Yaga’s 9th annual chili quest

There are lots of reasons to love a food festival. Whenever there’s one happening in Houston or OKC, Jacob and I, of course always think about going. To start the year right in January, we attended the 9th Annual Yaga Chili fest down in Galveston, TX.

 

We attended the festival with our friends and family (Bauer also participated. The festival is dog-friendly). Although it was a rainy, humid day, we had a blast.

An outdoor food festival in Galveston which each year brings in hundreds of festival contestants. This festival packs the historic Square in Galveston Island, with chili’s of every style imaginable. The festival provides Chili samples, beer, margaritas, and live music

The tickets are super cheap ($10), and you get to taste a ridiculous amount of chili.There is a beer tasting part of the festival as well, but we all picked just to do chili.

 

The chili ranges from TX style (spicy brisket-based chili with NO F*** BEANS) to other “chili” that has beans (i.e., bean soup). The ones with beans were terrible, and the TX style chili was terrific (water’s wet).

 

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Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ : Passport destination #3 of 50

Micklethwait is an unconventional Texas BBQ joint on the outside but they’re serving up real deal TX BBQ on the inside!

“Real bbq people know what Texas bbq means”- Mark (Senior)

For the folks at home, Micklethwait’s is a food truck that has a large smoke pit next door. It’s around the corner from the ever-popular Franklin’s in Austin, TX. The wonderfully unique aspect to this spot is that they never have a long line so if you need a quick fix in Austin, swing by this place.

Another unique characteristic is that they have free beer from local breweries in Texas. Jacob definitely took advantage of this and had a local IPA from Austin Beerworks.

So let’s get down to what we got:

2 meat plate with Brisket, Pork Ribs, Cheddar Grits and Beans. The plate was under $16 and was enough for two people eating a light lunch. We try to stay consistent with our orders at every spot so that we can judge them all on the same playing field. Brisket is a must at every decent TX BBQ joint and pork ribs are one of our personal favorites.

The brisket was good but the pork ribs were phenomenal. The brisket was juicy and flavorful but didn’t rank high amongst the other top 50 places we’ve been to.

However, the ribs were definitely their specialty and blew us away. They were the definition of fall-off-the-bone. These ribs were un-real, dynamite, top notch sexy ass ribs. These ribs had more sex appeal than Stormy Daniels.

What was definitely out of left field though were the cheese grits. The grits were rich, creamy and steamy, everything you want in a helping of grits. The beans were run-of-the-mill, but still flavorful. They did their job, no doubt.

Overall, this place is a must try if you’re in ATX. It’s a quick stop and definitely worth it if you’re short on time.

We give this joint a 4/5!

Valentina’s BBQ : Passport destination #2 of 50

During the holiday break, the Kramer family was able to make a quick stop into Austin before getting into San Antonio to spend Christmas with the family. We took advantage of our time in Austin with eating as much BBQ as we could intake. Valentina’s was among the stops.

We came to Valentina’s for dinner. So, unfortunately, the whole menu wasn’t available.

What we ordered

Appetizer – Queso ($3.50)

Eleni – Taco : Cerveza Beef Fajita ( $6.00) & Bottled soda ($2.00)

Jacob – Chopped Biscuit Sandwich. ( $8.50) & Topo Chico ($2.00)

Although in pictures it looks like Valentina’s has an indoor seating area it doesn’t. Its a food truck with fancy covered seating. So it is dog-friendly.

The first thing we got was the delicious queso. I might be over exaggerating the impressiveness of said queso because we live in OKC and there’s a void of even decent queso, but it was at least good queso.

Jacob’s meal highlights

I got the Chopped Biscuit Sandwich. This sandwich was tasty! The brisket was juicy, had excellent bark and was extremely flavorful.

The bun was toasted, light and flaky. I poured some of the queso on top of the brisket sandwich and it made it even better.

Overall, this place was decent but I wouldn’t go out of my way to return.

Heim is still my top dog.

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Eleni’s meal highlights

I got the Cerveza Beef taco. Have to say, extremely underwhelmed and unimpressed considering we spent $6 for essentially what was a single street taco

The taco dripped way too much juicy and made an awkward decision of not putting it down on my plate for fear the tortilla would rip of sogginess.

