Thursday, May 31, 2007

Central Coast Calamari Cutting

I was a simple Meatcutter when I got into this food sales business. I worked for a 4 location family owned store in the "other" bay area called Diablo Foods. In our Meat Department we processed our own fresh meats, poultry, and seafood. We were more than just a place to buy groceries however, we tried to make shopping there an experience. One of the store motto's was owned and operated by your friends and neighbors. Diablo was a gathering place.

Moving from a retail focused enviroment, mainly helping Mrs. Jones decide what she was going to prepare for dinner,
or encouraging Don Dirito (Dirito Brothers VW, Nissan, Saab)to buy a half Ribeye roast to BBQ for his staff on a Sunday to a wholesale enviroment took some adjustment. The Chef is often times more demanding and less trusting than some of our walk up customers at the meat counter.

It was a different world in the restaurant. I've learned something from every Chef, owner, line cook, bartender, and dishwasher I've sold to. But, I admit that I've had some favorite restaurateurs through the years with whom I have worked.

There was Ken Price from Pegg's Western Grill and Bakery. Ken was an ex-chemical engineer who turned a run down biker bar in Pacheco California to a family friendly breakfast and lunch restaurant. Menu items included names that fit the refinery neighborhood it was in as example the "Pipe-fitter" and the "Longshoreman". I asked Ken once what was the secret to his success and he got a far away look in his eye and said "I was blessed with the taste buds of the common man".
Bob Montague, owner of Cafe Sparrow in Aptos, was another. At the time he was running (what should have been) a high volume restaurant called Clawdaddy's on Cannery Row. He was a "hands on" owner full of passion for his menu, his food, and his guests. While placing an order one busy summer Sunday afternoon, in shock at the rapidly disappearing flatware--he ordered 6 dozen of each item then asked me to do him a favor. "Have your driver throw this away on the way in and save my people the trouble!"

Pat Ottone is another. Pat owns Lallapalooza, and Eli's Great American Restaurants. Once we were talking about a menu item that he wanted to put on. He wanted to menu a corned beef sandwich, but it couldn't be ordinary. With Pat every menu item should be an experience, more than a meal. Sure we sampled corned beef, rolls, and mustard..but we also explored the history of the corned beef sandwich. Somehow that led to Katz's Deli (ok only by internet-and as long as you are on the internet check it out at Since 1888 they have been around. You've seen it in movies and on TV) In fact the concept of Lallapalooza is to make you, the customer part of the restaurant, which is why everything is open and intermingled.

This brings us to the Central Coast Calamari cutting. Trying to find the best product for my Calamari customers. Of course there are traditionalist out there that must prepare their own fresh squid. Sea Harvest Restaurants fish, process, cook, and sell their products not only to retail customers but wholesale and for export. Tony at the Crown and Anchor cuts, batters, and fry's his own Calamari steaks. This however is about value added products to accent an appetizer menu.

The two products we review are not competing against each other, rather they both have a slightly different niche to fill. The first is from Eastern Shore Seafood and is a battered Calamari Strip. The second is from Tampa Maid and is a mix of rings and tenticles "lightly dusted" in a seasoned flour.

Please enjoy the results of our tests!

ServSafe Food Safety Manager Certification Training

ServSafe is the most recognized name in food safety and certification. The ServSafe Food Safety Manager Certification class is an 8-hour program that reviews the basics of food safety and sanitation. The class includes an accredited examination. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will receive a certificate. This certificate is valid in the State of California for 3 years and meets all requirements of AB 1978 and will keep your business in compliance with State and Federal Law.

In order to receive your materials in a timely manner, you must register at least two weeks prior to taking the class. You are responsible for reading the textbook prior to class. As a U.S. Foodservice customer, this class is being offered to you at the discounted rate of $95 per person and includes the class, exam, textbook with exam sheet and certificate. If you are not a U.S. Foodservice customer but are a member of the California Restaurant Association, you may register for $125 per person. Non-customers/ non-members may attend the class for $170 per person.

Both the textbook and the exam are available in English and Spanish, but the class is only taught in English. Please specify on your registration form if you would like the materials in Spanish.

Our next class is scheduled for:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
U. S. Foodservice
300 Lawrence Drive
Livermore, CA 94551

7:00am – 7:45am Continental Breakfast
8:00am – 4:00pm Class
12:00pm -1:00 pm Buffet Lunch

All registration forms and payments should be sent directly to:

Abraham Wilson
Hospitality Consultants of America,
716 Lighthouse Avenue, Suite G,
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

If you have any questions please contact Abraham at 1-800-953-3822, or you may email him at

Please remember to register at least
2-WEEKS in advance of the class date!

Pricing Information

U.S. Foodservice Customers - $95
CRA Members - $125
Non-customers/members - $170

Cancellations made less than 7 days prior to seminar date and class date transfers will be charged an additional $10.

Shipping Fees for registrations forms received less than 2 weeks prior to the class date will be charged an additional $20 for overnight shipping. This is to ensure that you have your materials PRIOR to the class.

Refunds for class fees are given under the following conditions:
 No less than 7 days prior notice
 Class materials must be returned UNOPENED
 Request is received within six months of receipt of payment

ServSafe Food Safety Manager Certification Class
Registration Form

Today’s Date: _____________________

Course Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Course Location: U.S Foodservice, 300 Lawrence Drive, Livermore, CA

Time: Registration – 7:00am – 7:45am Class – 8:00am – 4:00pm Lunch – 12:00pm – 1:00pm

U.S Foodservice Customer ID# _________________________(required for discount) $95.00

CRA Membership #: (required for discount) __________________

Fee Enclosed: $ _______________ (Non U.S Foodservice Customers $170.00 per person)


Name: ___________________________________________________

Company: _______________________________________ Title: ____________________________

Address: (no P.O. Boxes please)___________________________________________________

City: ___________________________________ State: ___________________ Zip: ____________

Daytime Phone: _________________ Fax: ________________ Email: ____________________

Payment Method: Payment must be included with your registration and is payable by check only.

Make checks payable to Hospitality Consultants of America and mail to 716 Lighthouse Avenue – Suite G, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

English _________ Spanish _________

Fax completed form to 1-831-375-1707 or mail to Abraham Wilson, 716 Lighthouse Avenue – Suite G, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Before Calamari, There Was Squid

By Ed Bruske
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 3, 2004; Page F01

What does a squid have to do to get a little respect?

It wasn't too long ago that squid was bait, something you wrapped around a hook to catch what you really wanted for dinner. As if that weren't bad enough, we then discovered calamari fritti, and suddenly every barfly in the world thought "squid" was Italian for "popcorn."

What's good for happy hour signals another ignominious turn for one of the animal kingdom's truly remarkable creatures. Consider these facts:
Squid belongs to a class of mollusks known as cephalopods, meaning head-attached-to-foot. Co-members include the mysterious nautilus, the cunning octopus and the inky cuttlefish. Fossil remains of Cephalopoda have been dated back 500 million years, well before the first indication of a dip for batter-fried calamari.

One of the smartest of invertebrates, squid have two large, unblinking eyes and an advanced nervous system. Beneath their transparent skin is a network of pigment cells that turn bright red to yellow to brown to blue, depending on the squid's mood. When startled, they can squirt ink and try to make their getaway. Squid were an early model for jet propulsion: they streak backward or forward by expelling water through a siphon in their body. One species of Atlantic squid is believed to migrate nearly 1,500 miles from the Grand Banks off Canada to its wintering waters off Cape Hatteras.

One species of squid near Hawaii uses bacteria to manufacture a light-producing protein, the same as fireflies. The squid beams its light downward as camouflage, tricking prey and predators by eliminating its shadow on the ocean floor.
Then there is the "vampire" squid whose tentacles are covered with sharp fangs, but it is rarely seen, since it can live at depths up to 3,000 feet. And thrill seekers continue their hunt for the elusive Giant Squid, although their search may be eclipsed by the discovery of a Colossal Squid. Scientists speculate that this squid -- a fearsome fellow with multiple claws, two giant beaks, and eyes the size of hubcaps -- could grow to 40 feet in length, and is possibly responsible for the long, ragged scars found on the heads of some sperm whales.

Fishermen use traps and lures to catch squid. Or they wait for nightfall and attract schools of squid with bright lights, then surround the squid with nets. The captured squid, usually between 3 and 12 inches long, are quickly frozen and brought to market in large blocks.

Hullabaloo Restaurant Sold

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - 12:38 PM PDT Wednesday, May 30, 2007
by Mary Duan

Hullabaloo restaurant, a mainstay of casual yet upscale dining in Old Town Salinas, has been sold to a San Diego businessman. The purchase price was not disclosed.
An application for a change of ownership lists the new owners as "Brooks Brothers," and current chef/co-owner Todd Fisher said the business was sold to Robert Peterson, whom he described as a successful businessman and restaurateur. The official change of ownership will take place on June 16; Fisher will remain for six months as a consultant, and his business partner, Will Reynolds, will depart to pursue "other things in the food industry," Fisher said.

