Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lightning Strikes Twice Ice Cream Float ~ Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery!

     Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream and Jolt Cola Float! 
     Making home mad ice cream is fairly easy to do.  When I was a kid, we used the old fashion hand powered gear driven ice cream maker, a bunch of ice and rock salt to churn ice cream outdoors in the summertime.  After making a few batches of ice cream the hard way, the parents gave up on trying to pinch pennies and they bought a cheap ice cream maker that had an electric motor.  The motor was so weak, that the ice cream always ended up being like fast food soft serve stuff that melts quickly.  Making ice cream with that weak machine was only about as good as making milkshakes.
     Later during my chef career, I had access to industrial strength ice cream machines that really pumped out a nice product.  A pastry chef that I worked with at a highly rated resort, used a high quality home style ice cream machine to make small batch sorbet.  The sorbet was served by the teaspoonful as a complimentary palate freshening muse between courses.  I really liked that little ice cream machine, because we also used it to experiment with new ice cream flavor.
     I recently got a Brevelle small batch ice cream machine that can be run fully automated or it can be programmed manually.  So far, I have made a few nice new ice cream flavors that rather unique.  Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream is the latest flavor and it turned out just right.  It did take a little bit of thought to figure out how to retain the alcohol content, without having the alcohol melt the ice cream.  This ice cream has withstood the test of time.  The ice cream has been in the freezer for a couple of weeks and the alcohol has not separated.  The idea of using pectin to make cherry moonshine jelly, before adding it to the ice cream as it churned through the soft serve stage seemed to do the trick.   

     The Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream was designed for making gourmet floats.  This ice cream is soft like Italian Gelato, so it melts with the cold soda over a period of about 20 to 25 minutes, which is just right for comfort's sake.  Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream does contain alcohol, so this is not a frozen dessert treat for children or expectant mothers to be.   

    • Since the ice cream recipe was published already, a hyperlink is provided, which opens a new page for easy reference:  Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream

     Lightning Strikes Twice Ice Cream Float:
     Jolt Cola is a specialty soft drink that contains double the amount of caffeine.  The caffiene is natural and it is not a chemical derivative.  Glass bottles of Jolt are the best, especially if going green is the goal.   The Jolt lightning bolt logo gives creedance to the name of today's float! 
     Marjoram is a pleasant aromatic herb that has a luxurious mint and mild oregano flavor.  Marjoram adds a nice effect!
     Place 2 scoops of the Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream in an old fashioned 16 to 20 oz soda glass.  (About 3 ounces per scoop)
     Slowly pour chilled Jolt Cola into the glass, till a foamy head appears.
     Place a straw in the glass.
     Place a fancy cocktail umbrella in the straw. 
     Garnish with petite marjoram sprigs.  
     Serve the extra Jolt Cola on the side in its own bottle.
     Serve with a long handle sundae spoon.  

     Cola Float fans will really like it when lightning strikes twice.  Moonshine White Lightning and Jolt Cola Lightning!  Shazam!
     Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery!  
     Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery is a one of a kind place.  Cactus Joe's is a destination that should be on the list of places to go for locals and visitors of Las Vegas.  This is no ordinary cactus nursery.  Cactus Joe's is an experience!
     Some say Cactus Joe's is a destination for the soul.  Some say it is a great place to find bargains on cactus and artistic garden decor.  Some say it is a religious experience.  Everyone agree that this nursery is a great place to relax and stroll, while casually shopping for one of a kind items.
     People have been known to spend an entire day at Cactus Joe's.  There is no fee or cover charge.  Making a purchase covers the price of admission.  The staff at Cactus Joe's are so polite, that even the hint of a sales expectation is not mentioned.  Sales is what keeps the place in business, so by spending the almighty dollar this unique peaceful garden shop will be around for years to come.

     If an item is damaged or sun faded, the staff usually offers a discount on the item voluntarily.  That voluntary notion is rare in this modern world!  The staff really care about cactus they sell and they lovingly nurture sick cactus back to health in the "cactus hospital" garden that is onsite.  Cactus Joe's staff is second to none, when it comes to cactus knowledge and they are happy to answer any questions.

     The artwork, ceramics, iron works and pottery are way beyond just merely being interesting.  The artistic garden product inventory constantly changes with the season and recently an Anasazi theme was adopted.  There were rustic ladders reproductions of the same kind of ladders that the Anasazi used to access their cliff dwellings.  Plenty of Native American and Mexican style pottery and metal works were up for sale.  As one can see in the photos above, these items are one of a kind!

