Summer is transitioning to Fall. The much anticipated total eclipse of 2017 has occurred to much (well deserved) fanfare! The days are getting shorter, but there is still plenty of light and beautiful sunsets. Thankfully, we still have a few weekends to enjoy the freedom with family and friends. That means family barbeques and parties. We were recently at a dinner party, and I asked for the wifi password ... of course, there was no cell coverage (damn NIMBY)! Once on the wifi network, I realized I had access to my host's Sonos system. I thought it would be funny to change the tone of the dinner party by changing the playlist (from classic rock solids to YMCA and Miley Cyrus). Our perplexed host thought it was his teenage son, but it was me! The moral of the story is be careful to whom you give your wifi password. This week's Loupe will help you to enjoy the remaining days of Summer!
Music for your BBQ
I initially didn't understand the necessity of Sonos. I can play music on my phone to any Bluetooth device. However, Sonos has created a variety of hardware solutions that lets you stream anything seamlessly and effortlessly (VIP adverbs). They produce a device that works with your sound system, as well as a soundbar for your television (the Playbase is their latest release), or a standalone speaker. These devices allow the user complete control of the music by being service provider agnostic; you can choose Apple Music, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Audible, or anything you prefer. The user interface is great and a fantastic solution for your outdoor BBQ. And remember, don't let anyone get your wifi and hijack your system for the night!
BBQ for your BBQ
When I was doing my research for this one, I was surprised by how many expert outdoor chefs there are among my friends in NYC.
The Big Green Egg
It is not too late to get a new grill and BBQ. Sure National BBQ month was in May, but I needed a new grill and began to research the options available. To say there are a variety of opinions and options would be an understatement. There are charcoal grills, gas grills (propane and natural gas), smokers, fryers, brick ovens, and much, much more. I looked for guidance from fellow Louper and BBQ master Neil R. who currently has six different devices littered in his backyard. Since my wife and space constraints won't allow 6, I had to find one that does everything well. The answer is the Big Green Egg. This handy device is a ceramic kamado-style charcoal grill which provides superior insulation that makes very high and very low temperatures easy to maintain, allowing the user to grill, roast, smoke, and bake. They have their own special charcoal, which is free from chemicals and other harmful things that will either impact the taste (or your health). There is also a ton of supports provided by the company and community, including recipes and tips. Join the Big Green Egg cult (I dare you)!
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
What do Jimmy Fallon, Wolfgang Puck, and Louper Jason P. have in common? Their love of Kalamazoo grills! Coincidentally, Louper Jason P. said to me, I want to talk to you about BBQ's just as I was editing this week's Loupe. He introduced me to the wonders of Kalamazoo, and this story is one of innovation through necessity. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet started its life over 100 years ago as Kalamazoo Sheet Metal. About 15 years ago the Founder's grandson pivoted away from sheet metal (I have seen many bankruptcies tied to the fortunes of the Detroit automakers) and leveraged its skills and knowledge to make outdoor cooking equipment; its notable innovation was the hybrid fire grill which is capable of cooking with charcoal, wood or gas. This system gives the chef domain over heat and flavor, and offers the convenience of gas to accelerate the preparation, cooking, and clean up. The entire device consists of durable steel, so there are no weak links in the system. Kalamazoo believes that grilling is an art, as such each Kalamazoo artisan that works on your grill signs the inside of the door! I'm also intrigued by the countertop pizza oven they make that produces Neopolitan pies in less than 3 minutes at full heat levels . It may not be cheap, but it is a great product and will make you the envy of grillers all over. My guess is if you see a Kalamazoo grill, you're in for a good meal.
Meat for your BBQ
The key word here is sustainable. That means the animals are raised locally (neighbors) are treated well (pets). It is unlikely they ship because that would defeat the purpose!
Fleisher's Craft Butchery
192 5th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217
1325 Third Avenue New York NY 10021
160 E. Putnam Ave Cos Cob CT 06807
580 Riverside Ave Westport CT 06880
If you are going to go through the trouble of barbequing (have a great grill, inviting your friends & family over, and slaving over the grill while they are drinking away), you need quality meat. By quality meat, I mean sustainable meat, the type of product that has been locally sourced and treated the way you would treat your pet (until the very end of course!). That is the idea behind Fleisher's, which was one of the early "hipster" butchers. The hipster title is linked to such stores because it has a vision (an alternative food system with the highest standards of quality, ethics, and transparency) and mission (to inspire farms and families to make thoughtful choices about meat with the focus on the sustainable product). Further, the shops are well designed and have young butchers demonstrating their craft. I like to know where my food came and that it ate well and roamed free during its (short) life. Fleisher's will serve up high meat no matter what cut you prefer.
White Gold Butchers
375 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
If you haven't heard of Michelin starred April Bloomfield, you need to get out of the house more as she is the hottest female chef on NY's culinary scene. Her newest venture is ... get this, a butcher shop by day and a 38-seat restaurant by night. The name White Gold is butcher speak for Grade A meat, and this my friends is a Grade A meat shop and restaurant. Providing a great addition to the Upper West Side's (lack of) restaurant choices, it is also responsible for the meat at some of the best restaurants in New York City including Bloomfield's own The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and Superiority Burger. White Gold Butchers, however, is not the place for my vegan or vegetarian Loupers (or the squeamish) as they break down whole animals and crank sausages right in front of you. I love Hot Dog Happy Hour, but for my more health minded, trend setting finders, they do offer their very own bone broth! This spot has great style, Rock & roll music, and has/is fresh meat! Hit the butcher shop and pick up your hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed, all-natural meat from local and sustainable farms, booyah!
So fire up your grills, put on some great tunes (free from hijackers), and consider Sonos, Big Green Egg, Kalamazoo Grills, Fleisher's Craft Butcheryand White Gold Butchers found. Now ... invite me over for some dinner!