These weren't just any meats or beers, though. They had meaning.
The beer was Anchor Steam. My favorite in the world. It's very good but I admit my lofty opinion of it comes from the fact that the first time I ever had it was on day one of our honeymoon, sitting on the rocks in Sausalito, California, looking out over the San Francisco Bay under a warm, orange, September afternoon sun.
The setting was picture-perfect. We'd landed in San Francisco, taken a cab to Sausalito, over the Golden Gate Bridge, off Redwood Highway, down the incredibly steep, winding roads that dropped into our honeymooners' refuge. We dropped our bags at Casa Madrona and immediately set out on food to find food and drink. Only a five minute walk down the street, we walked into a friendly little deli, selling everything from Italian meats to Dom Perignon. We grabbed a fresh and particularly tasty looking antipasto bean and olive salad - lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar - and our Anchor Steam suds, and started off our vacation in what was, to us, the perfect way. I tell you all these things just to relay a piece of the wonderful thoughts and feelings that flooded my senses when I opened the fridge and saw that beer sitting there, waiting to be found.
My two meat gifts were a small piece of brisket (2.5 lbs) and a beautifully filleted rainbow trout.
Minutes after finding them, I emerged from the basement, grunting and groaning as I singlehandedly carried up my red Brinkmann smoker. This would be only the second time it had been used since being purchased. Its first use - smoked pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches - was lackluster at best, so I was appreciative that Elizabeth wanted me to make another attempt.
The brisket tasted pretty amateurish. It lacked the smoky flavor I'm used to and didn't seem to be as tender as it should have been. Once sliced and piled on a bun with Gate's barbecue sauce, we were fine with the results, but had a hard time not being a little disappointed since we couldn't keep from comparing it, mentally, to the great brisket we're used to getting in this city. I guess I'll have to keep working at it.
Theories on the sub-par brisket:
- New smoker - hasn't built up enough use to impart super-smoky flavor
- Low-grade hickory (Best Choice chunks from a bag I got at Sun Fresh)
- Small piece of meat = shorter cooking time. Less time to impart smoky flavor
- Large opening around the lid of the smoker letting out too much smoke. Need to try sealing it off with foil
Or, I can just stick to trout.
Thanks, B, for the wonderful gifts. You are gift enough.