     Something else that was new at Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery was a desert rock maze!  The rock maze is a nice experience for children and adults can enjoy the maze too.  Semi precious gems, geodes and petrified wood can be found inside the rock shop.  Fine jewelry can be found at Cactus Joe's specialty store that is located next to the rock maze.  Desert theme artworks and pottery can be found on the entire site.  During the winter months, the cactus are housed to protect them from the cold.  In the summer, each cactus species is grouped on the entire grounds.

     If you are visiting town and you purchase large items at the nursery, arrangements can be made to have the items shipped.  The staff is very helpful with loading cactus and large items into vehicles too.

     Cactus Joe's is at a higher elevation than Las Vegas.  This nursery is close to Red Rock Canyon in the Spring Mountains.  During the hot summer months, this nursery is a great place to visit, because it is about fifteen degrees cooler than the valley and a refreshing mountain breeze happens often.  Cactus Joe's is a great place to chill out when the valley temperatures are sky high.

     Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery is located west on Blue Diamond Road (Route 160), where Blue Diamond Road intersects with Route 159.  By following oRoute 159 a couple blocks north toward Red Rock Canyon, Cactus Joe's can be seen on the east side of the road.  Route 159 runs between Blue Diamond Road and Charleston Boulevard.  Route 159 runs the entire length of Red Rock Canyon and it is a pretty scenic drive.

     I have been doing business with Cactus Joe's for many years.  There have been times when I have gone there just to take a leisurely stroll and soak up the interesting sights.  Even though shopping was not on my mind, I always found something interesting to purchase and bring home.  During the weeks before I did my chemotherapy a few years ago, I spent a lot of time at the nursery gathering my thoughts.  I had an extensive cactus garden of my own back then and the cactus that were purchased at this nursery were always vigorous with new growth.
     I highly recommend Cactus Joe's for both down to earth ecological and intangible reasons!  I am sure that you will find reasons of your own.
     Just like the old sign says, "Thru These Gates Walk The Greatest People In The World!"

     * The collection of Cactus Joe's Nursery photos were previously published in a different article that was in need of extensive editing.  Moving the photos to today's article was done to keep the readers of this website who happen to be Cactus Joe's fans on the happy side of life!     

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Classic Steak Sandwich at The Dinky Diner ~ Historic Goldfield, Nevada!

     Labor Day Weekend offers a prime opportunity for a day trip to a destination out in the middle of nowhere.  Some of the Nevada ghost town destinations may seem like desolate towns that are way off the beaten path and the town itself can cause a person to question why would such a place even exist.  Often there are no obvious reasons for a ghost town to even be there, when judging from the point of view of cold hearted developer standards.  Ghosts exist do exist because of intangible reasons.  The intangibles include, historical preservation, cultural preservation and tourism.

     The Bad and the Ugly 
     Plenty of folks in this current day and age make use of information on the internet when deciding which sightseeing destination is worthwhile to venture off to.  On a first glance Nevada towns like Beatty, Tonopah, Caliente, Searchlight and Goldfield might just look like places along the highway that have few amenities.  When reading what little information exists in internet travel reviews or when deciphering the writing of a disgruntled tourist, a person that is looking for a pertinent informayion about a sightseeing destination just might end up being dissuaded.
     "Gosh Honey ... I just read on the internet that some tourist had an awful experience while passing through the little town that we were planning to visit.  The tourist ate a sealed tuna sandwich that he bought at the gas station in this one horse town.  According to this travel website review post, the tourist got diarrhea from the rotten old sealed tuna sandwich while driving down the highway and there was not a restroom within 100 miles.  I am not sure, but judging by this guy's internet travel log, this little town might not be a good choice for a sightseeing destination.  Instead of bringing the kids there to see the historic sights, lets go to a big city that has plenty of fast food restaurants, a Walmart, lots of restrooms and a drug store on every corner!" 

     Internet travel reviews do not always paint a clear picture about what little towns in remote Nevada desert locations are really all about.  If only a couple of sentences are written at an internet travel website about such a place, a viewer might possibly imagine that the little town is nothing more than an old gas station and a saloon that briefly flash past the car window, while on the way to a destination further on down the road.  Too little information can cause a tourist's imagination to fly off in a blind manner, right back to the memories of a bad one horse town experience in the past.
     "Gee whiz, Honey ... There sure is not many tourist comments about this little town at this travel review website.  I am looking at this internet map and it does not provide much information either.  Yup!  This town must be some kind of a sealed tuna sandwich!  You remember that horrible experience last year, after we ate those green looking sealed tuna sandwiches that we bought at a gas station in Death Valley.  Lets go somewhere else!"

     Travel review website commentary posts are not always good references to cite, when gathering information about a sightseeing destination or a restaurant that is in uncharted territory.  Credibility sometimes comes into question, especially when reading mentions at a travel website about a slow restaurant in a backwoods location.
     "Gosh darn it all, Honey!  There is something fishy about that restaurant that you said looked good.  You said that you read a few good critiques that were written by tourists that dined there.  I just looked at those same favorable restaurant critiques.  Every single one of those commentaries touted that restaurant for serving the best food on the face of this planet.  Then I noticed that each comment was written by customers that have the same last name.  I mean look at these comments, Honey!  There is one written by Elmer Suggs, Pristine Suggs, Ned Suggs, Wilma Suggs and Leroy Suggs ... I bet all those people live in the same trailer, in the same trailer park, somewhere out in the boondocks where there is no electricity!  I have a sneaky suspicion that their cousins or friends own that restaurant!"  

     Where does a tourist find good, solid, credible information about small town tourist destinations or ghost towns in remote locations?  Reading opinionated single sentence commentaries at a travel review website only provides clues that may need to be deciphered or investigated before drawing a conclusion.
      "According to this tourist travel log comment, this desert dirt road was supposed to be easy to traverse.  The road was so bumpy and full of chuck holes, that I had kidney failure and dropped my molars in the first quarter mile!  You know what, Honey?  After I looked into who the idiot was that wrote about how smooth the dirt road was supposed to be, I found a picture of this guy on an internet social network website.  Its no wonder this guy wrote a travelers comment about how the dirt road was easy going.  In the picture, this guy was posing in front of his ten foot tall 4x4 pickup truck that had the same kind of gigantic bloatated tires that I have seen on those monster trucks on TV!"   

     As one can plainly see, good, solid, reliable travel destination information that is credible, usually is not found in the comment section at a travel website.  Opinionated material, that is written by unknown biased tourists can be misleading.  Some travel website feedback forum material is okay, but some the biased information has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Instead of trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, it is better to refer factual material published at good travel websites that have solid credentials.

     The Good
     Better sources for information about little historic towns that are off the beaten path and Nevada ghost towns can be found at websites that specialize in this field.  Community Historical Society websites are a good start.  Chamber of commerce websites list all businesses and infrastructure.  Magazines that specialize in ghost towns and wildlife areas of the southwest offer far more information than any single sentence comment at a travel log website.
     Desert USA Magazine offers a vast amount of information about historic and scenic sightseeing destinations in the southwest.  I found out about historic Goldfield, Nevada, by reading an article at the Ghost Towns website a few years ago.  I also have researched information about Nevada historic destinations by reading articles in Nevada Magazine.  Government resources are always reliable.
     These websites offer good credible desert southwest travel destination information.  Here are some good hyperlinks:
     • Desert USA - Boxing, Gold Mines and A Long Bar in Goldfield, NV History 
     • Ghost Towns - Nevada
     • Nevada Magazine
     • Nevada State Parks
     • National Park Service
     • Travel Nevada
     • International Car Forest of The Last Church, Goldfield, Nevada
     • Goldfield Chamber Of Commerce

     Historic Goldfield, Nevada!
     Just like usual, no plans were made to travel.  In a spur of a moment decision, I just fired up the motor and hit the road north out of town in the morning.  These kind of decisions happen, especially after being stuck at home pegging away college research paper writing on a computer for weeks on end.  When opportunity knocks for getting some fresh air out in the wide open spaces, hesitation leads to thinking twice about spending travel money that I cannot afford on a college student budget.  For the sake of sanity, sometimes tossing the low budget out the window has to be done.  Ce est la vie.  

     Heading north on Highway 95 always offers plenty of worthwhile destinations.  Indian Springs, Crystal, Lathrop Wells and  Beatty are the first few stops that are within an hour of Las Vegas.  As soon as the big city disappeared in the rearview mirror, I suddenly was overcome with a craving for some good chili early in the morning.  When I got to Beatty, Nevada, one of the first signs that I saw was for a saloon called "The Happy Burro - Chili & Beer."  I published a story earlier this summer about that saloon, the chili and the beer.  Since I started my day with a good old fashioned mining camp breakfast, the natural thing to do was to head a little further up the road to the historic town of Goldfield, Nevada.

