The Incredible Egg
It’s the Apple of the charcoal grill world with an entire culture unto itself—generating both popular cookbooks and festivals (Seattle’s is held in June). Fans of the Big Green Egg, known as “Eggheads,” love its ceramic domed design, based on Japanese kamado grills, that allows for maintaining very precise low and high heats, making it an exceptional griller and smoker in one. Like Apple’s inventory, its price point is fairly high, and its “Eggcessories,” such as the rolling nest stand, are sold separately, but with five sizes—from extra large (from $1,100) to mini ($349)—there’s an Egg for most every space and pocketbook. Sutter Home and Hearth (Ballard, 920 NW Leary Way; 206.783.9115; sutterhearth.com) and Thompson’s Hearth & Home (Issaquah, 680 NW Gilman Blvd.; 425.369.1400; thompsonshearth.com) carry the full Egg line and host tutorials.
Let’s face it, a big part of barbecuing fun is playing with the latest grill gadgets. Our favorites include the redesigned jalapeño pepper roaster ($19.95) from Williams-Sonoma (multiple locations; williams-sonoma.com), which holds 18 stuffed peppers and features slip-proof underwire supports to keep food from tumbling out during grilling. When it comes to the essential grill tools, you can’t beat the handsome, heavy-duty wood-and-steel Man Law foldable spatula and grill brush ($26.95 each; brush shown), available at the newly opened Culinary Essentials (Ballard, 5320 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.789.1334), which, after the cookout, fold up for easy storage.
Smoking seafood and meats, especially while utilizing the gourmet’s gamut of flavored wood chips (from nectarine to Jack Daniels), is more popular than ever. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker,available at Lowe’s (multiple locations; lowes.com) for $299, is considered one of the best charcoal smokers for barbecuers of all skill levels. Two 18.5-inch grates mean 481 square inches of cooking area, while four vents ensure ample air flow, which makes smoking even in windy conditions a breeze.
Flash Fire Starter
If you find lighting the grill to be a vexing time burner, get an electric Looftlighter (looftlighter.com). The Swedish-made superheated air gun masters match-play and nixes the need for buying lighter fluid, getting briquettes burning in just 60 seconds. Plus, it’s fume-free and has an undeniable Wild West–meets-high-tech appeal. (Note: It comes with a 10-foot-long cord.) Available at Sutter’s, Thompson’s and Williams-Sonoma for about $79. Or, for a lower-priced option, consider the multipurpose Wagner heat gun, available at area Lowe’s (lowes.com) and Home Depot (homedepot.com) stores for less than $25.
Come and Get It!
Classic barbecue deserves classic presentation. For food ferrying and bug-free housing, try a perky gingham barbecue tray ($39.95) and red wire-mesh food dome ($12.95). And nothing says good ol’ American cookout like colorful drive-in-style plastic burger baskets ($1.95 each) lined with gingham parchment papers ($6 for 24). All from Sur la Table (multiple locations; surlatable.com).