Right about now you might be thinking of fleeing the city and hunkering down in the wilderness to escape this pandemic or those who just don’t comprehend “social distancing” and in turn, are jeopardizing all humanity. We understand. The city, yours and ours, feels a bit eerie and tense these days albeit less dramatic than my previous statement evoked. Interestingly enough, before COVID-19 showed up we here at FTHQ started to research the overlanding trend. In short, overlanding is rigged AF car camping usually done with an aftermarket kitted out 4X4. Through this investigation, and frankly awe with some of the tweaks enthusiasts make, we discovered the Nomad Kitchen Company. This pop-in-pop-out kitchen is just what you need to gourmet yourself while waiting out the virus. Or, dare we say vacation in the wilderness. There will be a day this scare has subsided and “camping” will be a recreational activity, not an isolation tactic. We’ve been backcountry fans for decades and have our share of lightweight gourmet cooking kits. For years a quick setup, quick cleanup at camp has been a tricky maneuver. Even with three decades of innovations perfecting our pack kitchen, there’s room for improvement. That’s one reason Overlanding is so appealing. The Nomad Kitchen has all the specs of a quick set up, fully functioning, quick clean up kitchen. Best part, you can drop it in the back of your G-Wagon as easily as your Tacoma. A 10-second deployment sets you up with a sink, prep area, and stovetop so you can get to your mise en place tout suite. Complete with locking slides that can hold up to 200lbs you’ll not only have a solid extension kitchen but you can apply that extra force when carving your bone-in ribeye. At the time we wrote this they have 35 days left on their crowdfunding campaign. Shipping this summer. So, yeah, we hope that is post-pandemic but look at it this way, you’ll not only have a new gadget for vacation this year but be extra prepared for the new normal of our world. That isn’t meant to be doomsday talk. It is meant to be positive. We will leave our houses again soon and enjoy our lives as we used too just with some new precautions and a little more preparedness than before. This kitchen makes that all the more comfortable.
All Outdoor Stuff
It’s not news to anyone that the hospitality industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 threat. The shutdown mandate for the industry has been in effect for three weeks now and writing about food seems a bit insensitive and frankly less meaningful, although, a mindless escape from the morbid 24 hour news cycle we’re captured in is a welcome reprieve.
What’s incredible to us is how the hospitality industry is reacting. Down and out (for the time being) many have funds to help their employees while others are still cooking to help frontline workers stay nourished and healthy. It’s these selfless pivots that have us most impressed (humbled and optimistic). Hedley & Bennett, the apron makers, launched the Wake Up & Fight mask effort this week and besides impressing us gave us an amazing way to help our frontline workers be more protected. They have innovated by turning their apron factory into a protective mask operation to aid in the worldwide shortage in personal protection equipment (PPE).
Pulling from the get one give one model, each purchase allows a mask to be made for frontline essential workers. It’s a triple collab between HEPA filter maker Think Crucial, Dr. Robert Cho, Chief of Staff of Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, CA and them. Their apron material is used to sew a mask with an inside pocket for a replaceable HEPA filter. It’s important to note that this doesn’t replace an N95 respirator in effectiveness but the CDC says the point of a mask is not to protect you from inhaling the virus but to stop the spread of it, especially if you are asymptomatic. Frontline workers need PPE because they are face-to-face with live, confirmed, symptomatic patients all day long. Heros in other words. In such a critical moment in history this selfless, in it together humanity will be rewarded not just those who spearhead these efforts but all of us worldwide. You can purchase masks from their website or send a bulk order inquiry if you are so inclined to help at scale.
So you’re hungry and want tacos for dinner, huh? In the great, ancient tradition of hungry-people-eating-food-they-want-to-eat-in-order-to-become-less-hungry, you’ve got a few go-to options: go out, order in, or even cook to get what you so desire. The only problem? Those options require effort. Be honest with yourself: do you really feel like putting in that kind of work? Especially when eating tacos is supposed to be one of the most effortless culinary experiences of all time. But what’s a hungry taco lover to do? What about ‘no pain, no gain,’ you wonder? The answer is in this revolutionary, (practically) effortless alternative to your average, everyday taco-procurement strategies. We’re talking about the “You Better Have Tacos” doormat, and we urge you to lay that bad boy outside your door and wait for the cha-ching, cha-ching — I mean crinkle, crinkle — of an endless supply our fave member of the no-utensil food group, brought to you by your friends, neighbors, and anyone else who should pass through your threshold. It’s so simple, you may weep. So convenient, you may never leave your place again. So foolproof…well we think that it maybe, probably, most likely will work. But if for whatever reason it doesn’t, well then at at least you’ve got a good place to wipe off your shoes — you know, in case you gotta go out for tacos in the rain.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream made with the Soft Shell Ice Cream Ball, a product from YayLabs!. It combines two of our favorite summer pastimes, ice cream and ball games. Pleasing to both artisanal ice cream aficionados and more casual ice cream enthusiasts alike, the Soft Shell Ice Cream Ball embodies the highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy in a way that only a homemade ice cream maker that looks like your average, everyday kickball could. Fight the been-there-done-that end-of-summer slump by bringing it on all of your adventures and shaking, tossing, rolling it until you get the smooth and creamy ice cream you had previously been too intimidated to make on your own (and it only takes 20 to 30 minutes!). We urge you to proceed with caution, however — you don’t want anyone mistaking your next batch of strawberry-blueberry ice cream for their next dodgeball weapon.
