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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

BOO!

Sunday night we will be awash in Lady Gaga's, Avatar Character's, Darth Vadar's, Captain Jack Sparrow's, Hannah Montana's and gulp, even characters from The Jersey Shore (though, those of us from South Jersey disavow any resemblance to such!) and the weekend will be filled with Ghostly Parties and Ghoulish Events!

Vague memories come back dressing up as Johnny Callison from the Phillies in the 60's and maybe even Johnny Swift. If you have to ask, you are most definitely born after the 70's! Me, don't really do much for Halloween, keep a little candy for any neighborhood kids that may stray into our compound, but even Evangelists have trouble finding where I live, and that is not a bad thing.

Now growing up in the 'real' Jersey Shore, or at least the South Jersey Shore, we had limited neighborhoods to trick or treat in, after all, our island was only about 6 blocks wide and a lot of the homes were summer homes, but we made due. We did not have to have our parents drive us around to 'other' neighborhoods, our neighbors were just fine, thank you very much!

But who doesn't like adults trying to relive what they thought was their youth. People who never stray from their Dockers and Golf Shirts come across as characters from La Cage Au Faux, but gotta admit, people still have some ghoulish parties and that means food!

If you are having a party or are going to one, take a look at what you can do to add you own touch! I mean really, how long does it take to put together a punch? to make some cupcakes? For you who Google, just Google 'Halloween Food' and you will be surprised as to what is out there!

From Yummy Mummies to Graveyard Cupcakes, from Vampire Kiss Martinis to various Witches Brews, Halloween foods and drinks abound. Many of the recipes I looked at are not that hard and will add a 'witchin' touch to your party!

This weeks 'Website of the Week' continues our spooky theme; (http://www.celebrations.com/halloween-treats). Many recipes and treats, and if you go back to their Halloween main page, decorating tips and more.

Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes has just launched a 'Show Us Your Decadence' video contest! The winner wins a six-month membership in our 'Cheesecake of the Month' Club. Visit our website, under media room for more details and take a look at our sample video!

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 ,on Twitter (www.twitter.com/decadenceGJ)

We are loading up recipes and discounts on our Facebook page and will also be letting our ‘fans’ know of upcoming events, sales and the like. There are even videos! Check it out and become a fan!

Friday, October 29, 2010

BOO!


Well, it has been awhile!

We write a bi-weekly column for a local paper, The Grand Junction Free Press, centered, usually, around food.

Check it out!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Savory Appetizer Cheesecakes



One of the things I love about what I do, is that I get to play with different flavor profiles with our cheesecakes! I subscribe to a lot of cooking and culinary magazines and I will see some recipe, not necessarily cheesecakes or desserts, but I see a flavor profile or combination that might just work in a cheesecake.

Over the last few months, we have developed a new product line, which are 'Savory' Appetizer Cheesecakes, which you spread on crackers, pita chips or the like. We started with four flavors, Sun-Dried Tomato w/ Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Bacon & Blue Cheese (ya gotta love bacon!), Smoked Salmon and my personal favorite, The 'El Diablo' which, yes, is a Ghost Pepper/Habanero Cheesecake with an Ancho/Chipotle Pesto, definitely not for the timid, but believe it or not, it is our most popular savory!

On another occasion, I was playing around with what I thought was going to be another Savory, but I had started adding sugar to the first test batch, when I said to myself....

Self.. you dummy.. there is no sugar in a Savory!!

I was about to dump the batter when I gave it a quick taste and went.... WHOA!!! This is good and with a little heat and that is how our newest dessert cheesecake flavor, The Habanero/Key Lime came about.

You get the sweet and tart taste of the Key Lime come through and then you get the heat, not overpowering, from a roasted Habanero sugar that I made....

Turns out it is the fastest selling new flavor I have put out in over 2 years!!

Go Figure!!

Got many more on the drawing board when we get through the fair/festival/market season, at least 20 other flavors that I want to do!!

Yeah, I do so love to play!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Downtown Grand Junction's Farmer's Market






Every Thursday, from 4 - 8 pm, a great Farmer's Market is held on Main Street in downtown Grand Junction. This is where we launched our line of gourmet 'Cheesecakes in a Jar' four years ago and while we do not do a lot of these, just this one and the Glenwood Springs Farmer's Market, we will continue to do this one as long as they will have it. Besides the fact that we routinely sell out, it is a great bunch of people!

You have over 15 orchard and farm vendors and another artesianal vendors, ranging from custom jewelry, from our friend, Susan Jeansonne and Jeansonne's Fine Designs, to some of the best chili (and four time winner and the Southwest Chili Festival) from Katie of Guera's Chili, to many food vendors and much. much more!

Music emenates from all the corners, fun stuff for the kids and a great time for all!

This season's market ends on Thursday, September 16th, so get on out there and see what the Grand Valley has to offer!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ah Hah Moments


About a month or so ago, Mutual of Omaha had emailed me, they were coming into town to film 'Ah-Ha' moments, a moment which changed your life. Seems that they had heard about us and Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes and wanted to film our story, along with some others in town.

Just got an email that the video was now on their website, click here to check it out!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Palisade Peach Festival




This past weekend, the 42nd Annual Palisade Peach Festival was held here in Palisade, Colorado. Over 20,000 Peach Fans turned out for what is one of Palisade's finest moments. From a Ice Cream social on Thursday, to the Peach Festival in RiverBend Park, to the Feast in the Fields, Palisade turns into the Peach Capitol of the known universe.

