Dinner at the Confluence

Dinner at the Confluence of Winter and Spring

s-winter-spring

the winter mountain, the spring blooming broom

And what a better setting than our house in Reno. And in a flick of time, the snow will be gone from the mountains, and the bloom will be gone from the broom.

And it is a good time to grill scallops in the now-lengthened evening. Big scallops, as fresh as can be, from Sierra Gold, the Reno seafood supplier for restaurants and resorts (er… casinos) and now selling to folks like us from their retail shop in Sparks.

scallop-prep-

Those scallops are marinating in mirin, lime juice, and soy sauce… there is pepper bacon which goes so well with scallops, asparagus and some red onion slices because anytime I light the grill, I put on some onion slices to use whenever.

scallop-on-1Here we are, cooking on the Big Green Egg at the first turn. As it turns out, these ingredients take “three minutes a side,” how convenient. Oh, the tomato… just because I have one. (I ate it for breakfast with cottage cheese.)

scallop-plate

So this is the dinner plate. Carol made a pasta salad which made a swell starch component to dinner. I gotta say, everything was perfect. YUM.

The wine, a 2013 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc.

Le Cigare Blanc

STOCK — An Epiphany

March 2017 — well into retirement and less into grandiose cooking — I made chili for the Sierra Canyon Chili Cookoff. Had some loose sausage and some beef chuck cubes leftover.

chili-cook-off

I can deal with the sausage — eat it for breakfasts —the beef cubes? Roast?, Braise? Not enough to make stock in the traditional sense — do a search on “stock” and see pages and pages of recipe writing — but the empty crock pot is sitting on the counter from chili-making, why not throw in the beef cubes, NY steak bone from Monday, and bones and scraps we’ve been freezing for Tuzik? Make a 2 or 3 Quart batch.

Better fits our current lifestyle. When we have a chicken… do it with chicken.

Did just that. Slow cooker on high to start, since there was some frozen stuff, then on low until 6pm, about 8 hours. Now I have 2 1/2 quarts of beef stock ready to be skimmed of fat. 

Next time I’ll do the Colicchio method — blanch meat n bones first to get rid of blood n junk — then the slow cooker.

Just be choosy about what you use, remembering “garbage in, garbage out.” You want pure, wonderful stock, *better than store-bought.*

Menu Story

 

Most Americans eat “3 squares a day.” That’s the way we were brought up.

 

When we were a family of four, I had a job and Carol did the cooking. On weekends — after the kids were a certain age — everybody would get involved in cooking special meals, often with recipes from Julia Child or James Beard.

Kids moved away to college and each became the cook in his living arrangement — rather than clean bathrooms.

Carol and I moved to San Francisco and she had a swell full time job with benefits… and a commute. I was eventually managing partner of a bookstore, could walk to work and had the time and interest to do the menu planning, shopping and cooking. That worked out fine. And then we retired and moved to Reno and we were both around the house all the time. I wanted to continue doing the menu planning and cooking… but Carol wanted to cook too and our ideas about what to cook and eat didn’t often coincide. We made weekly menus, but often diverged from those along the path of least resistance, and meals were more often thrown together than carefully planned and executed.

In the wonderful weather months (most, in Reno) the Big Green Egg often ruled — steaks, sausages, chicken, fish and so on, but this last winter some new things came upon the horizon… expanded take-out options at certain restaurants. And we began hearing and reading about companies that wanted to sell food subscriptions complete with measured ingredients and recipes. And all of a sudden Blue Apron and Hello Fresh were here in Reno.

We were having dinner out with another couple at LIBERTY, one of our favorite downtown restaurants, and they told us they tried Blue Apron, and liked it.

**You cook incredible meals from scratch with perfectly portioned ingredients and step-by-step recipes.
We send you higher quality food at a better value by cutting out the middle man and delivering ingredients at their freshest.
Blue Apron’s uniquely integrated model means better ingredients, better pricing and a better planet for us all.**

That sounds good, but I like to shop for myself, especially the fresh things… how do I know where the food comes from?

chalkboard on men’s room wall at LIBERTY

Then I got this email from LIBERTY, Mark Estee’s Food and Wine Exchange in Reno. They now do Custom Grocery Baskets. I know and love their food, and know where it comes from.

