We moved to the East Coast a couple of years ago, after more than a decade spent in sunny Southern California, and arrived at the end of August, just in time to catch the tail end of a very hot and humid summer.
Relocating from a California home into a Brooklyn house has been quite an adjustment (read “shock”) for all of us, dog included, but now that a few seasons have passed I can honestly say it feels we have settled down, at least for the moment.
We have left behind our pizza oven and a gargantuan barbecue that had more knobs and controls and pieces than anything I had ever seen before moving to America. I felt violated, especially when I realized there was no way I could have a pizza oven in the backyard of my new rental home. I never particularly cared for the spaceship barbecue, as I truly believe that once you have fire to cook on, you are set; there is no need for extreme accessorizing or overcomplicating the simplest way of cooking that a live fire is.
Los Angeles was a continuum of weekends dedicated to outdoor cooking, pool jumping and playing hide-and-seek in a climate that encouraged that lifestyle all year round. Brooklyn is a whole different beast. We now celebrate the arrival of spring and the end of summer with enthusiastic dinners with friends and neighbors. We do not miss our pizza oven too much, and we downgraded from the mega-BBQ monster to a small coal-powered grill that actually performs much better, does not need to be cleaned that often and can be moved around on the fly.
The East Coast’s temperate climate has given us back the seasons we missed so much while living in California, and has inspired a way of cooking that is more “calendar oriented.” This to say that finally, after a hibernation of a few months (this winter was a real s*^t), it was with immense pleasure that we dusted off our grill and started cooking outdoors again. Steaks, Pollo al Mattone, grilled vegetables, burgers … we have been cooking it all just in the last couple of weeks, and it has been great. We are already waiting for “corn season,” when we will add to the menu some sweet and delicious Long Island corn, some heirloom green tomatoes to char, and ripe apricots to grill and serve with fresh goat ricotta.
I know my family well, and by the time we are done celebrating the arrival of the warm weather, summer will be almost over. That will be another excuse to get friends and families together to honor the end of a great season with another few barbecue evenings.
For the sake of disclosure and transparency: I do need meat to survive, and I spent the winter grilling even during snowstorms. I just drank heavier and bolder wines that are great in winter, as opposed to an icy and fruity sangria.
Tune in to Extra Virgin tonight at 8pm ET to watch how Debi and Gabriele throw the ultimate BBQ and turn their backyard into a petting zoo!