One of the highlights of the Peach Festival is the Peach Cuisine with Colorado Chefs, and an event that I have been proud to be a participant in for the past four years. This year, I demonstrated Chocolate Dipped Dried Peach Bytes, double-dipped in a Peached Cayenne Sugar. In past years, I have done salads and 'Wings over Palisade', which is are BBQ Peached Chipotle Chicken wings. As all the chefs do, we all try to introduce many ways of using Palisade's pride into peoples culinary thoughts. If you would like any of my recipes over the past few years, email me at decadencecheesecakes@mindspring.com.

We also had one of our employees, Katrina, participate for her 3rd year! Talk about going from shy and nervous to a budding Rachael Ray! Congrats to Katrina for demonstrating Easy Peached Pork Tapas!

The Colorado Mountain Winefest is coming up next month, stop on by!

This event is the first event that we ever participated in when I first opened Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes. I was still in culinary school and when I started working with Wine Cheesecakes, they invited me and for the last five years, we have been a fixture in the VIP Tent, serving slices of our Blackberry/Cabernet, Port/Fig w/ a currant reduction sauce and our Chocolate Decadence. For the past four years, we have also had our own booth, selling our 'Cheesecakes in a Jar'.

Over 50 wineries participate in this great event, which also has food and wine pairings, and this year, a chef demo from Chef Kelly Liken, now on Top Chef!

Come on out to Palisade and enjoy the fruits of our labors!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Return to the Shore Part 3






Every summer when I take Austin out to the Jersey Shore, we make a run down to Wildwood and it's boardwalk and rides! The first few years I took him out, when he was real young, I used to take him to The Ocean City Boardwalk as it has some young-kid friendly rides, but once he turned 10, Wildwood and it's Amusement Piers was the obvious choice! We always start with a go-kart track, right off the boardwalk and he really does seem to enjoy it!

Now right after that, we have been stopping at the same Pizza & Fries place, but saw this season that it was replaced by a fish place and while fish may have it's place, it's not what we consider boardwalk food! So we have always passed Sam's Pizza and this year stopped in there. Good East Coast Pizza, reasonable prices, perfect to load up before the rides!!

Now Wildwood has 'Morey's Piers' three separate piers, two of which include waterparks (Ocean Oasis and Raging Waters) and just a ton of rides, from High Thrill Rides, such as The Great White & Maelstrom to Log Flumes and almost too many to ride in one day! Austin loves these (as his Dad used to when he was younger and pre-abdominal surgery) and we make sure to run him ragged!

After the excursion to Wildwood, we took Austin out for his first time to a Hibatchi Steak House, Ginja on The Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township. They prepare the food right in front of you. The food was ok, maybe a little better than ok, but when the chef started flipping pieces of food right into your mouth, Austin was in heaven, someone else playing with food!

Now I realize that as he gets older, he may not want to leave his friends in the summertime, but until that day comes, we will continue to explore Da Shore and all it's gems with my boy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Return to the Shore Part 2




As I had mentioned, the last trip to Da Shore was too much for just one blog... so....

There were a few places that I always take Austin to when we are out at Da Shore, Dino's Subs in Margate and, believe it or not, WaWa. For those of you who are not from the east, WaWa is what a 7-11 ir Quick Stop would be on steroids.... open 24/7, you can virtually get anything (legal, that is) anytime of day or night... Got a craving for a Cheesesteak at 3 am.... head to WaWa.... got that salt fetish that only a soft pretzel will quench at 6 am.. head to Wawa!!

We stopped by Dino's again, need that real Cheesesteak fix, and as we were getting ready to pay for our order, i looked down and there was an article from the Grand Junction Free Press that I had written last year when we were out there, all about Dino's! ya gotta love life!

We were headed up to the Boardwalk to check out the Ripley's Believe it or Not (what the hey, he is 12!) and decided to stop by an Atlantic City Tradition... The Irish Pub. No, he is still too young to drink (and has never seen me drink!) but the Irish Pubis also known for it's food too! (Not that I knew that when we used to stop by there in the 70's and 80's when I was out there!).

Me, I had a corned beef special ( I truly love that sandwich!), Mom had the Fish & Chips, Ann had the Pub Salad and Austin had the Mozzarella Sticks and we all had the Lollipop Meatballs as an appetizer. As you can see by the prices on the menu picture, none of these will break your bank and the food was good!

Next.... Japanese Hibachi steakhouse, where, yes, they do toss food in your mouth!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Return to the Shore Part 1




When you get off the plane in Philly in July, you walk off and almost immediately break into a flop sweat. Nothing better than having 95 degree heat with the humidity being over 85%!!

But when you are bringing your 12 year old son out for yet another trip to 'Da Shore', it really doesn't matter! Ever since Austin turned 5, I have been bringing him out to the Shore twice a year, once in July and once for Thanksgiving. As much as I do love Colorado, (well, let's just say LOVE Western Colorado, the Front Range is ok, but getting was too crowded!), I want Austin to know where his old man grew up and what helped shape me.

My sister and mom picked us up at the airport and we drove down to the shore.

Now my mom moved 'off-shore' about 5-6 years ago, but still lives within 15 minutes of the beach, but I do miss the house I grew up in, which was only 5 houses off the beach in Margate.

We got down in about an hour and after travelling most of the day, we were hungry and as much as I prefer to try and eat 'local' as much as possible, Mom wanted to stop at a the Berkshire Grill, which is located in Egg Harbor Township. Now I googled this and really did not find any others, so it may be a local, but I got a feeling that it may be a small chain, whatever!