     Goldfield is located between Beatty and Tonopah.  Going north on Highway 95, it takes about one hour and forty five minutes to drive to Goldfield from Las Vegas.  From Beatty, it takes about 40 minutes.  Most of the speed limits are 70 mph, so the trip moves along at a nice pace.  Care must be taken by drivers, because most of the desert region is open range ranch territory.
     Topping the gas tank off near Beatty is advisable, because currently there are no gas stations in Goldfield.  I do suggest checking the Goldfield Chamber Of Commerce Website for the status of accommodations in that area.  The Goldfield infrastructure topic is discussed later in this article and this happens to be an interesting situation, especially for entrepreneurs that specialize in the tourist industry.

     Goldfield is a living ghost town.  The old buildings from the golden age are still intact and they are well protected.  There are many folks and descendants of gold rush workers that chose to remain in this town after the gold mining was no longer feasible.  There are quite a few newcomers that have called Goldfield home in recent years, because this town offers peace, quiet and ways of life that have become thing of the past in other places.  Many artists have also chosen to call Goldfield home because this town is pure inspiration at its best.

     As soon as I entered the Goldfield city limits while driving on the highway, turned onto a street with old buildings and a trading post.  I started taking pictures of old antique gold mining equipment and the rustic buildings with my camera.  A gentleman was busy working on the buildings and tending shop, then he saw me doing my thing with the camera.  In a small town, it is considered to be an act of politeness to give a friendly wave of the hand to an onlooker, even if the person is a stranger.  This old custom puts people at ease and it usually means that conversations are welcome.  Honestly, after being on the road all morning, a good conversation with a Goldfield resident sounded pretty good.
     As it turned out, the fella roaming around doing handiwork was the owner of the Hidden Treasure Trading Company.  This trading post is one of the Goldfield community hubs.  The owner is an active Chamber Of Commerce member and spokesman.  While browsing in the trading post and admiring the wide variety of old west merchandise, we really struck up some good conversations about everything from antiques to the tourism industry and the infrastructure needs of Goldfield.

     The timing was perfect for this infrastructure and demographics conversation, because I had just completed my AA Degree in Culinary Operations.  In fact, for my final AA Degree six week long college project, I chose to develop a business plan that covered every aspect of an old west Route 66 BBQ Diner style tourist trap restaurant operation.  This school restaurant project was designed to be open 24/7 and a Nevada style gaming lounge was part of the plan.
     Basically, I chose to do an old west tourist trap business as my final term project at Le Cordon Bleu.  The idea was well received by the professor, who just happened to be a big fan of Nevada saloons and nostalgic Route 66 diners.  Needless to say, my 43 page business plan got a perfect 100% A+ grade.  Us Las Vegas chefs do know how to play our cards to win big!
     I had previously signed wavers to allow my college writing projects to be used as teaching examples in Le Cordon Bleu classrooms, so it would not surprise me the least bit if somebody takes off with the tourist trap diner idea.  This is okay by me, because the only investor that I have at this point is so unreliable, that listening to his offers amounts nothing but listening to a "heap big kemosabe that speaks with forked tongue."
     Investors in restaurant projects are not even something that I currently seek, because all my time is devoted to accomplishing my BA Degree in Culinary Management, yet this "fella with a yella wallet and a belly to match" insists on butting right on in, to offer only promises of disappointment.  This has been going on for years, so the matter is null and void.  Besides, an investor like this would not be ideal for a long term business commitment.

     The relevance of the flip-flop investor topic matter will become apparent in the next few paragraphs.  The conversation that I had at great length with the operator of trading post, had to do with local tourist trade demographics, local infrastructure, business forecast outlooks and realistic business feasibility analysis.  To what caliber the historic town of Goldfield stands poised to become as a prime destination in the wild west circuit of the tourism industry was also projected.  This conversation was interesting, to say the least.

     I have worked in tourist trap destinations for most of my life, so I know the game well.  Being realistic and not overshooting the market is the key to not going bankrupt.  A conservative approach has to be taken, when the infrastructure lags behind what is required to do full blown tourist trade business.  An investor has to be capable of making a long term commitment in a situation like this.

     It has been a few months since I spoke with the Goldfield Chamber Of Commerce member and things always have a way of changing overnight, for better or worse.  Some of the infrastructure gaps may have been filled by now.  I really do not know and the only good way for me to find out, is to warm up the motor, get it in gear and ride the 400 horses in my car back on up to Goldfield to see what the situation is.  Since I am planning a trip to Tonopah soon, this will be done.

