Every summer when I’m standing at the grill, moving the meat around, poking it with a long fork and a bit of hostility, I wonder why my steak doesn’t cook faster and taste better. Because I do almost all my weekend cooking on the grill, these are actually just two of a million questions that plague me. This issue is devoted to getting the most out of grilling—the best equipment, sauces, rubs and recipes.
For a grilling tutorial, we consulted Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and host of TV’s Barbecue University. He immediately offered up his 10 steps to grilling nirvana, as well as fantastic recipes for achieving culinary bliss; I especially loved the swordfish steaks with smoky tomato ketchup. I also discovered that I was making two key mistakes at the grill—turn to our story on mastering the grill to find out what they were! In "Cook Like a Pit Master," pro barbecuer Paul Kirk explains how to turn any grill into a smoker for making dishes like his incredibly moist chicken. For a few unusual condiments, we asked some of our favorite chefs to give us their tastiest recipes; I have to insist you try David Chang’s salt-and-sugar pickles. To find the top wines for summer, senior editor Ray Isle conducted extensive Tasting Room experiments—a tough assignment, I know. Best of the lot: the 2003 L’Ostal Cazes Estibals, a southern French red that’s great with barbecued ribs.
I’m also incredibly excited to announce the launch of a year-long series showcasing the way food in smaller American cities has dramatically improved in the last five years or so. For our "Food & Wine Across America" project, we’ve been sending editors to places like Providence, Rhode Island; Portland, Maine; and Burlington, Vermont. We’ve already targeted 13 cities, and we’re inviting you to help us choose the 14th. If you think your city deserves to be included, tell us why. I can’t wait to hear from you!