I had heard of Bobcat Bite for a few years but was always put off by the name. After being skunked at Pie Town, I was ready to give it a try. When I arrived there were about 40 people waiting in line on a Friday afternoon.
Everyone Wanted a Burger.
It turns out that there are two lists. One, the first list, is kept inside. Make sure to stop a server and get on that list. When you progress far enough on the first list, you are “promoted” to the big board. Getting promoted from the list to the board was an accomplishment, or at least an event. We, the patiently waiting customers, took to congratulating, and joking about, each new “Board Member.”
Finally a “Board Member.”
I could spot the regulars because they knew to bring reading material. The rest of us played “watch the list.” We watched it like hawks, err Bobcats, and pretty soon we all knew who each party was. After a bit, there were very few strangers waiting for a burger. The crowd, looked like a rural group but was actually very sophisticated. Conversation ranged from construction/architecture to art (Santa Fe is an arts colony) to last week’s New York Times Magazine. Needless to say with an hour plus wait, we gelled. By the way, take out orders, for those who are not blogging, seemed to go a bit faster.
Bobcat Bite Menu
While waiting I had a chance to read the back of the old-timey menu and get the story behind the unusual name at Bobcat Bite which is currently owned by John and Bonnie Eckre. The building for Bobcat Bite was originally a trading post (see the original beams in the photo below) on the Old Las Vegas Highway (Las Vegas, NM not the other one), and then a gun shop, of all things. The highway became part of Route 66 and Bobcat Bite was launched as a family run restaurant in 1953 by Rene Clayton, who owned Bobcat Ranch, to service the hungry motorists.
Originally Founded by the Owner of Bobcat Ranch
Rene Clayton’s daughter Mitzi Panzer was the first operator in 1953. It has been a Mom & Pop place ever since. The Eckres took over in 2001. The unusual “Bobcat” name stuck because, before I-25 was built, Bobcats came down from the hills (no doubt drawn by the smell) and were given treats at the back door. As the menu states, “it was one of the few local dining spots that was friendly to Bobcats at the time.” I love that line because it presumes that many more places are bobcat friendly today.
So still waiting. What else can I share? Oh, they don’t take credit cards. There are no reservations either.
Interior and Customers at Bobcat Bite
So still waiting. What else can I share? Oh, they don’t take credit cards. There are no reservations either. I already knew I was visiting for the Green Chili Cheeseburger, which was voted best in New Mexico, a time or two. It is hard to think about the Menu with so many tasty looking burgers being hustled, right past you, to their proper tables. It was like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, but more the Rhyme of the Ancient Hamburger: “Burgers, Burgers everywhere and nary a bite to eat.”
Finally, I was called up along with “Rus Party of 2, a nice couple from San Diego. The tantalizing was ratcheted up a notch as the fans shot the warm kitchen air, carrying the wonderful smell of grilling onions, down along the counter. We ordered Green Chili Cheese Burgers. The neighbors to our left got theirs. More orders walked up our way only to turn left or right and head to other tables. It was a perfect storm of burger teasing. Finally, the server came our way. She must have had our burgers. She did….sort of.
The Rus Party is served.
She put down 2 lovely burgers on the narrow counter for The Rus Party of 2. The Pavlovian Response was kicking into overdrive now.
Great Presentation of a 10 oz, Choice Chuck, Green Chili Burger
It did arrive. 6 of us in the corner all high-fived. The presentation of the 10 ounce Cheeseburger made from choice-grade Chuck, freshly ground each day, was spot-on. They have used the same recipe for decades. The Beef is also natural and hormone & antibiotic free. It was a grown up burger (not gimmicky or gooey) showcasing the fresh ground beef. It was juicy (ask for napkins early) and flavorful without being too spicy; then the thick-cut bacon kicked in adding extra punch.
The only issues I had were the thickness and the Green Chili. I have a big mouth, but just not that big. I could not get my chomp on and had to bite around the edges, rotating the burger as I ate. It was both messy and not fulfilling. The Green Chili is diced and a bit tame. You don’t get the hot hit of the proto-typical New Mexican green chili, which is something I was seeking.
