelle learned about making potato salad from mom too, and reacted this way when I told her about Tatergate.
Truth was that Michelle had just cracked herself up while we were grabbing a quick bite to eat. We were discussing the challenges of making chocolate and barbecue when she said “why couldn’t we just make Penny Blossoms”. That’s inside joke for fans of The Big Bang Theory.
Our potato salad is made from scratch daily at The Craftory with red potato, farm fresh eggs, green onion, mayonnaise, and proper seasoning. It is a simple dish with few ingredients that is more about the method than the recipe.
As much as I wanted to have fun with Tatergate, in the end there really wasn’t much controversy at all as many of you expressed your approval of the side dish on Facebook. That was fun. A nice and civil cyber food controversy is a healthy thing I reckon. Perhaps most importantly is that most of you agree with your wallet as potato salad is our best selling side. That might be hard for you carrot souffle’ junkies to believe, but it is true by a pretty slim margin to be transparent about the facts.
Here lately there are many mornings when I show up and turn on the cooker lights a little black cat scurries off into the predawn morning darkness. I call him Charcoal, but never really get a good look at the alley cat. Tuesday morning I found him watching the road from the wheel chair ramp.
Charcoal is pretty shy and when I tried to get closer he headed for home.
Back under the house he went doing his part to help keep various varmints away. I’m glad Charcoal the alley cat found a home under The Craftory.
More happy kids, dogs and kewl rides visited us again this week.
I was walking past the covered deck on Friday and spotted these ladies scrolling through their smart phones like a couple of social media crazed millennials.
I showed them what happened to my phone earlier in the week and one of them said “get a case for it dip shit”. Maybe I read too much into their laughter and embellished that line a bit.
Something else interesting happened on Friday the 13th. When I seasoned the week’s brisket trim pieces we use for burnt ends there were exactly 13 of them. True story.
Speaking of seasoning…
I thought this was interesting to see the difference between brisket and pastrami seasoning before the meats were smoked. Our regular brisket is at the top of the picture.
In the bottom of the picture are our house corned beef briskets now seasoned to smoke and make pastrami. The colors of a brine brisket with black pepper & freshly ground coriander is quite different than our normal briskets. I love pastrami seasoning days. I get to fill the kitchen with the aroma of freshly toasted coriander seeds as I grind them minutes before seasoning the briskets. Project pastrami is coming along nicely.
“wa ha ka”
Chocolate in Oaxaca Mexico is about freshly ground cacao, sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. It’s been done like that there for generations and its easy to understand why. The flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, and almond are among planet earth’s best groupings.
We managed to get around to a truffle that we’ve often chatted about making. We took coarsely ground cocoa nibs fresh out of the pre-grinder and blended with almond butter, sugar, and cinnamon for the truffle center. The punch and texture of fresh unrefined cocoa nibs makes for a delightful and unusual truffle center. The truffle was then hand dipped in 70% dark chocolate and topped with a candied almond that Michelle made. This was our spin on the classic flavors of Oaxaca chocolate.
I’ve been teaching Norman about making chocolate. Then he schooled me on making signs for the truffle display.
That guy has a talent for this.
Iron Man Disrupts
We kicked off Saturday with coffee samples provided by District Roasters of Tomball.
A fresh cup of coffee, a breakfast taco, and a good cookie was a solid start to the day.
This week we all saw the signs on the roads about Iron Man. Recent weather events forced a new route for this year’s race which turned out to be a bit of a drag on our business day. Many of our customers reported frustration with lengthy traffic delays causing a lot people to avoid Old Town Tomball altogether on a Saturday which is the biggest revenue day for many business around Tomball. That was a bit of a bummer. We stilled managed a pretty solid day. It just took a little longer to get there.
A few Iron Man competitors did however come to their senses.
I kid of course, but these bike riders did work up a nice appetite that we were able to curb with trays of barbecue like these…
I posted about the shorter lines and Astro’s game with the top picture above and coaxed one family to come eat just in time to see the Stro’s blow a lead in the 9th and then lose the game in the 11th inning. Guy said the barbecue was good but not good enough to ease the pain of another blown save. Those guys…
At the end of Saturday it rained. I know summer is around the corner and by August we will be tired of it, but I must admit that I did enjoy the smell of cold rain steaming on hot pavement.
That’s an aroma like no other and I felt right at home.
The pick of the week was posted by Wendy. I had missed it last week so carried it over to this week. These are my rules you know. That is a nice picture of a stacked spud and a cold brew Wendy. Thank you for posting.
Thanks again to all that came out to The Craftory this week.
See you around the hood.