Peterson did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
In addition to consulting to Hullabaloo, Fisher said he plans to continue as a consultant to the agriculture industry on food and restaurant matters, develop a cooking show for cable television and write cookbooks. He also has an exclusive contract to provide catering for events at the National Steinbeck Center.

"The reason behind the sale is that my wife just had our fifth child and it's time for me to slow down and not miss any more baseball games or soccer games, and the opportunity was right," Fisher said. "But I'll still be in the kitchen and I'll still be seen around the restaurant."

Hullabaloo opened seven years ago and, like most other restaurants in California, has weathered tough times in recent years; as consumers pay higher prices for gasoline, for example, they have less money for discretionary spending. The catering kitchen at the Steinbeck Center was another second Fisher and Reynolds-owned place, and the pair transitioned it from "One Main Street" to a much more casual dining venue called Chicken Scratch Flats.
It closed last year.

"The past seven years have been spectacular. That's all I can say. Spectacular," Fisher said. "I'm excited about the new owner and the quality of places he's had."

Plant to run on turkey power

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2007
By Steve Karnowski
The Associated Press

BENSON, Minn. -- The gray, sandy mix of turkey droppings and other bits and pieces flowing through Greg Langmo's fingers back onto the floor of his barn isn't just funky dirt, it's fuel.

With 16,000 hens gobbling around him, Langmo is standing on a 15-inch layer of turkey litter -- some 750 tons of the stuff -- that represents a new source of energy.

It will help fuel a $200 million power plant due to begin full-scale production next month. The 55-megawatt Fibrominn LLC plant will be the first poultry litter-fired power plant in the United States, tapping a novel source of renewable energy to produce enough power for 50,000 homes. Its developers are planning similar plants in other major poultry states.

Poultry litter -- a combination of droppings, wood chips, seed hulls, shed feathers and spilled feed -- has long been spread on fields as a fertilizer. That's cheap and effective, but it can cause nitrates and phosphates to build up in soil, groundwater and runoff.

So, poultry producers across the country have been looking for another way to get rid of it.

"We've got a long-term, economically and environmentally sustainable alternative to land-spreading -- the only advancement in manure management technology since the development of the spreader," said Langmo, a turkey farmer who's also fuels manager for Fibrominn.

The poultry industry's dilemma created an opportunity for Fibrowatt Ltd., which developed three smaller poultry litter power stations in Britain in the 1990s. As it happens, Minnesota is the nation's largest turkey-producing state.

When the state's producers learned about Fibrowatt, farmers and local officials began an intensive courtship of the company. At the same time, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. was looking for new sources of renewable energy to comply with a mandate imposed by the Minnesota Legislature that requires it to get 110 megawatts of power from biomass annually.

Poultry litter works as a fuel because it's relatively dry, so it's easy to burn compared with cow and hog manure, which are too wet and smell far worse. Three tons of poultry litter have about as much energy as a ton of coal. The ash can be sold as a phosphate-rich fertilizer.

And because it's biomass, it doesn't contribute to climate change like fossil fuels do. While both release carbon dioxide when they're burned, the biomass originated in plant material that absorbed carbon dioxide as it grew. Burning fossil fuels, like oil and coal, release carbon dioxide that had long been trapped in the earth.

Fibrominn, a subsidiary of Fibrowatt, has a 21-year contract to sell its power to Xcel Energy, which is already meeting the other half of its biomass obligation with plants that burn wood waste.

"This is a small step but a very important step toward doing something to counterbalance the effects of greenhouse gases," said Steve Wilson, a purchased power analyst for Xcel Energy. "I think it's really good for the environment."

Joseph Romm, a former top Energy Department official under Clinton and author of the global warming book "Hell and High Water," agreed, saying the plant would be considered greenhouse-gas neutral.

"Obviously there aren't enough turkeys to generate enough poop to power a nation," Romm said. "On the scale of things, it's not a game-changer. ... It's certainly more good than bad."

Langmo said the plant will consume about 40 percent of the turkey litter Minnesota produces, turning about 500,000 tons of it per year into electricity. Around 20 percent to 25 percent of the plant's fuel mix will be other biomass such as corn stover, native prairie grasses and wood chips, he said.

Fibrowatt Ltd. was founded by British businessman Simon Fraser and his family, who sold their three British litter-fueled plants in 2005 so they could concentrate on their U.S. business. Fibrowatt LLC, based in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown, Pa., is now led by Fraser's son, Rupert Fraser.

Fibrowatt LLC is planning projects in several other major poultry states. Rupert Fraser said they will likely include three plants in North Carolina, one or two in Arkansas, and one each in Maryland and Mississippi.

In Georgia, another developer, Earth Resources Inc., plans to break ground soon on a chicken litter-burning plant near Carnesville. That 20-megawatt project drew a $29 million loan guarantee from the Rural Utilities Service, a federal agency within the Department of Agriculture.

"We're big on renewables right now," said James Andrew, administrator of the RUS.

One longtime critic of the poultry litter plants has been David Morris, executive director of the Center for Local Self-Reliance, a Minneapolis-based think tank that focuses on helping communities get the most from their resource bases.

Morris said burning turkey litter squanders a resource that's more valuable as a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer than as kilowatts. And he said Xcel Energy's customers will pay higher rates because the electricity from Fibrominn will cost more than wind power or conventionally produced power.

"From a public policy perspective, this stinks," he said.

The nitrates in poultry litter are destroyed when it's burned. Morris pointed out that farmers who raise nitrogen-hungry crops such as corn typically use fertilizer produced from natural gas. He said it would make much more sense for the environment to use poultry litter. He noted that in the rapidly growing organic sector, farmers can't use chemical fertilizers.

Xcel's Wilson countered by saying all energy costs are going up, and developing new technologies costs money. He said Fibrominn has an advantage over wind power because the plant produce power nearly year-round, while wind turbines work only when the wind blows.

And Wagoner said it's just "a fact of life" that biomass power costs more than coal power.

In his barn, Langmo said selling litter for fuel gives poultry farmers a new way to add value. Most producers who contract with Fibrominn will get $3 to $5 per ton, which he added is about what they get selling it for fertilizer.

But the advantage, he said, is Fibrominn trucks the litter away all at once. Farmers don't have to pile it up outside their barns, where it can draw flies and spread odors that bother their neighbors, or put in the added work of spreading it on fields, he said.

The plant itself was a beehive of activity on a recent tour as contractors rushed to meet their deadlines. Welders and grinders sent sparks flying, while loaders sped around outside smoothing the dirt so the paving crews could come in.

Showing off the plant, Wagoner said it's a substantial advance over the original litter-burning plants Fibrowatt built in Britain.

"This is the Cadillac," Wagoner said

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Congressmen join 'natural' debate

By Alicia Karapetian on 5/29/2007 for

Two congressmen are calling on USDA to reform its labeling requirements for "all natural" chicken products.

In a letter to USDA, Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) and Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), who is also chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic agriculture, requested that USDA prohibit the "natural" label on any fresh chicken that has been pumped and also that "solution statements" be more prominently displayed so consumers can more readily see injected ingredients.

"Consumers are being cheated in their wallets and their health," Pickering said in a news conference. "They are buying chicken by weight that has been injected with 15 percent sodium water. And they are buying chicken as a health-conscious decision, but getting 800 percent more sodium per serving than truly natural chicken."

Several poultry processors also recently announced a coalition aimed to get USDA to tighten the use of the word "natural" in poultry. (See Smaller poultry processors unite in 'natural' debate on, May 18, 2007.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What to Consider When Purchasing a Warewasher

With proper maintenance, warewashers can last 12 years or more, but a typical life span tends to run between seven and 10 years.

Operators should weigh a number of considerations before purchasing a new unit:

• Look at the machine's production capacity to confirm that it meets the operation's needs.
• Take into account the warewasher's design and what items it will clean. For example, some units have a rack, while others use a table. Consider how well the machine will cleanse larger and odd-shaped items.
• Lighter items can sometimes pose difficulties in high-pressure machines. Determine if an automatic hold-down feature is needed to keep everything in its place during the wash cycles.
• Consider energy consumption and water usage. The majority of warewashers operate on electric power levels ranging from 115V to 460V. Some warewashers offer the option of either electric, steam or gas water-heating systems. Water consumption can range from .79 to 1.1 gallons.
• Will some of the newer features save labor? In the past, drain valves were open and closed manually. Today's machines feature automatic water fills, which allow operators to shut the drain valve, fill the tank with water and turn the heat on with a push of one button.
• Determine whether a high temperature or low temperature best fits the operation's needs. While a high-temp machine sanitizes using 180°F. water, a low-temp unit requires chemical sanitation. Although the cost of a low-temp machine is cheaper in the short run, the necessary chemicals cost more money over the unit's life cycle.
• Be aware of hidden costs when purchasing a warewasher. Pumps and boosters are not always built into a unit's pricing.
• Examine the unit's insulation to ensure it provides an adequate sound barrier.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Congratulations to New Land Baron Roy Zahn

After 10 years on the central coast Roy T. Zahn, of Ecolab has joined the ranks of homeowner. Or as Roy says,"Land Baron-Married to a Mortgage".

