Food

What Ya Got Cooking? Things are Heating Up on the Patio.

One of the disadvantages of living in some of the houses I have owned in the last 25 years is that they weren’t suited to owning a grill.

Union Hill had potential. I could have kept a grill in the garage, but the garage was off the basement and the idea of trucking up and down 18 steps to flip burgers had me worn out just thinking about it. Union Hill had an OK sized wooden deck, but how many fires started in Union Hill thanks to an unattended grill on a deck? I know of at least 3.

The house on Lloyd had no patio, and the deck was simply to narrow. If I wanted a grill it meant keeping it in the detached garage and hauling it out every time I wanted to use it. No thanks.

The loft had a small balcony but the idea of having a grill seemed rather bad. The balcony was small, and it was a multi-unit building. I didn’t want to be responsible for a possible fire.

Finally, after having the patio rebuilt at our current and permanent residence we got a grill. After spending most of the winter and spring trying to decide on a grill or a griddle and then trying to find something that wasn’t like every other product on the market we narrowed it down. The criteria were pretty simple. It had to look good, use propane, get hot enough to bake a pizza and be small enough to store in the garage in winter.

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Since it’s just my wife and I weren’t looking for anything that you could cook a whole turkey in, or with enough surface area to cook 24 hamburgers at once. We looked at everything from the Blackstone griddles to the Green Egg and finally settled in on the Fuego Element F21C-H. I have had the grill for a little over a month now and couldn’t be happier. It looks amazing cooks just as good and heats to over 600 degrees in less than 10 minutes – making the perfect cracker crust pizza.

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There is a ton of reviews on all versions of this grill on the internet so I’m not going to go into great detail about how to use it and comparisons with other products. Instead, I am going to talk about 2 things, assembly, packaging and design.

Design

First off I have to say that when the grill is assembled it looks like a statement piece rather than a cooking appliance. Designed by Robert Brunner, the former chief of design at Apple the Fuego Element F21C is a decidedly minimal piece of equipment and maintains quite the futuristic aesthetic. It looks like a tall metallic mushroom with a sort of 1980’s retro vibe to parts of it. I think it is the perforated metal sides that have me thinking that and I’m not sure why. Either way, the grill is quite a stunning piece of industrial design, and quite functional too.

The grill sits atop a four-wheeled base for improved portability and has a long, narrow column that stores the propane tank. All in all, the F21C only measures 21 inches wide by 32 inches tall, which means it’ll fit in on even more minute patio or balcony setups. The hinged lid is offset at 45 degrees so when you open it you are not putting your arm directly over the heat source (something that I really appreciated last week when the temps were hovering in the upper 90’s) The main door on the column has a spring release clasp that opens up to reveal the propane tank inside.

The diffuser tray which sits below the grate is designed to channel drippings away from the burner elements which is a plus. It is designed to help prevent the openings in the burners from getting clogged requiring additional cleaning. Grease and drippings are collected in a small tray that sits below the burner and can be removed simply by pulling the tray out from the front of the grill.

There are stainless steel handles that have dual functionality. They can be used to move the grill and they function as the support base and storage space for the optional side table.

My only real design grip is this. I use the optional table on the left side of the grill. It’s the side away from the lid. I did this because the ambient heat coming off the lid when it’s open is right above where the table sits on the right. The table is well designed and attaches to the grill by hooking under the arms of the handle and using a small support rod. When not in use it slips in between the handle and hangs next to the grill. If the table is stowed, you can’t open the door to access the propane tank. It gets me every single time. All in all, this is a pretty small complaint.

The cooking surface is 346 square inches which are plenty. According to Fuego, you can cook 18 to 20 burgers on this at one time. And the 15-pound porcelain-enamel cast iron grate provides a massive heat sink producing amazing sear marks.

Packaging

The Fuego grill came in a standard cardboard box. About 2 inches from the bottom was a dotted line with “cut here” icons indicating what to do. I used a standard box knife, cut all the way around and simply lifted the top 7/8 of the box off and set it aside. Inside there was a truck-load of Styrofoam. A ton of it. I’m still getting rid of it because I couldn’t get it all out on trash and recycling day and still have room for my regular trash and recycling. I wish they would figure out a way to completely do away with the foam, and replace it with something that is more environmentally friendly.

Everything was neatly packaged and laid out in a way that made sense as I took the parts out of the box. I was able to place everything in a logical order and get ready to assemble the grill in less than five minutes. And this brings me to the assembly portion of this post.

Assembly

I love it when an industrial design or engineer figure out how to create something that goes together quickly and is rock solid when assembled. Fuego nails this. The grill requires just 14 screws to go together and I had my grill built and ready to cook less than 30 minutes. I didn’t time how long it took to put it together but I do know cleaning up the packaging took longer.

All you need to put this together is a Phillips head screwdriver. You can do it with that but if you have a cordless drill with a Phillips head driver attachment I suggest using it. I put the grill together by myself, some of you might want a second set of hands but you don’t need it. The instructions are straight forward and easy to follow. There are a handful of YouTube videos that show people unboxing and assembling the grill if you have any doubts about the simplicity of it.

Accessories.

Get the cover if you are storing the grill outside. It’s not expensive and it does help protect it from the elements. With that said I’ll be storing the grill in my garage over the winter.