     Before going on any farther about pumping up a town for high gear tourist trade business, one does have to consider that I only spoke with one leading member of the community.  What do the rest of the people want to see, as far as the future of Goldfield is concerned.  Many folks in Goldfield like where they are living, because there is no hectic tourist trade to deal with.  Good business zoning laws will satisfy some residents, but not all.
     All things have to be considered and community backlash can mean that no business plan can be set in place.  Trying to rally everybody round the same flag rarely works.  Trying to fight city hall is another path to business failure.  A community commerce plan has to suit the needs of the community first and foremost.
     I guess this is why Political Science Classes are part of the BA Degree Culinary Management Program at the Frenchy cooking school that I go to.  Community demographics and respecting the community is part of the game.
     Overpowering a community to set a plan of action in place, that nobody in the community wants, has a long proud history in the wild west.  The big bad guys that use strong arm tactics to get their way, usually end up looking down the wrong end of a twelve gauge shotgun and they get run out of town.  Maybe this is why Cultural Ethnic Identity Humanities Class is also part of my BA Degree Culinary Management curriculum.  A BA Degree like this does mean that one has to handle matters on a grand scale, in a realistic matter.

     "Ancient Chinese Proverb Say:  One who is realistic, have no need to change underwear often, because end of shotgun barrel is pointed other way ..."  

     Anyway, at the time of our meeting, Goldfield needed a gas station, a grocery store and a motel.  Goldfield needed to boost its historic downtown scene as a main attraction, so it could attract boatloads of tourists  Goldfield also needed a high capacity restaurant that could handle multiple busloads of tourists arriving at the same time.  These were the basic needs at that time.

     As far as future tourist trade business prospects go, Goldfield needs investors that are willing to invest more than just mere money.  Goldfield needs hands on investors that roll up their sleeves and get the job done.  Their is a local workforce available, but if this town progresses as expected, Goldfield will have to be capable of luring dedicated workers from major cities in the region, like Las Vegas or Reno.  Asking workers to relocate to a desolate area on an upstart proposition is not an easy sell.

     To become sustainably green and to not be placed on the long waiting list for power supply upgrades, a solar power panel field would be needed for the business grid.  Since Goldfield is an artist community, recyclable material statutes must be set in place, for example a craft brewery that also makes gourmet soda would have to sell the products in returnable glass bottles for a deposit.  A water purification plant upgrade to reclaimed water capability would be necessary.  In Furnace Creek a program of offering refillable canteens was favored over selling water in plastic bottles.  These are viable ways to go green.  Selling biodiesel fuel is another winning proposition.
     Basically, Goldfield needed the facilities that my last job site had.  My most recent chef job was at the Furnace Creek tourist trap in Death Valley.  The Furnace Creek Inn and the Furnace Creek Ranch are the same company.  The entire resort served more than 2,000 covers per day in multiple on-site restaurants during the hot summer season, when I worked there.  The resort accommodation rate was nearly 100% everyday.  The summer season was actually the slow season, so the numbers are much higher in the winter, when temperatures are cooler.  Yes, there are campgrounds near the resort for ranch accommodation overflow!
     Since the price of a hamburger at that resort was about $19, one can easily go into a state of shock, when thinking about how much money was made each day.  This thought alone does make the sleepy little historic living ghost town of Goldfield seem just a bit more interesting.

     A busy resort job site in a desolate remote location like Goldfield does require a large workforce.  The infrastructure has to accommodate both the workforce and guests.  Basically, the only mistake that the resort in Death Valley made was it did not effectively satisfy the cultural needs of the employees, so most employees transferred to another company site the first chance that they got.  The unrealistically low wages also caused a high employee turnover ratio.  It costs far more to constantly hire new employees, than is does to pay a fair wage.  Content employees can usually be counted on to be long term employees.

     Goldfield currently does have a capable Sheriffs Department, a correctional facility, general stores, mercantile businesses, off road vehicle businesses, one restaurant, art shops and several antique shops.  Goldfield has a historic brick building main street area that can be renovated to be a prime tourist attraction site.  There are several empty saloons, churches, a few museums and a historic gold mining operation facility, which can potentially draw gold fever tourists, like bees to honey.
     Goldfield even has an Off Road Vehicle Recreation Area that is tied into the open air International Car Forest of The Last Church.  Say what?  It would be useless for me to describe this outdoor art exhibit, so please just look a the pictures at the top of this page of the cars planted in the ground or follow the hyperlink in the list of Nevada tourism references.

     Overall, this article about Goldfield was written from a business perspective.  Many people will find this read interesting, because there are many living ghost towns in the west that this information could pertain to.
     Honestly, Goldfield is a very nice historic tourist destination.  It is well worth spending the day there, wandering around, taking pictures, shaking hand with friendly community members and talking up a storm!

