Choosing a theme for our biannual Dining Guide was a little harder than usual this year. With the economy putting a damper on dining out, even the most freewheeling spenders are yielding to frugality.
It’s no surprise, then, that this back-to-basics mindset has permeated our everyday lifestyles, or that cooking at home is hotter than a table for six at the latest Jose Garces or Stephen Starr creation. (OK, maybe that’s not true, but it makes us feel better to think it is.)
Just because more and more of us are eating in, though, doesn’t mean we’re not pulling out all the stops—especially as the dog days of summer succumb to the comfortable early-fall evenings perfect for outdoor entertaining. As late as Labor Day, Ikea, Viking Culinary Center, Williams-Sonoma, Kitchen Kapers, Target and other retailers continue to tempt us with an enticing array of outdoor furniture, fire pits, grills, funky serving pieces and tableware. Throw in a plethora of specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, seafood shops and state stores (some with Sunday hours), and putting together a fabulous cookout is easier than ever.
Due, in part, to an unusual wet and chilly June, summer may feel like it’s blown right by. Regardless, there’s still plenty of time to test-drive the delicious recipes we’ve collected here (thanks to all the chefs who took the time to make their secret formulas user-friendly for us amateurs). You might want to tackle Cuba Libre concept chef Guillermo Pernot’s Ensalada de Piñaw or acclaimed cookbook author Andrew Schloss’ surprisingly simple grilled glazed doughnuts with chocolate espresso dunk. We’ve also found some nifty gadgets and grilling gear that shouldn’t set you back.
So, whether you’re a meat eater, fish lover, veggie freak or the “Who needs dinner—where’s dessert?” type, our “Thrill of the Grill” package should keep you busy—and your guests in awe—well into football season and, if Mother Nature cooperates, through Thanksgiving. (I grilled two 18-pound turkeys a few years back—one on a Weber over woodchips, the other on a gas grill. The meat was juicy, and leftovers scarce.)
For more great recipes, click here—and join the movement to keep summer alive until Christmas.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Main Line Today contributor Lincoln Adams’ work (right) for November 2008’s End of the Line column was selected for the prestigious Illustration West 47 Competition, an annual contest juried by renowned artists and art directors. The piece was displayed this spring as part of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles exhibition at Gallery Nucleus. To see more of Adams’ work, visit lincolnadamsillustration.com.