I recommend the table attachment. At least one of them. It really does come in handy when you are cooking. I’m not sure you need both of them, but I am toying with the idea of getting a second one.

Skip the Pizza Stone kit. The kit costs 40 bucks. It would have cost me 38 to ship it back to Fuego. The stone is the same kind you can pick up at Target for about $20.00. The pizza cutter was a joke. It was the cheapest one I think I have ever seen. It felt like a toy. As for the pizza Peel, the quality was slightly better than the cutter but not much. I ended up getting a non-folding one that isn’t as easy to store but doesn’t feel like it’s going to collapse under the weight of a medium-sized pie either.

Get the griddle. It’s made from the same material as the grate and it converts the grill into a flat-top in seconds. (Suggestion for Fuego. Make a split version. Half griddle half great. Especially for the 24C big brother version of this grill)

I’m out. I have skirt steak I need to get ready for tonight’s dinner.

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Roccbox Will Rock Your Pizza Craving.

I think I need this. No I know I need this. Not only does it look amazing, but the concept is simply brilliant.

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Roccbox name says it all, it´s a stone in a boxthat gets really hot very fast. This way you get stone baking properties. Not only that, this is portable thanks the compact size so you can take it pretty much anywhere. According to the video below you can bake a 12 inch pizza in just over 90 seconds thanks to an internal temperature of 932 degrees farenhite (500c). The special burner enables the inside to heat up in around 15 minutes, which is really quite fast. The stone on the inside is a refractory stone, which is ideal to preserve and disperse heat through out the cooking chamber. Roccbox features spatial insulation materials, and a silicone outer coating so you won´t get burned if you ever touch its surface. It comes with a wood burner, gas burner thermometer, a pizza peel and a recipe book. I love the part in the video where he is cooking a steak in a cast iron skillet in this thing. They reached funding on Indigogo so this thing is available for order in a handful of countries including the USA.

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The Twelve Cocktails of Christmas.

It’s Friday the thirteenth, and twelve days until Christmas. What better way to tell your superstitious fears to take a hike, than by having a cocktail! There are twelve cocktail recipes on the image below. Some are easy, some are a bit more involved. All of them are doable. All of them are tasty. So, Mix them up, drink them down, and have some holiday cheer.

Sorry about the image size. It’s fairly large so you can actually read the tiny type on it.

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Behold the Meaty Goodness! Salami Notes for Memory Keeping.

There is something ridiculously great about “Salami Notes“. Why use a simple Post It note when you can peel off a slice of meaty goodness, scrawl your message and leave behind the tasty morsel.

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Hiop Salami Notes are the “Gourmet Memo” according to the label and package, which is designed to look like a tasty Italian cured meat product covered in rind and wrapped in  string. I know what I’ll be getting people for Christmas.

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Man Make Fire, Man Cook Meat.

Summer means grilling steaks outside. I should clarify that. Summer means grilling steaks outside for me until it gets to damn hot. Then I retreat to the cool air-conditioned environment I’ve become accustomed to. The thing is, I like grilled steak. I just hate the idea of using an indoor smokeless grill. There is a solution though, SteakStones.

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SteakStones are very good looking slab that is designed to make cooking the steak both entertaining and impart flavor to what ever you are grilling. Think of them as a portable teppanyaki table for your home. The Steakstone slab gets heated in the oven, and then retains it’s cooking heat for up to 30 minutes, which is more than enough time to prepare any number of meat or vegetable dishes on it. Sizes range from small for individual portions to extra large for grilling several steaks at once.

Star Spangled Spatulas.

Everyone needs a “Star Spangled Spatula” on the Fourth of July. What better way to say “Happy Birthday America” than charing Old Glory into a meaty beef patty.This also goes on my want list. I love the stainless steel and wood version. It just makes me feel all manly, and American. Man make fire, man grill meat, man salute flag.

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Areaware is selling these American beauties in both stainless steel, and nylon. Designed by Jacob Riley-Wasserman who grew up in rural Greenwich, New Jersey, these spatulas reflect his large imagination which has been refined by advanced education from Rhode Island School of Design, and NYU.

“Hand fabricated by one of the oldest and most-respected cutlery manufacturer in the United States using energy harvested from Massachusetts’ Deerfield River, this spatula pays homage to the USA’s stars and stripes, as well as our country’s love affair with outdoor grilling. Crafted of solid walnut and stainless steel, the Star Spangled Spatula’s use of quality materials, along with its patriotic vernacular, make it a pop design classic. It is perfect for any backyard barbecue and will last a lifetime”.

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Taco Republic Truck. Follow and Go Get Your Taco On.

Sometimes you go to lunch and you  get lunch. Other times you go to lunch and you get something you want to shout about. Today, I got the shout about lunch. I want to give a hat tip to Bread and Butter Concepts, Brad Gilmore, and the folks running the Taco Republic truck that is serving up tasty good street tacos around Kansas City.

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If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to give them a shot. It’s seriously good. You can find out where the truck is going to be by following them on Twitter, and if you wait just a few more weeks you’ll be able to go to the physical restaurant they are opening in Mission at the corner of County Line Road and Mission Road, across from Oklahoma Joe’s.