Monday, July 27, 2015


Ojai, California, July 22, 2015—
JIM MET US at the doorway: rarely have I seen him look so glum. Dinner is ruined, he said, I overcooked the steak.

Particularly unfortunate as the beef was from a steer raised by an acquaintance, and we were gathered, the five of us, to celebrate the acquisition and, perhaps, just a little, to pass judgment on the quality of the animal.

Jim cooks such things on a smoker-grill on his oak-shaded patio behind his classy house in this delightful town. Now Hephaestus knows I'm no expert at grilling; I usually make a mess of it myself, through inattention — the chief destroyer of grilled meat, I think. Doubly am I ignorant when the contraption in question is a smoker. But as I looked at the pathetic thing lying on its cutting board, waiting to be sliced, I felt a little glum myself.

Is that all there is, Lisa wanted to know. It was dark and shrunken, and when I poked it with a forefinger it hardly yielded. Oh, it'll be okay, I lied, and we sat down at the table, and Jim sliced it.

But look at it! Medium rare, I'd say; truly I prefer mine a bit less cooked, but no one would complain about this. It was tender and tasty, still a bit juicy, quite innocent of marbling, and had — of course — a very nice crust.

Steak and salad, a simple green salad; a perfect end to a long day driving the endless streets of Los Angeles, ending in a quiet town in the country nestled among the citrus and avocado groves… and a good bottle of wine…
Garnacha/Monastrell 70/30%, Laya (Almansa, Spain), 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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