Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Earth, Zen & Fire Part 2

This is part two of our fire essay by SJ Charter Member Curt Simmons. Curt helped us tend the flames this past weekend as we celebrated Joe's birthday. It was a remarkable evening at Saucy Central, w/ good food, great wines and the best of friends. Curt and Lori also presented us with a set of Reidel glasses which we put to good use immediately! Here's the rest of the story on Fire

Music adds another dimension to a good fire and you might want to consider a set of good outdoor speakers. The key here is “good” speakers. A great fire deserves the best sound possible, so don’t go cheap. Once you get the speakers installed, you’ll want to set the volume just loud enough to upset the snobby neighbors but low enough to carry on a good conversation. The really difficult work begins with the choice of sound mixes. You’ll want to go with songs that are great but not ones you hear everyday on the commercial radio stations. For instance, if you want an Allman Brothers song, you wouldn’t choose “Rambling Man” even though it’s a great song. No, you would be better off with “One Way Out” or even “Jessica,” both of which will get an approving nod from your fellow music lovers. We’ve have basically settled on the 1967-1977 period for rock, and anything pre Garth Brooks seems to work well for country. You might want to stick in a few sing-a-long songs while the kids are still up, and Trout Fishing in America offers many great selections. Whatever your choices, they should be serious to their genre and you should be prepared to discuss the bands you choose. You don’t need a degree in musicology here, but you should at least know the names of the lead guitarists and vocalists. All of these musical guidelines apply to your regular fire buddies only by the way. You must exercise restraint with your first time guests. If they suggest that Journey or Shania Twain are “really cool,” just nod your head slowly without commenting. If they ask you to play Bread or Barry Manilow, go ahead and push them into the fire. Again, these are just guidelines. If you want to shoot them first it’s probably OK, just check with your local authorities.

Another consideration in pursuit of the perfect fire is attire. Just as you wouldn’t, OK some of my family probably would, wear a tank-top to the symphony, you don’t want to show up at a fire improperly clad. The cornerstone of your fire wardrobe is your fire shirt which should always be oversized flannel, preferably in a loud, lumberjack plaid. You’ll want to wear an undershirt since the fire shirt won’t be washed until after the season. It should be hung immediately adjacent to the closet door so you will be rewarded with a smoky, sensuous treat every time you enter. Ball caps and old sweat shirts complete the outer wear and an old pair of tennis shoes or boots finishes the ensemble.

Fire foods should be restricted to the coat hanger group which includes wieners, s’mores, marshmallows, etc. Whatever you do, resist any impulses you might have about instructing your kids how to cook these wholesome delights. If they turn thirty consecutive marshmallows into flaming, charcoal pyres, just laugh with them and keep handing them more. It’s the best entertainment deal you will ever find. This by the way, is also the most you as an adult should cook. Constantly getting up to check on a grill or worrying about a pan of brownies will take you from your appointed duties of observation and relaxation. If you are the type that enjoys a libation, find your corkscrew and leave the beer in the fridge, because wine is the best choice for the family flame. Wine seems to give the slow, gentle glow that is best enjoyed in front of a dancing flame. It takes a full bodied red to stand up to the smoke, and the old vine Zinfandels and Sirrahs seem to pair best with our oak and mesquite laced fire pits. Of course the wine sipping can be occasionally interspersed with a small dollop of something unusual. A shot of premium, Caribbean dark rum can be delightful in a brandy snifter. One night last winter, we each drained a shot of Ouzo and saluted as Ski threw the top third of his Christmas tree on the fire. The flames and sparks reached the top of the house, and I swear we heard coyotes howling in the distance. Or maybe it was closer than that.

At any rate, if you haven’t had a good camp fire lately you should certainly try one. It’s one of the healthiest addictions around and it’s a family based bargain. My wife says it’s the best part of camping and you still get to use your own bathroom and sleep in your own bed. I know that fall is now my favorite time of the year and it could easily be yours as well. So Bon Appetit and Burn Baby Burn.

We’ll see you on the patio.


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