The Hampton Smoker

What's up wtih what's going down? Does a tree falling on the ocean with no one around make a sound? Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-b-que. It's all in how you sell it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This Perfect World

Last Friday was my last day at the old job and I have another week and a half before the new one starts. I've made a pact with myself to eat like there's no tomorrow until then. My stomach will set the limits. It has already spoken. Owch. Maybe that pint of Karamel Sutra in the middle of the night was a mistake-- or was it the pork kabob I bought from the Dominican Lady in the park? I should've known that food cooked on top of a shopping cart was a problem. Anywho....

Pictures are below all this text, but here's the news-- Amy and I just got back from a few days in East Hampton-- we cooked up a 10 pound pork picnic shoulder, about 8 pounds of chicken thighs and 3 racks of loin back ribs. I usually prefer spare ribs, but these were darn good. We had alot going on, so I relied on Kingsford for much of the day, and threw in some chunks of wood-- splitting wood is fun, but I know if I ever ran a joint, I would learn to hate it.

The night before we left, we made a pizza with dough that was given to us by the nice fella at Belladonna pizzeria in our neighborhood-- great dough! Earlier that afternoon, my brother and I had brats and smoked sausage from Karl Ehmer's on Fresh Pond Road-- bravo! The sausage was smokey and rich, almost like a truly superior hot dog-- which doesn't seem like I'm doing it justice, but it was delish. The brats were aromatic and juicy with a nice hint of allspice. There's a reason their slogan is "Best of the Wurst." Finally, right before we left town, I begged Amy to go to East Lake in Flushing for dim sum and I'm glad we did. We got there early around 10:30 or so and the place was virtually empty-- but everything was fresh and lively. Check them out at the corner of Main St and Franklin in Flushing.

Now a barrage of pics!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Us

Well, a year has blown past us too fast. Sept 18 one year ago, at 10 am, I was pacing on the front porch of my parents' house in East Hampton as the last gasp of Hurricane Ivan began cracking open the skies. My wedding caterer (and friend), Rob Richter from Big Island Barbeque was across the street with Barry and Mr. Cutlets, cooking through the rain; my friends and family were yet to arrive. To their tremendous credit, the only thing that the guys from Big Island asked for was some dry towels. With no complaints and no worries, they made me feel alot better. Then the power went out. I knew the liquor had already been delivered and had absolute faith in the food being ready on time. The judge (my aunt, Alice) was accounted for. Running through the checklist in my mind and knowing those essentials were in place, a sense of calm washed over me. I knew we were doing this no matter what.

About two hours later, my best man (and best friend) Greg showed up with his gal, Michelle, and soon after, the rain stopped, the wind stopped and the sun came out. As if on cue, the phone started ringing and the power started up again. The messages were pouring in-- roads are washed out, trees are down, but we're on our way. This was an encouraging sign. Thanks, Greg.

Well, by 4:30, the rain had prety much dried up, and people were in place for the ceremony to begin, and we never looked back.

She has no idea I'm doing this post, but I want my wife to know how I feel, although I tell her everyday. Putting this out in public makes it feel more substantial, as it did when I recited my vows to her a year ago. She is my anchor and my hope, my greatest supporter and biggest fan. She is nicer to me than anyone has ever been before in my life, and understands me in ways that are astonishing. I do my best everyday to honor her and make her feel the way she makes me feel. She is an incalcuable asset, an invaluable find-- a compass to a lost soul. I will always be grateful.
C'mon, isn't it time for drinks already?

When can WE eat at these beautiful tables?

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

He's Having A Baby

I just got off the phone with the friendly folks at BBQ Pits by Klose and they told me that my due date is only 2.5 weeks away. I'm as antsy as the most nervous dad you've ever seen pacing the waiting room floor. I have to get some cigars!

It'll take a little while in shipping, but I'm ready to burst. I hope you all can make it over to eat once I get it burned in and packed up with vittles.

I ordered a modified version of the Backyard Chef Model. It has a 48-inch-wide cooking chamber, a half-inch thick firebox (to help hold in the heat and conserve fuel in the colder months), a gas-assist (to let me cook over charcoal, wood, and/or gas-- and to allow me to get some sleep on overnight cooks), and a few other options.

No Corinthian Leather, but aint she a beauty?

Look at all that leg room

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Help Me Get My Feet Back On The Ground

Just a note to encourage you all to contribute something to the disaster relief in the gulf, whether it's a canned good, an old jacket, or a bottle of water. At this point, anything will help someone.

I'd like to suggest two worthy charities, but there's an excellent list at CNN's web site.

Second Harvest is a direct way to get food and water to people that need it. And the ASPCA is scrambling to help all of the animals that were left without their families to care for them.

If neither of these appeal to you, please take a moment to review the list on CNN.Com.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

I'm A Native New Yawkah

Added some new links that I wanted to bring to your attention. Also, at some point in the near future (how do you define near?), I plan to organize the links, clear out the dead wood and put things into an order that makes sense and is easier to sift through.

1st up is the delightful Mona's Apple, which features reviews of NYC restaurants with personality and wit-- written by a self-described "poor girl,"-- well, Mona, you may be cash poor, but you're rich on style.