I have to side with the husband and say Heim is still my favorite. I don’t think I’ll ever have an itch to go back to Valentina’s. We give this place a solid 3.

Charcuterie board

Building the Perfect Cheese Plate

We unintentionally put this cheese board together one Saturday afternoon. The day started with us exploring Oklahoma City’s Farmer’s markets. Before we knew it, we had a good amount of fancy cheese on our hands, so we thought we’d throw our first Charcuterie board together for lunch. This idea looked and sounded much simpler in our heads.

Along the way, we discovered there are so many ways to make a cheese board and my oh my are they fancy.

Apparently, there are cheese rules. (Which we didn’t follow but here they are for your viewing)

1. Follow the “Rule of Odd Numbers.” Plan on three kinds of cheese for a small tray, five for a medium plate and seven for a large platter. Just like in landscaping, odd numbers of cheeses make for the best visual presentation.

2. Include a variety of flavors and textures. Include a hard, aged cheese (like an aged Gouda or an aged cheddar); an alpine cheese (like Alpha Tolman) a gooey, indulgent cheese (like Rosie’s Robiola or Jasper Hills Moses Sleeper), a soft, creamy cheese (like Delice de Borgogne or Mt. Tam) and a blue (like West West Blue or Great Hills Blue).

3. Mix your kinds of milk. Another way to create a mixed cheese plate is by using cheese made from different types of milk: Sheep, goat and cow milk cheeses will offer a range of flavors.

4. Themes??? Yeah, we missed this memo.

Should I add meat? Our response is always going to be YES.

We suggest adding cured meats. Here too you want some variety. Our go-to choices are prosciutto and salami.

Drinks and more drinks

Here we are in unfamiliar territory. Neither of us is huge on wine, so we had to wine it. We had a red wine at home we used, but we read you can even pair your platter with cocktail drinks or beer.

If you have tips or tricks for us to use on our next Charcuterie board, please share them!

Do beans belong in chili?

The days are getting colder, and it seems only fitting we have some chili! The Kramer household, unfortunately, has the long-lived debate of “do beans belong in chili” still divides this house. I, Eleni believe  100% that beans belong in chili well Jacob firmly believes beans DONT belong in chili.

Jacobs viewpoint

” NO. Beans do not belong in true chili. If you add beans, it’s no longer chili; It’s stew.”

The half of me that’s Mexican cannot comprehend chili without beans. What would that be? A slurry of well-spiced sadness?

I won’t bother giving Jacob’s Texas Chili Recipe on my post. I’m sure he will enlighten everyone with his blog entry on Chili SO instead I will provide you with my recipe for chili using a pressure cooker.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn
  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of Ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 Jalepenos
  • 2 tablespoons Beef Granulated Bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chili
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, any favorite mix, to serve
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly, to serve

Lets get to cooking (PSA I love my Chili SPICY)

  1. Saute the Veggies: Select the “Sauté” program on your pressure cooker and add the oil to the pot. Sauté until the onions are softened and translucent, about five minutes.
  2. Cook the ground beef: Add the ground beef to the pot, breaking it up in small pieces. Cook until no longer pink,
  3.  Stir in the spices and tomato paste. Add the chili powder, Cayenne powder, oregano, Beef Granulated Bouillonand,  and tomato paste to the pot. Stir until the tomato paste is evenly mixed into the other ingredients and no clumps remain.
  4. Add the tomatoes and beans: Strain the tomatoes, then add  broth to make 1 cup total liquid (If you dont have broth you could use water). Add the liquid, the strained tomatoes, corn, celeery, jalepenos, garlic and the beans to the pressure cooker
  5.  Time to cook the chili: Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. The Instant Pot has a cool button for cooking chili, select the “Chili” program, then adjust the time to 20 minutes. If your pressure cooker does not have a “Chili” program, set it manually to “High Pressure” for 20 minutes.
  6. Release the pressure after cooking: When the timer goes off, you may either perform a quick pressure release by moving the pressure release knob from “Sealing” to “Venting,” or let the pot depressurize naturally on its own (this takes about 20 minutes; open the vent to “Venting” when you’re ready to serve the chili.)

