Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Latest Obsession wood grilled artichokes. I've been back out on the road a lot lately. Fairly recently I was up in the Santa Ynez Valley staying on the outskirts of Solvang. If you saw the film "Sideways" you will recognize the familiar yellow sign outside The Hitching Post II in Buelton.

Sideways mania has calmed down considerably. So, I did my usual thing and walked in with a book and found a seat at the bar (kind of like Miles and Jack).

Now, when you pull into the parking lot you'll immediately smell the oak wood fire going outside. Very Central Coast. When you order it might take some time, not because the service is bad but because what they cook there takes time. I always try to read, but then I always wind up in interesting conversations with smart people at the bar. Oh well, I'll read in my hotel room.

This time I ordered two small plates. A grilled quail (please forgive me) and an incredible grilled artichoke which really set the bar for me.

There is also a place close to where I live that does an excellent job: Salt Creek Grille in El Segundo. Now comes the wierd part; they only have four locations, two in New Jersey and two in California. When I come in I don't even have to order because the bartender is going to set down my drink and and send back a ticket for an artichoke. Still more wierd, he and I both grew up in the same small town, Babylon, Long Island. He even showed me his driver's license. I'm a scrappy little Irish f*** but Patrick is a big one. He's a guy I would want to have my back. So I'm glad to have him as a friend.

Oh, yes and their artichokes are great although they do them over a gas grill but season them with liquid smoke. This is what scrappy little Irish effing cooks do, make friends and ferret out critical information.

So now I'm cooking them myself. I'm doing okay I think, and with a couple of more practice sessions this summer I will have it down. And hopefully a recipe will go out in the not so distant future.

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