Austin was really hungry and as he is truly my boy, he is stating to get a little curious about other foods and not his usual chicken nuggets and pizza.

I started him off with sharing an order of 'Pot Stickers', which he initially grimaced at, but after trying one, wanted more and more. Yeah, he be my boy!

I was just in a steak mood and ordered the Steak Au Poivre, which was above average, but when Austin saw the Fajitas, he was in heaven and yeah, even though it was an adult entree, he cleaned the plates!!

Coming next... The Wildwood Boardwalk, Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard, Dino's Subs and The Irish Pub!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yes, we survived!


No, we did not go into protective hiding!! But to say that we have been busy this month is a grand understatement! Took my son, Austin, out to NJ for a week (will be posting some blogs about that adventure with pics in a few days), did a bunch of catering, 2 events at the Fairgrounds (over 3,000 ppl for each event), launched out new website (check it out!) and have three more catering events coming up this and next week. All of this on top of our cheesecakes!

Yeah, we be busy!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

TV Cooking Segments

I do a cooking segment on a local TV Station, KREX on their News at Noon show, about twice a month. While a lot of the other cooks and chefs who come on, do these fancy recipes, many of which take a lot of prep and a lot of cooking, I try to do things that people can actually do at home and not take a lot of time. Here are two of them. The recipes are posted on the KREX website, Seen at Noon, scroll down and you can see these and more!
video video

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glenwood Springs Downtown Market





This season, we have started doing another Farmer's Market to unleash our products on the unsuspecting public, The Glenwood Springs Downtown Market. The market is held every Tuesday, from 4 pm - dusk at Centennial Park, right off 9th and Grand in downtown Glenwood Springs.

While this market may not be as big as the one we do in Grand Junction, don't let that fool you!! This is a great market, with great people!

Some of the other vendors and growers include our friends from Z's Orchard, Eagle Smoked Salmon, Back Alley Coffee, Colorado's Best Tamales (you gotta try their Habanero/Pork Tamales!!), The Lavender Lady, Osage Gardens, Andy's Kitchen and many more, with entertainment in the park too!

We have sold out each of the first two markets and look forward to many more!

For more information and a complete list of vendors, check out their website!

Sunday, June 27, 2010




Each Sunday, through September, the town of Palisade, Colorado (where I am lucky enough to live) has it's Farmer's Market from 10 am - 4 pm, in downtown Palisade, which may be a little of a misnomer as the town only has a population of 2,500 or so.

But located in the Grand Valley of the Western Slope of Colorado, a major growing area for peaches, cherries, apricots and other fine produce, The Palisade Farmer's Market has a lot to offer, more than what you would think for such a small area!

Some of the produce vendors include: Z's Orchard, Bikki's Ranch of Liberty, Palisade Produce, Rancho Durazno, Sage Creations Organic Farms and many more. Other vendors include Jeansonne's Fine Designs (a very good friend of mine, stop by and say hi to Susan!), Under-Wood Turning, Granpa Howdy's Kettle Korn Colorado Pottery and many, many more! If you like Green Chili, stop by Guera's Chili, say hi to Katie and try some of her award winning chili! Pear Blossom Farms is also here with Wendells Jams, Jellies and Sauces!

If you want to get away from the bigger city Farmer's Markets, drive on out to Palisade and stop on by! You may also want to stop at any of the many wineries in and around town as well as The Palisade Brewing Company and Peach Street Distillery!

Palisade is still a little of a hidden gem so come out out before we are 'discovered'!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rope The Rockies






Every summer, we cook for an event, Rope The Rockies, held out at the Mesa County Fairgrounds and one that has become a little special to us!

Grand Junction is a stop on the United States Team Roping Circuit, which also has other events in Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and other states. This event (and others) is run by Rope The Rockies Productions (Cindy & Jeff Smith and Mary & Ike Cox).

This is the fourth year we have had the privilege to cook for these folks, nothing special, but Hot Dogs, Brats, Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers and this year, Chicken Kabobs and Corn Cobettes. Now we have cooked for many other groups, parties and events, some high-brow, some not, but this has got to be one the best crowds that we cook for! Everybody is friendly and appreciative and we do try to go that extra mile for them.

While this years attendance is down (go figure with this economy), we have no doubt that will change next year, back up to previous levels!

Next year, if you are in the area or any of the other events that these folks do, stop in, bring the family and have a good time watching some of the best riders you will see!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Almost a Teenage Foodie!






This past Sunday, June 13th, my son Austin turned 12! Only one more year until he is actually a teenager, yipes! I drove across the state, from our little town of Palisade, out to the northeastern plain of Colorado to a little town called Sterling to spoil, err, help him celebrate his birthday. It took about 7 hours to get there from here, which normally is not that big a thing, but when you run into snow when you are dancing across the divide, in JUNE!, you gotta love Colorado!

Picked up Austin at his mom's place Saturday afternoon and proceeded to do the Dad-thing, in other words spoil him and get him a ton of stuff for this birthday!

Of course, food came into this!

Started off with just some tacos for lunch and then a non-descript pizza from a local place which I will not even give a bad plug to, but for Sunday breakfast, we found a little spot, The J&L Cafe in Sterling, which is everything a small, local cafe should be. I have been finding myself increasingly drawn to these kind of places recently, as while I am not tired of people and places trying to 'push the boundries', I kinda like real people cooking real homey food and the J&L is a great example of such! You will not find any Michelin Stars awarded here, just good home-style food, cooked and served by local people for local people!

