Archive | April, 2012

Partial Weber Delivery

14 Apr

Well, when I spoke to the guy at Weber and he told me they’d be sending us our replacement parts, I believe he gave me an estimate of 7-10 business days for delivery. But when Corinne came home for lunch friday, our new grill grate was waiting at the door already! We haven’t gotten the other parts yet, but we’re only about 3 days into the 7-10 day window so I’m fine with that. For now I popped in our new grill and snapped a picture of its gleaming chrome surface in the sun, I think I captured the newness of it pretty well in this quick iphone pic!

 

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I’m contemplating holding on to our old grate for when we want to put a pizza stone or griddle or something on, because I think those might concentrate heat on the grilling surface and could potentially warp the new guy.

When we get the other parts delivered there will be a little disassembly required so at that point I’ll probably give the grill a thorough spring cleaning inside and out so he’s all tuned up for the summer. Speaking of which, we might only have about 16 bags of charcoal left in our stockpile… better keep an eye out for that sale!

 

In other Weber news I stopped in to Glen Head Hardware’s new Outdoor Living center, which is essential an entire Weber store, they have just about every possible Weber accessory you can imagine as well as a pretty extensive line of grills, both gas and charcoal. I think they also had either Wolf or Viking outdoor kitchen components built into a little masonry outdoor kitchen display in the showroom, that was pretty cool as well. While I do like Glen Head Hardware, and their sister store, Sea Cliff Hardware, they’re not exactly known for their low prices, as most local shops can’t compete with the big box stores like Home Dinko. So, I was pretty excited to see that it looks like they are charging the same price as Dinko and Amazon for the 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain that I’ve had my eye on (I have to confirm this to be sure, but I’m hoping I’m correct). I’d really prefer to give the money to a local store when possible, but at the same time it would be a tough pill to swallow to pay $100 premium for that, so it’s nice to be able to support the local guys AND get a good deal.

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Titus Eats: Seasons 52

13 Apr

Dining out and trying new restaurants are some of our favorite pastimes, so we’ve decided to add some local restaurant reviews to our blog! There’s a few fun, super local places we’ll write about soon, but our first one is about Seasons 52, now open in Garden City. It’s about a 15-25 minute drive from us, depending on the time of day.

Seasons 52 - Garden City

We first dined at a Seasons 52 while we were in Ft. Lauderdale for work back in 2008. It was recommended to us by one of the guys on our crew who lived down there. We really enjoyed it, and since it was a chain restaurant, I kept checking their webpage in hopes that one day it would open in NY.

You may wonder why I’d be so enthusiastic about a chain restaurant… Well, Seasons 52 is different. Despite being owned by the same restaurant group as the dreaded Olive Garden, Seasons 52 is all about healthy, local, and seasonal food. Everything on the menu is under 475 calories, the menu changes seasonally, and the specials change weekly (hence the 52). They also have a huge wine list, with many available by the glass. The NY outpost just opened at the end of March, and we had the pleasure of dining there this past Friday, and it did live up to my pleasant memory of the Ft. Lauderdale location!

We started with a Garlic Chicken Flatbread – they have several of these super-thin crusted pizza like breads from which to choose. Jer then had the soup of the day, which I believe was a chicken and vegetable. For dinner I had shrimp stuffed with roasted artichokes, with pearl pasta and spinach, and Jer had a rainbow trout. All the dishes where light, yet filling, with a ton of flavor. You would never suspect you were eating “healthy” food.

This is why I was so taken with the restaurant. They’re typically found attached to large malls, right along side similar places where one would go and not think twice about ordering a huge calorie-laden meal. Here, you can still rack up the calories, but it will pale in comparison to what you’d typically end up with at a “chain” restaurant (or any restaurant really). After dining at the one in FL, I literally said, “It would be so nice to have something like this in NY, it’s a really smart idea!” Four years later, we do!

The service was great too. We had a reservation and they went out of their way to make sure they addressed us by name. Our server was also very knowledgable about their wine, and was attentive to my food allergies, which was of course greatly appreciated!

As I mentioned they have an extensive wine list, from which I was able to order a glass of sustainable Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, while Jer ordered a local Blue Point Toasted Lager beer.

Since we’d had such a healthy meal, I gave in and ordered dessert… (admittedly it was hard to resist since they bring out a whole selection tray and put it right on your table!) They call their desserts “mini indulgences” and are served in shot glasses at about 200 calories each. I had the mini key lime pie, and it was the perfect size to complete the meal!

Highly recommended, and highly looking forward to going back and experiencing all of their difference seasonal offerings!


Weber Customer Service…

12 Apr

IS GREAT!