     There is an actual Goldfield Chamber Of Commerce building located in the main street area.  Tourism information about things to do and sights to see can be found at this place.
     The Hidden Treasure Hidden Treasure Trading Company is located at 489 Bellevue Avenue in Goldfield.  The owner of this shop does assemble "Welcome To The Community Of Goldfield" brochure and local periodical packages for people that visit town.  Pictures showing the contents of these tourism packages can be seen in the photos above.  This shop really has nice quality western theme gifts for sale too.  I happened to purchase a little bit of gold in a bottle while I was there, so those who have gold fever will have something to view!  

     A Classic Steak Sandwich at The Dinky Diner
     When I visited Goldfield, The Dinky Diner was the best restaurant in town.  This is because it was the only restaurant in town!  There is no need to worry, because my standards are high enough to not base a restaurant recommendation solely on the fact that it happens to be the only place to dine within thirty miles.
     The Dinky Diner is just like what the name suggests.  This restaurant has a small dining area that seats about twenty or so customers.  Outdoor patio dining is available and the views of the historic downtown district are nice.  The old Goldfield Hotel and High School classic brick buildings are within walking distance.  There are plenty of antique, curios and art shops in this main street area.  The Chamber Of Commerce is actually just across the street.

     After doing the tourist thing all day long, I worked up quite an appetite.  A big hearty old fashioned steak sandwich sounded mighty appealing and so did a big glass of ice tea.  I had no doubts about the food, because every customer in the diner was thoroughly enjoying their meal.  In fact, a few customers ordered the same thing that I did.  A fellow sitting at the table next to me actually said "You are going to like the steak sandwich.  I order it every time that I have lunch here, when I am on my way to Reno on business."  I was impressed!  The food at The Dinky Diner was so good, that business travelers were regular customers.  That is a good sign!

     The steak sandwich looked and tasted awesome.  The steak was smothered with grilled onions and mushrooms, just like classic steak sandwiches in the old days.  It was cooked medium/medium rare, just like I requested.  The steak was big too.  In fact, I bit off a little more than I could chew when I placed my order.  I became so full that I packed the second half of the sandwich for the trip back home.

     The Dinky Diner is located at 323 Crook Avenue in Goldfield.  This diner faces Highway 95, which is the main route through the center of town.   The dining room and kitchen were spotless.  The service was attentive and friendly.  The menu offers classic American diner fare and the portions are honest.  There is some interesting history printed on the menu that is worth reading.  The atmosphere was peaceful and nostalgic memorabilia decorated the walls.  The dessert display case had some good looking pies up for grabs.  Unfortunately my belly was too full to budge, so I had to take a pass on a sweet treat.
     The Dinky Diner?  I definitely recommend this little restaurant in Goldfield for fans of classic American Route 66 Diner style food!  With food this good, there is no need for another restaurant in town.  Yum!

Friday, August 29, 2014

USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak with Tamarind Bourbon Steak Sauce

A scene at a typical chain restaurant or greasy spoon diner ...

Waitress:  "Can I get you anything?"
Customer:  "Yeh ... How about some steak sauce."
Waitress:  "Okay ... I will be right back."

~ Ten minutes later ~

Customer:  "Where is my steak sauce?  My steak is now ice cold!"
Waitress:  "Oh ... I forgot to tell you, we are all out of steak sauce."
Customer:  "Can anybody in your kitchen make steak sauce?"
Waitress:  "I doubt it ... The cooks do not speak English and I never see them make anything from scratch.  We just buy stuff like steak sauce.  But I guess we ran out." 
Customer:  "Well, what about my steak?"
Waitress:  "Let me go get the manager."

~ Ten minutes later ~

Manager:  "Hey waitress ... Where is the customer?  His plate of food is still sitting here untouched."
Waitress:  "Huh?  He must be in the restroom or something.
Manager:  "Well ... Let me know when he gets back."
Waitress:  "Okay."

~ Twenty Five minutes later ~

Hostess:  "Hello, this is the Dead Lazzlo's Diner ...  Thank you for calling ... How can I help you?"
Customer:  "Yeh ... Do you see that steak sitting on that table with no customers, over by the fake plastic palm tree?  That was my steak, but it is your steak now"
Hostess:  "Yes I do.  Umm ...  Let me transfer you to the manager."
Customer:  "Why bother.  You guys do not have any steak sauce, so I just cooked a steak at home and I am now dumping a whole bottle of steak sauce all over my big fat juicy steak.  Tell your manager to take that ice cold steak on the table by the plastic palm tree and shove it up his ..."
Hostess:  Click.

