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Thursday, September 23, 2004


If Keats could write an ode to a Grecian urn, then surely a blog tribute to my Weber grill is appropriate.

In the driveway I've got an old black Weber grill that I love. And I do mean old -- I picked it up from my friend "T-Bone" the Mailman 20 years ago or more, and he and his wife Connie had used it for a year or two before he sold it to me. Moreover, I do mean love it. I'm not much of a cook -- my beautiful bride takes care of most of that -- but when I set my mind to it, I can make good things happen out there.

I started in the very early '80s with a mini-Weber -- the "smoky Joe." It fit right in with my mindset at the time. Go small. Stay portable. Save the earth. But when I got a great deal on T's larger model, I said yes, and the rest is barbecue history.

After a while, you get to know this appliance's ways, and if you're not too busy fixing drinks, watering plants, playing with kids, or programming the backyard boombox while you're grilling, you can pull some mighty fine eatin' out of it. Whole chickens. Even turkeys. Big slabs of fish. Baskets of grilled vegetables. Corn on the cob wrapped in tin foil with a little butter. Occasionally burgers, pork chops, or even steaks. Oh yeah.

Guys my age have gas grills. They also play golf.

Hell, no. Not me.

You get the coals to red, load up the grill, put that lid on top, leave the air holes open just a little, and dang, it gets hot in there. What a fantastic design. Bravo to the wonderful inventor -- a Midwest American, I hope -- who came up with something so elegant. They ought to have one of these babies in the Museum of Modern Art.

My old soldier's gone through some replacement surgery over the years. I think I'm on the third upper grill (where the food sits), and second lower grill (on which rests the charcoal). The little rails that keep the coals to the sides when I'm using the "indirect method" (which is most of the time) are not original. And I think I replaced the ash-catcher pan down by the wheels once. But the basic kettle is original, including the wooden handle, which is one tough piece of wood. There's a funky little appliance repair place up on NE Columbia Boulevard that sells replacement parts; I managed to score an official Weber cover for the whole setup there a few years back, and it's probably extended its life a little.

There are a couple of rust spots on the side of the old Weber, and they're starting to open up to the point where there may be only a couple of years left. Then the temptation will be strong to switch to gas. When it's raining and I wish I could grill, that temptation is strong. But there's something about doing it with the wood, just like grandpa, dad and the uncles did, that's irresistible. I'll likely be a charcoal man until my dying day.

Hey, I'm getting hungry writing about this, people. Time to trek over to City Market and pick up some sturgeon or halibut. Maybe a couple of oysters to throw on and cook in the shell. Bon appetit.

Comments (9)

you are the 10th person i have heard praise this style of weber grill. everyone i know seems to have the new stainless steel $5000 gas grill on the back porch and uses it twice a year. the ones who have the weber use it daily. they are truly a work of art and i agree they should be in the MOMA. my neighbor a few years back would come over and pick through my tree trimmings for medium size sticks of Cherry (i had cherry trees) - he would then hang them to air dry and use them in the grill for flavor.


I'm a Weber man myself. Can't beat it.

A friend of mine has gone one step further - he owns A Big Green Egg. The stuff he churns out (it's a smoker as well as a grill) is simply amazing, but it's the same basic concept as the Weber, only on steroids...

One of my favorite pieces of art that I own is a silkscreen of the silhouette of a Weber grill on a large piece of light green fabric (essentially life-size). A friend of mine made it and gave it to me as a birthday gift, as I have a fascination with Weber grills. It's the first thing I hang on the wall when I move into a new place.

So far, I've only personally owned the Smokey Joe. I'm working up to the big version. And they now come in fun colors, like blue and green!

I can't get over the fact you actually knew someone nick-named "T-Bone".

At the moment, I'm having Seinfeld flashbacks. So much for a productive work day...

Jack, I never would have thought Tommy's weber grill would last 20+ years.

My Dad brought a Komodo Pot back from Japan in the early 60's. Its design and construction is like the big green egg...the best BBQ...I thought.

I have done charcoal, propane and natural gas BBQ....all OK but...I have discovered a BBQ that even squeaks past (barely) the old Komodo.

On August 29th this year I bought a Traeger - traegergrills.com. It is the best grill I have ever cooked on. It is fueled by pellets, every flavor you can imagine. The heat is controlled by a feeder that delivers pellets in an amount determined by the temp you set the grill at. It has a fan that distributes the heat in a convection manner. It smokes, slow cooks and grills. We have cooked steaks and chicken like none you have had (at least not yet).

I bought it from the hardware store in the old town part of West Linn. That by itself was a trip. That place is like a walk back into another era. The Traegers are spendy (abt $600)... But if you BBQ year 'round like we do, it is a reasonable price.

I haven't had it long enough to do any smoking of fish or beef--but the store swears it will be the best I've ever had.

Your Weber looks better than mine. On mine the things underneath that allow the ash to go out the bottom rusted away about a decade ago. To save the coals I have a piece of metal covering the opening, which I have to remove at the end of barbecuing season to let the ash out.

It's a lot more fun with gas. Also fun is my Southern California-style charcoal starter, which dispenses with the need for lighter fluid.

Hey Bojack, I know you love your Webber, but have you seen Alton Brown's conversion rig for Webber grills? A Wire article discusses it here:

"Not that there's anything wrong with charcoal. In one episode of Good Eats, Brown throws three skirt steaks right onto the hot coals - after casting aside the grill and doing some "ash management" with a blow dryer. The goal: Cook the steaks quickly with direct heat and prevent the soot-causing flare-ups that burn meat when dripping fat travels through air onto the coals. No oxygen, no flames."

and you can find the actual layout in his book, "I'm Just Here For the Food." You might like it.

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