I looked at the list; Carol and I made selections and I called McKenzie.

I told her that it’s probably too much food for us for a week, maybe every other week. Fine with her.

I was very excited. I picked up the food on Wednesday and made a new menu to spread it out over the next several days, bearing in mind that if we wanted to order for the next week, we would need to notify McKenzie on Friday.

first LIBERTY grocery basket…
Fresh pasta + tomato sauce, cheese
Meal of Chicken Breast + vegetable
New England Clam Chowder
Chicken Caesar Salad
Knife and Fork Cauliflower
8 meatballs in tomato sauce
1 lb (4) fresh Italian Sausage
Sliced Country Bread
Ciabatta
1 dozen chocolate chip cookies

So here’s the way our menu looked that week.

March 27, 2017
mon – grilled lamb steak… not good as chops sez i, C sez she’’ll do next in crockpot
tues – m lunch silver chopsticks , dinner lamb hash
wed – m lunch heated LO from Silver Chopsticks, picked up first LIBERTY grocery basket… dinner Chicken Caesar Salad [not enuf for 2… C took half the chicken and all the greens, the dressing, croutons and grated cheese and added sliced endive.
I took half the chicken and added steamed broccoli, cubed pineapple and cantaloupe, bits of fresh curd cheese and some white beans. Dressed with Blue Cheese dressing. Both versions Yummy]
thu – spostabe nasty day – fresh pasta + tomato sauce, grated cheese, 4 meatballs — the pasta is bucatini… this is a good dinner and plenty of it… at least one more meal. The flavor of the pasta sauce and meatballs is just exceptional.
fri – Lunch at Campo East, some really bland lasagna. White on white. dinner of clam chowder + sweet n sour cabbage from Time Life ItalyORDER BOX FOR NEXT WEEK — See letter below
sat – Final Four – Salmon Tartare over cauliflower salad from LO grilled King Salmon — Jacques
sunMeal of sliced Chicken Breast over kale n cauliflower w sliced potato cooked in chicken broth

April 3, 2017
mon4 meatballs in tomato sauce + mashed potato + Sweet & Sour cabbage
tues – grilled fresh Italian Sausage + Knife and Fork Cauliflower, potato pancakes
wed – m lunch – made LO chicken and kale into soup… dinner spaghetti w Emeril sauce, sausage out of casing
thu – lunch at Silver Chopsticks m wanted to grill, but very windy so we settled for LO — m-salmon tartare, c-spaghetti w sausage
fri – C – baby back ribs in slo cooker
sat – Karaoke [potluck there]
sun – M – Zuppa Toscana in slo-cooker

We were supposed to order on Friday for next week. McKenzie said it would be ok to skip a week, buy we had other plans as noted in the letter below:

from Marcus Rector

To: McKenzie Loye Cc: Carol Rector
Re: custom Grocery Basket

Dear McKenzie,
We love the Liberty food, that’s why we ordered the Custom Grocery Basket.

As we were working our way through the meals, we learned a thing or two: We like to eat good food, but equally important, we like to cook. Warming up food — no matter how good — for meals is just not what we have ever done — except for leftovers. So preparing your meals felt like leftovers for a whole week.

The idea of picking meals from a list, with no shopping or cooking seemed appealing to these old folks, but it turned out we were eliminating some pleasure from each day. Not only that, since we were eating Liberty food every day, we didn’t want or need to go to your restaurant, and we like to go to your restaurant; it’s a nice environment and we are always greeted with joy and respect.

That said, we wish to decline future Grocery Baskets. Thank you for your understanding, and we will see you soon at your place.

Best Regards,
Marcus

I guess the phrase in vogue is: “What’s the take-away?” What did we learn? We reinforced the notion that we both like to cook, and we haven’t yet found a shortcut unfettered planning and preparing our main meals. Oh, excellent prepared foods are available at Liberty, and even Raley’s, but not suitable to us for a steady diet. But we can be liberal about working those foods into our weekly menus.

