Steak Grilling 101

I don’t know if you’re like me, but it seems whenever I leave the comforting confines of my kitchen, with its dependable six-burner Viking stove and terribly erratic Dacor oven (which I’ve come to learn to anticipate its mood, much like a human barometer), and venture out into the backyard, I’m suddenly struck dumb. It’s like being in the hinterlands, and I have to be MacGyver, using a pair of pantyhose, wooden sticks, and an ignition switch from a dilapidated 1967 Thunderbird convertible to light the grill.

That’s why this year I decided to buy a Weber Summit S-670. Now, this beauty, which is the size of a Smart Car, has every bell and whistle a grillicionado could want: six burners, a sear station, smoker, rotisserie, and even a side burner, which I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to make on it. Read more »

Bellying Up to Barcelona

As the The One and I touched down in Barcelona after that inhumane flight on Lufthansa, the worst airline I’ve ever flown, we were indeed ready to shrug off the cramped seats, terse personnel, and wailing infants and dig in to the dining scene. I had a list of restaurants given to me by everyone from Amanda Hesser to Anya von Bremzen to a friend of Mark Bittman. I wasn’t messing around.

But you know how they say that if you want to make God laugh, make plans? Well, if you want to see him roll on the floor in fits of hysteria, make travel arrangements with me.

Within a 48-hour period in Barcelona, a colossal demonstration for Catalonian independence, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1984, coincided with Spain’s magisterial win of the World Cup, clogging every restaurant and tapas joint with enough people and smoke to cause a panic attack. Then, thanks to lingering tourists who decided to extend their stay in Barcelona, restaurants suddenly had capricious schedules, opening when they were supposed to be closed, closing when they were supposed to be opened. Read more »

Where You Going? Barcelona? Oh.

If you remember the lyrics of “Company” by Stephen Sondheim you’re dating yourself—or are a theater geek. But it’s an apt description of my leaving for Barcelona, the first part of my fiftieth birthday celebration/vacation. Utter indifference and a trifle of irritation. It’s not that I’m not excited about going to Spain or sharing the trip with The One. It’s all the stuff that goes into getting there. Travel would be wonderful if it weren’t for the traveling. I feel like a cranky old carnival lion that’s been poked and prodded and forced to jump through a bunch of hoops before he can finally sit down, relax, and eat a huge amount of animal flesh (in my case, turkey and mayo on ciabatta). And I present exhibit A, the photo of myself above in Newark International Airport before I left, after having battled a deranged NYC cabbie, an incorrect New Jersey Transit train schedule, indifferent Lufthansa personnel, and a heat wave so bad it caused the air train at the airport to break down.

Every time I travel, I tell myself that this time will be different. This time I’ll act civilized, normal, and give myself plenty of time to prepare. I imagine The One and me—like those folks in those god-awful General Mills International Coffee commercials from the ’80s—cupping warm mugs, the cats figure-eighting around our legs, as we laugh over our upcoming trip and grow misty-eyed over past ones. Read more »

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