Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Other Side of Summer

It's been a busy end of summer for Significant Eater and me. SE has secured a fantastic job in Washington, DC and we've been looking for a new (temporary) home in the district to help with the settling in process. We'll eventually find a more permanent place, and in the process become bi-municipal (a new word that we've created). There'll be BOLT buses, and more driving than we've done in a long time (at least since I lived in California). And there will certainly be new neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, markets and food to explore. We're also sure there will be many new friends, and even some old ones, to drink with, to eat with, to cook for and to make the experience all the richer.

On the last weekend of the summer, however, we were in New York, and I was able to fire up a friend's Weber to do some barbecuing. Real barbecuing, low and slow - my favorite method of preparing ribs for sure, as well as various other cuts that benefit from long cooking with low heat.

And ribs it was. Pork spareribs and beef short ribs. Along with a wayward chicken that took an overnight bath in brine, the ribs were dry rubbed the night before with a mixture of salt, sugar, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, cumin and a bit of fennel powder that had made its way back to me from Umbria, via our friends Jude and Jeff. The ribs can come out of the refrigerator an hour before the fire is ready, and the chicken should be rinsed well of its brine and dried thoroughly before going into the smoker. It helps to have a rib rack, but even without one, everything got nice and cozy on the grill.

The coals and fire are built off to one side, so none of the meat is directly over the coals. It's a low fire, and you want to keep it in the range of 200 - 225 degrees. A handful of soaked wood chips gets placed on top of the coals, and every 30 minutes or so, a couple of unlit pieces of charcoal can be added to keep the fire going, along with another handful of wood chips. Your smoker should look something like this:

Ribs can take anywhere from 3 - 5 hours, depending on their size and how hot the fire is. And after we could wait no longer (actually, right around 4 hours), everything came off the grill. Waiting is hard at this point, so after 15 minutes, the ribs were cut and plattered and ready for the feast...

That's a short rib in the upper left hand corner, and they were damn good. You can see the beautiful pink smoke ring on the pork ribs and they were mighty fine too. Lest anyone think there wasn't anything but meat, our hosts made a beautiful multicolored tomato salad with tomatoes from their backyard garden, along with watermelon, yellow melon and handfuls of herbs, also from the backyard.

And there you have it. Summer's over, a new job and a new city await (we'll be seeing lots of I-95, to be sure) and a new chapter on life is opened for Significant Eater and me. Sure we're a bit nervous about it all, but we're also really excited about what the future holds for us. And Tasty Travails will be sharing it all along the way.


  1. Yo, grillmaster you moving to DC????

  2. Awesome! You must go to the native American museum for lunch. Bolt bus is great!!

  3. I'm looking forward to hearing about your food adventures in DC. Best wishes

  4. @Jodi - Bolt, Mega - it's all the same to us.

    @Charles - Thanks very much. We're looking forward to it as well.