Barbecue Sabbatical

I haven’t been back here for a while, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. First off, I ended up traveling for a number of weekends starting in late April/May. That was followed by a period of time where I needed to save money (to make up for all the money I spent on traveling — the barbecue opportunity cost). And then I was just lazy for a while. We’ll just call it summer barbecue/food research.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve been eating.

Way back in April — ancient history now — I took a weekend trip to Baltimore to eat crab cakes and listen to one of Matt’s friends sing at a piano bar. There was really only one other noteworthy thing about this trip. Don’t accept drugs from people on the street outside the hotel. You’ll end up punching people and passing out really early.

Crab cake
Crabby Patties.

The next weekend I made a six-hour drive to Ithaca, New York, for a wedding. It’s a pretty quaint college town, and man, did it make me feel old. I encountered a double grilled cheese hamburger (technically a melt, if you want to get technical). I got a nice tour of Cornell as well. 

Double Grilled Cheese Hamburger
Melt or grilled cheese? Wars have probably been fought over this.

Next up was New York, New York, a few weeks later. Instead of doing touristy stuff… I just ate. That included, among others, a fancy steakhouse, a Brazilian place, a ramen burger, dim sum, milk bar, a lobster roll and Italian food.  In the future, you can expect a post on the differences of steakhouse steaks and homemade steaks and why they always look so different (along with complaints about price). 

Ramen Burger
When you not only want noodles, but also a hamburger.

In the meantime, I got a new carbon steel pan (which I had actually thought was cast iron because the lady at Williams Sonoma failed to correct me when I asked). Current rules of engagement for steak involve indirect heat to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit and then a sear on both sides. This way, we get a nice medium rare with a more uniform sear. I’m still experimenting with this.

My new favorite toy.

Stuart and I made hamburgers for his birthday a week or two after. I had planned on doing a brisket but got rained out. I’ve ended up making more burgers this summer than I have ever in my life. 

“Rained out”

And then I went to a cabin in Shenandoah. There was a gas grill. If your grill is ever not hot enough, just throw a slice of cheese down there; it’ll flare right up. Made some steaks too. Separately, I’ve also gained experience with gas grills at Matt’s and Paul’s apartments. Matt’s grill likes to particularly heat up in the very back, which I imagine has seen less use. The flames on Paul’s are really small for some reason and it’s hard to start. Not that I don’t appreciate gas grills — they certainly have some personality to them. 

I also took a trip to Dallas and Austin. I ate barbecue (“research” as I like to consider it) and drank a bunch. It was tasty. I can never spell Micklethwait Craft Meats (MCM), but it has become one of my most visited barbecue places since I’ve moved. Per usual, we overestimated how much we could eat, but then followed up with alcoholic milkshakes.

Barbecue research.

I probably should have spent some of the past few weeks working on some posts that I’ve saved up. I actually have like four posts worth of pictures, though there hasn’t been all much to talk about.

In any case, I’m back. I’ve been mainly doing less time-intensive meats such as steaks and burgers. I’m expecting to smoke a brisket this weekend with some new equipment and technique. I’ve been having some trouble fitting the entire brisket on and have been dealing with some heat issues, but I’m looking forward to finally cooking again. I expect barbecue activities to pick up again in the fall when there’s less travel.

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