2nd is Mona's Restaurant Index, which groups restaurant info by neighborhood and cuisine. Clever and handy.

Buon appetito.

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Crazy for 'Cue Pictures


Here are two pics generously sent by Enid Alvarez the photographer that took the pictures for the Daily News Article. She was a real trooper, working patiently with us, braving the on-and-off rain of that evening, and joining in some 'que and brew on the streets of Queens. Please visit her site, check out her work and tell her that The Hampton Smoker of Ridgewood, Queens and East Hampton says thanks!

The picture that ran with the article

The Backyard Chef with Peach-Smoked Chicken

Photos Courtesy Enid Alvarez

I also went to send a huge thank you to Rachel Wharton who wrote the article. I was very flattered by what she wrote and appreciate the time she put into that piece. You are welcome at our table any time, Rachel and Enid.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Define A Transparent Dream

September 11th again. Too many feelings fill the cup of my heart to know where to begin to describe them. This is one of the few memories in my life that exists as more than a snapshot, but comes complete with the visceral shiver of exactitude in recalling the place, feeling, color of the moments that comprise it. I can remember the frantic phone calls, the shock, the anger, it all comes back. I had to turn away from watching the ceremony this morning. I'm sorry to the families, the city, the country, even the people of middle eastern backgrounds that have been tormented. Life continues somehow. Time doesn't diminish the importance of the day or help to make sense of what has happened.

With that in mind, and with no disrespect for the magnitude of this day, I'm posting a few food photos that have been hanging around and a poem. I don't know what to do other than continue to live. I hope you all give each other a big hug today and always remember to be grateful for all we have, and don't forget to tell the people in your lives that matter most how you feel about them every chance you get. This is all we have.

Love, Matt.

Below is a poem by former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins, that fits my mood today. It is from the book, Nine Horses, published by Random House.


These are no pages for the young,
who are better off in one another's arms,

nor for those who just need to know
about the price of gold,
or a hurricane that is ripping up the keys.

But eventually you may join
the crowd who turn here first to see
who has fallen in the night,
who has left a shape of air walking in their place.

Here is where the final cards are shown,
the age, the cause, the plaque of deeds,
and sometimes and odd scrap of news--
that she collected sugar bowls,
that he played solitaire without any clothes.

And all the survivors huddle at the end
under the roof of the paragraph
as if they had sidestepped the flame of death.

What better way to place a thin black frame
around things of the morning--
the hand-painted cup,
the hemisphere of a cut orange,
the slant of sunlight on the table?

And sometimes a most peculiar pair turns up,
strange roommates lying there
side by side upon the page--
Arthur Godfrey next to Man Ray,
Ken Kesey by the side of Dale Evans.

It is enough to bring to mind an ark of death,
not the couples of the animal kingdom,
but rather pairs of men and women
ascending the gangplank two by two,

surgeon and model,
balloonist and metalworker,
an archaeologist and an authority on pain.

Arm in arm, they get on board
then join the others leaning on the rails,
all saved at last from the awful flood of life--

so many of them every day
there would have to be many arks,
an armada to ferry the dead
over the heavy waters that roll beyond the world,

and many Noahs too,
bearded and fiercely browed, vigilant up there at every prow.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Welcome to the Working Week

Welcome back, everyone. I hope you had a relaxing long weekend. The weather was right for it.

The article in which we were featured ran in the Daily News on Sunday. It was called Crazy for 'Cue and should be accessed by clicking the title, but if you have problems with that, cut and paste this into your browser: Our photo isn't there, but the article is. I'll try and get the image scanned and posted soon.

Anywho, we wound up staying around the city after all, but that didn't stop us from cooking up a storm and making the most of it all. Saturday, we power walked the neighborhood as the first step in a potentially misguided plan to get in shape. The best part was finding a brand new supermarket that is about 5 minutes from our apartment. Amy was dismayed, however, that in the middle of our exercise routine, I power walked to the buther counter and picked up two super-fatty corned beef points. She seemed to think that it ran counter to our mission. Go figure.

Saturday night, we went to the Stain Wine Bar in Williamsburg and watched our friend Inyang Bassey sing with her band The Ex-Caminos outside in the back patio. Great night for it. Their sound is an awesome mix of soul, reggae, funk and blues, put together with outstanding musicianship and chemsitry. Check them out when you can. There are sound samples on their site, too.

Sunday, I took those corned beef points and rubbed them up with a black pepper, szechuan pepper and coriander crust, smoked them on the stovetop over oak, hickory and cherry dust, then wrapped them in foil and baked them in the oven for about 2.5 hours at 250 to make my first pastrami ever. It was awesome, though next time, I'll definitely soak the corned beef-- it was a bit salty, and I'm torn, but think I'll trim the fat a little, though it pains me to say that. It was delish, though, and I ate nearly two pounds of it with my brother, as we stood over the steaming meat fresh from the oven vowing, "one more slice, and then that's it, for real." This, of course, was followed by more vows that, "now, this is really the last slice," and so on.

Pastrami prepped and ready for the smoker

Finished product which was "like buttah"

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