~ Ten seconds later ~

Hostess:  "Hello, this is the Dead Lazzlo's Diner ...  Thank you for calling ... How can I help you?"
Customer:  "... Derriere !!!"  Click. 

     The trials and tribulations of dining in a low quality restaurant can be frustrating at best.  Basically, most restaurant operations problems can be attributed to a sub par managerial staff or a company policy of only hiring unskilled employees that will work for the lowest possible wage.  Pre-prepared frozen "heat & serve" food is commonly stocked in low budget restaurants, because this is food that any ape can cook and it is the means for maintaining quality control standards.  Labor cost can also be reduced. 
      Restaurants that depend on pre-manufactured food products are always susceptible to inventory problems.  When a restaurant like this runs out of Frozen French Fries, the manager "86's" fries, even though there might be twenty cases of fresh potatoes sitting in the dry storage room.  
     "Why? ...  Why" ... Why? ... Oy vey!"

     When I ask for hot sauce in a restaurant and the waitress says that they ran out of steak sauce, I do not even bother to ask if the cook or chef can whip some up, because I know what the answer will be.     
     If the waitress knew that there was no hot sauce before hand, then if there was any talent in the kitchen at all, then the waitress would have darted back to the kitchen to tell the chef that she needs hot sauce ASAP, because a customer is waiting.  
     The chef would grab a small pot, then combine a little bit of water, vinegar, salt, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in the pot.  Then the chef would immediately place the pot over a high flame, bring the ingredients to a boil and stick the bottom of the pot in an ice bath to cook the sauce to room temperature.  
     The hot sauce would then be poured into a ramekin, handed to the waitress and placed in front of the customer.  This all takes less than 4 minutes to do in a professional restaurant kitchen!  I know, because this is how fast that I work in the capacity of Sous Chef or Chef de Cuisine.  
     These are the rewards for not making excuses or simply telling the customer that and item like hot sauce is out of stock:  
     • Customer satisfaction is maintained.
     • The chef earns respect from the waitress.
     • The cooks learn by example.
     • The waitress is respected by the dining room manager for doing the right thing!

     "So, you are all out of steak sauce, huh?  Well get back there in that kitchen and make me some!"  Honestly, this is a healthy attitude for a customer to have.  This shows who is really in command in  in any restaurant.  The customer is always number one.  The customer is always right, even if the customer is mistakenly wrong!  This is one of the golden hospitality rules.

     Today's recipe features a classic steakhouse restaurant cut of beef.  Great steakhouses market USDA Prime Grade Beef as a minimum quality standard.  A USDA Choice Grade Top Sirloin Steak does not have enough fat marbling to guarantee that the steak will be tender.  A USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak has plenty of fat marbling and it is guaranteed to be tender, even if it is cooked to a medium well temperature!
     Many beef steak connoisseurs agree that a USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak has the richest beef steak flavor of all steaks.  This why classic steakhouse restaurants off this steak on the menu.  This is why a good steakhouse offers USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak as Sliced London Broil on the menu.  Top Sirloin Steak also happens to be the cut of beef that was used to make the original London Broil.  
     The USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak in the pictures above was purchased at The Butcher Block in Las Vegas.  I have published several butcher shop articles in this food website.  Just click on the specialty market index tab at the top of this page to see the details about this butcher shop and several others.  Butcher shops are where USDA Prime Grade Beef can be found and for a holiday weekend, these steaks are well worth the price.

     Today's steak sauce recipe uses tamarind paste as the base of the sauce.  Tamarind has an extremely tart flavor.  It take patience and plenty of sweetening to balance the flavor.  Adding savory spices and sweet onion also helps.  Sour Mash Bourbon naturally tames the flavor of tamarind.  Today's steak sauce will "knock the socks off" of any fan of bottled steak sauce condiments!    

     Beer Pairing:  
     Butte Creek Organic India Pale Ale has a superb balanced flavor.  The hops selection and strength is not overbearing and the aftertaste does not interfere with tasting savory food flavors.  These are the hallmarks of organic hops that are not grown by accelerated chemical means.  The same can be said about the malty body of this fine brew.  The malt gentle warms the palate without creating a heavy high gravity feel, like so many inorganic malt extract products do.  Butte Creek Organic IPA has a comfortable alcohol content that compares to top notch traditional British IPA brews of yore.  