 

EATS GOES EAST 2

WEDNESDAY July 20 at Hotel Boston

I’m up at 7:45 and walk outside to catch the morning. Cool and fresh.

Our hotel is undergoing a name change. When I reserved our room it was Best Western University Hotel, Boston. Now, the sign says Hotel Boston. I’m surprised that name wasn’t already taken. In any case, it seems like a Best Western, two stories with surface parking and a Hotel Bkfst. I love that. I don’t want to DINE at breakfast, just give me coffee, some juice and something to get me started.

Another neat thing. Our hotel has a Front Porch. Nice place to sit on this perfect July morning and read USA Today. Our front porch has benches, tables and chairs — the only place to sit, since our room has only one chair. Why do they do that? We asked for another chair, but there is no such thing.

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relaxing on our front porch while I call UBER for a meet-up with our lunch date

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Dewey and Hope and Carol and Marcus… outside Seasons 52 we experienced glaring sun and some brisk breeze

Today is our trip’s *reason d’etre*. Giants visit Fenway Park to play my beloved Red Sox. The Giants fall into the category of:

 “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

My job took me to San Francisco, and the Red Sox chose not to go with me. They’re still the team I grew up with, and still beloved, though three time zones away and hard to keep in touch with. [Same deal for the Patriots.]

We’re meeting Hope and Dewey for lunch — speaking of the team we grew up with — Hope and Carol founded The Preschool Experience and were partners for 20 years. When the time came, they sold the business and Carol followed me to SF… lucky for me.

We met Hope n Dewey at Seasons 52 in Chestnut hill for lunch. It’s a restaurant created for upscale shopping centers; menu, food, decor and ambiance all reflect that and I must say that my scallops were superb.

eats_1-scallops

Some very fine sea scallops, and in the background, C’s grilled shrimp and salad. the portions are large compared to SF

UBERed to the hotel to hang out on the porch with Eric. We discussed plans for getting to Fenway Park and dinner.

How do you get to Fenway Park? On the T… always. Since our hotel is on Commonwealth Ave, and a piece of the Green Line runs right down the middle of Comm Ave, that’s a no brainer. As we walked on Comm Ave to the T stop, we picked up Clipper Cards at a corner store. $2.50 each, round trip.

Nice ride. This part of Comm Ave is lined with low rise  apartment buildings and “Corner Stores” and people are sprawled across the occasional front stoop watching the trains go by  as we watch them.

We could have ridden into Kenmore Square, but chose to get off at BU East. We had scouted a place to eat on the street leading from there to Fenway; Mai Mai, nice little Asian Fusion joint, flooded with light and inviting smells.

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I’m looking at the sign from our table inside.

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HUMANELY RAISED… nice to know that, also a really nice chalk drawing

The signs give a sense of the place. We were looking for an early bite before the game… something nicer than the street fare outside Fenway — although that Fenway street fare is better than any ballpark food I’ve encountered.

eats_1-potstickers

My potsticker nestled in a bed of hummus.

The stuffing of the potstickers was not unlike the formed uncased sausage of my dinner at Fairstead Kitchen, but this sausage was formed by the potsticker itself. YUM

All we need to do now is walk a couple of blocks to Fenway around a corner and up Mountfort Street, a small street that I had parked on many times. We found ourselves in a conundrum.  We stood on the corner of Mountfort at Beacon Street as it rises to the bridge going over the Mass Pike. Beacon is four lanes wide with a center median and no crosswalk. We had crossed at this corner before… 25 years ago. Carol balked — not so much at crossing 4 lanes of traffic, as going down the steep slope where Mountfort continues. Gimpy knee after all the SF hills. Alternatively, we could walk down to Kenmore Square and back up Brookline Ave to Fenway, at least six times farther.

eats_1-fenway map

While we were contemplating the traffic, Eric told a story about how his friend’s daughters abused their UBER privileges in a Boston suburb. The last couple blocks of their walk to high school was up a steep hill. There were times when they would summon UBER for that last bit of their journey.

