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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Location: Eating Cow in Cow-lifornia

Ah, we meat again, readers...

I spent the past week in the Los Angeles/Santa Barbara area, acting as best man in my friends' (N and D) wedding. This particular friend (N) is every bit as carnivorous and gloriously gluttonous as I am, so his bachelor party required that we put some serious Fat Knight stank on it. This is the tale of our weekend.

I arrived at LAX Thursday afternoon. N's in-laws-to-be graciously provided us with a totally bitchin' beach condo in Carpinteria, about two hours north of the airport. One of the other groomsmen rented a car for the weekend, which was supposed to be an Impala, but turned out to be a Crown Victoria. We cruised up the PCH in our cop-mobile, saluting suspicious traffic-mates and getting to know each other. 

Pure. Gluttonous. Genius.
In Carpinteria on Friday afternoon, the bachelor party commenced. First we headed over to a burger joint known as The Spot. This place is quite literally a shack with a patio, but what a glorious shack it was. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd get to utter the order "Double Cheeseburger, add pastrami, add bacon." The resulting mound of meat and joy made me cry one single, salty tear of burning carnivorous passion, which turned out to be the perfect condiment. The burger was thick and meaty, the bacon was substantial, and the pastrami... oh the pastrami. The cook threw it on the grill before putting it on the burger. Pure. Gluttonous. Genius.

Next we hit up a brewery tour at the Island Brewing Company. I had arranged the tour a couple weeks in advance with the owner, Paul, and he met us there at around 2:30. The place was already filled to seating capacity, and he said by 5, folks likely wouldn't be able to move around much. It's no wonder why, the beers were excellent and the prices were low. $4-$6 depending on size. Also, there were some really interesting beers in stock, such as an IPA aged 18 months in bourbon casks, or their super-hoppy Night Sail, an amazing combination of dark malty goodness and ultra-floral Zythos blend hops. The unanimous winner of the lot was the Jubilee Ale - a perfectly balanced red ale with smoky, caramel maltiness and a big, strong finish. We drank many beers.

Next, we decided to walk around town for a bit, hitting some bars, etc. Eventually we met up with our final groomsman partner, NS (you may know him from HIS food blog, which I may or may not link to the right). It was dinner time, and since we had gone to the source for our beer, it seemed only fitting that we should go to the source for our dinner. The Palm is a local spot in Carpenteria where you can order a variety of meaty treats, but there's a catch: they bring them to you raw. Cold, in fact. Straight out of the fridge. Now, before you freak out and call the health department, the fun of this place is that you get to grill your own steak (or fish, if you're a skinny knight). They've got a double sided grill installed in one wall of the restaurant, plus a salad bar (meh) and all you can eat baked potatoes and baked beans. The fact of the matter here is that I can't very accurately review a restaurant where you cook your own food, since when I go there, it's a top-tier steakhouse, and when you go there it's the Sizzler. 

How many baritones does it take to grill a steak?
What I can speak to is the experience. We had a fantastic time standing around, grilling nice cuts of meat and eating like cavemen. 

The details of the rest of Friday night have been omitted to protect the innocence of those involved.

Saturday, we had another lunch experience. If you know anyone from California, you've surely heard about In-N-Out Burger, and how all other burgers are essentially piles of organic vegan gluten-free horseshit in comparison. Here's the scoop:

Animal Style
In-N-Out is definitely delicious. The fact that you can potentially order an 8x8 (eight patties, eight pieces of cheese) had the Fat Knight's taste buds doing backflips. The real thing you need to know about this place is that there's a secret menu/ordering procedure (except the service is way more polite than the Soup Nazi). If you ever make it to one of these fine establishments, make sure to say the words "Animal Style" in reference to your burger. This includes several condimental improvements, but the most vital difference is the mustard-grilled patty. The cook puts the patty on the grill, then, before the flip, throws down some mustard on the top side, then flipping it to cook all that mustardy goodness directly into your cowchunk. If you're wondering, this is the correct decision.

