Life is Just a Bowl of Chili

“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili”  Harry James, American Musician/Bandleader (1916-1983)

“Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili”       Last words of Kit Carson, American Frontiersman (1809-1868)

Beverly Blais - Jimmy's Saloon - Newport, RIMy eternal quest for the quintessential bowl of that historic mainstay of Texan cowboy cuisine recently brought me to Jimmy’s Saloon in Newport, Rhode Island. There Miss Beverly Blaise, “The Contessa of the Con Carne” makes her magic utilizing the traditional trail ingredients. The end result is nothing less than piquant perfection!

But chili, like most concoctions at the hand of man, is subject to a bit of interpretation–and ultimately a whole lot of competition–giving rise to that great national culinary contest known as the “cook-off.”                 

Don GarridoI have not been lucky enough to attend one of those splendid events in the southwestern United States, but on a couple of occasions I’ve enjoyed the yearly Super Bowl Sunday chili competition held at Pearly Baker’s Alehouse in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was there that my good friend Don Garrido first introduced me to his own legendary method of taming the capsicum pepper plant. And like all fabled recipes there were more than a couple of surprises in the mix–one of them being SPAM. So clean out your old footlocker, or just reach into your Carnival Cruise Line survival kit, because Don Garrido has agreed to share his epicurean secrets with the readers of American Public House Review.

523 Chorizo SPAM ChiliSPAM Shot Glass

 4 dried chipotle chilies
2 dried ancho chilies
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 ¼ pounds chorizo, casings removed and meat coarsely chopped
1 can SPAM, cubed into ½ in cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1- 15 oz can garbanzos (or black beans), rinsed and drained
1- 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
1- 15 ½ oz can corn niblets, drained
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce with garlic and onions
1- 12 oz beer (or ale) 

Place the chilies in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. When soft, seed and stem the chilies. Puree the chilies with the barbecue sauce in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven sauté the onions in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and SPAM and cook over medium heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Drain off most of the fat. Add the chili puree, garlic, garbanzos, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, Nutella, instant coffee, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beer, as needed, to keep the chili moist, but not wet.

(A couple of Recommended Beer Pairings)

Rogue Dead Guy AleWagner Valley IPA

<Rogue Dead Guy Ale

      Wagner Valley IPA>

Posted by: Chris Poh

Looking for God on the Gulf Coast

The need to establish a deeply reflective relationship at water’s edge has deposited me on many different shorelines over the years. Like a man in search for the right congregation, I’ve walked beaches from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, looking for my purpose and position in God’s grand scheme. Currently my favorite place of worship is the stretch of ocean and sand at Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island. Their morning services consist of long contemplative strolls, afternoons are toes in the tide baptism, and evenings are spent raising a cup to creation from the choir loft at Flo’s Clam Shack.

Sadly, these waters in Narragansett Bay, like so much of our oceans, have been impacted by the misdeeds and miscalculations of mankind. As we embark on the celebration of a return to warmer days in our hemisphere, the staff at American Public House Review will keep in our thoughts and prayers our fellow citizens whose lives will be effected by the ongoing environmental catastrophe along our southern shores. 

And to those  who work to preserve and protect our beaches, marine life and sacred waters, we raise our glasses and wish them fair winds and following seas!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Looking for Signs from Above

Since the time of our primordial ancestors man has attempted to discover his fate by turning his gaze toward the cosmos. The marking of any new year  seems to heighten our inate need to chase the comet’s tail or  attach undue importance on the alignment of heavenly bodies

As we embark on yet another cycle of the Gregorian calendar the staff of American Public House Review would like to share some of the intriguing, if not downright mystical, signs that have guided our journey during the past year, and that will undoubtedly help to shape the course of future events.

Click on each sign below to take an unparalleled  journey through time and space!

 

Ben’s raiding the cooler again!

As we close in on Independence Day, we all look forward to a holiday weekend full of all those fun and relaxing things that make summer great.  Hamburgers on the grill, a beer in the hand, and friends and family by your side are the things that make July 4th Weekend so enjoyable.

Fort McHenry

For me, I am heading to one of my absolute favorite places on earth, Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  There I plan to spend my 10 days of vacation visiting family, doing a bit of boating, and maybe I’ll even check out a tavern or two.  (Okay, maybe three or four…)  My plan on this vacation, like all my trips to Maine, is to sit.  I plan on sitting on a dock, a boat, an Adirondack chair, or hopefully on an array of well crafted barstools.  It’s time to decompress and as Otis Redding said, “watch the ships roll in and watch them roll away again.”

Boothbay Harbor 

I can’t help but wonder what our Founding Fathers would think of how we choose to celebrate this most solemn of days.  Because of the resolution agreed on back on July 4th 1776, the men who signed it put their necks in the proverbial guillotine.  Years of war, disease, and god knows what else followed during the struggle of the Revolutionary War, and in many related respects the War of 1812 as well.  And in recognition of those events we choose to barbeque.   I don’t know what the founders who lived those struggles under the constant fear of being hung for treason might think of my hotdog and potato salad celebration, but I have a guess.  I think they would find it absolutely perfect! 

st-peters-02

People complain America has become too lazy, too pampered.  How many times have you heard people question what the founding fathers would think of us now?  Well, I like to think on this weekend they would want us to celebrate by exercising the absolute freedom to do what makes us happy.  So while you pop open a bottle of whatever and sit under the stars waiting for the fireworks, think of what Erma Bombeck said…

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

So as always, drink and party responsibly during this holiday weekend.  But do it knowing that you are not only enjoying yourself to the fullest, but you and your loved ones are also paying a sincere homage to those who literally put their necks on the line for this little barbeque.  Somehow I couldn’t see Benjamin Franklin lecturing us on the frivolity of our Independence Day tradition.  No, I see him raiding the cooler and waiting for the baseball game to start.