Looking at the menus, you find such local favorites as 10 different omelettes, Biscuits & Gravy (always one of my favorites when I am on the road) steak and eggs, burgers (including one called the Hay Stack, with a 1/3rd lb burger, topped with hashbrowns, brown gravy and diced onions, which I gotta try next time in town!), a German Sausage Sandwich, chicken fried steak and the rest of what you come to expect and a local cafe!

For breakfast, my lil boy (pushing 5'8" at 12 years old!) ordered the French Toast with a side of Hash Browns, which he promptly covered in ketchup, oh those kids! He devoured every bite and looked like he could have handled another order!

I stayed with one of my road favorites, Biscuits and Gravy with a side of Bacon, you know, the vegetarian approach! The biscuits were obviously made fresh that morning, with a heavy-handed serving of some really tasty sausage gravy, almost overflowing the plate. Perfectly spiced, not the kind where they try to over-spice to make up for a lack of other flavors, with a huge glass of OJ and side of bacon.

Breakfast with your boy at a great local cafe, doesn't get much better than that!

Open from 5:30 am - 8 pm on North 3rd Street in Sterling, stop by next time you are motoring up I-76 in Northeast Colorado!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Markets are Back!!

The Markets Are Back!! The Markets Are Back!!

Well, after hitting 100° this week, I think we can safely say that we have escaped the grasp of winter and the weird Spring we had!

Spent a lot of the weekend potting and plating basil, parsley, rosemary, habanero's & jalapeños and getting the green, yellow and red bell peppers done next weekend! Gotta love the region we live in and the variety of produce that can be grown around here, but most of us cannot grow everything that we love.

Maybe the final proof of the arrival of summer is The Downtown Grand Junction Farmer’s Market!! Held every Thursday, from 4pm – 8pm on Main Street, the market runs from June 10th through September 26th.

Come on down!! Main Street is filled with farmers selling their fruits, produce, meats and poultry, food vendors (and yes, Cheesecakes!) and a myriad of other vendors, with such offerings as alpaca products, arts & crafts as well as various cooking products.

Even this early in the season, you will find a great variety and one that will get better and better as the summer rolls on!

Entertainment also abounds on virtually every corner, from 4th Street down to 7th Street, with everything from large bands to single artists and dancing groups..

The Market is running full this year with several new vendors and is truly one of the gems of the Grand Valley, so put down that remote, get out of the drive-through lane, hit up the ATM, round up the family and come on down to Downtown Grand Junction!!

The Glenwood Springs Farmer's Market also will be starting up on Tuesday, June 22nd, from 4 pm - Dusk in Centennial Park. Can't be long until Palisade's Sunday Farmer's Market and Fruita starts up too!

In keeping with the Farmer's Market theme, here is a great recipe website from the Farmer's Market in Davis, California. This is one of the best Farmer's Market recipe website that I have seen, check it out!

Are you planning on any road trips this summer? When you do, check out the local Farmer's Markets and the local eateries! When you do and you find something that you like, let us know! Drop me an email or letter about where you ate and what you had and we will run it on our column and on our blog! The first two readers that do this will receive... wait for it... a Three-Pack of our 'Cheesecakes in a Jar®'! Hey, free food just for letting us and our readers know? Doesn't get much better than that!

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook.

We are loading up recipes and discounts on our Facebook page and will also be letting our ‘fans’ know of upcoming events, sales and the like. There are even videos! Check it out and become a fan!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Johnny 'Cheesecake'Seed

One of the best feelings that one can get is to do something, best if it is unexpected, that brings a smile to someone's face!

When I go on the road (and even sometimes here locally), I usually have some samples of our 'Cheesecakes in a Jar' with me, go figure!

Now, I get hit all the time by people going....'Dude... got any cheesecakes?" Yeah, that never gets tiring...

But when you surprise someone, especially one who is not expecting it, with a cheesecake, the smile alone is worth the trip!

This last road trip was no exception. When I left Palisade, I made sure that I had a few of our cheesecakes; The German Chocolate, our #1 since we started, our Tiramisu, our #2 seller and one of our new flavors, our Chocolate Chai, in a cooler in the back of my truck.

So, when Johnny 'Cheesecake'Seed hit the road, he was prepared to bring smiles on some unexpecting strangers faces!

In Rangely, when I stopped for a burger, the lady who took my order saw the Decadence logo on my shirt and said, 'Oh, I love Cheesecakes!". I did not say anything other than that I run Decadence, down in GJ.

After my meal, and of course, left a nice tip, I went out to my truck, popped the back door open and grabbed one of the jars. Walking back inside, I found her and said... 'Here... Try this!' and then left. I looked back and she had the cheesecake in her hand and she was smiling!!

The next day, I was driving back from Rock Springs & Green River, Wyoming and I knew that I had to find a Visitor Center for Flaming Gorge (hey, I need a refridgerator magnet and it is never too early to shop for Christmas presents. As it was before the season, a lot of the places were still closed, but at the dam, I found one that was open. After my purchases, the girl behind the counter, once again, saw the logo on my shirt and asked what Decadence was, so I explained what we do and she goes.."In a Jar? I never heard of that!"... I looked at her and said... 'Give me a sec!" After going back to my truck, again, I brought in a few of these and said..."here, try these!".

