Friday, August 15, 2008

Ooooooooooooh, Fire

I am not a “Pyromaniac”, but I love fire. I love everything about fire. The smell, the look, the way it cooks…(there’s got to be a song in here somewhere.) I don’t love fire in the Tom Cruise-“Endless Love” way (Cruise’s first role was in “Endless Love” as a soccer buddy of Martin Hewitt who suggests the fatal idea of lighting wet newspaper on fire outside the Butterfield’s home and then putting it out, to appear to be a hero to the Butterfield family. I think a giving them a pamphlet on Scientology might have been a better idea), but I love to cook over open flame, or smoke something over low heat and a slow fire. So when I travel, I always hope to find a BBQ joint, and I do mean “joint” in the best possible sense of the word.

Back in August 2002, Elayne and I were traveling through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Staying in Jackson, NH, we ventured down past “Storyland” into North Conway. On the way to the shops, we drove past a house that had a giant offset smoker in front, next to a half dozen Harley Davidsons. The sign said "Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company" and I said to Elayne “we should eat here” to which she responded “no (unable to print) way!” I think something about the bikes, the leather, the smoke wafting from the building was a put-off for her. So I pulled in.

Boy, was she glad I did. Now, whenever we go up that way, we go out of our way to grab a bite there. The BBQ Salmon is sublime-so much so, that I requested their recipe (and they were more than happy to offer it up), and the brisket is excellent. The prices and quality make this a good value. We strongly recommend Moat Mountain.

Getting back to Jackson, NH for a minute. A beautiful, picturesque New England town. Elayne I have stayed at a few places, but The Wentworth is one of the nicest. If you stay in the Arden House, there are beautiful rooms, along with modern amenities. The dining is superb, and we strongly recommend staying here when in the White Mountain region.

Speaking of fire…a friend of mine just got back from the mid-west, and at my insistence, dined at the Weber Grill restaurant. The Weber-Stephen Products Company, the same company that manufactures the grills, owns this place. This is my personal Mecca, calling me with its siren song of the snap, crackle and pop of open fire. They cook, indoors, over open charcoal flame!!! I’ve got to get there soon, and the report from my friend was a big “fork up” for the steak. Tell me, how can you beat the “flavah” of a steak cooked over open fire? My mouth is watering just writing this. Add in d├ęcor that is focused on Weber grill products, lampshades made from kettle grill covers, and you have a winning concept in my book. I am starting to plan my next road trip by the places I need to eat and this is Number 1.

Apropos of nothing-if the girls on the Chinese women gymnastics team are 16 or older, I’m beating Michael Phelps in the 400m individual medley! The twelve year olds on the Dominican little league teams are older.

Speaking of Olympics, I actually would prefer a little play for the archers, riflemen and ultimate Frisbee heads…frankly, I’d like to see more of the unsung sports, along with beer pong and Maypole dancing.

Anyone else creeped out by the old guys coaching the young girls in gymnastics? For a great treatise on this sport, and the abusing of these young girls, read “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters” by Joan Ryan. You will never let your daughters near a gym again.

You’ve been great. Enjoy Chuck Mangione…

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