Roy and I both moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1997. I moved South from the San Francisco Bay Area and Roy moved North from the L.A. area.

Monterey moves at a different pace than either of those places, and we became friends while working together and acclimating to the pace.
I switched jobs after a year or so of being here and my previous employer went angrily after Roy, claiming conflict of interest because we were friends. We continue to be friends and have so much more to discuss in this world than whose using whose bleach.

Roy's job, although still with Ecolab has changed over the years, I think he is now like a "pool boy" or something. Skimming leaves and adjusting chlorine levels I suppose.

My daughter Trisha, my son Clayton and I got a chance to help Roy move this weekend from his two bedroom rental in Sand City to his brand, spanking new 3 bedroom 3 bath in Newman. It's a little bit more of a commute to the Peninsula for him, but he enthusiasm for his new home town is quite evident. We got to tour his neighborhood and cruise Main Street (In a Budget rent a truck)

Congratulations Roy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Christopher's 3rd Anniversary

Christopher's on Lincoln in Carmel just passed its three-year mark (quite an acomplishment in this day and age) and chef-owner Christopher Caul is celebrating by offering guests a free glass of wine or bubby if they come in and say "Happy anniversary."
From running a restaurant at the tender age of 16 to his new venture Christopher’s Restaurant on Lincoln, Christopher Caul has capitalized on the opportunities that have come his way. As a teenager in upstate New York, Caul had the good fortune to begin his career in the shadow of the Culinary Institute of America, Where local kitchens benefited from the tutelage and experience of the schools chef-instructors. One such formative experience was working for two years as sous-chef for the CIA’s prestigious Escoffier Room Chef Claude Guermont.

A talented rising star, Caul first gained national attention in 1989 when he was selected by the James Beard Foundation as one of New York’s best young Chefs. Concurrently, his first restaurant, the Vintage Cafe in Cold Spring, NY, received critical acclaim in the New York Times, receiving “Five Stars” from Brian Miller. That same year the Vintage Cafe also receive the highest rating possible in the Zagat Guide. Over the next five years the Vintage Cafe went on to receive the “Critics Choice Award” given out by the New York Times every January. Building on his success and acclaim, Caul opened in 1992 the North Street Grill in nearby Fishkill, NY, which was immediately named “Best New Restaurant” by Hudson Valley Magazine.

In 1995, Caul changed coasts to become chef-proprietor of Giuliano’s Restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. Popular from the outset, the restaurant’s casual venue and Caul’s innovative California-Italian menu attracted locals and visitors alike. Within three years, he was approached to sell his restaurant to the owners of the Post Ranch Resort in Big Sur, CA. Taking a break from the kitchen, Caul took over food and beverage duties at the Del Monte Golf Course as helping to tope Stillwater Bar & Grill for the Pebble Beach Company.

In 1999, Caul opened a new restaurant, Nonna Rose on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco for the Alioto Family, Caul was there from the start, with designing of the display kitchen, purchasing of the equipment and creating of the menu. Since returning to the peninsula, Caul was previously Chef/General manager of the Cork Screw Cafe in Carmel Valley, CA. While there he received rave reviews from the Monterey Peninsula Herald as well as Adventures in dining. Caul left the Corkscrew in February of 2003 to pursue Christopher’s Chef Services where he provided restaurant consulting, kitchen design (both commercial & residential), private events, family meals as well group or private cooking classes

Monday, May 21, 2007

Burt Cutino 2007 MenuMasters Hall of Fame

Seasons 52 honored for menuOrlando Business Journal - 3:56 PM EDT Monday, May 21, 2007

Nation's Restaurant News has named Seasons 52 Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Development Clifford Pleau as its MenuMasters Chef/Innovator for 2007.
The Seasons 52 restaurant concept, part of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), is still in development. It focuses on fresh, healthy, seasonal menus with no entrees exceeding 475 calories. No sauces, fats or frying are used in menu preparation.

Now in its 10th year, the MenuMasters Awards celebrate excellence in food service research and development. Winners are selected by the editors of Nation's Restaurant News with input from a MenuMasters advisory board.

Other companies honored at the May 19 ceremonies in Chicago include: Captain D's Seafood, Chartwells School Dining Services, Dunkin' Donuts, Golden Corral, The Inn at Little Washington and Jack in the Box.

Bert Cutino, co-founder of the Sardine Factory Restaurant in Monterey, Calif., is the 2007 inductee to the MenuMasters Hall of Fame.

Born in Monterey, Chef Cutino is a Certified Executive Chef and Food Manager. He is the co-founder of the Sardine Factory. He has a degree in business and two Doctor of Culinary Arts in Honoris. He is the recipient of many recognition awards, including the Distinguished College Alumni Award, US Congressional Record, and local-regional-national Chef of the Year, Diplomat, from the California Culinary Academy. He has served on the CCA Board and continues as an advisor, and was part of the 1988 and 1992 Culinary Olympics.He has been awarded competition Gold Medals and recognized in many Halls of Fame. He has also been recognized by Nations Restaurant News as one of the "NRN Fifty" and "The New Players."

He is committed to the future of the hospitality industry through education, and has been Chairman of the American Academy of Chefs, The ACF Honor Society and serves as Chairman of the past Chairman's Council. He has served as Vice President of the American Culinary Federation, Inc., Director of the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, Chairman of Distinguished Restaurants of North America, Co-founder of the ACF Chef & Child Foundation, and Chairman of the Antonin Carme Society. He has also served as the Local Bailli (President) and Conseiller des Professionnels National of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. Chef Cutino received the Chef Professionalism Award for the ACF Western Region, and was honored with the National Chefs Professionalism Award in 2001. In 2002 he was awarded the AAC Chairman's Medal and in 2003 was honored with the IFMA Silver Plate Award for Independent Restaurants. In 2005, Chef Cutino was bestowed with the honor of Les Disciples d'Escoffier by culinary society Les Amis d'Escoffier. He has appeared on many television and radio programs and is recognized in many publications, newspapers, and editions of Who's Who Worldwide. Chef Cutino is active in many charities. He was named "2002 Citizen of the Year" by the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, Chef Cutino received the Distinguished Fellow Award in the Hospitality Industry from California State Monterey Bay. He was the first to be honored in this category. One charity close to his heart, and which he founded, is the Meals on Wheels Culinary Classique. This innovative fund raiser results in funds that provide meals for 40,000 people for at least six months, and his concept is now being used in other states by Meals on Wheels.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Frank's Whiskey Pepper Steak

Thanks to Frank for submitting this!

Whiskey Pepper Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Pepper Steak
1 (16-ounce) sirloin steak, cut into two portions
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Fire up the barbecue.

In a saucepan or deep skillet, make the whiskey pepper sauce by sautéing the white onions in the butter over high heat. In about 3 minutes the onions will begin to turn brown.

Add 1 cup of the beef stock to the onions. Add the cracked black pepper and garlic at this point as well. Continue to simmer over medium/high heat until the sauce has reduced by about half.

Add the whiskey, green onion, and remaining 1 cup of beef stock to the sauce and let it simmer over low heat while you prepare the steaks.

Spread 1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper over the entire surface of each side of the sirloin steaks and press it into the steaks so that it sticks.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Drop the steaks into the melted butter and sear each side of the steaks for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until brown.

When the barbecue is good and hot, grill the steaks for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done to your liking. Salt the steaks lightly as they grill.

When the steaks are just about done, combine the cornstarch with the tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Stir just until the cornstarch dissolves.

Remove the whiskey sauce from the heat and add the cornstarch to it. Put the sauce back on the heat and continue to cook on low until the sauce is thickened to the consistency you desire. Serve the steak doused with whiskey pepper sauce.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Congratulations Again to Robbie's Ocean Fresh, Purveyor of the Year!

Robert Torrise's business grows from one-man operation
Herald Staff Writer

Robert Torrise, owner of Robbie's Ocean Fresh Seafood on Wharf No. 2 in... (VERN FISHER/The Herald)

It's messy, it's smelly and it's co-o-o-o-o-ld.
And it's a job Robert Torrise couldn't love more.

Torrise, 45, is a modern-day fishmonger, a wholesale supplier to a bayside community that prides itself on its fine, finny choices.

But to the waiters and the cooks who know him as the guy who delivers the catch three days a week through the restaurant's back door, he's simply "Mr. Fishman."

That is perfect for a guy whose Sicilian roots are rich with the ocean, whose first job, at 12, was in a fish shop and who learned the wholesale seafood business before he finished high school.