I whipped out my iPhone and before I had completed my location, an UBER car came charging out of the very parking lot across Beacon. In a New York minute we were standing on the Lansdowne Street in the midst of the food scene outside Fenway.

We presented our precious tickets, found an elevator and were soon admiring Fenway Farms.

In the spring of 2015, Fenway Farms was planted, a rooftop garden on the third base side of the ballpark, above Yawkey Way. Produce and herbs grown in “Fenway Farms,” presented by Stop & Shop, Dole, Sage Fruit, and Fenway Park concessionaire Aramark, will be used in food products prepared at the ballpark this season, including the restaurant in the EMC Club.

Fenway Farms is sited on a 5,000 square foot roof above the Red Sox Front Offices. Previously an underutilized black rubber membrane roof, the space will now be used much more productively with an estimated 4,000 lbs of produce harvested annually.

Fenway Park is such a story. I was a witness to some of it. From 1970 to 1992 my kids and I — sometimes Carol — would grab the Riverside Line of the T and could be in Fenway in 20 minutes. Those were the days when you could walk up and buy tickets at the box office.

The park is located along Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. The area includes many buildings of similar height and architecture and thus it blends in with its surroundings. When pitcher Roger Clemens arrived in Boston for the first time in 1984, he took a taxi from Logan Airport and was sure the driver had misunderstood his directions when he announced their arrival at the park. Clemens recalled telling the driver “No, Fenway Park, it’s a baseball stadium … this is a warehouse.” Only when the driver told Clemens to look up and he saw the light towers did he realize he was in the right place.[46]

Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field), and both have a significant number of obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks. [wikipedia]

We moved to San Francisco in 1991 and lost track of Fenway for a while until 1999 when:

Red Sox announced plans for a new Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have seated 44,130 and would have been a modernized replica of the current Fenway Park, with the same field dimensions except for a shorter right field and reduced foul territory. Some sections of the existing ballpark were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout…. The proposal was highly controversial, and several groups (such as “Save Fenway Park”) formed in an attempt to block the move.[35] Discussion took place for several years regarding the new stadium proposal. One plan involved building a “Sports Megaplex” in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, their home throughout most of their history, which ended the Megaplex proposal. The Red Sox and the city of Boston failed to reach an agreement on building the new stadium, and in 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated, and will remain usable until as late as 2061.[wikipedia]

Here we are, way up top in an area only recently built as one of the final steps in the “completion” of Fenway Park. We’re in the “Giants Section” and looking down on the 37 feet high Green Monster, and when we look to our right and the press box, most of the seats we see up top didn’t exist back in the day.

eats_1-top-o-monster

Looking down on the Monster, an odd perspective.

eats_1-top-level

Almost none of these seats existed, back in the day

Straight ahead of us, we have the beautiful “Moon over Bud.”

eats_1-moon-over-Bud

And here is our own private concession area with it’s own view of the landmark CITGO sign.

eats_1-private-concessions

Avoid the crowds, sit in the sky… pop down the steps to your very own beer stand.

But what about the game??? The game was good — especially for Sox fans — as there was lots of action and scoring. Red Sox prevailed 11-7

eats_1-scorecard

Fenway is still incredible — even moreso with the very cool and imaginative additions.

The game was fun and exciting and the crowd stayed to the end. The Fenway crowd is fervent, but sophisticated and polite. Us guys in our Giants gear were greeted with respect and often with the quip, “See you in October.” We stood and sang *Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning stretch.

We were concerned about the crush getting out, but no worries… just follow the guy in front of you and don’t try to hurry, everybody moving at the same pace. The elevator left us in close sight of doors to the street and we shuffled down to Kenmore Square. We crossed Kenmore Square to the other side where it was less crowded and traffic moved west toward our hotel. An EZ UBER home.

Tomorrow – Kicking around Boston and Harvard Square

 

eats goes east

T U E S D A Y

I’m not a big fan of the red-eye — and when I was working I wouldn’t take them — not worth a damn the next day. But… happily retired, I have grown fond of the jetBlue non-stop Reno JFK. Staggering through the next day is not so bad, when all you’re seeking is pleasure. Both RNO-JFK and JFK-BOS flights FULL but on time. There’s a little over an hour wait at JFK… I call it “safe time.”