 

I don’t think Jacob, and I will ever see eye to eye on the chili debate, so we decided to attend this year Yaga Chili festival in Galveston. We visited two years ago and can’t wait to return.That said, share your favorite chili recipe and tell us, do beans belong in chili?

Heim BBQ : Passport destination #1 of 50

FAIR WARNING: When reading Jacob’s comments about food, life or Game of Thrones, be FOREWARNED! He is not only vulgar, but 100% authentically foul. Eleni, however, not only disapproves, but vehemently denies all of his angst, for it is unwarranted on all fronts.

Heim BBQ in Ft Worth TX BBQ Passport destination #1 of 50

What we ordered:

1. 2 meat plate w/ two sides $15

⁃ Meat: Brisket and Pork Ribs

⁃ Sides: Green Chile Mac & Cheese, Beans

2. Heimburger $10

⁃ Brisket & beef patty w/ bacon burnt ends jam and cheese

3. 1/4 lb. Bacon Burnt Ends $6

4. 2 Panther Island IPAs

⁃ Not as good as a Hopadilla but they can’t all be perfect

Highlights we deem important

1. Eleni: loved the pork ribs

NOW for for the real deal, follow below as I give you my inside suggestions

2. Jacob: Bacon Burnt Ends are life. Mixing the Bacon Burnt Ends with the Mac & Cheese will be the best endeavor you’ve ever experienced. Also, get the brisket on the fatty side. It’ll give you a fatty/moist your shorts. Parakalo!! Before we go any further, Parakalo is a phrase that will be useful to know since I say it often.  To say ‘You’re welcome’  in Greek you would say Parakalo (Παρακαλώ). 

If you and your significant other decide to take on Yeti’s Top 50 BBQ Joints in The Republic, we highly suggest starting with Heim. This establishment will set the bar exceedingly high, just as any TX BBQ joint should. Be warned, this is nothing like Carolina or KC BBQ. Leave the sauce where it is. TX BBQ is all about the meat baby, so come with your eating pants!

 

Reasons for Doing TX BBQ CHALLENGE

The Yeti and Texas Monthly BBQ Challenge consists of a Top 50 Listing of the BEST TX BBQ joints. The Republic is well known for its Brisket, Beer and assorted sides that will take your mouth to FLAVORTOWN BABY. Jacob first saw this challenge thanks to Houston Sports Radio Legend, AJ Hoffman, who decided to take on the challenge in early 2017. Inspired by one of the co-hosts of the Greatest Show in the History of the Known Universe, The Blitz (catch them on 97.5 AM in Houston 4-7pm weekdays), Jacob decided that he and Eleni needed to stop by a few of the places that were on their way back to OKC from Houston.

Soooo how does one participate, sign up and or win??? Easy! Go to any of the top 50 BBQ restaurants as listed and ask for a passport. After ordering, ask to have a sticker to stick on your passport to complete and mark off a location in your passport.

Although the prizes are limited there are so many chances to win even a small prixe by trying their smaller challenges. The following identifies the prizes available upon successful completion of the challenges identified in the BBQ Passport:

Challenge 1:  YETI Tundra 45 (ARV: $349.99); 500 available prizes.

Challenge 2:  Half-Gallon Rambler Jug (ARV: $99.99); 500 available prizes.(Challenge Completed)

Challenge 3:  Customized 18-oz. YETI Rambler Bottle (ARV: $39.99); 1000 available prizes.

Challenge 4:  30-oz. Rambler Tumbler (ARV: $29.99); 1000 available prizes.

Challenge 5:  YETI TANK 45 (ARV: $199.99); 500 available prizes.

Challenge 6:  Hopper Two 30 (ARV: $349.99); 500 available prizes.

Challenge 7:  YETI Hat (ARV: $19.99); 2000 available prizes.

Challenge 8:  Rambler Colster (ARV: $24.99); 1000 available prizes.

Challenge 9:  36-oz. Rambler Bottle (ARV: $49.99); 1000 available prizes.

Challenge 10:  YETI T-Shirt (ARV: $24.99); 2000 available prizes.

SO WHAT PRIZES ARE YOU GOING TO WIN??!! Follow us and see where we go and how deep into the challenge we get.