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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Death of a barbecue

  Recently, my barbecue grill got to the point where the grease shield rusted completely through.  It also seemed to be cooking too hot.  I found myself mulling over whether to keep it or not, and what to replace it with.  This was shortly after having a picnic with friends at a local state park, where I did some open pit charcoal grilling for the first time in some time.

  Faced with the prospect of spending $50+ on replacement parts, I decided it was at the end of its useful lifespan.  I decommissioned it - pulled out all the screws, bent the legs in, and got it to fit in our large trash can for the regular pickup.  While I like to try to get things to last, I didn't feel too bad about it this time around.  I had purchased it secondhand at a thrift store for only $10 perhaps 4 years ago.  I remember that I had to do some very thorough cleaning with a wire brush, and lots of scrubbing with detergent to get it to work adequately initially.

  I had primarily used charcoal until about 10 years ago, probably because my Dad cooked with it.  When someone mentioned grilling, I thought of charcoal.  However, charcoal can take a while to get going, and so when I saw the used gas grill at a thrift store a few years back, I grabbed it.  I figured that if I just wanted to grill a small amount of meat quickly, I could probably finish using the propane grill in the amount of time it would take for charcoal to even be ready to start.  This worked ok until lately, when the grill was running too hot, even on the lowest setting.  The meat was often dry, stringy, and with a very burnt taste.

  I enjoy the occasional grilling on a fair weather day even in the middle of winter.  Although I'm sure I can go a month or two without it, I'm also positive that I'll find myself missing the ability to barbecue at home sooner rather than later.

  That's why I have posted the current poll: I can't make up my mind on what to buy as a replacement!  There are a lot of places having clearance sales on grills right now.  For the most part, I am unimpressed by the strength of the metal sidewalls.  In one store, I pressed on the side of a $160 grill with my thumb, and saw a dent result!  Crazy - my $10 thrift store grill was more sturdy than that.

  Anyway, please vote for your personal preference in our poll.  Also, if you have a specific model you'd like to recommend, I'd appreciate an email on why you think it is the best grilling solution out there.  You could also submit your thoughts on the topic here as a followup to this post if you'd like.


Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dayton Gems First Home Game Hara Arena

  I just went to the first home game (technically an exhibition) for the Dayton Gems hockey 2010-2011 season at Hara Arena. Had a great time! While the Gems lost to the Fort Wayne Komets in their first away game a couple of days ago, they really came back to beat them tonight, 6 to 1. There were plenty of fights, and if you enjoy watching folks get smashed really hard into glass about 2 feet in front of your face, you wouldn't have gone home disappointed. There were about 350-400 people in attendance. I would have thought more folks would have showed up, since it was only $5 for the night, or half the regular ticket price. Also, there was no $5 parking fee. I have to say, I think it is a big mistake for Hara to charge this fee, which will make the true cost of 1 person going to a game there $15. $7-$10 or so would be a lot more reasonable, and would get many more folks in the door regularly, buying food and other items. A parking fee just convinces a lot more folks to stay home.

  Here's a photo of the Gems mascot Blade. My wife thinks that they should have gone with something like a miner with a pickaxe and a bag of gems hanging from his belt. I agree - fuzzy tiger seems a bit out of place. Maybe it will grow on us. I have to admit I enjoyed the decent number of fights during the game. However, Fort Wayne's #23 went overboard. I've NEVER seen a player hold his stick up with both hands, then use it to come down hard on the back of the neck of an opposing player who was skating away from him. Although the refs missed it, I certainly wasn't the only one to see it, so I wasn't surprised to see several Dayton players do a group body slam of #23 against the wall as payback afterwards.

  I suppose I should mention something at least peripherally food related here on this entry, so here you go. At the Hara food service court, we got what they called a "Polish Sausage", a root beer, and nachos with cheese & salsa. Total cost was about $12. I really thought they made a mistake and gave me a hot dog - because it looked just like a hot dog. However, the lady assured me that the hot dogs were much smaller, so I guess I got the right item. It tasted good enough, but I think I would have preferred a mettwurst or bratwurst. It would be nice to have a few more choices. Root Beer was decent and nothing unexpected. Nachos were another thing altogether - a big disappointment. We thought they might be stale at first, but perhaps the chips were just a different texture than we expected. The real issue though was the cheese sauce - very bland, and reminded me of a huge can I bought once at a "big box store". Now that store may no longer have the watered down stuff I once got there, but my huge can stayed in the fridge for months, only used a couple of times. This stuff was even worse than that. Really, Hara - people are paying 4 bucks for this stuff, and you need to have a better nacho cheese sauce, with at least a little flavor to it. Not necessarily spiciness - just good cheese flavor. The salsa was a little too spicy for me, but what is new on that front. It was nice to see a few chunky peppers and onions in there, however.

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining