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!
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!
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 20 minutes. 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.
Fleishers Craft Butchery
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.