The Star Spangled Spatula immediately reminds you of why we flip grilled meat over flare licking heat in early July. The walnut handle and stainless prong makes you feel like a patriotic colonist armed with a state of the art weapon ready to battle, and win, the fiery grill revolution. No joke, the thing is build tough. Jacob Riley-Wasserman, the designer, was a top honored RISD student and knew his way around function and fashion. This ingenious tool unfortunately reminds us of something else far less celebratory. Jacob passed from cancer this year after what seemed to be a long fight with the disease. Always looking for the upside, as was Jacob from what I can gather, he started Flip4Cancer which donates some of the spatula proceeds to fight cancer. Talk about a legacy. Own one of these and remember the designer every time you flip a burger, fight cancer with every grill day this summer and humbly honor our country, land of the American dream, while it hangs holstered off the side of your barbecue.
My dad was an auto mechanic for 20 years. After that he became a self taught electrical engineer. It’s safe to assume tools and their boxes were a big part of my childhood. To date I have at least 10 different toolboxes. One for electrical, one for plumbing, one for cars, one for the house. The list goes on. The appeal of the BBQ Toolbox is therefore obvious but instead of this container synonymous with work, it’s a beacon for play. Flipping out like an old school True Value gem, the trademark red box reveals two grilling surfaces and a place for your prized sauces and critical grill tools. Summer music festivals are about to get “worked”.
Considering the run up to this weekend, we continue with the grill gadget prep and the Relic Portable Brick Oven. Clocking in at $1100 and 3000 degrees fahrenheit, this one might have to get through the wife before it makes it to your deck. If it flies, you just turned your $60 standard grill into a Napoleotano’s birth right. Aside from the pizzas you could make in this cast iron turtle shell think about the meats. Cherry wood infused poultry. Walnut wood ribeyes. We’re drooling just typing those combos. Don’t forget about the vegetable ramifications. Wood fired asparagus, corn and even tomatoes might just have appeal to your better half enough to elicit a “yes”.
Sometimes it rains on Memorial Day weekend. Sometimes it rains most of the summer. This is mother natures way of blessing the earth and replenishing life but it does deprive you from your weekly summer grilling rituals. If this summer turns soggy the Otto O.F.B. Steak Griller is your backup QB (Quick Burner). Fashioned after the commercial kitchen mainstay, the salamander, this broiler uses radiant heat to crisp up any protein to that perfect grill kissed aesthetic and texture. Pair this with a sous vide machine and you might ditch the grill all together.
There’s nothing more satisfying than that first time you fire up the grill each year. In prelude to the Memorial Day ritual most of us restock our grill gadget arsenal with mostly unnecessary but highly pleasurable new toys. The SteakChamp might not actually fall into that category because of it’s incredibly functional tech. A simple set of colored LED’s flash green for rare, yellow for medium and red for well to indicate that illusive inner doneness. No, it does not talk to your phone but part of the grill experience is hanging out and tending to it. We’ve field tested this one and the thermometer is dead on. As soon as we get a flashing green we know we have a perfectly done medium rare cut. Now you just have to convince your butcher to cut you that 3 inch porterhouse.
It’s no surprise that we LOVE us some BBQ over at FTHQ. We’ve also had our bout with smokers. Wood fueled, electric, even gas powered and they all fell short. Part of the problem is that we’re impatient and good ‘que is a patient wo(man)’d game. The key, any pit master will tell you, is in the consistency. Sure, the wood, the meat and the rub all are critical BUT without consistency it all falls apart. Specifically we’re talking about temperature. The uber fail of most amateur pit masters is the fluctuation in heat as it relates to time. A 12 hour smoked pork butt fluctuating 100 degrees is better used to feed the dog than serve the family. That’s why the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef™ Technology got us so jazzed up. The electric smoker communicates with your phone letting you know the internal temperature of the meat and the chamber. This means you can do “other stuff” while smoking but never miss when you need to add more water, wood chips or heat. This will be in our backyard all summer. If you’re thinking about getting into (or back into) the bbq game, this is the move.
When we saw this we had to have it. We validated this spend by calling it a right of passage for our Italian-American heritage. Truth is this might be the best solution to the age old Italian dilemma, “How can I make authentic Neapolitan pizza in my back yard if I can’t get any of my baking devices over 600 degrees unless I spend $2000.” The Roccbox Portable Pizza Oven solves this, admittedly non-universal-yet-equally-important-to-a-certain-niche, problem with not only a beautiful form factor but with an optional heat method. Two baskets attach to the undercarriage of this ceramic lined, triple aluminum and silicone domed beauty. The first is your standard wood quiver. The second is a gas jet for those moments the timber runs out or you are just to lazy to go gather some logs. Roccbox claims a 0-900°F in just 15 min making this an after work option as much as a weekend splurge.
Takenaka makes lunch boxes in the Japaneseist of Japanese ways, the Bento. What we know as the quick, little-of-everything, menu item on a Sushi restaurants midtown lunch special is a physical item in every Japanese citizens backpack. In a world where we’re continually evolving our healthy eating game, these Takenaka lunch boxes make carrying your homemade healthy snacks convenient and simultaniously mega stylish. Next time you pull up a seat at the communal table watch the envy sweep across your coworkers faces when you pull out this beauty. We just hope what you put inside is as impressive as the outside.