Torrise went on to fish commercially for spot prawns and rock cod in Monterey, for herring in San Francisco, for salmon in Alaska.

Seafood, as a trade, is work that hails back to Monterey's heyday, when the clanging of the pulleys and the shouts of the fishermen sailed the breeze, when the biggest crop was that of the sea. And it's one that suits Torrise just fine.

Five years ago, trying to balance his experience in the seafood industry with fatherhood and family and freedom, he started Robbie's Ocean Fresh Seafood. Equipped with little more than a van, a cell phone and lot of hope, he worked out of his home.

These days, Torrise has a 750-square-foot shop on Monterey's Wharf No. 2, which houses a packing area and cooler, in addition to his home office. A small fleet of delivery vans helps deliver fish to such clients as The Sardine Factory, Inn at Spanish Bay, Blue Moon and Bernardus Lodge. Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital is a client, as is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which orders not only for its restaurant, Portola Cafe, but for many of its most prized inhabitants.

So what's on an otter's order? Turtle-safe, sustainable Sweet Georgia shrimp. The sharks get salmon. "They don't spare no expense for those little guys," he says.

Three days a week, he's up long before sunbreak to jostle his way among the restaurateurs, the brokers and the buyers on San Francisco's Pier 45. It's a side of San Francisco that Torrise knows from his youth but a facet few visitors ever experience.

"That's when you see San Francisco, the yelling and screaming, boats in and out," he said. "It's just a whole different view of the Bay Area."

It's a face to the place of which he never tires.

Surrounded by the sea and the seagulls and — eventually the sunrise — he inspects, rejects and bargains in a seafood bazaar, with the brokers that represent a global array of seafood. Swordfish, clams, mahi-mahi, mussels. Baramundi, hook-and-line-caught bluefish, tuna, caviar. Oysters, bronzini, durod, sepia and wild striped bass.

Fish from Alaska, from Bali, from Thailand, from Australia. From Monterey and Marin.
If a customer requests it, chances are Torrise can get it.

Then, while the rest of the region is yawning itself awake, he points his truck to Monterey's wharf, where he'll transfer individual orders — usually about two dozen — to refrigerated vans for delivery.

But that's no small or simple task: Truckloads generally run 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of fish, packed in ice-filled wax-coated boxes known as wetboxes. Inside, plastic separates the seafood from the ice, to avoid any chance of chlorine discoloring the fish or affecting its flavor.

Seafood swims through Torrise's past.

In his Sicilian family of 10 children, fish was often served growing up for everyday dinners and special occasions. Two brothers opened their first retail fish shop in San Francisco's Mission District while he was in junior high, then expanded to a small string of stores. When he moved to Monterey 18 years ago, he went to work for his in-laws at their business, Monterey Fish Co. These days, his wife, Fran, handles Ocean Fresh Seafood's books.

Chances are, seafood will run through Torrise's future as well.

"I'm having fun," he said. "I don't have to answer to anybody except my wife."
Torrise — a seafood wholesaler who admits he doesn't actually eat much fish because it leaves him hungry an hour later — gave himself a year to succeed. If he failed, he said, he figured all he'd have lost was the cost of a van.

Last week, Robbie's Ocean Fresh Seafood was named Purveyor of the Year by the American Culinary Federation's Monterey Bay chapter.

Colin Moody, executive chef at Asilomar Conference Center and current president of the chefs association, said Torrise has been instrumental as a board member for the organization and founded a successful golf tournament last year that raised $6,500.
"He's just one of those guys with a real 'I can take care of it' attitude, and that's just so fantastic for chefs to hear," said Moody. "He just does that over and over again."

Moody said he's impressed with Torrise's knowledge about fish, particularly about what's sustainable, what's organic and what's the next swelling trend.
For now, Torrise said he loves the camraderie on the job, the chance to coach his kids' teams, to see them grow up.

"If I'm not having fun," said Torrise, "then I'm going to stop."

Marie Vasari can be reached at 646-4478 or

Eating trans-fat-free in the neighborhood: Applebee's changes frying oil

By Ann Bagel Storck on 5/18/2007 for

Joining a growing list of restaurants, Applebee's International on Thursday announced it is no longer using trans-fat-free frying oil at its more than 1,800 domestic locations.

Applebee's says the new oil does not compromise the taste, texture or quality of its food. In fact, CEO Dave Goebel expressed in a statement that "in some cases, the oil even enhances the flavor of the menu item."

Applebee's plans to replace its pan and grill oil with a trans-fat-free substitute over the next few weeks and is working with suppliers to remove trans fat from processed foods, such as appetizers.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maui Sugar

Passengers in window seats on planes arriving at Kahului Airport are the ones fortunate enough to have a spectacular bird's eye view of Maui's most historically significant plant: sugar cane. Some 37,000 acres of this giant grass paint broad swatches of green across Maui's lower volcanic slopes and sunny central isthmus, giving the island its lush, verdant look.

Once the most influential crop in the daily lives of Maui's residents, sugar cane continues to be an economic contributor for the State of Hawaii, both as a leading agricultural crop and, in the form of bagasse, fuel for steam-driven electrical generators.

Sugar cane is believed to have originated more than 10,000 years ago in New Guinea. From there, early human migrations spread the plant westward into Southeast Asia and India and eastward into Polynesia. In the west, the Arabs began cultivating cane and making sugar, and introduced their techniques to Europe. In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane to the West Indies, and by 1751, the plant was grown successfully in Louisiana.

In the Pacific, Polynesian settlers introduced sugar cane to Hawaii more than a thousand years ago. Hawaiians planted cane around their taro patches and chewed the sweet stalk, but did not make sugar. The Hawaiian sugar industry dates itself to 1835 when the first successful sugar plantation was established on the island of Kauai. Sugar plantations would eventually pop up throughout the islands, including, over the years, more than 30 of various sizes on Maui. Over time, consolidations and closures gradually reduced the number to fewer, but larger, plantations. Today, only two remain.

During sugar's heyday in Hawaii, the plantations privately developed an extensive irrigation system that today still provides a significant portion of the island of Maui's water supply. The industry also built company housing, stores, hospitals and churches, which evolved into culturally rich, self-contained communities that included most of the island's population.

As the industry's need for manpower grew, immigrants from around the world were recruited to work on the plantations, hailing from places as far-flung as China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Germany and Scandinavia. These immigrants became the foundation of the islands' multi-ethnic society, the "melting pot of the Pacific."

Sugar's heyday in Hawaii lasted until the 1960s, when tourism outpaced it as the state's number one industry. It remained Hawaii's leading agricultural crop until, with the closure of several plantations in the 1990s, the crop value of sugar fell below that of pineapples, marking the end of a major era.

Today, the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company operates the state's largest working sugar mill, in Puunene, Maui, just 250 yards across the way from the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. It employs some 800 people, and cultivates approximately 37,000 acres of cane. In 2005, Maui's sugar mill produced more than 190,000 tons of raw sugar, accounting for five percent of total sugar cane production in the United States. The mill also produced more than 57,000 tons of molasses and generated approximately seven percent of Maui's electrical power.

The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum encompasses six exhibit rooms plus outdoor

Tim and Trisha Isaeff Outside The Sugar Museum

displays of plantation equipment.

The Geography Room
Explains how Maui's geography and weather patterns influenced the development of the sugar industry and presents information about the extensive irrigation system and network of deep wells developed by the plantations.

The Water Room
Shows how water was arduously brought from the island's windward slopes to the sunny central isthmus, and highlights the bravery of the men who accomplished this tremendous feat.

The Human Resources Room
Displays historical information about some of the pioneers who established Maui's modern sugar industry. Also includes artifacts, photos and documents (including labor contracts written in Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese) showing the arrival of immigrant plantation workers from around the world.

The Plantation Room
Includes photos and fascinating exhibits showing the rich, multi-ethnic nature of plantation communities and plantation life, such as religious items, household artifacts and a scale model of a worker's camp house. A video presentation created by award-winning filmmaker Edgy Lee shows how cane is processed into sugar.

The Field Work Room
Depicts plantation workers in the fields and includes displays of surveying equipment, a cane knife, and typical items used by field workers such as a "kau kau tin" (lunch pail). A mannequin shows a Japanese woman's complete field work outfit.

The Mill Room
Offers several interactive displays including a 1915 locomotive bell, a "Cuban" sugar mill and an impressive working scale model of cane-crushing machinery. A narrative with special lighting and sound effects accompanies the operation of the model.
Trisha and Tim Inspecting the Cleveland Trench Digger

Outdoor Exhibits
Visitors can get a close-up look at some of the intriguing equipment and items used by sugar plantations and plantation workers, such as a Cleveland Model J36 trench digger, an outdoor Portuguese oven built in the 1920s, a "bull gear" approximately 11' in diameter and a cane grab large enough for a child to walk under without stooping.

