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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!