Eric and Alison drove down from their Portland manse to pick us up at Boston Logan Airport. “Text us when you arrive JFK. We leave then, get to Logan by the time you walk out the door from baggage.” (We beat ‘em by about 10 minutes.)

They took us to our hotel, out on Commonwealth Ave where we checked in and left the bags and the car. There’s no need for a car in Boston.

I bravely pulled out my iPhone and clicked on the app UBER, my first time. It swept around, showed my location on a map, and asked that I verify where I am, by address. Where do I want to go?   (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) Then it says, “3 minutes” and displays a driver’s name (Ahmed) , car (Toyota Camray), and the first 4 digits of license plate. On my iPhone screen I can see UBER cars in the vicinity and one is headed for me.

Car drives up. We get in and are driven to FHM. When we get out, we say “Thank You” and he (or she) says “Thank you,” and drives away. No cash. No tips. A short time later, I get an email receipt showing cost of the trip and asking me to rate the driver, one to five stars.

We found ourselves at the end of North Market Street and started walking.

eats_1-n-mkt-st

We’re looking around and remembering… I was Project Architect for FHM from about 1970 until North Market Building (the final of three phases) opened in August 1977. My last visit here was in 2012. Things have changed, but not much. Good Bones.

eats_1-QMB

Surveying the scene. Not much has changed in 40 years. Good Bones

eats_1-anthem

We stopped at Anthem Kitchen & Bar at the Faneuil Hall end of South Market Building to cool our heels a bit and get our bearings.

There are plenty of places to eat at the Marketplace, but I felt like this was my day in my place and suggested Regina Pizzaria in the North End. They have a  branch in the Quincy Market Building, but the original store in the North End is the real deal. My FHM team and I walked there for lunch from time to time during construction of the Markets.

eats_1__Waterfront-park

We took the long way through Waterfront Park, where seasonal flowers led the way. Alison was looking at her phone for directions, Carol had a tourist map and I was going by instinct. My instinct told me it seemed farther than it was 40 years ago.

But the pizza and the place haven’t changed much. There’s still the line outside — at 3pm on Tuesday — and there’s no waiting list, just get in line. When the guy has an opening, he comes out and says, “first four, come on in.”

The place is just as crowded and smells just as good, and the pizza — it tastes as good as it looks. YUM.

We UBERed back to the hotel to move in and get settled. Eric and Alison took their car and stuff to Alison’s cousin in Belmont where they’re staying.

Fairstead Kitchen sits in a lively block of Brookline’s version of Beacon Street. Their acknowledgement of our Open Table Reservation stated;

“We are a small neighborhood restaurant with only 9 tables. Please ensure a valid phone number is left where we may reach you… To be fair to all diners, if we are unable to reach you, the reservation may be cancelled.”

Not a problem. On this fine evening, the outdoor dining easily doubled the size of the restaurant for our 7 O’Clock reservation.

eats_1-fairstead

Fairstead has a short, but very interesting menu. It is definitely a food place, and yet the beer, wine and cocktails lists take up 3 pages of the 4-page menu. And the beers are listed by style, which guides the patron and saves the staff a lot of explaining.

I can describe my food: sausage, grilled with casing removed, served with vegetables, greens and a lovely sauce. And another small plate of roasted cauliflower. I guess if you asked me my favorite foods, I would say, “any kind of sausage; any preparation of cauliflower. And a nice cold draft Lager.

eats_1-my-dinner

This was our first real meal of the trip and I didn’t make notes of everybody’s food, suffice to say we were each very pleased with our food and amazed by the poise and knowledge of the young woman serving us — this place and the meal fit the evening and the evening  was in a fit with the whole outside, it seemed.

WEDNESDAY — Lunch with friends in Newton, Fenway Park and Red Sox v Giants

Chapter 1

NEW
Following the Giants’ East Coast Swing

There is a bunch of new stuff here at eatsforone.