Biodegradable & Compostable Bagasse Plates (Sugar Cane Fiber)

U.S. farmers are forced to burn or otherwise handle approximately 250 million tons of agricultural residues annually. The burning of crop residues releases substantial particulates and emissions, which pollute the air, contribute to global warming and create serious health and safety risks for farmers, their families and surrounding communities. The massive burning of agricultural resources also presents a substantial missed opportunity for sustainable resource management and rural economic development.

After squeezing the sugar from sugarcane, the fibrous residue called bagasse can be used for papermaking, and some tropical countries use bagasse that way. The papermaking economics have to outweigh the use of bagasse as an energy source for the sugar mill.

Disposable, compostable & biodegradable plates made from 100% bagasse - sugarcane fiber remaining after extraction of juice from the sugarcane. Sugarcane is not only a readily renewable resource, but the sugarcane fiber can be turned into products normally made from plastic or paper and avoids the pollution from normal burning of sugarcane pulp after juice extraction. These biodegradable plates are soak proof, have no plastic or wax lining applied to it and can be used for both hot and cold items. Please note, that though these compostable plates are soak proof, hot items will cause the plates to "perspire" and some condensation will form at the bottom of the plates. A far superior alternative to styrofoam & plastic (non-biodegradable, petroleum derived, pollution causing) and as well as paper plates made from cutting down trees.

US Foodservice San Francisco is stocking several green items made from Sugar Cane,or
Corn including to go containers, plates, cutlery, cups, film, and foil.

For More information please contact Brian at

Santa Barbara Takes Steps Towards Banning Grocery Bags and Styrofoam

By Melissa Evans
Wednesday, May 16 2007
City leaders on Tuesday took a step toward banning Styrofoam containers used for prepared food and plastic bags used at grocery stores in their efforts to become more environmentally friendly.

The idea, which would have substantial ramifications for consumers and businesses, has been discussed in prior meetings relating to the need to divert trash from the Tajiguas Landfill.

Members of the City Council were all supportive of the ban, and voted to send the idea to its Subcommittee on Solid Waste for review of legal and other issues.

The decision came after a presentation by a group of Santa Barbara City College students who are part of a sustainability workshop that encourages more efficient use of natural resources.

Because plastic bags are made petroleum-based, leakage from these products can cause negative effects to animals, particularly birds, and the ecosystem, said James Griffin, one of the students.

He and his colleagues asked the council to consider measures that would encourage the public to use cloth bags and biodegradable products to store food -- possibly asking restaurants to add a small tax to cover the cost.

“These are simple ways for the general public to feel like they are part of the solution,” said Kathi King, another student.

All of the council members expressed support without getting too deep into the details; logistical and legal issues still need to be analyzed by city staff members.

There is, however, precedent for these bans. The city of San Francisco banned the use of plastic bags a few months ago, giving grocery store chains time to accommodate the changes.

Several cities and counties, including Ventura County and Orange County, have banned the use of Styrofoam containers for prepared food.

Cities and counties cannot control “interstate commerce,” meaning they can’t regulate products that are shipped here from elsewhere, said City Attorney Steve Wiley. They can, however, control products and food that are made here, he said.

Councilman Das Williams suggested the bans be considered separately, because the Styrofoam ban is a “no-brainer,” he said, referring to other products that can be used for storage and the negative effects of the substance.

Styrofoam is made from crude oil, a nonrenewable resource that can easily break apart and get into water streams and cause major damage, the students said.

Santa Barbara and other cities that use the Tajiguas landfill are also required to limit their trash input over the next few years. Santa Barbara already diverts about 64 percent of its trash from the landfill, and must reach 70 percent by 2010.

The bans will be discussed by the Solid Waste Committee, and then be sent to the Ordinance Committee before the City Council makes any decision.

Sweetness, meatless

The Monterey County Herald
Article Last Updated: 05/10/2007 03:55:48 PM PDT

From left: Eefje Theeuws, David Leroy and Michael Bliss order lunch from Rebecca Pieken, co-owner of Central Avenue Bakery in Pacific Grove. (ORVILLE MYERS/The Herald)You never know what can happen when two neighbors, each disenchanted with her job and searching for something new, get together to commiserate over coffee.
They might just try to change the world — one vegan nutburger at a time.

Two years ago, next-door neighbors Tina Thompson and Rebecca Pieken put their heads together and discovered shared passions — cooking and the environment. The result is Central Avenue Bakery in Pacific Grove, a multipurpose vegetarian and vegan deli/restaurant/ coffeehouse/hangout, serving food that is — according to their business card — "mostly organic and always delicious."

In April 2005, the friends opened their bread-based business in the same space that, ironically, previously housed Carb Busters Deli, which died along with the Atkins Diet.

The Bakery evolved slowly, first serving sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, along with deli fare, before expanding to full breakfasts (served all day), salads, soups, pizzas, quiche, lasagna, pirozhkis and much more.

And no meat. Ever.

"Our philosophy was always healthful, wholesome and delicious," said Pieken, who's not even a vegetarian but admires the lifestyle. "I think we've proven you can serve great food without meat."

Choices among breads include the bakery's popular seven-grain, four-seed farmer's bread, as well as a few gluten-free and vegan varieties. The cheeses are made without rennet (derived from the stomach of a calf) and dairy-free vegan cheeses are made in-house.

As for the nutburger, it's a housemade, ground concoction of nuts (including macadamia, cashew, almond and pecan) and vegetables formed into a patty and grilled.

Being "green" is important to Pieken and Thompson, who grind their own flour from organic grains; compost their green waste; use dishes, silver and linens to avoid paper products; and shop at local farmers markets, buying organic whenever it's fiscally feasible.

The front of the house features a sitting/reading area, complete with comfy couch and a mini library and game table. Fresh flowers abound, completing the picture as a welcoming respite.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wild American Shrimp Trains 100 Certified Evaluators

MAY 15, 2007 -- CHARLESTON, S.C. - Wild American Shrimp, Inc. (WASI) here has completed the training of 100 Licensed Certified Evaluators (LTEs) who it said will ensure that wild-caught U.S. shrimp processed in facilities along the southern Gulf and Atlantic coasts meet the marketing group's standards.

"At a critical time in the marketplace, Wild American Shrimp is doing everything possible to guarantee that wild-caught shrimp is inspected and meets the stringent requirements necessary to be deemed Certified Wild American Shrimp," said Mario Piccinin, WASI's director of operations. "To that end, the completion of training for 100 certified evaluators will not only help ensure quality standards are met, but will increase the capacity to certify product."

The new WASI-trained evaluators will begin certifying product on June 1. Previously, this function was handled by U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) inspectors. While WASI's certified evaluators will assume responsibility for this role next month, USDC inspectors are invited to receive the certification training offered by WASI and will continue to conduct initial facility audits at shrimp processing plants.

Warm Mother's Day Story Part II

It's a steal! Meat thief looks to make off with brisket, spare ribs and more

By John Gregerson on 5/15/2007 for

Fort Worth, Texas, resident and would-be thief Jimmy Earl Miller bypassed the register of an area Albertson's on Sunday and headed straight for the meat case, where he attempted to steal a brisket, three packs of pork chops, four packs of ground beef chuck, eight packs of spare ribs and numerous other meat items.

Total value of the meat: $245.27

Store manager Miguel Carrera and another employee managed to block Minter, who was manning a shopping cart as he headed for the exit. A third employee eventually helped subdue Minter until Fort Worth police arrived.

Bail was $50,000

Warm Mother's Day Stories Part I

Theft suspect says he did it for mom
Liquor taken from restaurant
By John Scheibe (Contact)
Monday, May 14, 2007
He told police that he was only robbing the place so he could get some money to buy a gift for his mom on Mother's Day.
But instead of buying a Mother's Day present, an Oxnard man spent Sunday behind bars.
Police arrested Gabriel Jess Martinez, 22, in connection with an early morning burglary of the Cabo Seafood Grill and Cantina in the 1000 block of South Oxnard Boulevard.
Employees who arrived at the restaurant early to prepare for a large Mother's Day crowd reported a burglary in progress at 5:17 a.m., Oxnard Police Sgt. Andrew Salinas said.
Salinas said the workers were in the kitchen when they heard the sound of windows being broken.
Police arrived minutes later and found a man dragging a large ice chest through a broken window, Salinas said.
Salinas said the man ran after officers ordered him to stop.
When officers caught him, they found two screwdrivers and a crowbar, Salinas said.
Salinas said the ice chest was full of liquor bottles from the cantina's bar. Martinez told officers that he needed money for a Mother's Day gift, Salinas added.
Martinez was arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, possession of burglary tools and resisting arrest, Salinas said.
He was taken to the Main Jail in Ventura where he was being held Sunday night in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Mexican Christmas Posole

In 1991 I got married twice to the same woman. We eloped in May. I took my boss as my best man, because I knew he could give me the day off and take the day off himself, plus he was a whole lot of fun. Great fun, but that is another story for another blog. So the big wedding was in October and we went back to visit her family in New Mexico. New Mexico really makes you appreciate California. Here is the recipe that Traci worked off of for her fantastic Christmas posole.