Again, smiles.

To paraphrase a line from a great movie with Kevin Spacey... "The smiles was worth the trip!"

So goes the adventures of Johnny 'Cheesecake'Seed!

Who knows... we may be stopping by!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If you can't stand the heat get out of the Cheesecake!


We launched a new product line, our Savory Appetizer 'Cheesecakes in a Jar' about 3 months ago and the 4th in the series is a Savory Cheesecake called 'El Diablo', which is a Ghost Pepper/Habanero Cheesecake. Now some people, obviously not PepperHeads, think that the El Diablo is 'over-the-top'.

For those of you who know me, I love hot and spicy food as long as the heat does not over power the flavor!

But working with ghost peppers got me thinking... Let's do the 'hottest' cheesecake in the world! So I have been playing, increasing the heat in our base sauce and after a few trials, I think I got it, "La Muerta Del Diablo"! Each jar has the equivelent of about 1 ghost pepper and 1 Habanero in it and that is on top of Jalepano meat and a few more 'items of heat'.

We are doing another tasting of our Savory's at CrossRoads Liquor/Wild West Steaks and Seafood on 24 RD in Grand Junction tomorrow (Fri, May 28th) from 3 - 6 pm and will have a sample of 'La Muerta Del Diablo', for those who dare!

Stop on by and say hi!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

On The Road Again





On The Road Again!

Once I hit Douglas Pass on my way to Vernal and Flaming Gorge, I think it actually sank in that, yes, I was getting out of Dodge for a few days for the first time since the Christmas/New Year's holiday! Maybe it was the altitude, maybe it was driving over the crest and knowing that my cell phone was turned off and I had left my laptop at home, whatever, On The Road Again!!

Now as some of you may remember from previous ramblings, I steer clear of chain restaurants and fast food when I do my roadies and this trip was to be no exception to that rule. I went on-line and googled the towns that I was driving through, asked for advice from our Facebook and Blog pages and had written down a few ideas.

From the responses I had gotten, I knew that Vernal and Rangely may not be a gastronomical destination for most normal people, but whoever said that I was normal.

In Rangely, I found this little place, The White River Drive-In, which looks like it was a Mom & Pop Ice Cream stand that grew up a little. There was nothing fancy about this place, your basic ice cream cones, sundaes and shakes with a little bit of grill items and pizza added on. I saw that they had a Philly Burger, and with my east coast background, said what the hey. The burger came out, covered with grilled onions and American cheese, but I noticed that it was not your typical food-supplier burger, but one that looked like it was actually hand-made, yea! Being the pepperhead that I am, I had asked for some jalapenos on the side, which I applied to the top and washed it all down with a chocolate shake, all-in-all, not a bad way to start the roadie!

When I hit Utah, the first thing I noticed when I hit civilization were gas stations with a $3.15 gas price for regular, be glad we live where we do, I had paid $2.59 with my grocery card discount!

When I got to Vernal, which was to be my staging point for my excursions to Flaming Gorge and Dinosaur National Park, I had a few places written down from our fans and set out to see what these places looked like, found a few of them and then saw a place, Cafe Rios in a little mini-strip mall on the side of the road. They had a sign in the window that said #1 Mexican Food in the country and while I wondered who they came about stating that, decided that it took huge juevos to state that, so what the hey!

Their special of the day was a Chicken Enchilada plate, with a choice of beans and rice and salad. They assembled the plate, actually a dinner-size aluminum take-out container and topped it all with more shredded Mexican cheese, which melted all over the top by the time it came out. I grabbed a table overlooking the main drag of Vernal and dug in. The enchiladas were great, obviously the tortillas were made there and not store bought, the chicken was perfectly seasoned and the enchilada sauce and cheese was a perfect addition. By the amount of local people that I saw enjoying their food, this is a popular spot for the locals and one that I would stop back at.

Friday, I took off early to check out Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, about 35 miles north of Vernal and stretches up to the Wyoming Border. Now their normal busy time runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, which is why I hit it now, less people!

The road from Vernal takes you up through Uintas Mountains and is a great drive! The Flaming Gorge Unitas National Scenic Byway runs through the Ashley National Forest and through Flaming Gorge NRA. This was such a great drive, with many pull-outs, that I just turned off the radio and cd's, and to paraphrase 'Bruce'.. "rolled down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair". Once I hit Manila, I headed north up the west side of the gorge and ended up in Green River and drove over to Rock Springs, Wyoming to drive back down the east side of Flaming Gorge.

By this time, I was feeling my stomach growl and started looking around for some local eateries and found one of the highlights of this drive-about. I had driven around town and nothing really hit my eye (remember, no chain or fast food!) and had almost given up, when I saw a sign saying 'Taco's, they way they should be!' at a small place called 'Super Tortas Mini Tacqueria', right off exit 102 on I-80, corner of Foothill & Dewar.

Maybe 10 tables in the place, nothing fancy but clean and it smelled great. I looked over the menu and settled on the 'Fortachen' which are tacos made with Steak, Chorizo and Cheese, with a Jarritos Orange Soda.

The server brought my platter by and these were the old-school tacos that I love, four little tacos, with two little corn tortillas on the bottom of each taco, not the mass produced flour tortillas that a lot of places use nowadays. I hit them with a little hot sauce and dug in. Some of the best tacos I have had outside of the Baja!!