For me it was a very good burger, and worth the wait. It was maybe even worth a 50 mile drive, but for me it was not the holy grail. Its like horse racing though, everyone has a favorite. Regulars and tourists keep the small kitchen (150 square feet) pumping out 400 to 450 burgers a day at hefty prices. My check was $16.15 for a Green Chili Cheeseburger with Bacon, home fries (resistable) and a tea. A lot of people love it. Apparently, they ran out of burgers (remember fresh ground daily) the week before.
As I was getting ready to leave, I asked the server about some snippets I had over heard in the dining room but did not credit. It turns out that the snippets were accurate. Bobcat Bite is going to close at this location on June 9th, 2013. They are having a disagreement with the landlord. They are looking for a new spot, but don’t have it yet. They may even change the name.
So for the day I was skunked early and anti-skunked at lunch. A few days later and I would have had another miss.
We love getting good “Ask a Chef™” questions from our members. “Are there any added enzymes in Kosher Salt? is a good one.” Below is the question and our response.
In the lesson on sanitizing a cutting board, you mention that there is an enzyme in kosher salt that kills bacteria. What enzyme is that? I thought that salt was simply sodium chloride? Is there an additive enzyme in kosher salt?
So, you are right about plain Kosher Salt being simply Sodium Choloride. What we should have said in the exercise is that some brands of Kosher Salt have additives and enzymes that can also help kill bacteria. Very pure brands of Kosher Salt, like Diamond Kosher Salt, won’t have the additives but others out there may.
Depending on the brand, you can find Ferrrocyanide (not extremely toxic as the name might suggest), Yellow Prussiate of Soda, Tricalcium Phosphate, Alumine-Calcium Silicate, Sodium Aluminosillicate and potentially iodine in various measures in various Kosher or Sea Salts.
Most of the additives are anti-caking or anti-clumping agents that work by absorbing moisture, which most bacteria need to live and thrive. Additionally, some Kosher Salt and many Sea Salts can be iodized and as any kid with a scraped knee can tell you, Iodine is also an anti-septic.
The best way to know what is in the Kosher Salt in your pantry is to read the label and if anything is unclear or not specific to then contact the company.
Colt & Gray is a place we have been dying to try since we heard about it on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” in 2009 or 2010. Colt & Gray was called out for it’s Sticky Toffee Pudding. Sticky Toffee Pudding is hard to hate in the first place, but the best one ever sounded like something to drive for.
Despite the rearing horse imagery and the Western sound, Colt & Gray is named for Chef / Owner Nelson Perkins’ sons: Coulter and Grayson. Nelson is a native born high-lander who moved down to the flat-land of NYC to attend the French Culinary Institute, where he graduated with the Grand Diplome de Cuisine.
Urban Sophistication is the Feeling @ Colt & Gray
The training and local ingredients have been put to great use in a sophisticated, super-cool, avante-garde neighborhood bistro. Think of it as a reasonably priced (for what you get) high-end, non-Spanish, tapas bar or as a fine-dining, small-plates place. The love of food and preparation pervades the menu and the spirit of the staff. I was helped by Adam Condit (manager and server) who was a fount of knowledge about the menu and dishes which are a paen to the French Classics but built with local Rocky Mountain ingredients. The bar, which I admired without partaking, was also intriquing. On another slower trip, I could imagine spending a few hours there in an ad-hoc seminar on mixology. For example, they had an “Old Fashioned Grandma Cocktail (ramazzotti amaro, prunier l’orange, & peychaud’s bitters) that sounded interesting on a day I wasn’t driving another 200 miles after dinner.
A Lot to Recommend at Colt & Gray's Intimate Bar
The dishes I didn’t try, Pecan Crusted Soft Shell Crabs, Truffle Turkey Burger, Salad Perigourdine (gizzards, cured duck breast, foie gras, spring salad, & lemon vinaigrette) and Rockfish a la Nage, sounded almost as interesting as the dishes I did try and describe below. Nelson’s food philosophy is “to use the best available ingredients and treat them gently,” and we saw it in practice.