1 lb. (450 g) dried posole corn
It's not hominy, but you can use hominy -- dried, canned or frozen. But use the dried, prepared as you would dried beans; sorted and cleaned. Cover the posole with water and soak overnight. Bring the water and posole to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the kernels "pop." (It takes a couple of hours.) Add more water if necessary. It's a wonderful thing, really. (Part of the Posole experience is the cooking of the dish all day and reveling in the aromas and warmth; like the warmth you feel being loved by our Lord.)

3 lb. (1.4 kg) diced pork (lean cuts of shoulder or butt. Cut as you would for stew if you use a bone-in cut, leave the bone in the stew. I do have to mention the true traditional Posole has pork skin also as an ingredient. If you use a picnic or shoulder with the skin on, do not discard -- trim fat off and cut into pieces large enough to pick around and add with the meat when cooking.)

2 to 4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) lard (I know, I know -- saturated fat, but this is the traditional medium for braising the pork, onions, and garlic. Keeping the meat lean puts you in control of the fat -- and once a year? Go for it! But seriously, oil is fine (olive, veg, -- not 10-W30).

2 large sweet onions, large dice
4-5-6 cloves garlic, chopped (to taste -- I love garlic)
2 T (30 ml) dried Mexican oregano, whole preferably. Crush the spice by hand as you add it to the pot.
Red New Mexican chile pods

OK, here's the deal. Buy at least 12 oz (340 g) of Red New Mexican chile pods (there are about 16 pods per 6 oz/170 g bag). Trust me -- once you start using this product, anything else pales in comparison. Only New Mexico chiles taste like New Mexico chiles -- and you always need plenty on hand anyway! Most larger towns have a Mexican market around and most of those have New Mexican Chili pods. Be adventurous.

Here is the method of prep:
Take the dried red chile pods, remove stems. Rinse and dry chile pods. Remove seeds, if desired. Place chile pods on a cookie sheet in a 250' F (120' C) oven for approximately 10 minutes. Turn chile pods several times to avoid scorching (the chile pods will turn a deeper red). This is a good thing to be doing as the posole/hominy is cooking. The toasted chile pods will be used for preparing Chile Molido (Red Chile Powder), Chile Caribe (Chile reduction), and Chile Colorado (Basic Red Chile Sauce). You'll love and need them all! I've posted some recipes for y'all in the message boards (link at end of article).

Varied amounts and variety of chile will determine the degree of hotness. I like it mild for those folk who want the flavor but not the heat. The Chili Caribe is for them. Needless to say, all this prep makes for a very aromatic kitchen and house. OH yeah!

Back to the Posole! Hehe... Brown the LEAN meat in the oil. (Note: If you use fatty pork you may want to drain all but a couple tablespoons of oil.) Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with some of the hominy liquid. Add the hominy and liquid to all the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer all afternoon and evening. Add more water if necessary and continue to simmer until the pork is very tender and begins to fall apart. The Posole pot is always on the stove for the duration of the serving. Usually, folks go to the pot and dish themselves up a bowl or soup plate.

Now, the table. It is a big part of it. The table has an abundance of condiments to personalize your Posole. The list is as endless as you want it. Some traditional basics are:
-1 bunch cilantro
-Lime wedges and salsa(s)
-1 bunch scallions
*NOTE These days, because of concerns about Hepatitis A in Mexican produce, you may want to eliminate or substitute leeks, or be SURE of your source of green onions.
-Some radishes
-A little very finely shredded cabbage
-Some green chiles (Anaheim, Pasillas, or even some Jalapenos)
*Green chile prep -- These are to be toasted either in the oven or grill, or over a flame or on a cast iron pan. Place into Ziplock bag or place in a bowl and cover with PVC and let rest until cooled to handle. This will make the peeling and de-stemming easier. Be very careful to wear gloves AND avoid skin contact. The stems, when removed, take out most of the seeds. This is also your base for any good Chile Verde recipe.
-These are chopped and set out in bowls along with the Chili Colorado and Chile Caribe.


A "must have" to go with the Posole recipe. One of the good things to come from the second ex...

4 cups a/p flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
Shortening for frying

Combine dry ingredients, mix well.
Cut in in butter.
Make a well. Add warm water work into a dough. Knead till smooth. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Heat oil to 375.
Cut dough into 1/8ths. Shape into balls and roll out into about 7" rounds. (about 1/8" thick)
cut into wedges and fry. Drain, and serve as warm as possible.

Lobster Chowder


3 Cups Cooked Lobster Meat, picked and chopped
1 cup Lobster Juice, drained from picked lobster
1 cup 1/2 inch peeled diced potatoes
Lobster stock to cover.
2 oz butter
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup minced onion
1/8 cup minced celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 bay leaves
3 teaspoons dry dill weed
Salt to taste


Wash and dice the potatoes, drain and place in a stock pot with the lobster juice. Bring the potatoes to a boil, add the lobster meat and bay leaves and simmer until the potatoes are tender

In a seperate stock pot melt the butter and saute the onion, celery, and garlic until the onions become transparent. Add the flour to the mixture to make a roux and cook over low heat for several minutes.

Add the lobster juice and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining potatoes and bring to a simmer.

Add the cream, pepper, and dill weed. Return to a simmer. Salt to taste.

Another Award for Bert Cutino

Sardine Factory co-founder recognized
Herald Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 05/12/2007 01:26:32 AM PDT

Monterey restaurateur Bert Cutino was honored with the first Monterey Peninsula College President's Award at a luncheon Friday at the Hyatt Regency Monterey.
Cutino, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Sardine Factory restaurant and a principal in Cannery Row Co. and Foursome Development Co., was recognized by MPC superintendent and president Douglas Garrison for his contributions to the college's culinary arts and hospitality education programs, as well as his philanthropic generosity.

The annual President's Award recognizes a community leader who contributes to the community as a friend or alumnus.

The accolade was the latest honor bestowed on Cutino, a longtime presence on Monterey's Cannery Row.

In 2005, Cutino was named a distinguished fellow by CSU-Monterey Bay for his contributions to the hospitality industry. He was named to Les Disciples d'Escoffier by the Les Amis d'Escoffier Society of Chicago at its annual dinner in Lyon, France, the same year. Les Amis d'Escoffier is an international society of culinary professionals for the purpose of fellowship.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Lamb Cut Applications

LEG-A classic. By far the most popular cut, and for good reason. Leg of lamb is so versatile. Cook it like a roast, in a stew or slow cooked in a barbeque pit. De-bone the leg to make delicious casseroles.

SIRLOIN CHOPS-Cut from the loin, sirloin chops are much thicker and a slightly more tender than lamb chops from the rib. These are packed with flavor.

RACK OF LAMB-A gourmet chef's delight! Can be frenched.

LAMB CHOPS-These are succulent and tender lamb chops. Cut from the rack and can be frenched.

BREAST-This unique, mouth watering cut has a savory taste all its own. Ideal for the pit, or cook it like a brisket.

SHOULDER-Prepare it as a roast, or cut thick, juicy shoulder steaks can be cut into stew meat.

SHANK-Perfect for Irish stew. Lamb shank is great for any soup, stew or curry. Can be braised and slow-cooked as a shank roast.

GROUND-With so many applications for sausage, pot-pies, casseroles and Greek recipes, ground lamb is great at most mid-range to high end restaurants.

Lamb is used mostly by High-end, Ethnic and some Mid-range restaurants.

Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

1/2 Cup Maui Brand Raw Sugar
2 Lbs. Spareribs
1/3 Cup flour
1/3 Cup soy sauce
1/3 Cup vinegar
1 Cup water
1 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Garlic clove
1 Piece ginger

Chop spareribs into small pieces. Mix flour & soy sauce. Soak spare ribs in this mixture for about half an hour. Heat oil and add garlic and vinegar. Brown ribs and add vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Allow to simmer for about 1-1/2 hours or more. Serve on pickled turnips and carrots. If you wish, you may add pineapple chunks.

Yoshie Watanabe
Kula, Maui, HI

Hawaii State First Place Winner
1990 Crisco American Pie Celebration

Maui Brand Sugar

Maui Brand Natural Cane Sugars are made in Maui by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company using 100% cane sugar grown on our 37,000-acre central Maui plantation. We've extracted the pure sweetness from the cane juices, retaining some of the natural molasses in the crystals, to bring you superior quality natural sugars that will enhance the flavor of your favorite beverages, cereals, baked goods, and recipes.

