Food & Wine
June 01, 2010

As a lifelong apartment dweller who just joined the ranks of grillers when I bought a house last year, I am still learning a lot: how to get the right amount of char, how to prevent flare-ups and, perhaps most important, how to make enough for leftovers. I don't know why food from the grill disappears faster than food from the stove—perhaps that's part of the magic of grilling—but I've become determined to end up with extra, a bit of advice many of you have shared with me. The thing is, I'm pretty spoiled. I don't like eating the same thing twice in a week. For anyone who feels the same way, check out "Best New Grilling Essentials," 11 basic recipes with two variations on each. Dishes like the grilled-steak tacos and hanger-steak Sloppy Joes are different enough to fool even me.

Along with grilling, I'm also trying my hand at gardening, which involves fun things like understanding the pH balance of soil. Turns out I'm right on trend. Everyone from winemakers to chefs to artists is exploring the idea of terroir, the special qualities of the land in a particular place. In this issue, writer Jon Fine hangs out with natural winemakers in France, the guys who reject industrial methods and let Mother Earth take control. And in "Visionary Chefs with Dirty Minds," F&W's Kristin Donnelly tells how chefs like Tokyo's Yoshihiro Narisawa are using real and faux soil to create extravagant dishes.

But, just so you know that one season of grilling hasn't turned me into a back-to-the-lander, look at travel editor Jen Murphy's piece on staying in and near America's national parks. She divulges fantastic places for outdoorsy types, as well as new alternatives for travelers like me, who'd rather spend the night in a four-poster bed than a sleeping bag. Now that makes me one happy camper.

Where I'm Coming From

Notes From a Recent California Trip:

Los Angeles

This place is rightfully known for both pizza and pizzazz, but I loved its many vegetable dishes, especially the wood-roasted cauliflower with garlic, parsley, chile and vinegar.

Pizzeria Mozza
Los Angeles

Nancy Silverton is a goddess of bread. Her squash-blossom-and-burrata pizza was amazing.

Bouchon Bakery
Napa Valley

Paralyzed by choice before 7:30 a.m., I finally had the delicious pecan-topped sticky bun.

Follow me on Twitter@fwscout.

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