Monday, October 18, 2010

Smokin' in Cayucos

You find smokers in the most unlikely places. When we checked in at the Cayucos Beach Inn two weeks ago, the clerk asked if we were with the "golf group." I said no and didn't think about the question until we returned from my nephew's wedding late that night.

At 11 p.m., I found several couples lounging around the picnic tables and large white tent in the parking lot. I must have missed the trailer-mounted smoker with its torpedo-shaped cooking chamber.

The motel parking lot was filled with the sweet aroma of oak when I walked to the breakfast room Saturday morning. I walked over to the smoker after breakfast and introduced myself.

Up at 3 a.m., the Texas-born pitmaster had loaded 12 full sized beef briskets into the smoker as soon as the fire was ready. Late morning found Roy, who now hails from California City, soaking in the brisk ocean air next to the smoker with the other cooks.

Roy and his companions were playing the waiting game, waiting for hungry golfers to return from the course and for the smoke to work its magic. Around 100 golfers were expecting Texas smoked brisket and simmered pinto beans at six.

Roy's mission was two-fold that morning: Give the golfers good food and tell them about brisket. No one knows about brisket in California, said Roy. When approached, most presume he's smoking tri-tip, a reasonable presumption since we were a few miles up Highway 101 from Santa Maria tri-tip country.

"Everyone asks me if I do tri-tip," said Roy. "I'm from Texas. I do brisket."

He's done well with the golfers. We're like family," explained Roy. Rightfully so. Most of the golfers are co-workers and acquaintances of his employer, a rock quarry in Ridgecrest, California. The crew gathers annually in the seaside community for a company golf tournament.

Too bad I couldn't hang around to feast on some tender Texas smoked brisket. The deep red hue invited me when Roy opened the lid to show me the meat. But a six-hour road trip called me home.

Finding a smoker may not be a standard occurrence in this beach resort. But when you mix a group of dessert golfers with succulent Texas barbecue, you have the fixin's for a good game and a great meal.

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