Posted by: Dave McBride

 

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Click  here to view past articles on America’s finest  colonial taverns. 

One Man’s Pirate…

Errol Flynn from Captain BloodLike so many of my fellow countrymen, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of personal pride and satisfaction knowing that our boys on the fantail of the Bainbridge had bested those freebooting  buccaneers from Somalia. And with the liberation of  Captain Richard Phillips another chapter in this nation’s struggle against Africa’s nautical thuggery  has been brought to a successful close. With the speculation already in progress as to who should be cast in the role of the good captain, so that this tale of treachery on the high seas can be delivered into the comfort of our living rooms, we would do well to remember that one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer.

On the streets of Mogadishu and in villages throughout Somalia the members of this ad hoc ragtag navy are the heroes. If this chaotic shattered nation had any form of functioning governance these seafaring brigands would be operating with a Letter of Marque. The rape of the fish stocks  and the dumping of toxic waste in Somalian waters by foreign concerns fostered the  relationship between starving  fisherman and the street militias whose common goal it was to drive the invaders from their shores. Unfortunately the resulting financial bounty associated with their initial efforts cultivated the current climate of  criminal  behavior.

“For inside the body of many an honorable privateer lurks the soul of a dishonorable pirate.”  Captain Chris “Yo Ho” Poh

Our own history reveals a more than accomodating attitude towards piracy when it served our national interests. From the early eighteenth century during the infamous Triangle trade, through the American Revolution and into the War of 1812 we allowed the maritime mercenary to do our bidding. Perhaps the customary eye patch is less accoutrement and  more  metaphor  for what happens when nations turn a blind eye to the improprieties of scoundrels.

So here I am once again facing that simple fact that we live in a world where there is no black or white other than what we hoist up the mast before firing that first shot across the bow. A Jolly Roger

So I will, as I have done so many times in the past, embrace my inner pirate by pouring myself  a pint of Clipper City Loose Cannon Ale and singing a few verses of “A Pirate’s Life For Me.”

Clipper City Loose Cannon AleYo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even high jack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, we inflame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
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Posted by: Chris Poh, Yo Ho

 

 

Setting Sail With John McCain

We left Newport under threatening skies on a northerly heading up Narragansett Bay. Our charter on that  morning in May of 2000 was the restored 58 foot Elco motor-yacht Rum Runner. In the waters just beyond the Navy War College were anchored the Iowa and Forrestal. Our captain skillfully maneuvered our craft in between these two historic grey ladies of naval warfare. 

As I looked up at the flight deck I recalled scenes of the inferno that engulfed John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk after a missile accidentally fired from another aircraft struck his plane’s fuel tanks, as he was awaiting clearance to take off for a bombing sortie over North Vietnam. 134 sailors and airmen lost their lives and hundreds more were injured as a result of the Forrestal disaster on July 29, 1967. This event as well as the five years of captivity in Hanoi did much to prepare Captain John McCain for his dedicated, resolute and occasionally brash career on the floor of the United States Senate. 

This past August I was again cruising the waters off Coddington Cove. It is no longer possible to gain easy access to this or any other military installation in the United states. The events of 9-11 have, for better or worse – literally and figuratively, limited our ability to freely navigate many channels. But our presidential candidates remind us often about the gravity of the situation, and the sacrifices that must be made in order to safeguard the republic. They and their operatives also remind us ad nauseam about those individual life experiences that make them capable and ready to serve as president.

As I review the resumes of our current candidates I am satisfied that both are competent enough to hold court in the Oval Office. Hell, anyone that is able to outlast their opponents in the grueling and unremiting primary process is probably able to give at least a fair accounting of presidential performance.

But then there is the matter of constitutional ascendance. On this front John McCain has so far proven the depth of his political savvy and expedience in his choice of Sarah Palin; but as a matter of providing for the responsible protection of this nation – one might question his powers of reasoning and good judgement. 

If these are truly the most grave and dangerous times since the Second World War, as both candidates would have us believe, they owe it to every American to make sure that their potential successors are well versed in international affairs and immediately qualified to take command of our armed forces. Furthermore, while we must value and respect every person’s relationship with the divine, those who profess that God might have a hand in directing our use of military force may not be suited for the position of commander in chief.

Those who died at Yorktown, Antietam, Meuse-Argonne, Guadalcanal, Normandy, Incheon, Khe Sanh, Basra and on the decks of the Forrestal perhaps deserve better!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

The Dim Light of Truth

 

In a recent episode of the HBO series,”John Adams,” Laura Linney in the role of Abigail Adams displays a deftness for diplomacy as she dines with Admiral d’Estaing, just after the French Royal Navy puts into Boston after their unsuccessful campaigns against the British Fleet at New York and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, her husband John is doing a less than admirable job of courting French favor in Paris. This brilliant production explores the powerful political and personal partnership of America’s first couple. It also presents an accurate accounting of the faults and frailties of the architects of this republic. Had these men been subject to today’s standards of  behavior and decorum we would still be paying too much for tea.

But alas, history tends to expunge the misdeeds and misgivings of great men. By most accounts even the French fare well in the telling of the American Revolution.  

White Horse Tavern in Newport as seen in American Public House Review

 In the November issue of American Public House Review this author, after a few single malts at the famed White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island, expounds on the virtues of The Comte de Rochambeau and other assorted Frenchmen that aided America’s cause for independence. Hopefully this recounting holds up to the light of historic truth, or at the very least – the light of a dimly lit tavern.

White Horse Tavern at night as seen in American Public House Review

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