Saturday, March 24, 2012

Holy Jumpin' Jalapeno Bananas!

When we went to the Hermosa Beach Farmers Market yesterday, I was on a mission. The week prior, I'd cantered down the food aisle just for a Look-See as I'd already had lunch. New among the purveyors was "Chef Barry's Spicy Banana Gourmet BBQ" (try saying that with a mouthful of food.) I liked his menu and resolved then and there to come back next week with an appetite.

His menu is simple: the four meats are all "slowly smoked" and are: brisket, pulled pork, fresh salmon, chicken breast, all served on Chef Barry's handmade rolls.

The sides are: Sweet-Smoked Baked Beans and Homemade Mac & Cheese and Jalapeno Potato Salad. The specialite de la maison is his invention - Spicy Banana Jalapeno Corn Bread muffins.

I elected to try all of the sides as they intrigued me the most. Chef Barry regretted it, but he was out of Mac & Cheese so I can't report on it, but the fact that it was sold out speaks for itself. I would imagine it's a popular dish with mothers, encumbered with little kids at the market.

Since "Too hot is just about right" with me, I thought the Jalapeno Potato Salad wasn't that spicy at all. If I were going to do this, I'd pour pickled jalapeno juice over the still warm potatoes after I'd drained them. I wish Chef Barry would consider two versions - the regular and JALAPENO Potato Salad, but that's just me. In fact, it was good. The potato chunks al dente, the onion chunked, not minced - if you're going to have onion, then damn it! Have onion!

The minute I saw the beans, I knew they'd be good -- a lovely, dark brown in a thick syrup with bits of pork peeking shyly out. They were, as they say in Texas, larrupin!

Classically-trained, Chef Barry makes his own mayonnaise using canola oil. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. I was dying to ask if he grew his own jalapenos, but decided that was kind of a snarky question.

But his great invention is the Banana-Jalapeno Corn Bread muffins. I don't like bananas but I do like "hot" so it was an "I have to try this" deal. I liked the petit size and the baby muffin top overhang. Bananas and jalapenos work well together. The bananas sweeten any sting from the bits of jalapenos.

He told us that his wife is a pastry chef and she was dubious about his muffins, but today she takes some to work with her every day!

Chef Barry Erlich caters - 310-704-1911 -- and you can dine live, so to speak, at the Tuesday Torrance Farmer's Market or the Friday Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market.

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