This Pig Trotter was Delicate and Flavorful
My first dish is likely one of Teaching Chef’s favorites from the Old Country: a Pig Trotter, which in Nelson’s imagination is a delicate combination of pulled pork (ham hock braised 6 hours) and Panko breading, flash-fried then topped with Frisee lettuce and served on a bed of stone-ground mustard. Colt & Gray’s pig trotter is very European in its presentation and flavor. It was a 3 bite appetizer and sadly no photos exist of the interior of this one.
Ciccioli (pronounced "chickey-holy" Platter
Colt & Gray makes their own Charcuterie which was a must try. After discussing Sunday’s offerings with Adam (Porchetta di Testa, Lardo, Ciccioli, Bresaola, Lomo, Lambvender and Nduja), I settled on Ciccioli, which is sort of like a pork pate. Sitting on Colt & Gray’s comfortable patio, flanked by pedestrian traffic, as the sun went down, eating Ciccioli, it isn’t much of a leap to channel a few bars of Edith Piaf, Gilbert Becaud or Serge Gainsbourg and transport oneself, mentally, to the Rue de Rivoli.
Grilled Beef Hearts Sliced and Served on Toast with Marrow Butter
I was brought out of my reverie (heavy on the French accent) by Adam offering to take me back to the kitchen to watch the cooking and plating of my entreé: The Colorado Grass-Fed Beef Hearts. Part of the theme of the Summer Food Drive is to expand the palate and try some of the best dishes being made in the country so that they infuse our instruction. Beef Hearts are not on my normal meal plan and I have never cooked them myself, so they were impossible to avoid ordering. It is kind of like telling a kid not to touch the fireworks. Eventually, there is a boom. Chef Jenna and her team in the kitchen made an admirable dish out of a tough ingredient. It is a testament to their skills that slices of beef heart on toast was a positive, perhaps repeatable, experience. I also learned a new term Mostarda which means an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup. The beef hearts came with a Rhubarb Mostarda and shaved Artichokes.
The Veggies were not Ignored
Perfect asparagus with Beech Mushrooms, Mint and Brown Butter and Poppy Seeds were my side. The beech mushrooms were so delicate and tender they could almost have been mistaken for seafood.
A Pretty Good Thing That I Ate: Sticky Toffee Pudding with Bourbon Ice Cream
Finally, it was time for the reason for the visit: the Sticky Toffee Pudding with bourbon ice cream and toffee sauce, as recommended in my memory by Alex Guarnaschelli of the Food Network, who my wife, Mrs. P Chef, constantly reminds me sang in Glee Club with her in high school. It turns out that all the mentions of Alex at home had damaged my hard drive and corrupted my data in favor of Alex. Claire Robinson had actually mentioned the Sticky Toffee Pudding as “The Best Thing She Ever Ate.” If my data remains unreliable, I may need to get some Carbonite for the old brain.
The presentation was terrific with the Staub Cocotte (which the unethical believe is a souvenir). I was excited to try the dish and to put to rest years of speculation. I am a fan of Sticky Toffee Pudding, especially of the product made by The English Pudding Company in Los Angeles. More than a few of our family holidays have been graced with a fabulous mail-order or carry-out pudding. They also sell at Whole Foods the last time I checked the freezer case.
Colt & Gray’s Sticky Toffee Pudding was good. It was near the top of the list of the ones I have ever eaten. Why wasn’t it the GREATEST? Perhaps there was too much build up? Perhaps it could have used a bit more sauce, or some more heft in the pudding itself? Perhaps it suffered in comparison to all the unique, impossibly-perfect items already served? It was really good but I could have walked away from it, if a crisis loomed. The truth is I did not walk away from it (probably should have) and I was so caught up in eating it that I forgot to photograph or video tape the interior of the item, meaning it must have been highly distracting. I found it best if all the ingredients were mixed together into a soft bourbon infused ice cream cake. My only excuse for eating the whole thing, besides its being sinful, was that my organic processor skewed my programming knowing that it would be 20 hours and a big hike until my next meal in Nebraska.
