A Great Weekend
What’s this so-called ‘Great Weekend?’ Am I, you may well ask, exaggerating, as I have been known to do on special occasions? Well, there was a very special occasion involved but NO – I am not exaggerating.
Of course, all weekends are good – Mass, relaxation, the NYT crossword, golf, sports on t.v., family dinners. But some weekends stand out. October 15 and 16, 1960, the Saturday and Sunday following Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run defeating the Yankees in the World Series, felt like heaven in Pittsburgh. Maz hit his home run on Thursday. On Friday, as during the entire week, the attendance productivity of workers in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio fell to depths unplumbed since the Great Depression. Children (I speak from personal experience – 11 years old at the time) having paid no attention in school all week kept up the habit for Friday. Beer and Liquor sales followed the same trajectory as masks did during the recent Covid pandemic, and boys and men and girls and women found it difficult to sleep because they were replaying in their heads how the Pirates had won that most glorious, back-and-forth of world series.
Moreover, the effects of that home rum were lingering: I am sitting in an office which contains a framed photograph of Maz’s home run, with the ball – resembling a fading dab of Wite-out – high above the scoreboard and left-centerfield.* Right next to it is a framed shot of the great Roberto Clemente doffing his hat after bagging the 3000th hit of his career, and on the windowsill is a bobble-head of Maz (a gift for Pirate fans distributed during a game just last week) with his right arm resting on a stack of seven golden gloves – the eighth (yes, St. Louis and Cincinnati, he won eight) is on his left hand.
*Keyboards used to be an integral parts of a mechanical device called a ‘typewriter,’ not a digital device called a ‘computer.’ Typewriters put indelible marks on paper through the percussive action of their keys driving an inked ribbon or tape onto that paper. Mistakes had to be corrected physically, and Wite-out was a white goo that could transform “This essay assignment is stupid,” to “This essay assignment is challenging,” albeit with a curious impasto of white behind the first six letters of “challenging.”
But, back to those great weekends: The weekend of March 17th, 1979, when Beez and I got married was even better, as were the weekends after Billy and Drew were born. I’ll keep the details to myself.
And last weekend will go down in the books very high on the list. Lindsey and Mauri, our good friends, whom we had not seen in a few years, spent the weekend with us. I had forgotten what it was like to laugh that much.
Lindsey and I played golf with Tim and Billy and then we all gathered together with Hilda and Julie joining us for a happy meal (not McDonald’s). Introducing two sets of friends to each other and seeing them laugh and enjoy each other’s company is a very great pleasure. (Watching Lindsey figure out the PFC the first time he played it was also pretty good, as was the par on number 8, and watching Lindsey’s birdie and Billy par number 16 was not bad either.)
At this point, if you’ve been following this blog you’re probably wondering “ Whajeet?” That’s ‘What did you eat?’ for non-Pittsburghers. Well, what do you cook for 8 people after 18 holes of golf in steamy temperatures? Clearly, you can’t be spending hours on prepping and cooking. On the other hand, these are your good friends, and you have a reputation to keep up. The perfect solution for this is the dinner we shared with our friends and one son last Saturday. It involves a fair investment in lamb chops but is otherwise simple and tasty and will allow you to enjoy the evening with your guests. It is so good that I am tempted to set up a pay-wall so that you can chip in for the secret. But, hey, you’re my friends too. And since you couldn’t be here last Saturday, I’m giving it to you for free:
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH ROSEMARY SALT
(adapted from Michael Symon)
85 minutes (includes quick marinade) or
up to 6 hours, 25 minutes for a longer, tastier marinade
Ingredients: Feeds 4 – we doubled to feed 8
8 lamb loin lamb chops (Michael suggests “frenched” chops – the ones with the long bone – we used the squared chops without the long bone which are easier to cook)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (use 1 tablespoon dried oregano as substitute – fresh leaves are better and leave no gritty residue)
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced – we used 1 large clove)
Zest of 2 lemons and the juice of 1 of those
¼ cup flaky sea salt (we used Maldon – easy to get)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Prepare the marinade and marinate the lamb:
Mix the oregano, garlic, the juice and zest from 1 lemon (you’ll use the zest from the other lemon to make the rosemary salt) with ¼ cup of olive oil.
Now pat the chops dry and season with salt and pepper and add to the marinade making sure their well coated. We use a jumbo resealable plastic baggie and mix the chops around by hand.
Marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 6. At 4 hours you will have a very tasty chop.
Cook the Chops:
Prepare a grill with the coals on one side – you’ll need a side for indirect cooking. (Or heat a gas grill on one side only.)
While the grill is heating, mix the sea salt, rosemary and zest of 1 lemon, massaging the mixture with your fingers to educe the oils from the zest and rosemary.
Remove the chops from the marinade and place directly over the coals, charring on both sides for 3-4 minutes each. You want to char the chops and get the temperature up to 125 F form medium-rare. If the coals flare up, to avoid burning, move the chops to the indirect heat side of the grill for a bit.
Remove the chops from the grill and let them sit for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with the rosemary salt and serve. (Beez loves chops with mint-chili jelly as well.)
[Note: we started with a plate of cucumbers and the fabulous cheese and crackers that Mauri hauled across the pike from Eastern Pennsylvania, and a simple platter of cubed watermelon and creamy feta skewered together with toothpicks.
In addition to the chops, we had crispy roasted potatoes, a nifty salad of tomatoes, arugula, red onions and avocado and Beez’s signature chocolate mousse for dessert with a back-up of Klondikes.