I headed down the east side of Flaming Gorge and decided, yeah, time for a little music, not Bruce, not The Dead, but a little 'Birth of the Cool', Miles Davis, perfect driving music for a road such as this!

A few hours later, I ended back in Vernal, with an appetite! I had read in a few places about this place called 7-11 Ranch Restaurant, right on the main drag in Vernal. This place has been around since the 30's and serves home made food, steaks, chops, burgers and the like. I saw that they had a 7-11 Pork Burger with homemade sausage and I was hooked. A huge homemade sausage patty, topped with raw onions and tomatoes came to my table and while this might not have been the most health-conscious meal I have ever had, it was quite good.

The next morning, I was headed out to check out Dinosaur National Monument and stopped by Betty's Cafe, also on the main drag, a spot I had read about and that was recommended by some people I met at a gift shop on the Flaming Gorge Drive.

Just a small place, with a home-style menu, eggs, omelettes and such on the breakfast menu. I saw one of my favorites, Biscuits and Gravy! I love Biscuits and Gravy and when the waitress brought my a plate, almost overflowing, I was smiling! Yeah, this will fuel the drive!

Pieces of nicely seasoned sausage in the gravy, bacon on the side, two huge homemade biscuits, I was in Hog Heaven and the whole bill, with a glass of OJ only ran about $8 bucks!

One of the things I realized, remembered, whatever, was that a meal does not have to be 'gourmet' to be good! You take real homemade food, cooked by real people and yeah, you can have some great food!

Go out and enjoy America! Get off the interstates, get away from chains and fast food and find out what real people cook and eat!

Our website of the week continues this road trip theme; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/445609. They have some great suggestions for food on the road and some great recipes!

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/decadenceGJ)

We are loading up recipes and discounts on our Facebook page and will also be letting our ‘fans’ know of upcoming events, sales and the like. There are even videos! Check it out and become a fan!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recipes & Food Websites

It would take me way too long to list all of the recipes and food websites that we have posted on our Facebook page, so I invite you to take a look at our Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 ! You will find a lot of cool recipes and food websites, most by me and some by our Fans!

Check it out! Become a Fan of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cheesecake, The Musical!

Charles Crawford, who is working on photos for our new website, developed a slide show, with some interesting music. It is a QuickTime file, check it out! video

Friday, May 14, 2010

Road Trips

Ahh, the feel of the wind coming in the trucks window as I cross the first mountain range as I leave the Grand Valley of Western Colorado, I cannot wait!

We just finished one of the busiest periods of work that we have had at Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes in a long time, what with our cheesecakes,a two-day Monster Truck Event and other catering and I am in dire need of a roadie!

One of the things that I love to do is to avoid all fast food, chain restaurants and the like and see what the local food places are! Whether it is a local Mom & Pop stand that puts out a truly amazing milkshake, a roadside beer joint that puts out a really tasty burger, whatever, it is this kind of place that make this country great!

Not every dish has to have Foix Gras, truffle oil, you get my drift! Sometimes a great burger is just a great burger!

This upcoming road trip is going to take me from Palisade up through Northwestern Colorado, into Vernal, Utah, up through Flaming Gorge and then, who knows? Just need to load up the truck with some good driving music (Allman Brothers-Live, Grateful Dead-Live, some live Bruce, of course and even some Jazz...)some tunes you can just space out to as you drive over mountain passes, past some herds, feeling the stress of work and life peeling off as the miles roll on!

So, if you know of any good local food establishments in these areas, just comment and I might just stop by and of course, you will read about it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cyber Foodies

One of the nice things about the internet explosion is the availability of great food sites and recipes!

Now if you are like most people, you may have 5-10 cookbooks that you like referring to. If you are like, me, that number runs to over 100 cookbooks and if it were not for how easy it is to ‘Google’ search a recipe, I am sure that number would outgrow my small Palisade haven!

Now I still subscribe to a few cooking magazines; Gourmet, Bon Appétit and more, but I like what I can find on the web rather than pour through 50 old copies of magazines.

Some of my favorite foodie sites are FoodNetwork.com, (hey, Paula Deen and Bobby Flay are on there!) and FoodandWine.com, but I also have site listings for Pepperheads, Cooking with Beer and other specialty sites. It is all out there!! Just seek and ye shall find!

One such site is ‘You’ve Got Supper’ (www.youvegotsupper.com). I was turned out to this site by my sister Ann, who is a teacher (Gotta be one of the most, if not most, important profession in the world!) and she plays tennis with the two founders of the site, Michelle Jenkins and Susan Aprahamian.

For all of you that are constantly looking for some simple, yet really tasty dishes for your family, you will love this site. The following is from their website;
“For years we have been preparing meals for one another’s family. We quickly found that this was a perfect way to share family favorites while saving time in the kitchen. This “supper swap” taught us to be more organized and efficient in planning our meals and shopping for groceries. Most importantly, we found ourselves having more time for family dinners. Our kids and spouses loved it and so did we.
As friends started hearing about our swap, they were eager to find a way out of their own dinner rut and the hassle of organizing their weekly meals menu planner and grocery lists. We designed You’veGotSupper.com as a solution for busy families who appreciate the importance of sharing the events of the day around a great meal.
We don’t pretend to be gourmet chefs, but we do enjoy cooking for our families. We hope that You’veGotSupper.com our weekly meal menu planner will help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.”
Yeah, they get it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo

Hola!

Even though many of us around the country do some kind of celebrating or partying for Cinco de Mayo, there are a lot of folks who really do not know what the day celebrates.

Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) is a party! One that celebrates Freedom & Liberty! 11 years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810, 4,000 Mexican soldiers finally smashed the French and ‘traitor’ Mexican forces of over 8.000 in a battle at Puebla, Mexico on the morning of May 5th, 1862.

What some people may not know is that this victory may have had a great influence on our own Civil War as many think that the Mexican victory over the French kept Napoleon III from supplying the Confederate Forces for a year after the May 5th Battle and allowed the Union forces to build a great army, which basically smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg 14 months after the battle at Puebla, which essentially ended the Civil War.

After that, Union forces were sent to the Texas/Mexican border and made sure that the Mexican forces got all of the supplies they needed to get rid of the remaining French forces. American forces were allowed to be discharged with the uniforms and weapons if they joined the Mexican forces to fight the French and the American Legion of Honor marched in Mexico City in the Victory parade, alongside their Mexican brothers in arms.

Just another instance of how the history of the United States and Mexico do intertwine!

So, yeah, go out and have a little celebration!! Without Freedom & Liberty, one would hate to see where we would be right now!! We see all around the world instances of people living under tyranny, dictatorships and such and for all our faults and limitations, we all should celebrate what we have!!

In honor of Cinco De Mayo, here is a tasty recipe!

Decadent Shredded Chipotle Chicken Tacos


Serves 8

2 cups shredded chicken (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken)
3 TBS Chipotle Sauce
1 cup shredded lettuce
½ red onion, medium dice
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup cheese, crumbled queso fresco or your favorite cheese, shredded
8 tortillas, soft taco size

Lime Wedges
Chopped Cilantro
Salsa

Place chicken in a sauté pan and add Chipotle Sauce and heat thoroughly.

While chicken is heating, warm your tortillas, either on the stove or in a microwave.

When chicken is nice and hot, place about ¼ cup of the chicken in a warmed tortilla.

Add some shredded lettuce, chopped onions, diced tomatoes and green chilies and top off with some shredded cheese.

Finish off by sprinkling some chopped cilantro and squeeze a lime wedge over it or top off with your favorite salsa.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gonzo Gastronomy 101

It was somewhere around the edge of the dessert, around The Grand Valley, when the food began to take hold…

gon•zo adj. Slang 1. Using an exaggerated, highly subjective style….

Having been a fan of Hunter S. Thompson, especially his early works, Hell’s Angels and, of course, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, I had always loved Gonzo Journalism, or at least, my translation of that. To me, if you are going to write about something, don’t do it in the 3rd person (I saw/read about this), but rather go out, dive in and then write about it from a personal point of view or at least from experiencing it!

When I starting writing my food column in the GJ Free Press, I did so for two main reasons; first being an old newspaper guy that thinks Wednesdays mean the food section in your daily newspaper and second, I just really love to cook, read about, and talk about food and cooking.

Here in The Grand Valley, while we may not have the sheer numbers of culinary diversity as such places as The San Francisco Bay Area (Road trip coming up), New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta or, gulp, The Front Range, we ain’t doing that bad either! Slow down some day when you are trying to navigate the ever-increasing traffic that we are seeing and take a look around, we really do have some places in town that do ‘push’ the boundaries and serve some really great food. Just off the top of my head, a few come to mind (and no, they are not all clients of Decadence!).

626 on Rood, No Coast Sushi, The Winery, The Carriage House, Chez Lena at the culinary school, Bin 707, The Paradox Grille at Gateway Canyons are just a few great examples of people doing what they love and trying to go that little bit extra.

Yeah, the economy stinks, money is tight, but every once in awhile, you really should go out and treat yourself to a great dining experience, no matter where it is. Besides enjoying some really good food, you will experience a nice euphoria, which these days is not a bad thing!

The same ‘gonzo’ philosophy is not a bad thing to have in your own kitchen! Don’t get too complacent with what you have cooking for all these years. Yeah, we all have our ‘comfort food’, but when you are looking at a recipe or thinking about what you can do that you have not done 1,000 times, let your mind wander. ‘Gee, what can I do to tweak this recipe?’ Maybe a different cheese? Maybe a different way of preparing the meat? (hey, it’s going to become Spring one of these days, how about grilling your meat, maybe after a new marinade idea, then bringing it in and incorporating it into your recipe?)

I love to read about food and cooking, between my magazine subscriptions, the internet and the Wednesday Food Sections in newspapers (If you have internet access, you really should go on newspaper sites around the country and see what they have in their food sections. I especially recommend The San Francisco Chronicle, The New Orleans Time Picayune, The Dallas Times Herald and of course , The New York Times, but if you like a certain type/style of food, check out that region’s newspapers!

I will see a recipe and then another and every once in awhile. I get a glazed look in my eyes (kind of like the look House gets in his face when he gets the diagnosis) and go……. Hummm, what if……

Worst case scenario: don’t let anybody else try it if it fails miserably! Don’t tell anyone!
Best case scenario: your knees buckle when you taste it!!

Go For It! Have some fun!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food for the Soul

Matzah Ball Soup, Fried Chicken, Corn Beef w/ Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing on Rye, Perogies, Gumbo and the list goes on. What do these foods all have in common? They are all comfort foods! They are what people go to when they need a little familiarity in their daily lives; they are what make us feel good.