  • New Server
  • New Look
  • New Format
  • and finally, a New Story.

Son Eric, who got me started on *eats* in December 2005, has always handled the background, server part, while I did the fun writing part. He informed me recently that it would be beneficial to change servers. That change necessitated a format change, but allowed the very cool “Category Cloud” and Archives list on the front page. This will make it easier for those of you with curiosity to explore our 10 year history at will. Some curious and entertaining stuff has been written over the years.

My first post for the new version of eatsforone, while maintaining an “eats” focus, will follow us on the SF baseball Giants’ *East Coast Swing* w through Boston and New York City. It all started when the Giants offered such a trip package, and became real when Son Eric offered his complete tour-guide services — the Giants package left us on-our-own for all except the games and intercity travel — for nightlife, meals and getting around. We settled for the advantages and personal service of Eric instead of the Giants; and at some cost savings. [Son Brian’s job took him to Europe for six months.]

So this will be a story of that trip, focusing on the food, of course.

Since it was a ten day trip, it will take some time to write and illustrate, so it will be offered in installments. You can’t enjoy it as much as we did, but here’s a sense of it.

M O N D A Y
A neighbor dropped us at Reno Tahoe International Airport and the place was nearly deserted at 9:30pm, so check-in was quick and EZ. RNO is not particularly big — big enough to offer non-stop service to and from JFK in New York — but it is L O N G.

Reno-Tahoe-International-Airport

The walk thru the Terminal.was not so bad because everybody is so nice — the TSA folks included — and I knew a nice cold Sam Adams Seasonal would be waiting for me in the bar at the very end.

eats_1-RNO

Grilling and Dancing in the Rain

As summer is with us, I grill very often and its always for pleasure… grilling isn’t a hurry-up kind of cooking.

So here I am, Mahi Mahi on the counter, coming to room temperature and the skies start to darken. I’ve been down this road once before, it only takes a few drops of rain to sizzle out a burgeoning fire.

BUT WAIT!! I have an umbrella. It was bought to shield the sun while lounging in a chair, but it ought to work for the rain — I’ve seen people with umbrellas in the rain.

So, I rolled the umbrella over to the Big Green Egg and hoisted it. And none too soon, sprinkles started right away.

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I’m not wet.

rain_first

Here is where I started…

The charcoal bucket is in the dry and I’m ready to light the wax briquette that in turn starts the Natural hardwood charcoal.

rain_2nd

The fire is lighted, but it will be a while before it’s ready to cook.

I relaxed the umbrella a bit… it gives plenty of protection and doesn’t splatter as it does when it’s taut.

rain_food-ready

The cool thing about grilling is there is plenty of time while the fire gets itself ready, to do the food prep (and have a drink if you’re so inclined)

What we have here is a red bell pepper, some spring onions and sliced sweet onions, Mahi Mahi fillet and blanched asparagus.

rain_food-at-egg

So I took all that stuff out to the EGG.

The silver container now is the grill tools, gloves, etc. Rain or no, it’s way easier to grill at this time of year than in the winter. In the winter, you have to keep the food in the warm indoors until you put it on the fire.

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WooHoo… looks great. Nearly ready to come off, waiting for the fish to come up to temps… it’s pretty thick.

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Everything is ready.

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We are served.

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AND… we allowed for future meals.

A final comment, which I want to make public… or as public as eatsforone gets… I was particularly eager to grill today — rain or no — because a couple of days ago we received this letter:

briquette-letter

<editorial>
If the lily livered briquette zealot coward had asked — and Downwind knows my address — I would have explained that I use organic 100% natural oak and hickory hardwood lump charcoal for my grilling. It’s more expensive, but well worth it. And as for the threats, the HOA requires “covered grills.” That’s it. The rest of Downwind’s diatribe is — how do you say — bull hockey, and I wouldn’t want that on my grill. And Downwind didn’t mention that in the only park in Sierra Canyon, there are two uncovered charcoal grills, and they are used at least weekly for parties in the good weather… I wish the zealot were downwind of THAT.
</ editorial>

The meal was great, and now we’ll be grilling more often.