Last summer we had our Weber Performer Grill really cranking with some hardwood lump charcoal, and apparently we overdid it a bit because we actually melted part of the grill and warped the cooking grate! The temperature on the built-in thermometer was off the scale, so it was easily 700 degrees or more. This resulted in the little plastic bushings on the lid-holder dripping down the side of the grill pan!

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I emailed Weber customer service about the issue and they gave me an 800 number to call for warranty parts replacement.

Well, I finally got around to calling last night, and I must say it was a delight to talk to the person at Weber. First of all, there is no touch tone driven menu system, a real person in the United States, who actually works at Weber and knows their products, answers the phone. This alone is enough to put you in a good mood when calling a customer-service line. I explained my issue to the guy at Weber, and we both turned to the same page in the instruction manual so we could refer to the exploded parts diagram about which parts needed to be replaced. He told me that it was all covered under the warranty, they were sending out the parts free of charge, and we should expect to receive them in about a week.

After all the business was settled, I thanked him for his exceptional help and told him how much we love our grill and all the stuff we cook on it. We shot the breeze for about 5 minutes about different barbecues and grilling, and barbecuing ribs and stuff. We talked about how I was thinking about adding a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker to our outdoor cooking fleet, and he told me how his friend had just gotten one and how great it is, but to make sure I go for the bigger one if I plan to do large amounts of meat at once, which I had just mentioned. This wasn’t just salesmanship, it was a genuine conversation. It really was very refreshing to speak to someone at a company who was not just knowledgeable about the product, but actually enthusiastic as well!

There are lots of companies that make BBQs, you can see them all at Home Depot and other stores. A lot of them tend to be cheaper, but I don’t think that many of them actually make their products in the USA and stand behind them as much as Weber does. This company gets a big thumbs up from me.

I’ll probably do a little write-up and take some pictures when the parts arrive and I install them, so stay tuned for that.

Inspiration Trip

11 Apr

Jer and I recently got back from a week-long vacation with his family in the Bahamas! The trip was actually our first big getaway since purchasing our home over a year ago. It was absolutely wonderful to sit on the beach and relax, dine out at some great restaurants, and swim in the ocean (and pool). We even squeezed in some snorkeling and biking!

We stayed at the Paradise Island Beach Club, where Jer’s family are long-time owners of a timeshare. It’s very laid back, with an amazing beach, and two pools. It’s also pretty close to Atlantis.

While I’m not a big fan of Atlantis (too unparadise-like for a place called “Paradise Island”), it does have some nice design features. In particular, there is an area called Marina Village. It features a marina for yacht docking, some small shops and a couple of restaurants. It was here (during my first visit in 2007) where we first encountered some decking we were quite taken with.

The decking appears to be 6″ mahogany boards and is used on the porches outside some of the shops. Since we still haven’t totally decided what material we’re using on our deck (although mahogany is at the top of our list) we snapped some pics and I personally conducted the “barefoot test” to see how the wood felt underfoot. The surface felt quite smooth, and it looks like it’s aging nicely. We actually do have two mahogany samples at home in a 4″ board, and a 6″. We were leaning toward the 4″, but after seeing the pics, we are now considering the 6″.

We also saw similar wood in use at Dune, an awesome Jean-Georges restaurant, located at The Ocean Club, just down the beach from where we stayed. Looked great there too and can sort of be seen in the picture below!

While mahogany does sound like a pricey option, and it is, it is actually about half the price of  Trex and other popular composite decking, and looks a lot better. Another option would be cedar. While less expensive than mahogany, it’s not as hard and will not hold up to the elements as well. We do need to make this big decision soon. The framing is done, and after we have our next inspection, the decking is the next step toward finally completing this project!

App PREview: Moe’s Southwest Grill

9 Apr

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I download and poked around a new online ordering app for my default lunch spot, Moe’s. I haven’t actually tried to order with it yet but I guess it looks promising, and it seems relatively user friendly and as simple as possible.

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Just to be clear I would reserve this kind of app for desperate times, not for normal use. A few times I’ve gotten to Moe’s about a minute after an entire school bus of kids was unloaded from a field trip or something as now the line is out the door. This is when the app would come in handy because I could walk straight to the cash register and pick up my order without having to stand in line behind a bunch of teenagers too busy flirting with each other to get their burritos ordered.

I’ll post a followup once I try out the app, which I might do just to see how smooth it goes.

Flashy progress

7 Apr

We were back at it again today, but before that, let me show you how far we got yesterday. You can see in the picture of Corinne with the hand plane that we had a number of joists that were not completely tied in. We had not completed the rim joist around the whole deck and we had the one last joist to add as well. So finally we got the rim joist all tied in so the framing is essentially all done and it finally looks like a deck with no decking, not just a pile of warped boards.

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Now we have a better feel for the scale of it from inside the house and also the height from the far end relative to the ground is perhaps more than we anticipated when we designed it so we may be rethinking our full-width stair arrangement.

