Grillin' time

Marinaded meats, veggies, bacon and salmon set for the ’cue

Summer is officially here, though it's felt that way for quite some time. And with the long, hot holiday weekend ahead of us, I foresee many of our faithful readers taking to the creeks and rivers, throwing backyard pool parties and chowing down on all manner of meats and veggies done up the way Americans do things up: on the grill.

I, personally, can't wait. I've been on a bit of a cooking spree, browsing websites and books for the perfect recipes for the ingredients I have on hand. My best outcome thus far was parmesan chicken, but there's also been homemade spaghetti and meatballs using locally grown tomatoes and leftover ricotta from the manicotti I made the week before. This week's adventure will be a Mexican zucchini cheese soup using veggies from a co-worker's garden. Yum.

But, truth be told, my mouth is already watering just thinking about all the delicious meals to be cooked up barbecue-style. In fact, my boyfriend recently got a new 'cue, complete with gas and electric grills and a smoker. And seeing as he's the chef in our relationship (though I certainly put in my best effort!), I'm extra excited to see what he'll make of it.

In the spirit of the season, then, I've started to compile my wish list for the backyard barbecue menu. Obviously, many ingredients can be sourced locally at farmers' markets and grocery stores. Right now is the perfect time for squash—it's great on the grill tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper—as well as corn. And there are many different fruits ripening right now, from watermelon and grapes to peaches and pluots.

One of my go-to's at the market—because it makes everything better—is the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of Llano Seco Rancho bacon. Perfect on top of a burger. It's a bit pricey, but worth the splurge. I also love the Alldrin & Sons Alaska Salmon folks. Lance Alldrin and sons head up to the icy waters of Alaska each season and bring their catch back to sell at the farmers' market. (Fun fact: They were featured on NatGeoWild's Alaska Fish Wars last year.) Their wild salmon is delicious—I've been promised some of this cooked atop a cedar plank on the new grill. Mmm.

If you like quick-and-easy DIY, Basque Norte makes a badass marinade that is perfect for just about any protein you throw on the barbecue (and veggies, too!). For 40 years, the restaurant on the north end of town has been selling its own signature sauce. And, unless you're cooking a large cut of meat like a tri-tip, which should marinade overnight, it takes mere minutes to infuse the flavor. According to the restaurant's website (a call over there revealed the owners are on vacation), the chef soaks each steak for only about 10 minutes before cooking. Bottles of the stuff can be found everywhere from the restaurant to Mooney Farms (where it's actually cooked and packaged) to local grocery stores, Costco and even Amazon.