Now as many of you know, I am originally from the Jersey Shore, just south of Atlantic City and my comfort food is Cheesesteak! Flash fried thinly-sliced pieces of beef, generously combined with fried onions and diced hot cherry peppers stuffed into an Italian Sub Roll, just writing about it makes me want to go out and make one!!

Most food historians credit Pat and Harry Olivieri with the creation of what is now known as The Philadelphia Cheesesteak back in the 1930’s as an alternative for their diners at a hot dog stand in South Philly and as the popularity grew, they opened up Pat’s King of Steaks on East Passyunk in South Philly, where it still stands, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The sandwich was, and still is in most parts of Philly, a Steak Sandwich and as customers always do, they wanted to see some changes and eventually cheese was added as an option as have been other options, such as a Pizza Steak (a steak sandwich with pizza sauce added) and many, many other options.

Being what I think is a Cheesesteak purist, I stick with the basics. Steak, Cheese, Onions and Hot Peppers. My favorite cheesesteak places are Dino’s in Margate (just south of Atlantic City) where I grew up and I still remember their phone number and The White House in Atlantic City.

The White House is probably the most famous sub shop outside of Philadelphia. Back in Atlantic City’s heyday (way pre-gambling), it was the place to go! When the Beatles played AC (and yes, I made my dad take his then 11 year old son to Atlantic City Convention Hall, old home of the Miss America Pageant) to see those flop-tops, they had subs there and their pictures still adorn the walls as do many celebrities that used to play in Atlantic City, at The Steel Pier, The 500 Club and other venues; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis (who first were paired up at the 500 Club), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and way too many others to list in a short column. Thought Atlantic City has changed a lot, the old Italian neighborhoods have mostly given way to, well, let’s just say, they ain’t what they once were, The White House Sub Shop still exists and still has lines all day long.

I can almost smell the onions now!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sanctuary

Sanctuary…. A Place of Safety…

With everything that is going on around us in the world today, everyone needs a little sanctuary, a place where they can go and get away from everything. To me, that is a kitchen!

When I am in my kitchen, I am in my sanctuary. The only thing that I am doing is cooking and to me, that is my ‘safe place’. Cooking is the only thing that matters then and I really try not to think of anything else.

Why do people in our profession love to cook? Maybe the following story will give you an idea…

About four years ago, when I first started Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes, I was invited to give a cooking demonstration at a local senior’s center. As time was going to be a little restricted, I decided to do a batch of Key Lime Cookies, really easy to bake and they do not take that much time. I was talking to the audience and when I was dusting the cookies with some powdered sugar, an elderly lady who was in the room started to talk about some cookies that she remembered her mother making when she was growing up, a German Spiced Cookie called ‘Pfeffernusse’. After we had passed out the Key Lime Cookies to the audience, I went back home and kept thinking about that lady and the Pfeffernusse.

I did some research on-line and found some recipes and banged out a batch that evening. The next day, I went back to the Senior Center and found the administrator. I gave her the batch of Pfeffernusse and said, “Please see that these get to that one lady”. She said, “You did not have to do that.”

As I was driving away, I thought to my self…Yes, I did, that’s why we cook!

(If you have any comments about cooking and why we do what we do, please post them!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Greetings fellow foodies!

Hi, nice to see you, we have your table tight over here, come on in!

My name is Lee Mathis and I will be your host for this blog. In this blog, I hope to entertain you with Culinary Tales, Stories, Events and such from a Foodie Point of View, yes, I am an unabashed Foodie! I love to cook; I love to find out why other people love to cook and what this great area has to offer.

I love the Grand Valley! Plain and Simple! I moved here from New Jersey, via a 20 year or so detour in Northern California and for whatever reason, found a home. About two years after I moved here, I found myself wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life as I just wasn’t happy with the path it had swerved onto. After over 20 years in the newspaper industry, I just wasn’t happy and looked back on my life to see if there was something that made me happy and I realized that I had always loved to cook.

Whether it was flipping pizzas on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, cooking steak and eggs at The Ranch House or making Silver Dollar pancakes at Nash’s Beef and Beer, both on the Boardwalk, also in Atlantic City, doing ‘Protein Feasts’ for my roommates, friends and neighbors in Sonoma, California or just seeing a recipe in the newspaper that I had to try, I just LOVE TO COOK!! So, why not see if I could make a living doing what I loved?

Upon some research, I found out that Mesa State had a Culinary Program and was told to give Dan Kirby a call and made a call that would help shape the next version of my life.

Now, Dan did not know me from Adam, yet spent over 3 hours the next day talking to me, not just about Mesa State’s Culinary Program, but the path I had been on and where I wanted to go. I applied the next day and was accepted into the program.

About three or four weeks into the program, I brought in a cheesecake that I had been making for years, a Vermont Maple Cheesecake and one of my Chef instructors, Chef Jon St. Peter, took a bite, then another and asked me where he could buy one. I thought about it for a minute and said, “Give me 90 days!’. After meeting with the Small Business Incubator people, I opened Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes 90 days later. We celebrated our 5th Anniversary this past August.

What I hope to do with this blog is to have some fun! There is too much stress and worrying in our lives and, at least in my mind, food and cooking is a way to escape a little from that. I will be interviewing some of the ‘food’ people around the Valley, letting you know what makes them tick, and maybe posting some recipes that you may actually want to try out at home and a little bit more.

I also would love to hear from you! Have you been to a restaurant that you just loved? Was there a dish that just blew you away? Is there a recipe that you would like to see? Drop me an note and I will see what I can do!

So,Welcome to my little world of food and foodies!!