All in all you would be hard-pressed to have such an elegant, enjoyable meal for $42. If I have the chance to go back I will. You should too. You will probably feed your hunger for both nourishment and knowledge.
We have not had a blog post in a few weeks because we have all been working with our noses to the grindstone to put up lesson content and to get ready for our first, BIG, LIVE, Web Event and today is the day!
We had some prep and practice yesterday but are excited for the real thing later this afternoon when we will be on the FoodiesLive webcast at 03.30 PM PST with tips on Grilling Summer Seafood.
The menu is:
Pork Shoulder for Stuffing Homemade Sausage
1. Amuse Bouche: – Grilled Sausages
Seafood Sausage with dill & celery seed and Beef, Chicken & Pork Sausage with Fennel and “Beeten” Mediterranean Yogurt Sauce.
What Would Chicken, Beef, Pork be doing at a Seafood Grill?
2. Appetizer: – Grilled Shrimp & Grilled Oyster
Grilled Shrimp marinated in Salt, Pepper, Light Olive Oil, Orange, and Parsley & Grilled Oyster paired with Grilled Zucchini.
Tigers of the Prawn World
3. Salad: – Grilled Radicchio Salad
Grilled Radicchio Salad with Grilled Green Onions, Grilled Tomato, Grilled Jicama, fresh Avocado and fresh Mescalun Mix. Garnished with Grilled Lemon and dressed with a Grilled Shallot Vinaigrette.
4. Entree: – Dry Rubbed Grilled Duck Breast
Duck Breast Dry Rubbed with a Chili Blueberry Salt then Grilled and served on a bed of Water Cress and dressed with a Honey-Lime & Pink Peppercorn Dressing.
Big Wally - The 3 Pounder
5. Main Course: – Grilled Seafood Platter
Grilled Lobster (2 ways), Grilled Sea Scallops, Grilled Swordfish with a Lobster Compound Butter and accompanied by a cushion of
Pimm’s, Lemon, Rose Cream Risotto and a Grilled Egg Plant & Grilled Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Napoleon.
Where Would Roses, Rose Water and Pimm's # 1 Go?
6. Dessert: – Grilled Fruit Salad
Grilled Pineapple, Grilled Watermelon, Grilled Strawberry marinated in Orange Juice, Triple Sec & Banana Cream Liqueur with a honey yogurt sauce painted on the plate.
The emphasis is on Grilling, so some items are a little over the top in “grillishness” but everything was tasty in practice and as practice makes perfect, they should be even better LIVE!. It should be a lot of fun. We hope you join us and our gracious hosts FoodiesLive and our sponsor LocalDines today at 03.30 PM PST at http://foodieslive.com/watch-live/ . If you are one of the lucky winners from Local Dines, we will see you there.
It’s that time of year again, Super Bowl minus 3 days, and Mrs. P Chef is already asking for the Smart Kitchen Guacamole but she wants it Gluten Free this year.
We aims to please and are going to whip it up, in copious quantities, with organic gluten free Chipotles. Who would have known, but a label reader like Mrs. P Chef, but most of the commercial chipotle varieties are packed in an Adobo Sauce made with gluten. We found some gluten free ones at Whole Foods, that still have good flavor and thus was our Sunday of family snacking saved.
Smart Kitchen Guacamole, Served with "Flair"
The Smart Kitchen Guacamole Recipe is up on the recipe section of Smart Kitchen and is a fairly simple preparation. Take it easy on the Chipotle and Adobo Sauce if you like it more mild.
Kick Off is tomorrow so it might make sense today to make some purchases and Prepare a bit early. After all Preparation, is the second of the 4 Levers Of Cooking,™( $ content).
Don’t be a sour puss. Don’t feed a rat. Get that pre-game work out climbing your citrus trees and helping others. There are 3 drop off locations in the valley that will accept your citrus on Saturday. The event is put on by St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.
If you have any still sitting on the branches, bring your extra citrus fruit to one of these three locations between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, February 4th 2012 to help this valley-wide gleaning effort for a cause.