There were several more meaty treats this weekend, mostly from the catering staff at the wedding site, and one excellent burger from the father of the bride last night (who is trying his damnedest to replicate a Terry's Turf Club burger, and getting quite close). 

Remember, folks, if it didn't die, it's a side!

The Fat Knight

Monday, May 7, 2012

Smoke on the Water

Or in the water, rather.

(Soundtrack for this post)

Two days ago my new grill arrived. Today, the new side firebox/smoker showed up. We immediately assembled each. After many serious glances at one another, my roommates and I decided it was time - Time for genius. Time for glory. Time for wings.

Luckily, I had just defrosted the ultra-family-value-pack of wings I had in the freezer. We were prepared to pursue poultry perfection. Chicken: check. Charcoal (hardwood, lump): check. Chunks of oak for making the smoke: check. BBQ Rub, Beans, Corn on the Cob: check, check, check on the check.

KER-CRASH-MA-RUMBLE!

Thunderstorm. Son of a bitch. If it has only one flaw (and it's yet to be determined that this is one), it is that my grill is an outside-only tool. Or, rather, it was one. Until now...

Like a swat team storming a bank full of hostages, the roommates and I burst forth into a fiery blaze of efficiency and mirth. Yeah, that's right. Mirth. We were so damned mirthful, you might expect that we had whistled while we worked. Whistling is for lesser beings. We just thought about whistling so hard that it lit the charcoal in the chimney starter. Then, just because we're so good at mind-whistling, we put it out and lit it again - all with our mind-whistles.

I mind-whistled some charcoal into readiness. R and G brought the grill around to the front of the house and threw open the garage door. I began prepping the wings, covering them with the BBQ Rub as generously as Santa on December sixth. That's his birthday. Look it up.

G rigged the garage with an array of masterfully placed fans (I guess, in this scenario, he's the guy in the van running intel and saying things like "I just need twenty more seconds to get into the mainframe... blasted firewall proxy USB mouse-click webcrawler!"). The smoke was kept out of the garage by this.

R cleaned a pot we didn't end up using for the beans (because we effing baked those emeffers). That's right, we're so good at this that we do extra work while we work.

I placed the wings on the grill. We drank beers. We loved them.

We waited about an hour.

On went the corn, wrapped in foil with butter and a secret seasoning G refers to secretly as "black pepper" - sounds mysterious, and despite my begging, he refuses to tell me what's in it. The beans went into the oven, with a generous layer of BBQ Rub forming a layer on top.

We waited another half hour or so. We drank more beers. We loved them again/still.

When the time came, we all stood in a moment of silence as we smelled the oaky, smokey goodness of the grill. We opened the lid and were offered a sample of the smoke-filled air. We graciously accepted, because badasses are gracious. We made heaping plates of food, and ate them. Hard.

Thunderstorm - Vanquished.

For all you serious folks who are interested in recipes:

Chicken:

1 Mega-Value Pack of chicken wings
Enough BBQ Rub to cover the hell out of them

Directions: Cover the hell out of the chicken wings with the BBQ Rub. Put them in a smoker over indirect heat (aim for 225) for an hour and fifteen minutes. We went longer for safety, about an hour and a half. Can't be too careful on a first run. We used oak and it was super-smokey. Next time I'll likely use half oak, half apple, and consider some herbage as well.

Beans:

1 Can of Maple Cured Bush's (Cheating. Don't care.)
Enough BBQ Rub to liberally cover the hell out of the top of the beans.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees (Fahrenheit. This is a BBQ post. Celsius is un-American). Put the beans in a casserole dish. Ours was square. It's hip to be square. Liberally cover the hell out of the top of the beans with BBQ rub. Bake for 45 minutes or until wings are done, whichever is longer.

Corn:

6 ears of corn
Aluminum foil
Butter
"black pepper"

Directions: Remove husk and silk from corn. put in a packet made from aluminum foil along with butter and "black pepper." Cook on grill above charcoal for the final 30 minutes of wing-cooking. If necessary, finish in bean oven.

Beer:

1 Beer

Directions: Open the beer. Drink the beer. Repeat.

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