About two years ago, Sonja and I went in on a side of beef with some close friends, filling our deep freeze with meat in the process. Most of it we ate through quickly, my carnivorous lust for dead animals seemingly unslakable, our ability to incorporate hamburger into any dish uncanny, perhaps even unparalleled. Yet since that time, there has been in the back of my deep freeze, brooding surlily and biding its time, a monster I’ve come to refer to as Colossus. Aptly named by yours truly, Colossus was a T-Bone steak, the last remaining remnant of a long gone side of beef. Some three inches thick and larger in circumference than a plate, we’d eye one another every time I’d show up for chicken tenders or ice for my drink. He knew I feared him, almost as if he could hear my doubt-ridden inner dialogue. If it came to a head, surely that steak would get the best of me. It was because of this fear that Colossus lived peacefully, smugly even, in the back of my deep freeze for several years.
Last night, I took on Colossus.
The weather was amazing yesterday, the advent of March prematurely causing many around us to wear shorts and even put the top down on their cars. For our part, Sonja and I loaded the kids into the stroller and took a long walk yesterday morning, culminating in a stop at Bob’s Doughnuts and a subsequent sugar high for the pair of our tiny wards. When we returned home, I was inspired to see if I could get the remnant of my once-mighty grill to fire up, the victim of a harsh winter and more than one topple thanks to heavy wind. I replaced the damaged burner plates, wiped it down, scrubbed off the grates, and it whispered to me that it was ready for one final year. I pledged to make it a good one.
Back inside, I approached the deep freeze with the same fears and trepidation I’d always born, but with a resolve that Colossus had never before witnessed. Wordlessly, I seized him from the back of the freezer and bound him in a zip-lock bag. He fought back, tearing the bag at the seems, to which I indifferently responded by tossing him in the sink full of hot water with no regard for whether or not his ancient paper would grow saturated. If two years frozen solid to the core wouldn’t hurt him, I reasoned, neither would water. Then I loaded Titus in the car and left Colossus in his watery prison.
Titus and I stopped by Lowe’s for a new grill brush and some light bulbs, went to lunch at The Winery — our Saturday custom, and then went to Whole Foods where we bought fresh carrots and potatoes to pair with the beast, as well as some fresh-cut flowers for mom. Back home, I put Titus down for his nap and set to work upon the my newly-thawed nemesis. The time to do battle had finally arrived.
In fervor I tore his clothes from upon his back, the aged butcher paper coming off in strips, only to be shocked upon the revelation that Colossus was actually two smaller Colossi, the three-inch steak that had so intimidated me for years being revealed to be actually two one-and-a-half inch steaks. This understanding did little to assuage my fears, as the circumference remained unaltered, and I suddenly wondered if my old grill even boasted enough surface area for both of these monsters. But the battle had begun, and there was no longer any chance of backing out alive. I wedged my fingers in between the two steaks and tore the flesh apart, tossing each upon its own separate plate. Then I set to work massaging my old enemy, cunningly rubbing both meat tenderizer and sea salt deep into his open wounds. When at last I was satisfied that neither could any longer rise from the plate in retaliation, I left them there in the open air to await the death blow that all of us knew was coming. That I would win the battle was no longer in question, but whether or not it would be a satisfying victory remained in doubt.
I spent the rest of the afternoon readying my horses, sharpening my sword, and oiling my armor — that is to say, I peeled carrots, made mashed potatoes, rechecked the grill, and steeled my mind, banishing from my thoughts those ubiquitous memories of steak-disasters from my past. Finally, before the final fires were to be lit, I retired to the cellar and removed from it a bottle of wine that I suspected was equal to assisting me in taming the Colossi.
When I mercilessly flung my two-year nemesis upon the flaming coals, my two-and-a-half-year-old son colored inside, without so much as an inkling of the epic battle that at last was finding closure just on the other side of the exterior wall. He needn’t trouble his young mind with such things, such adult problems, I reasoned. One day, no doubt, he would have a nemesis of is own. I could only hope to raise him to fare well when his day to engage a steak in mortal combat finally arrived. It was not the right time to interrupt childhood, I told myself. Today was a good day to color in Big Bird. In orange.
Meticulously, I refused to let the grill exceed 350 degrees, and I monitored the Colossi like a sentry, lest they light their copious amounts of fat on fire, badly charring themselves and depriving me of victory. Inside, carrot simmered in butter and my wife stirred up the mashed potatoes. Our dinner guest waited patiently, helping Titus to color. Zooey cooed happily from her high chair. At last, I was satisfied that the Colossi were, if not perfected, as good as I was capable of making them. I put them on a plate to rest and carried their steaming corpses inside to be consumed.
Paired with the Tedeschi Brother’s Blend Lot 11 and the ensemble of sides I made, Colossus nevertheless shined! Incredibly tender and undeniably flavorful, Sonja remarked that it was a really good steak — a fact that surprised her, given her intimate knowledge of my longstanding rivalry with this meat. The wine, gorgeous in color, smooth upon the palate, paired brilliantly with the meal. Notes of underripe black currant and plums, black cherry, and subtle hints of cinnamon and clove, the beautifully embedded structure and persistent tannins held up well to red meat, and complimented the meal perfectly. I had slain Colossus. I was, at last, victorious!
Cheers to our epic battles,