Christ Church of the Valley
7007 W. Happy Valley Rd. Peoria, AZ 85383
North Phoenix Baptist Church
5757 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012
Shepherd of the Hills
5524 E. Lafayette Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85018
Thanks nothing is better than local citrus and it is for a good cause.
Chef Eric, who’s User Name is SK Chef on Smart Kitchen.com, had a chance to share some holiday tips on CBS KPHO with Katie Baker.
His segment goes on after the commercial and details the locally-famous, even-cooking-inducing “Slit” and de-boning a Turkey Leg so that it can be stuffed and rolled. Anyone who attended the Perfect Turkey Event will tell you that the De-Boned, Andouille Sausage StuffedTurkey Leg was a high point. The CBS snippets are all drawing upon Smart Kitchen’s Perfect Turkey Preparation. Nice job chef.
October 27th, was a good night to both brush-up on some long forgotten Pilgrim-inspired techniques and to learn a few new ones with Smart Kitchen.
20 lucky guests were invited to private party at the Scottsdale Waterfront, where Chef O’Neill demonstrated some of the techniques and dishes that will be taught at Smart Kitchen’s up-coming Perfect Turkey Event on November 9th, 2011. One of the favorites was how to enliven those once-a-year, root vegetables and take them to culinary perfection.
Chef O'Neill Talking Turkey to Cooking Party Guests
There are still a few spots so it is not too late to sign-up for the next Perfect Turkey Event and make your holiday that much easier & tastier. Smart Kitchen & Girl Meet’s Fork’s Perfect Turkey is November, 9th 2011 at 6 PM at
That’s what I thought too when our friend Kellen suggested that I add a search for a “Runza” to my foodless Nebraska leg. I had images of being pretty hungry to eat the spiny 7 legged Runza, but I planned to try one and curse Kellen’s name as I crunched on the horrid carapace and got graphic photographs.
A Good Sign! A Runza is a Sandwich, with 86 Franchised Units.
This was a good sign. My first Runza was not stored away frozen in a Nebraska storm cellar. Apparently, these Runzas were popular and advertized. Folks must like them enough if they needed a drive through and ordered them “fast-food” style.
If You Don't Want a "Runza" Get a Burger?
A quick, ethical-gut-check: ”Weazel out and count seeing a Runza as a victory so I can order a burger?” No, couldn’t do it. Runza, ordered.
It Looks Safe
So before we unveil the Runza, what the heck is it? I asked Jeff Whiting, the local Gothenburg, NE franchisee.
Is that enough build-up? Now, the “UnVeil.”
TA DA!, a Runza. Thanks Kellen
So how was it? First of all, thanks Kellen for mentioning a Runza on the Smart Kitchen Facebook Page, apparently, such things really exist and are extremely fabulous tasting in rural Nebraska when your last meal was the previous day’s breakfast 30 hours ago and three states away.
The Runza is something like an un-sloppy joe on a terrific fresh, soft torpedo roll. It is a local German sandwich variant with local ground beef (Kansas & Nebraska), cabbage , and cheese, according to Jeff Whiting the local franchisee of the 86 unit Runza chain. If you have had a Made-Right sandwich in Iowa, a Runza is similar but moister and not square. I believe that a Runza is actually a riff on a “bierogie”, the German word for a “pierogie.”
How did it taste? Let’s just say that either I enjoyed mine so much or was that hungry that I forgot to video it or snap a shot of it. I actually had to buy a second one, (can anyone spell Freud?) for the photo seen here.
The Runza chain started in Lincoln, NE and some of the fun is the rural, heartland setting in which the Runza is served. The drive-thru (rural welding truck) or the parking lot (tractor and irrigation canal) are very different from home.
A Mobile Welding Truck at the DriveThru
I Didn't See the Tractor Driving Farmer Inside but It's Bucolic
If you happen to be in Nebraska try and stop in to sample what might soon become the “In-N-Out” of the Plains. If you stop in at the Gothenburg location, see Jeff and don’t miss the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska.
From St. Jo, MO to CA in 10 Days, Galloping 10 Miles at a Time.