Maui Brand Natural Cane Sugars come in two styles: Natural White™ and Premium Maui Gold™. Our Natural White has just a hint of molasses to bring extra richness to all your sweetening needs. Natural White retains the old fashion, pure taste of the sugarcane not found in refined sweeteners … taste the difference! It is a natural substitute whenever refined white sugar is used.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company has grown through a series of mergers over the years that combined 14 sugar plantations, including the original plantation of Samuel T. Alexander and Henry P. Baldwin, whose partnership grew into Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., HC&S's diversified parent company. HC&S was incorporated in 1882, came into the Alexander & Baldwin family of companies in 1898, and was finally merged into Alexander & Baldwin in 1962.

One of the key projects of the plantation's founders was the construction of the irrigation system that brings mountain water from the rainy slopes of East Maui to the Island's arid central saddle lands. This A&B-owned system of over 84 miles of tunnels and ditches (the largest privately owned water system in the U.S.) delivers an average of 165 million gallons of mountain water per day to the plantation. About 20,000 Upcountry Maui residents and farmers (about a fifth of the Island's population) are also supplied with water from this system.

HC&S's Puunene Sugar Mill, built in 1901, has been modernized (it was the world's first fully computer controlled sugar factory) and has a rated capacity of 7,600 tons of cane per day

Alexander & Baldwin redirects ag execs

Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - April 17, 2007

Job assignments are changing for two senior executives of Alexander & Baldwin's Kauai and Maui farming divisions, and a third has been hired, so the company can focus on "sugar specialty products."

Wayne Katayama has signed on a president and general manager of Kauai Coffee Co. effective immediately. He had been president of Kilauea Agronomics and Hawaii Fruit Specialities Ltd., both subsidiaries of C. Brewer & Co. Ltd., capping a long career with Brewer that started with an accountant's job at the C. Brewer Properties office in Honolulu. He has supervised production of sugar, macadamia nuts and guava.

Frank Kiger, who has held dual positions as president of Kauai Coffee and vice president of factory operations for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., retains the second role while becoming vice chairman of Kauai Coffee. Katayama will report to Kiger.

Donn Soares, who has been general manager of Kauai Coffee, becomes vice president for national sales and marketing for Kauai Coffee Co. and assumes responsibility for HC&S's Maui Brand Sugar as well.

"Wayne brings to Kauai Coffee more than two decades of management and agricultural experience," Kiger said. "This also allows us to redirect Donn Soares' time and expertise to support HC&S's strategic shift to increased specialty sugar production."

HC&S has been the exclusive provider of sugar for the Mainland product "Sugar in the Raw."

Kauai Coffee produced 2.7 million pounds of coffee in 2006, 60 percent of Hawaii's entire coffee production. It is the largest coffee plantation in the United States.

Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin (Nasdaq: ALEX) also owns Oakland, Calif.-based Matson Navigation Co. and A&B Properties.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Santa Clara restaurant undertakes the eat-local challenge

By Carolyn Jung
Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News
Article Launched:

Parcel 104 restaurant in Santa Clara is preparing for a special dinner, one that will be noteworthy not only for what ingredients it includes but also for what ones it doesn't.

That night, cooks will forgo sugar, freshly ground black pepper, vanilla beans, lentils, cinnamon and chocolate. No freshly brewed coffee will be served to guests, either.

That's because every ingredient used in the six-course dinner, along with every grape in every wine uncorked that evening, will come from no farther than 104 miles away. In this day and age, when so many precious natural resources are used to ship in food from all corners of the world, the 104-Mile Dinner on June 2 is all about the merits of using what's grown locally.

"We're so spoiled by the globalization of foods. We have given up quality for convenience," says Bart Hosmer, executive chef of Parcel 104, who thought up the idea for the dinner. "This dinner celebrates the importance of place."

That's why vanilla beans from Madagascar won't be allowed, nor coffee from Costa Rica, nor even Scharffen Berger chocolate, manufactured in Berkeley but made from cacao beans grown in Central and South America.

Instead, there will be a salad of tomatoes from Lone Willow Ranch in the Central Valley drizzled with Storm Ranch olive oil from St. Helena; lamb loin from C K Lamb farm in Healdsburg served with fava beans from Happy Boy Farms in Freedom; a trio of cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery of Point Reyes Station; and luscious berries from Ella Bella farm of Corralitos dolloped with fresh cream from Straus Family Creamery of Bolinas. And in place of coffee, guests will sip a tea infusion of local herbs sweetened with honey from Napa's Marshall Farms.

Carbon offsets

Moreover, Parcel 104 will attempt to negate the carbon dioxide resulting from the energy expended to create this dinner. Planktos, a San Francisco-based eco-restoration company, has agreed on the restaurant's behalf to donate carbon credits to help restore damaged habitats in the ocean and on land.

Planktos will donate five carbon credits, equal to five tons of carbon dioxide. That's the estimated amount generated by the 150 guests driving to the restaurant from as far away as San Francisco, by the trucks delivering the produce from local farms, and by the electricity and gas used to power the 3,279 square-foot restaurant that night.

Even with the restaurant's 104-mile restriction for this event, Planktos communications director David Kubiak says that the carbon dioxide output generated by this one dinner will be about equal to that from the average family's car use in a year.

"Events like this wake people up that actions have consequences," Kubiak says, "and that there are ways to negate them and make them an ecological good."

Parcel 104 is the latest restaurant to put itself on a "low carbon diet." For the past two years, Bon Appe`tit Management Co. of Palo Alto has challenged its more than 400 university, corporate and other food service operations around the country to an "Eat Local Challenge." For one day a year, all its cafes serve a lunch made entirely from foods produced or grown from within a 150-mile radius, a distance considered a reasonable day's drive.

This year, Bon Appe`tit also has pledged to use only domestic bottled water, to buy its meat and poultry only from North America, and to obtain nearly all its fruits and vegetables from this continent.

The historic Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco and its adjoining Sutro's restaurant also began working with Planktos this year to mitigate the 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide the two eateries generate annually. The restaurants plan to pay Planktos $5 per ton of carbon dioxide to help restore forests and plankton in the sea.

Parcel 104 grows its own tomatoes on its rooftop garden and adheres to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's guidelines on sustainable seafood choices. Its name pays homage to the original agricultural designation of the pear orchard that once thrived on that property. For a restaurant such as this, the months of work to put this dinner together has been a labor of love.

It also will mark Hosmer's swan song at Parcel 104, as he departs for a new job in Washington, D.C., as director of culinary development at Marriott's corporate headquarters. Taking over for him at Parcel 104 will be Robert Sapirman, who has been collaborating with Hosmer on the final details of this dinner.

In his new position, Hosmer hopes to expand the notion of the low-carbon diet to more Marriott properties nationwide. And Sapirman would like to either turn the 104-mile dinner into an annual event at Parcel 104 or take it on the road to other restaurants around the country.

A little wiggle room

Hosmer, Sapirman and the kitchen crew have pored over Google maps, and used pencils and compasses to ensure the ingredients that will be used that night meet the 104-mile radius criterion.

"We are taking some liberties," Hosmer says. "I know some people out there are going to say, `If I drive to Petaluma, it's 117 miles.' So we're saying it's 104 miles as the bird flies." In other words, the distance measured from point to point in a relatively straight line.

Purveyors such as Bassian Farms, a San Jose meat and seafood wholesaler to restaurants and supermarkets nationwide, hope the dinner will open diners' eyes to our local bounty, food that typically is fresher, more flavorful and more economical and makes more efficient use of natural resources.

Bassian Farms will supply its own private brand of 38 North Chicken for one of the dinner courses. The name comes from the fact that the chickens are raised primarily outdoors on family farms 38 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Petaluma area. The chicken will be delivered to the restaurant by a truck powered by biodiesel fuel, which is cleaner-burning and made from renewable resources such as vegetable oils.

"We want people to realize that not everything has to be mass produced and about the lowest common denominator," says Lee Bassian, co-owner of Bassian Farms. "Just taste this food that's all local and realize what's possible."

Donald Trump introduces steak line at Sharper Image

By Ann Bagel Storck on 5/10/2007 for

Promising to deliver "a taste of Donald Trump's luxurious lifestyle," Trump Steaks are now available through specialty retailer The Sharper Image.

Trump Steaks are exclusively Certified Angus Beef brand USDA Prime. They also meet nine additional quality specifications. Once aged, the products are cut by master butchers to exacting standards for trim and thickness. They are individually sealed, flash frozen, packed in dry ice and shipped to consumers in a black-and-gold presentation box.

Trump Steaks are available in four packages ranging in price from $199 to $999 through The Sharper Image stores, catalog and Web site.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


3 cups short grained rice
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
6-8 slices smoky streaky bacon, finely chopped
achiote (see note)

For this recipe, prepare rice for cooking in a rice cooker. Set aside. Sautée onion (or half a large one), with bacon, chopped finely. Drain off any excess oil, and add this to the rice pot. For a vegetarian version, add a little more onion, and a little hickory or kiawe liquid smoke, if desired. Add one scant tablespoon of the powder for every cup of rice cooked, but adjust it according to your colour preference--I like mine to be more orange, while others prefer a deeper, almost paprika-hued red. Close the lid to your cooker, and cook as regular rice. Mix the rice through to distribute the onions and bacon and it's done!

