Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grilling Dreams

ew York City does not generally conjure up images of backyard grilling. It does however make people think of closet-sized apartments, rampant pests, quirky neighbors and building supers.  Those familiar with Brooklyn, however, know about the Brownstone culture with the cozy backyards.  Someone always knows someone with a garden apartment with a grill out back.  It's how we do Memorial Day BBQs.

Yours truly has been dreaming about how to make use of some potentially upcoming deck space.  Not a yard, but we do what we gotta do here!  A grill seems like the first order of business, so I got to the research.  Those who are into grilling know the age-old argument:  Gas or charcoal?  Gas lovers cite the same tasting food with the added convenience of "instant on" and "easy off."  Corner them and they'll tell you the coal-grilled food tastes like lighter fluid.  The charcoal crowd says the taste difference is absolutely extraordinary, and who cares about the time it takes to get started.  You might even get a lecture on how solid fuel has been serving mankind since before recorded history.  Passions run high.

Don't look for this on your Weber.
Not to sound wishy-washy, but I agree with both points.  There's a time and a place for gas and a time and a place for charcoal.  But getting two grills seems like a waste of precious space.  The average price per square foot in some Brooklyn neighborhoods runs into the $700s range, so every bloody inch of space counts.  "What about a grill that can do both - does anyone make those?" I pondered.  Holy shit, do they ever!

There's two that I found - some shitty looking contraption on Amazon and then the Kalamazoo Hybrid grills. The thing on Amazon looks like an interesting way to set your home on fire.  The Kalamazoo looks amazing!  The base model Kalamazoo is a simple grill that has gas burners under a solid fuel drawer.  Want gas?  Keep the drawer empty and turn on the gas.  Want charcoal?  Load the drawer with charcoal....then turn on the gas - no lighter fluid required!  When the coals are lit, turn off the gas, and voila.  Beyond charcoal, you can also load up the drawer with wood.  It's brilliant!



Is that all?  No. The grill comes with a built-in rotisserie system with two independent burners.  On a lot of grills something like that is an option, but On Kalamazoo it's standard.  Because rotisserie cooking is awesome.  A flip-up warming rack also comes standard.

Two 16,000 BTU side burners.
In the way of accessories, there's some other cool options.  A smoker can be built-in, but you have to decide you want that upon order (grills are built to order).  It's a separate unit with two vents to control the oxygen and the amount of smoke drawn into the grill.  The independent heat source makes it a real smoker, not something that has to smolder within a hot grill.  At time of order, you can also get two 16,000 BTU side burners, so the whole meal can be done in one place.  And then there's the grilling surface itself.  Coming standard is your typical bar-style grill grate.  Optional extras include a laser-cut meat surface, vegetable surface, fish surface.  Choose a different surface for each side.  Design your own surface if you like.  The grill grates are pricey (would be nice if they were included) but unlike the smoker you can order them at any time.  They're also cut from 1/4" steel and polished.
Custom surface options - vegetable, fish, meat (from left to right)
laser cut from 1/4" stainless steel.
Ok, so perhaps there's one drawback:  It's the price of a car.  On the other hand:
  • By NYC standards, two burners & a grill is essentially an entire kitchen.  And the price isn't bad compared to installing a new kitchen in NYC.
  • Grilling is healthier for you.  A healthy life is worth the price of a car.
  • Even if you're bankrupt, you can still find small branches to burn and cook with.  Just beware of the Parks Department, they can get kinda nasty.
  • It's cheaper than buying two grills separately. It saves more room than two separate grills.
  • It's handcrafted to order in the US. And I mean handcrafted with 38 feet of hand welding with weld polishing, and construction with hand wrenches.  You're helping to employ someone.
  • Anyone in their right mind would prefer a grill over a car anyway.
  • It's the only decent hybrid grill you will find.

So at the end of the day, if you're gonna dream grills, why not dream big.

--A