Sunday, October 31, 2010

Low and slow..aka..For love of smoke...

The leaves are turning and I am
starting to feel a chill in the air, so it
it must be time to put away the charcoal grill. No never, never, never.....I grill year round all the way through winter, until spring has come again. The smell of smoking meat in the winter is intensified by the cold air. There is something primal about fire and cooking meat over it. I am no anthropologist, but I think it is hardwired in our souls..the connection between our early existence and fire is so intertwined that it can never be seperated.
When I grill in fall and winter I choose large more primal pieces of meat, whole chickens, turkeys, prime ribs, sirloins, beef briskets, pork shoulders, picnic hams, legs of lamb etc. Build a hot fire, while it burns down a bit, rub the meat down and go low and slow for up to six hours depending on the type of meat it is, letting the gentle heat and the smoke go to work. This sort of time scale gives me more time to sit by the fire with a hot cider or hot chocolate, a good book and the company of my family. Maybe roast some root vegetables, spaghetti squash or the like, bake a loaf of bread and wait for the meat to simply get done. This is a patient deliberate method of cooking that requires a little planning and an full afternoon to enjoy. Keep some charcoal on hand this fall and winter, broom the snow and ice off your grill or smoker and cook low and slow with some heat and smoke. You will be amply rewarded for your patience....Until next time Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cafe du Monde-New Orleans, La

Every morning I have coffee, well let me be honest here, I have a lot of coffee. Two-twenty ounce mugs to be specific, just to prime the pumps and get the day started. and then I get to work, I might have a couple more. I see nothing wrong with this. Coffee and caffeine are the jet fuel that drives everyone in the hospitality business and the rest of working America for that matter. There are times I drink coffee for a wholly different reason, times that are not as rushed, a day off, quiet time with a book, a newspaper on my deck in the middle of the afternoon. It is these times when coffee becomes more than a mere stimulant, it transform into a spirit raising friend, almost spiritual at times. It was in New Orleans that I had what had to be my most transcendant moments with this magic potion. Oh I had heard of the mecca of coffee, Cafe du Monde, but it was abstract. We were in New Orleans visiting Tulane with my daughter and needed to get the morning started. Out of our hotel and to the cab we went, Cafe du Monde please..five short minutes we are there world famous coffee house on Decateur street. The place was packed, we grabbed a table by the sidwalk, and sit. Servers dressed in black and white are scurrying around trays loaded making deliveries, bussing tables, dodging each other and the patrons. A take out window thirty deep, line, the moving quickly, kitchen behind glass furious with activity. The neighborhood coffee house this was not, more frantic and chaotic than relaxing. Our server comes with water and takes our order, three cafe au laits (half coffee and half milk) and a sack full of beignets (french style doughnuts topped powdered sugar). While we wait we watch the crowds on the street. the muscians and artists in Jackson Square, and are fellow patrons, all the time anticipation building. Our order arrives and I ask for sugar for my coffee. I am met with oddest look and our server suggested I use the excess powdered sugar from the beignets, which we did...silly us for not knowing. The beignets were hot and fresh and the coffee strong, but smooth...this was magic, time stopped, no past no future only the now. Two cups of coffee and three beignets later I was at peace with all that swirled around me. If you are ever in New Orleans , Cafe du Monde is at the top of the must do list...the original one in the French Market on Decateur acrossed from Jackson Square. For more info and history try . They also sell the coffee and beignet mix in grocery stores..for an afternoon getaway....until next time