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Meatwave Rating: 7 out of 10

A strong vinegar base in the North Carolina tradition gets added boosts of complexity from Worcestershire, ketchup, onion, and pepper to make this more layered and versatile than you standard vinegar barbecue sauce.

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Easy recipes with a big pay off bring me a lot of joy these days. I've been at recipe development for sixteen years now, and more and more, I feel like I've exhausted the basics and am constantly devising things requiring more time, ingredients, process, or all of those things. This reality has actually left me thinking about slowing my posting schedule, or even stopping, but then something like bacon-wrapped mochi comes along and reminds not everything needs to be so involved to be both super impressive and incredibly delicious.

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I have a couple friends and family who are really into tiki bars, like super into them. Hanging around them the past few years has heightened my interest and appreciation in all things tiki, and that led me to hosting my second tiki Meatwave a couple weekends ago. I jot down recipe ideas as they come to me, and having been more immersed in tiki venues as of late, my list of tiki-inspired recipes had grown pretty long. So it was actually a bit hard to pick and choose what to make for this cookout and I ended up doing a whopping eight recipes, but still left a bunch for another day.
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I have a long history of burger creations that have come out of the Meatwave, so many that I didn't think I'd really be surprised by a burger I made myself anymore. So it was a little floored after I made these pljeskavica—Serbian-style burgers—and was blown away with how they tasted. It was like no burger I've had before, and maybe that unexpected quality heightened my personal love for them, but seriously, they were crazy delicious and think you'd be equally impressed if you tried them too.

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Meatwave Rating: 8 out of 10

A well balanced and layered all-purpose sauce, Southern Belles Original Belle will suit you well in almost any grilling or barbecue scenario.

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The Meatwave kick off for 2019 took place on St. Patrick's Day, and to be totally honest, I had no idea it was a holiday until someone pointed it out to me. I then began tinkering with the idea of throwing an Irish-themed cookout, but abandoned that thought in exchange for a menu comprised of all different types of burgers. However, in my thinking along Irish lines, I had ideas of potato dishes swirling, including a potato salad, which I ended up making, although what I put together really had no roots in Irish cooking. Actually, I'm not sure this smashed potato saladsettles into any cuisine classification, unless you count delicious as a category!

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I feel like I was itching to get the Meatwave going in 2019 way more than most years. This was a little odd because, in reality, the gap between 2018 and 2019 was the shortest yet with just over three months separating the two seasons. But those three months felt hella long because they were filled with almost non-stop rain and/or cold, forcing longer-than-usual indoor periods which kept me from grilling and had me resorting to pulling from recipes I made many, many years ago to fill content gaps in the blog. I wasn't alone in this restless feeling—this Meatwave brought out quite the crowd of folks, all ready to escape their winter fortresses and mingle and bask in the meat once again!
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My first experiences with vegetarian eating consisted almost exclusively of foods that masqueraded as meat—veggie bacon, burgers, nuggets, dogs, etc. My brain wasn't down with that and had trouble accepting eating something that is trying to taste like meat, but isn't really, and I was put off for a long time. As my vegetarian Meatwave constituency continues to grow and I'm finding myself crafting more and more meatless recipes, I'm becoming more in tune to what I personally like about veggie recipes, and that's not trying to make something taste like meat, but make it taste like what it is—vegetables. I think that may be a big reason why the veggie burger at the Sparrow Tavern in Astoria is so loved. This local haunt from my past life in NYC doesn't do a veggie burger that has any semblance of its meaty origins beyond its shape, instead it tastes like a delicious medley of vegetables that's totally satisfying on a number of levels. So when I decided to try to make a veggie burger at home, it was a no brainer for me to start with some facsimile of the recipe used at Sparrow.

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Meatwave Rating: 9 out of 10

Bootsie's Sweet n' Smokey delivers on a big and bold barbecue flavor in the best way possible.

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On my frequent trips to New York for work, more often than not, I find myself choosing either Thai or Chinese for dinner because my love of both of those cuisines cannot be fully satisfied by the options available in Durham. For Chinese, I usually end up at Xi-an Famous Foods since they're easy to find it most areas of the city, and the menu is filled entirely with items I can't get at home. I'm so excited to say that is no longer true though with the opening of Sister Liu's Kitchen in Durham, which, in addition to the massive amount of dumpling options they're outputting, also make Chinese-style burgers, and they're really top notch. So when I decided to make these Xi'an-style cumin lamb burgers at my first Meatwave of 2019, the impetus wasn't trying to recreate something I can't get here (as a lot of my recipes are these days), but rather it was born from an enthusiasm that I can now have these delicious burgers in my life way more often!

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