Labor Day's come and gone, signaling the end of summertime picnics and backyard BBQ.
No worries, though, for us yardless Belltowners. They do a fine 'cue at Frontier Room with their own smoker. Chef Paul Michael starts with the indispensable dry rub (semi-secret blend of salt, sugar, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, mustard, onions, garlic, etc.). Chickens and ribs get 4 to 6 hours of the slow, moist heat; brisket and pork get the overnight treatment.
As you can imagine, the result isn't meat slathered in red goo, as Tony Roma and his gang do it. This is Tennessee or Memphis-style, a different animal entirely. Much, much more subtle, with natural juices and flavors coming from the meat, not some dousing of hot ketchup. If you're so inclined, you can add your own sauces: Tabasco, chipotle, or my choice, the house-made pepper-vinegar, a bold but not overwhelming condiment that's simultaneously sour and spicy.
What do drink with this? Go ahead, order a brew if you like. But barbecue this mouthwatering deserves better. Yes, I'm talking about wine, friends. For the grilled prawns ($9.95), which make an elegant seafood starter, there's a sparkling pink Crémant d'Alsace ($7.50 a glass). Once you get to the meat of things, try easy-drinking reds like Fess Parker's Frontier Red (made around the corner from my brother's place in the Santa Ynez valley), or LAN from the Rioja or Six Prong from eastern Washington, all under $7 a glass. And if you want to splurge, by all means go for Longboard Syrah, produced in the Napa Valley by Israeli surfer-dude Oded Shakked ($110 buys you a whole bottle). As smooth and elegant as a perfect Roundhouse Cutback.Posted by Ronald Holden at September 5, 2006 10:52 AM