Here we are into September already and they’re telling us in the big city media summer is unofficially over the day after Labor Day and the smells of summer are wafting their last. And I’m thinking here of charcoal briquettes.
I’ve always thought of grilling out to be a guy thing. At least that’s the way it seems to typically turn out. Whenever there’s a get-together in the backyard and the charcoal gets going, somebody brings out a platter of raw meat and all the guys gravitate over to the barbecue grill. And speaking of charcoal, we get the kind that lights instantly.
I used to use lighter fluid but never could get it quite right on the first go. Usually, there would be too little at first, and then you have to coax it along with a few extra squirts. Followed by more extra squirts. And then it can get scary. Not scary like when I’m driving and the check engine light suddenly comes on halfway to Magdalena and I expect the car’s engine to explode if I don’t pull over right then and there and turn it off. No, scary like a ball of fire resembling the Trinity test whooshing up like a mushroom cloud and singing my eyebrows. It happened to me one time. Well, maybe two or three or ten times.
Anyway, so the guys all congregate around the Weber grill, maybe sipping on a can of beer, and discussing all the tricks and wrist-actions they use to cook the best steak or chicken or burgers. Sometimes disagreements ensue. What can I say? It’s a guy thing.
At this point, I’m reminded of the time I watched two guys compete to see who could grill the best green chile cheeseburger. It was 10 years ago at Bosque del Apache that a celebrity chef named Bobby Flay challenged the Buckhorn’s Bob Olguin to a green chile cheeseburger “throwdown” for his TV show. It was a cook-off to beat all cook-offs.
Flay is one of those world-famous New York chefs who’s the star of his own cable show.
Olguin, on the other hand, is a local San Antonio boy who ran that little restaurant. He would get up early every morning to slap ground beef patties together by hand for all the burgers he expected to cook that day.
The grills – supplied by the TV show – were fired up and the two Bobbys went to work. Now, if you ever had the good sense to take the short drive down to San Antonio to sample the burgers at The Buckhorn (or The Owl for that matter), I don’t have to tell you how this all came out. There was one judge from the New Mexico Chile Institute at NMSU in Las Cruces, and the other one was the owner and operator of Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen in Santa Fe. These people obviously knew their green chile and especially knew how a green chile cheeseburger should taste. As a matter of fact, the first green chile I ever tasted was on huevos rancheros at Maria’s when I lived in Santa Fe.
But I digress.
It was really no contest with the Buckhorn coming out on top for all the world to see on the Food Channel. After the judging was over both Bobby's kept cooking, making enough burgers to feed the crowd of 50 or 60 locals that came to watch the taping. Most of the crowd chose the burger they knew best, but I was curious and had the infamous Bobby Flay burger. It was OK, but what the heck was that French dressing doing on that burger? Is that the way New Yorkers like it?
It’s been something like nine months since Mr. Olguin shut the doors on his landmark eatery, but wouldn't you know it, the Buckhorn is coming back to life under the expert tutelage of someone who knows his green chile burgers, Ernie Sichler. The “closed for renovations” sign has come down and according to all reports, the reopening last week was a resounding success.
But I again digress.
Even though the daily highs are still in the nineties, according to the pundits and powers that be in the media that set the rules, you should be thinking summertime is over. No more grilling out until Memorial Day (I’m not sure if the rule about not wearing white still holds true.) But no matter, being the rebels that we are, at my house we will still be cooking out even if there’s snow on the ground and the wind doesn’t pick up too much.
At any rate, September is shaping up to be a good month with lots to do. But whatever you do, don’t forget your Abuela this Sunday. It’s Grandmother’s Day. Yet another reason to do some grilling!