What’s Your Region, Part 2

February 15, 2011

Last week, we got up close and personal with three of our VIP bloggers and today we’re back with another group discussing what makes grilling in their hometowns so special.

First of all, would you mind providing a brief description of you and your blog?

Melanie Yunk of Fieryfoods.com

Melanie Yunk, (soon to launch) The Burn! Blog: I’m the Editor of The Burn! Blog where I offer Burn! Magazine previews, grilling articles, tips, food and kitchen gadget reviews. As a professional sauce and rub maker, I’m passionate about food, especially anything that comes from the grill. My specialty is healthy, all natural foods that help families make gourmet meals any day of the week.

Robyn Medlin of grillgrrl

Robyn Medlin, Grill Grrrl: As the “grill grrrl” behind grillgrrrl.com, my focus is on healthy, simple and creative recipes on the grill. I encourage women to learn to grill as it a great way to create healthy, flavorful dishes without all the fuss and clean up in the kitchen.  I hold quarterly “Women’s Grilling Clinics” as a way to encourage women to not be intimated by the grill and learn new recipes to try out on friends and family. Blogging from South Florida gives my recipes a tropical, island flare at times.

John Dawson of Patio Daddio BBQ

John Dawson of Patio Daddio BBQ: I am a Christian, a husband, the father of three young girls, a USAF veteran, and an amateur cook living in Boise, Idaho.

By day I am a senior software engineer specializing in web user interfaces.  I am a member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) and I’ve been competing in barbeque competitions since 2006 under the name “Patio Daddio BBQ”, thus the blog name.

As for cooking in general, my passion is good, hearty rustic food. I often say that life is too short to eat mediocre food.  It may sound corny, but food to me is a way of giving a little of myself to those I cook for.  It’s a gift on a plate.  There are few things in life more intimate than sharing a meal.  I am also an artist, so cooking is a natural creative outlet for me.  This blog is just an extension of that same outlet.

What part of the country do you reside in?

Patio Daddio: Boise is on the western edge of the Rockies in a region called “the Intermountain West.”

The Burn Blog: San Carlos, CA – 20 miles south of San Francisco (northern California), and our corporate offices are located in Albuquerque, NM.

Grill Grrrl: I live in Sunny South Florida where I am blessed with great grilling weather year round!

As we discussed last week, regions play such an important part in barbecue and grilling. What techniques, ingredients or flavor profiles would you say set your neck of the woods apart from the crowd?

Patio Daddio: This area doesn’t really have any specific regional dishes or flavors. We are a lot like the Midwest in that respect. The food is an amalgamation of influences from all over. We have large Basque and Latino communities, so those influences are prominent.

If I had to try to identify significant ingredients I would probably list fish like trout and salmon, potatoes (of course), and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We also have a great budding wine industry.

The Burn Blog: Californians are lucky enough to experience the freshest in meats and vegetables. Although you can find many styles of barbecue in our state, I believe our unique grilling style includes simply seasoned, lean meats, poultry and fish, cooked over charcoal, of course. Locally-grown herbs like rosemary and sage, along with garlic from the World’s Garlic Capitol in Gilroy, flavored vinegars and olive oils add unique flavors, along with interesting fruity, spicy and gourmet sauces for finishing.

Grill Grrrl: South Florida is a melting pot of cultures and their culinary influence. Shopping in the grocery stores down here will expose you to Cuban, South American, Caribbean and tropical influence you wouldn’t find elsewhere. Going to the Latin markets down in South Florida is always an adventure for me because I get to see cuts of meat I am not familiar with and experiment with them on the grill.

Any signature regional dishes in your bag of grilling tricks?

Patio Daddio: I’d offer my Slammin’ Salmon and The M.O.A.B. as my current signature regional dishes.

The Burn Blog: I like to grill locally-grown pork chops from Hidden Villa Farms in Los Altos, CA. The farm was opened in 1925 to educate children about the source of their food and is still an operating farm today.  As a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member, we receive a weekly basket of veggies fresh from the farm and receive invitations to purchase freshly butchered meats several times a year.  I marinate their pork in my special blend of sea salt, rosemary, sage, and tarragon and then grill it over Kingsford charcoal.  Veggies are lightly brushed with olive oils and then sprinkled with sea salt and grilled.  My favorite grilled veggie is asparagus.

Grill Grrrl: South Florida is infamous for “smoked fish dip.” This recipe single handedly gets the most hits on my blog. This dip is made from smoked marlin or kingfish and is quite addicting with the addition of old bay, cream cheese and jalapenos!  Another quite popular recipe is Bimini Bread French Toast that I make on the grill.  As Bimini, Bahamas is only 50 miles from Fort Lauderdale, the bread is very popular in S. Florida as well.  I marinate the French toast in another popular staple, RUM!

Are there any other regional tastes you tend to rely heavily on or are considered your favorites?

Patio Daddio: No, not really.  I’ve lived in various places where I’ve picked up a lot of favorites.  I try to bring them all to bear in my cooking.

The Burn Blog: Organic free-range chicken any local seafood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list.

Grill Grrrl: One go to favorite is the Latin “Mojo Criollo” sauce that is a quick and easy  marinade for chicken or just about anything you put it in. It is made of garlic, oregano, citrus juice, and onion and makes everything good without a lot of fuss. In addition, mango trees are in abundance in South Florida so I usually incorporate mangos into my dishes. One of my favorite desserts is Mango Cobbler that I bake on the grill.

Finally, are there any regions or particular specialties you’ve always wanted to try in person or perhaps even try your own hand at making?

Patio Daddio: For me, urges and interests come and go.  Lately I’ve been interested in exploring non-traditional types of barbecue like South American, Korean, Hawaiian, and others.

The Burn Blog: My dream is to roast a whole goat in a pit.  As a child, my best friend’s uncle was a butcher.  He would butcher a goat and roast it overnight in an underground pit in his backyard.  He would shred the meat and bring it to the kitchen where my friend and I would place the meat in corn tortillas and then fry them (in lard, oh my).  We’d make 100s of tacos for the whole neighborhood.  I’ve craved that taste for years and would like to recreate that recipe once again.

Grill Grrrl: The Cubans have a special grill they use to smoke pigs and other meats called the Caja China (literal translation- Chinese Box). It is essentially a big roaster box. I would like to give this a try sometime just because! Maybe one of these days some of my Cuban friends will invite me to one of their BBQs and I can get the whole hog experience.

- Clint Cantwell, Guest Editor

Related Topics: Blogger | California | Florida | Idaho | Midwest | South | Vip | West

User Guidelines