SF Bay Chili Cookoff

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SF Bay Chili Cook Off 2013

On Saturday May 4, 2013 I had the pleasure of participating in the SF Bay Chili Cook Off. It was a blast participating in the competition.

Ike's from Ike's Sandwiches was there promoting a new steak sandwhich creation featuring Bumble Foot Hot Sauce. For those who don't know, Bumble Foot is the guitarist from Guns and Roses and one of the judges.  He has a line of new hot sauces coming out and they definitely had a kick.

All proceeds benefited Adopt a Special Kid , an Oakland based non-profit that has been finding foster kids permanent homes for 40 years. 

Check out the video of my entry below: Black Bean Evil Jerk Chicken Chili

Rice n' Peas Recipe

Rice n' Peas

Jamaicans eat Rice and Peas like Americans eat mashed potatoes.  Its a comfort food and a staple of the islander diet. Its base of coconut milk and beans makes it a hearty meal all by itself. In addition, it is a great way to cool the tongue when served with a spicy main dish.

In Jamaica they prefer Gungo peas, but they are hard to find stateside, so kidney beans are often used instead.

Ingredients:
1 can coconut milk (Mae Ploy and Chaokoah brands have the most cream and are best)
1 bag of dry or 1 can Gungo peas or kidney beans
1 large onion
3 sprigs thyme
1 tbs salt (depends on your salt sensitivity)
1 tbs black pepper
1 whole scotch bonnet
2 tbs vegetable or olive oil
3 cups long grain rice

Soak beans overnight if using dry beans.

  • In a medium pot, bring oil up to a simmer under medium heat.
    Saute onion and thyme till translucent
  • Add coconut milk, salt and pepper to pot. Simmer a few minutes till it thickens slightly. You should see the oil separate from the cream as you stir. 
  • Drain beans and add to coconut milk. Add in whole scotch bonnet.
  • Simmer around 15 - 30 minutes till beans soften and are easy to mash. Dry beans will take a bit longer than canned.
  • Cook beans till coconut milk takes on a pink color. Remove scotch bonnet. Then slowly stir in rice.
  • Add water till coconut milk and water mixture is about 1 inch above rice line.
  • Cover and simmer over medium low heat till rice is soft but not mushy. About 20 minutes

Serve dish itself or with a main like Evil Jerk chicken, Irie Ital Stew, or various Curries.

Antigua Street Food

Antigua Carnival - July 2010

I had the pleasure of enjoying Carnival in Antigua for its 50th anniversary  Three of my girlfriends and I rented a house and headed down to enjoy the celebration. My only mission for the next 10 days was to eat all the food I don't get to have in the Bay Area, and to get a little Soca dancing in too.

Soca Dancers Playing Mas

Antigua Carnival celebrates the emancipation of the slaves from British colonial reign, and it is held at the end of July yearly. You'll find people from every generation playing mas (dressing up with a carnival troupe), dancing in the streets, and singing the signature Soca songs for that carnival year.

During carnival Food IS Street Food! Most business owners close their doors and join in the revelry. Surprisingly many of the street food options seemed quite American. Fried chicken, hamburgers, fish burgers etc.... Of course, I wasn't having any of that! I came on a mission to for new taste experiences and I wasn't disappointed.

Drum Pans

Jerk Chicken - Antigua Style

Jerk Chicken is a cultural culinary staple across the caribbean street food scene.  In the Caribbean jerk chicken is also refereed to as Drum Pan Chicken. Drum Pan comes from the oil drums that are cut in half and converted to charcoal grills.

Jerk on the Grill

Jerk chicken in Antigua tastes slightly different from the Jamaican variety. Notably absent were the aromatic flavors of pimento seed, thyme, and scotch bonnet. I enjoyed the chicken without it, but nothing can replace the heat and flavor you get from scotch bonnet peppers. They also covered the chicken with barbecue sauce. Sadly, this overwhelmed the flavor of the jerk and converted the dish to basic spicy barbecue chicken. If your ever in order Jerk, remember to lose the sauce or get it on the side so you an appreciate the true flavor.

Coconut Man

Fresh Coconut

One of the most enjoyable delights during the hot days of carnival is a fresh cold coconut. It is a cool break from the humid heat and sweaty dancing in the streets They are freshly cut from the trees by the locals and sold whole and opened right in front of you. The meat is sweet and thick and the juice is flavorful and naturally sweet.

Karibe Coconuts

We quickly found a bar around the corner with a friendly bartender. She was kind enough to fill them with ice and Koko Karibe Rum. Koko Karibe is a local coconut rum which is not as sweet as the Malibu variety by Bacardi that you find in the states. It paired perfectly with the natural juice and needed nothing else. It was the highlight of our day playing mas!

St. Johns Produce Market

There is no shortage of amazing produce in Antigua. You will find vendors selling fresh produce like coconut, mangos, guinep,

 corn, yam, and much more. 

Roasted Corn Vendor

Clay Oven Roasted Corn

St Johns Market

Guinep

Curry Shrimp with Dal Puri

Roti Shacks

Another common street food in the caribbean is Roti. Most islands along the West Indian spice route have a culinary influence from India. Curries with various meats are rolled in Roti similar to a burrito. Roti is a spongy flat bread that as a little softer than Naan in texture and rolled into a tortilla like shape and baked on a tawa. The Dal Puri variation of Roti is filled with a spicy chick pea mixture. The soft texture of the chick pea of Dal Puri combined with the spicy tang of the green curry tastes amazing and is very satisfying. 

Goat Water

Water (Wah'Ta) = Soup

There were several variation of soup among the various street vendors. They refer to soup as "water" in Antigua. The few I tried were great. The bases of the soup varied depending on the meat used. Fish or Conch Water had a clear fish bone stock base. Beef and Goat had a bone broth and tomato base. All of them were spicy and used peppers, onion, garlic, and leafy greens to add complexity. Eating a hot soup on a hot day had a cooling effect or at least the pepper distracted you long enough not to notice.

Barbequed Lobster

Barbecued Lobster

Yes. You read that right. Bar.B.Qued Lobster is a street food in Antigua and man is it good. The lobsters are caught my local divers and sold by the locals during carnival. The lobster is barbecued shell on with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. The meat is fresh, juicy, and tender. Make sure you get one right off the grill. Don't get the ones sitting off to the side. They've been overcooked and lobster gets tough quickly.