Today we got to work on the flashing, this is a copper backed membrane that keeps water from flowing in behind the ledger board and getting in to the rim board of the house. This redirects water that falls off the shingles out and over the ledger boards (by under the deck boards). The copper side is placed down because it is resistant to the pressure treated wood. Then there is a self sealing membrane layer and I think the other layer is vinyl. The self sealing layer is a sticky rubbery layer that seals the holes made when you nail through it with roofing nails.

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This stuff is actually very thin, like thick aluminum foil almost, so it is actually pretty pliable but it can wrinkle pretty easily as well. We taped it with the Tyvek tape to the Tyvek where we could so water would not flow behind the flashing itself. When the shingles are installed they will also be over the flashing to direct water out. Where the flashing wraps over the edge of the deck we kind of formed a drip edge so water will not run down the face of the boards and wick back under.
After that was all done and I felt like I had hit my thumb enough times we moved on to cutting down the big double 2X12 headers to match the joists. We had left them long initially so we could tweak things to fit and not come up short in the end. Overall not as productive as yesterday but we got some important stuff done and we’re almost at the point we can get our next inspection.

Good Fri-deck

6 Apr

We both have today off and it’s a beautiful day so we are back into it.
Deck building has officially commenced again!

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We dusted off the big level, and Corinne broke out the old hand plane, and we’re going at it. We hope to have the framing just about completed by the end of the day. It’s tough due to wood issues, (look for a post on that in the future) but we’re chugging along and making real progress. We had a to fight a few boards back to straight that had a warped a bit over the winter, but we’re doing it and this is the first step towards our self-imposed Memorial Day deadline.

Three-day Weekend Grill

5 Apr

We don’t have work tomorrow and it was a nice night so I fired up the grill and picked up a couple steaks and some Brussels sprouts and a head of iceberg lettuce for a little steakhouse style home made dinner.

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Check out hose grill marks!
I got some nice tenderloins, which are almost, but not quite filet mignon, and I grilled them up, exercising as much restraint as I could to try to produce a medium rare steak for Corinne. She says I pulled it off! First off I made a simple wedge salad that we had while the sprouts were cooking, and then we had the sprouts while the steaks were grilling. Yes, I was in and out about 20 times while we ate but it was worth it!

Nuevo Horno de Microonda!

3 Apr

The old broken microwave has been replaced at last. My parents had a credit from a big cappuccino machine they returned so they offered us to pick a microwave to replace ours. We found a very neat looking stainless Panasonic that looked like it would be a good upgrade while taking up a little less counter space.
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Theoretically the microwave is a bit bigger than the old one and it’s 1,100 Watts compared to about 850 for the old one. We had about 8 microwaves to choose from and this one had the best reviews despite a few issues people had. My biggest concern with this model was the lack of a numerical keypad. This worried me because in my mind less buttons usually means more pressing of one button. Think of the example of setting an alarm clock, and how long it takes to change the time, where if you could just punch in 7:45 am it would take about one second to set the alarm.
This microwave uses a dial and a “quick minute” button to set the time. So if you just want to microwave something for 1 minute, you press Quick Minute and Start. For 2 minute you press Quick Minute twice and Start. For something like 2 minutes and 45 seconds you twist the dial clockwise until you get 2:45
It actually gets there pretty quickly, and the increments increase as you get to longer times; for instance you could do 27 seconds but not 2 minutes and 27 seconds. You’d have to do 2:20 or 2:30, over 5 minutes the increments go to 15 seconds, over 10 minutes it’s only full and half minutes.
One of the key features of this Panasonic is the Inverter technology that it employs, which unlike traditional microwaves, allows it to actually cook at different power levels rather than turning on and off repeatedly. This is actually similar to how the Honda inverter generator we have is able to provide stable power at various engine speeds while most generators rely on a fixed throttle to provide consistent voltage.
You can also do two stage cooking, like 5 minutes at power level 3, then 4 minutes at full power. There are also a whole bunch of preset “Genius sensor” settings that you can use to cook or defrost commonly microwaved foods. Apparently it detects steam to know how far along the cooking is. I tried to make some rice the first night we set it up, instead of using the instructions in the package, to see how it would come out. The directions called for 5 minutes then 15 minutes at lower level, I didn’t time it exactly but I think it did about 5 or 6 minutes and then about 17 minutes. I think it might have been slightly dried out but to be fair it was basmati rice and not standard white rice as the program is intended for so that could be a factor.

I’m sure I’ll have more to write about this in the future, but for now we’re pretty pleased with our new microwave, and it looks pretty sleek in our kitchen. The only thing I really miss is the little plastic food cover I accidentally threw out with the old microwave… Oops!