I was looking forward to my visit to Tecolote Cafe in Santa Fe for spicy, blue corn laden New Mexican food from the Vortex (Santa Fe is reputed/chided for being in an supernatural energy vortex) and I was not dissapointed.
"Tecolote" means Owl in the Nahuatl Aztec Indian Language
Tecolote Cafe is quirky but they know their food and the spirit of the cantankerous New England army cook and founder, Bill Jennison (who passed last May) pervades from the “No Toast” motto to Bill’s son-in-law Matt Adkins who runs the place with his wife Katie. Matt told me the “No Toast” story. Apparently, Bill was a crusty son of Massachusetts who worked around the hospitality business for many years, finally settling in Santa Fe. In the 1980′s Bill decided that Santa Fe, the adobe Disneyland, needed a breakfast spot dedicated to serving fresh LOCAL New Mexican food.
He sought out authentic recipes from his archives, his hospitality colleauges, and long time residents. He sampled the recipes around to his network. They loved the food but were not sure about his breakfast concept. As his former wife, who owned the Guadalopue Cafe and loved the food, but not the operating hours, queried “Why do you want to be in a breakfast place where you will work yourself to the bone making this fabulous food, only to be answering complaint after complaint about the toast.” Bill had a simple, pragmatic New England answer. “No Toast!” and thus the Tecolote Cafe was born, without toast.
Tecolote Cafe is Quirky & Offbeat but Welcoming. Matt Adkins is seated @ Center
They do have fresh bread, home-made daily, but they don’t waste it on a side, like some of their competitors might. Instead it only goes into higher value dishes like the French Toast. After Bill booted a few customers who insisted on toast too stridently, the motto became a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the other places, like the Pantry down the road, which do serve a lot of toast. Do you feel a food war coming on?
If I’d known that story when I sat down, I would have ordered French Toast too to have an opinion on the argument, but I had already submitted my request before Matt joined me. I was visiting to sample the Atolé Pinon Hot Cakes ($5.70), which translates as Blue Corn Meal, Pine Nut Pancakes. They sounded authentic and interesting.
Atolé Pinon Pancakes are Literally "Blue."
The first thing I noticed was that my hot cakes were “Blue,” the second was the attention to detail; the maple syrup was served piping hot. The pancakes are a different savory earthy experience that really can grow on you. They are very different in their specific taste, but similar in their adult pancake audacity to those from the Beach Grass Cafe in San Diego (bacon cheddar) that have won some national pancake awards. There is bouncing around from the taste undertones to the taste overtones.
The Atolé Piñon Pancake have Piñon (Pine Nuts) in them
As I’d been sitting waiting for the pancakes to arrive, and before Matt joined me, I read the menu and soaked up the “Fanta Se”, vortex conversations in the room. Two women at the table next to me actually uttered these gems. “The messages are in the air. You just have to follow them.” and “If you find yourself stuck deep down in a conundrum, call me. I will be there for you.” I can just imagine one friend phoning the other, from deep down inside a black swirling conundrum and the second friend steadying herself to throw a rope down into the maelstrom, to help haul her pal out. I wonder what I would have picked up at the community table?
While being a traveling food blogger “Aureur” (a new word for an aural voyeur?) I surveyed the menu, where the printed attention to detail, around the Red Chili and the Green Chili caught my attention. The menu read “Our chilesflucuate from hot, to Very, to Very VERY HOT. So if you are not sure ask your server for a sample. ” That sentence sold me. Mindful that I still had yet another breakfast to eat I ordered an egg with two side dishes of chili: one red and one green.
Red or Green?
The chilis are both smoky with a fine heat that builds. I preferred the red, until I added salt to the green. Matt explained that they add just enough salt to the purely vegetarian chilis to mellow or balance the flavors of the peppers and the Roux. They expect you to salt to taste for yourself. How grown-up is that?
If you are passing through, Tecolote Cafe has been on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives for the Huevos Yuccatan, and won best Huevos Rancheros (in New Mexico) in 2001. When I come back through I am going for the CarneAdovada