SF Chronicle Farmers Market Watch

MARKET & MENU WATCH / Spring produce bursting into markets

Farmers' markets and produce bins around the Bay Area are filled with fleeting joys of spring.

At Draeger's on the Peninsula, we've spotted half-pound bunches of impeccable watercress, with the roots attached, curlicue fiddlehead ferns and sea beans.

Berkeley's Monterey Market, mecca of chefs and other vegetable lovers, had good-quality morels at $28 a pound over the weekend. Beautiful big squash blossoms were 75 cents each.

At Alemany farmers' market in San Francisco, fenugreek greens are abundant from the Filipino growers, as are sweet and Thai basil and baby gai lan. Fenugreek greens are beloved by East Indians, who strip the tender leaves off the stalk, roughly chop them, then saute with diced, sauteed potatoes and black mustard seed, or a good masala. The greens are slightly bitter and full of flavor.

At the Grand Lake Farmers' Market in Oakland and the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market in San Francisco, cherries are making a strong showing. Strawberries continue to be plentiful, including small but wonderfully sweet berries from Lucero in Lodi.

Balmy weather means that stone fruit season is arriving early this year. Early-ripening white peaches were making their first appearance, along with apricots and apriums at Berkeley Bowl and the farmers' markets. For some vendors, like Hamada, the unusual weather means it's like spring and summer all at once -- the Kingsburg farm is selling both cherries and Murcott mandarins.

The San Rafael Civic Center market also straddled seasons. Stalls brimmed with springtime asparagus and strawberries, as well as summer squashes and even squash blossoms.

Fresh garbanzos' all-too-brief season is upon us. Shuck these bright green gems like peas, blanch in salted water and add to salads or make into an oh-so-springlike spread with a little good olive oil, salt, pepper and some chopped fresh herbs. Find the legume at farmers' markets or specialty stores like Berkeley Bowl.

At restaurants all over the Bay Area, preparations of spring asparagus abound. Medjool in San Francisco (2522 Mission St., near 21st Street) features fat spears of the crisp-tender vegetable enrobed in a flaky batter, delicately fried, then served upright in a large cup, with a bright lemon aioli.

At Nectar Wine Lounge in Burlingame (270 Lorton Ave.), chef Jason Moniz offers what might be the ultimate spring dish: a composed vegetarian plate featuring a skewer of grilled artichoke hearts, a delicate asparagus custard atop sauteed baby spinach, and a timbale of young fava beans and Yukon gold potatoes, topped with a fava bean leaf salad.

Those fava bean leaves are available at some farmers' markets, and they are just as good steamed or sauteed.

Meat, Poultry and Egg Production Directory

The Meat, Poultry and Egg Production Directory is a listing of establishments that produce meat, poultry and/or egg products regulated by the USDA Food Safety and Inspections Service (FSIS). This directory is updated monthly.
The Establishment Number ( or bug) the round stamp with a number in the middle, found on the box or the products bag
This number can be crossed referenced on this Wed site. It will provide the manufacture name, address and phone number
This site also provides fact sheets, recalls and food safety education
This Web site has replaced the printed version (over 800 pages) and is very user friendly
Web Address
Trans-Fat in Fast Food Restaurant Menu Items

Burger King    
1 large French Fries = 8.0gm
1 large Onion Rings Lg = 7.0gm
1 9 piece Chicken Fries = 4.5gm
1 Tendercrisp Chicken Salad = 3.5gm
1 8 piece Chicken Tenders =3.0gm
1 piece Chicken Breast Extra Crispy = 1.5gm
1 piece Chicken Thigh Extra Crispy =1.5gm
1 piece Chicken Breast Original = 1.0gm
1 piece Chicken Thigh Original = 1.0gm

Long John Silvers
1 piece Battered Fish = 4.5gm
Popcorn Shrimp= 4.5gm
Classic Cinnamon Roll 7.8 Oz = 5.0gm

Shortenings impart flavor, color, and…!

Chicken 15-47%
French Fries 20-33%
Fish 15-28%
Onion Rings 20-30%
Tortilla Chips 28-44%
Donuts 25-35%

U.S. Foodservice Trans Fat Free Premium Oils Segment

Players in this segment:
Company..... Product ..... Type of Oil
Monarch Foods..... Optimax ..... Canola (hi-stability)
Wesson (ConAgra)..... Crystal Smart Choice .....Cottonseed/Canola

Please notice that trans fat free oils are not created equal. The Wesson, Cottonseed/Canola blend is 22% saturated fat,and only 32% Oleic acid. The level of saturated fat is very high. The Oleic acid % determines how well an oil will last and perform-higher is better. Optimax is 6% saturated fat and 74% Oleic acid

For a complete list of oils and fats please email Brian at

Locally Grown Produce

As of May 5th here is a brief list of our local produce items and where they are coming from.

Bean Sprouts ~ San Francisco
Artichoke ~ Castro Valley
Spinach ~ San Juan Bautista
Asparagus ~ Stockton
Broccoli ~ Salinas
Carrots ~ Bakersfield
Corn (White & Yellow) ~ Brentwood
Garlic ~ Gilroy
Iceberg ~ Salinas
Red Leaf ~ Salinas
Green Leaf ~ Salinas
Romaine ~ Salinas/Modesto
Boston Lettuce ~ Salinas
Mushrooms ~ Watsonville
Parsley ~ Bakersfield
Cilantro ~ Bakersfield
Peppers ~ Coachella
Cabbage ~ Salinas
Celery ~ Salinas
Spring Mix ~ Salinas/Bakersfield
Strawberry ~ Santa Maria
Lemons ~ Fowler
Orange ~ Central Valley
* Coming Soon Locally *
Raspberries, Blackberries,
Cantaloupe, Cherries,
Honeydew & Peaches

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

McShane's Nursery

About six months ago I stumbled into McShane's Nursery, at the sight of the old Deco Rock in Salinas, and ended up blowing $100.00 or so on various color plants and a 3-1 apple tree.

The 3-1 has three different apples grafted on to one dwarf root stock. Clayton and I spent an hour or so preparing the hole and planting this thing. For the $100.00 investment we got 3 great pictures complete with captions like "Clayton Appleseed and new tree". During the freeze this year I watched my bare branches wondering if it would ever grow again come spring. It has beautiful deep green leaves now.

Stumbling on McShane's was a fortunate happening and my initial impulse buy has already proved well worth the investment. I noticed, though, that Steve Mcshane had to wait until after I bought my soil and sod this weekend before he could actually afford to bring in his new Windmill.

McShane Windmill Goes Up
The Salinas Californian

Drivers entering south Salinas from Highway 68 will now be greeted by a 45-foot-tall windmill erected today at McShane's Nursery & Landscape Supply.

Nursery owner Steve McShane hopes the windmill will stand out against the spread of row crops south of the city as a new Salinas landmark.

“We’re trying to capture what the community of Salinas would want,” McShane said.

The windmill will pump water through the nursery, which is undergoing significant expansion, but McShane said the business may convert it into an electricity generator in the future.

He added that he hopes the windmill will spark discussion in the community about environmentally friendly energy sources.

About McShane's

Founded in the Fall of 2005, McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply has an incredible story to tell. It all goes back to a passion for plants & outdoor living environments by the organization’s Owner and General Manager, Steve McShane.

An avid outdoorsman, agriculturalist and gardener, many would say Steve has loved nursery & plants since he could crawl. This was probably helped by his father, Tom McShane, and grandmother, Leonie Stakle. In his teens he was well known for the yards and business properties he took care of to help make money. Steve also spent nearly four years working in the nursery department at Orchard Supply Hardware in Sunnyvale, California.

A Soil Science graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo , Steve co-founded and chaired the Central Coast Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers in the Fall of 1993. In 1996, Steve graduated from the Master Gardeners Program in San Luis Obispo County.

Once finished with college, Steve worked with State Senator, now Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson and Senator Jeff Denham. After some time in politics, he returned to his passion of agriculture by entering the fresh vegetable business with work at Taylor Farms in Salinas as a product manager. This led him to NewStar Fresh Foods where he directed food safety, quality and new product development.

Everything changed during the Fall of 2005. Steve learned of an opportunity to acquire a nursery of more than 50 years on the south side of Salinas known as Graeber Gardens. Opportunities for production, direct marketing and even expansion fueled a business plan and a partnership with a local transportation company, Assured Aggregates. On December 19th, 2005 McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply became a reality.

Less than a month after startup, a neighboring soils, bark and rock operation by the name of Deco Rock, came up for sale. By early February, a deal was inked. McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply would acquire Deco Rock and now offer a full suite of soils, compost, bark and Landscape Supplies.

Steve McShane is quite clear about the vision behind the enterprise. That is the mission to build and succeed at operating a true "regional" Nursery and Landscape Supply.