     This IPA is authentic, traditional and by far it is the leader of the craft IPA brew pack for one good reason.  This beer is USDA Certified Organic.  As everybody knows, organic farmers detest GMO seed and they prefer classic heirloom seed varieties.  The organic label is not a guarantee of being GMO free, but it is a fairly reliable indicator.  The Non-GMO Project label is a better indication of purity in this sense.  
     The Butte Creek Brewing is under the shield of the Mendocino Brewing Company.  This California brewery is environmentally green.  Green status and organics should be prime concerns of modern beer consumers.
     Some brewmaster ignorantly disregard the importance of organic brewing as a whole, but these same characters are usually nothing more than brewers that use instant mix beer making products and they take every brewing shortcut that they can in order to increase profits.  Ce est la vie. 
     Traditionalists prefer classic European beer for a reason.  Tradition dictates quality and it sets the standard for ingredients.  Western craft organic brewers adhere to those same traditions.  This why recommending Butte Creek Organic IPA is so easy to do!  
     Here is a hyperlink to the Butte Creek Brewing website:  Butte Creek Brewing 

     Have a cigar and relax!
     When doing Labor Day Weekend the right way, sit in a comfortable chair in the shade, kick the feet up on the table, slowly puff away in a zone of peaceful relaxation.  A good cigar after a hearty steak dinner is a classic way to wind down the day.  Cigar fans need no advice or hype.  Cigar people already know what they like and some constantly seek variety.
     When selecting tobacco, go to the experts.  Who are the tobacco experts?  Native Americans and folks who are dedicated to the cigar business.  In Las Vegas, the Paiute Tribal Smoke Shops offer the best humidor selection in the state of Nevada.  There are two locations and the prices are right.
     Honduran Las Cabrillas De Soto Maduro Cigars offer a rich flavor and a tranquil tempo.  Recommended!

     Tamarind Bourbon Steak Sauce:
     This recipe yields 2 generous portions of steak sauce!
     I have written 2 tamarind barbecue sauce recipes in recent years.  The main difference in today's recipe is the spice mixture.  The balance of tangy tart flavor is mellowed for steak sauce.  
     Blocks of pressed tamarind paste are available at Asian markets.  Select a block that is labeled as seedless.  Even though the label says seedless, the fruit must be checked for seeds after it reconstitutes in warm water.
     The bourbon should be added after a sweet sour flavor balance is achieved.
     Place 1/3 cup of pressed seedless tamarind fruit in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Simmer till the fruit becomes tender.
     Stir and check for any tamarind seeds.  Remove the seeds if any are found.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground galangal powder.  (Thai Blue Ginger Powder)
     Add 4 whole cloves.  (spice cloves)
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of achiote paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole Brazilian peppercorns.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole mustard seed.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole black caraway seeds.
     Add 6 dried whole juniper berries.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 teaspoons of malt vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese black vinegar.  (Chinkiang Vinegar)
     Add 1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 2 tablespoon of palm sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat
     Gently simmer the sauce.
     Note:  After ten minutes, taste the very thin sauce to see if the sweet sour balance is okay.  Add a little bit more granulated sugar if the sauce is too tangy.
     Add 1 cup of Kentucky sour mash bourbon.  Do not flambé!  (Evan Williams Sour Mash Bourbon has a rich flavor profile and it sells for a bargain price.)
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, so the alcohol evaporates.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a very thin consistency.
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.  Use a small rubber spatula to rub the tamarind and onion through the strainer, but try not to press the whole spice seeds through.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce over very low heat, till it becomes a medium thin puree steak sauce consistency.
     Remove the sauce from the heat.
     Allow the sauce to cool.
     Refrigerate the sauce for 2 hours, so the flavors mellow.
     Warm the sauce to room temperature before serving.

      USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak:
     Select a USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak that weighs 14 to 16 ounces.  The steake shoul be about 1" thick.  
     Season with sea salt and crushed black pepper.
     Heat a char grill or cast iron ribbed griddle to a medium/medium high temperature.
     Cook the steak to the desired state of doneness.  (Medium/rare to medium is best.)  Be sure to occasionally brush the steakwith melted unsalted butter.  
     Place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan and let the steak rest for 2 minutes. 

     USDA Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak with Tamarind Bourbon Steak Sauce:
     Place the USDA Prime GradeTop Sirloin Steak in the front center of a plate.
     Place a glass ramekin of the Tamarind Bourbon Steak Sauce on the plate.
     Place a vegetable medley garnish of your choice on the plate.  (Buttered, seasoned okra, mushroom, finger potato and red bell pepper is a nice medley!)

     The hearty rich flavor of tender Prime Grade Top Sirloin Steak, with a good steak sauce!  Yum!