Friday, April 13, 2012

Beef: Go big or go home

I know! I know! I can hear it now.  What about Forks over Knives?!  What about eating less meat?   What about... ?   Let me just say this: SHUT UP!   Is that not a gorgeous, sexy hunk of beef?  Did I eat beef that night? Listen, you are not the boss of me. I savored every bite. I savored every moment of a beautiful evening in the lap of luxury cooking like a very wealthy caveman. 

My friends have an outdoor fireplace (situated right next to their outdoor wood-fired pizza oven) it all just  makes me want to camp. Those who know me know my motto is "I love NOT camping". So, that gives you an inkling of how wonderful that outdoor fireplace is. Or maybe it's the great company that is always around that fireplace. I always feel rich in the company of friends there.

When I think of packing it all in and getting out of rainy Dodge and heading somewhere the sun isn't afraid to show its face everyday, I think of the gatherings of friends. Oh, it's not so easy to let go of this embarrassment of riches called friends. It's not just my friends, and the food, and the landscape of this great Pacific Northwest. It's the idea of being landlocked. I don't want to be landlocked. 

I ponder the thought of making new friends somewhere sunny and warm. (not for long mind you). I have some pretty amazing friends right here. But even then, I cannot imagine replacing the beautiful waters and dramatic, constantly evolving skies of Puget Sound. Plus, I'd have to make a new friend with a boat and suddenly, I wake up from the dream and realize it's just all too much to think about today Scarlet. Besides, as I type this, the sun is out and suddenly I fall prey to that condition known as Seattle Amnesia. 
"What rain?", I say. 

And it's time to plan the next gathering. Just like that! I'm off on another subject. Since I'm sort of alluding to food for a crowd today let me tell you about that half a cow in the picture at the top of this post. 9.4 pounds of Prime Rib. It's turning and turning with the help of a kitschy piece of machinery shipped here from Italy. It's a manual (spring loaded) Rotisserie and on this particular night it was the Italian Stallion of cooking equipment. The apparatus in the fire that allows the wood to be stacked high for optimum heat was designed and constructed by my friend who owns the whole shebang. He's no slouch.  When we couldn't get near the meat to check its temperature we decided to check that beast of a fire with a laser thermometer. 
Holy fires of Hell Batman! 900 degrees!  
That roast was done in about an hour and a half. 
 I've shown pictures of the wood-fired pizza oven here before. But who can grow tired of this?

This, this is the Hemi engine of heat-producing structures. This innocent looking little cove leaves 900 degrees in its dust.  I tried baking bread in it one time (after the pizzas were done and the fire began to die down). I was not successful. It's all a part of that rules-are-guidelines philosophy. I just jumped right in and promptly fell on my ass. I would attempt it again. Different day, different dough and a new, 
shiny pair of shoes. 

Same home, different spot for cooking with fire. This place is amazing I tell you. This was dinner for a crowd of artists. What provocative conversations erupted around this pot of seafood. There were mussels, clams, shrimp, butter, wine and herbs.  

The finished product, along with oysters, fresh off the grill and a variety of grilled vegetables, met up with some hot sourdough rolls and I don't know how to say this delicately... It was pigs to trough after that. . This is the stuff that dreams are made of.  Friends around the table, the campfire, the elegant outdoor fireplace, breaking bread and sharing stories or songs... Oh, and there SHOULD be wine. 


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