New spices for men (and a chance to win)

By Penny Caldwell | 22 May 2009

Guest post by Martin Zibauer, deputy editor, Cottage Life

Weber Spice Blend

OK, we all know it’s a myth that only men barbecue, but it is true, according to a Weber survey, that the majority (60%) of grillers are guys. I’m not sure why XY = outdoor cooking aficionado, but Weber is addressing its major market by expanding from barbecues and accessories into a line of 11 grilling spice mixes. You know the target isn’t women because, according to the press release, the large containers (grinders for some flavours, shakers for others) are “man-sized.” Not quite true: I passed them to my colleague Michelle Kelly and she had no trouble grabbing or lifting them. But let’s forgive a little PR puffery.

I tried four Weber Grill Creations mixes: Burger, Cajun, Steak, and Six Pepper. The first ingredient listed, on all but the Cajun blend, is salt. That’s usually a red flag: I prefer mixes with salt left out or at least way down the list, so I can spice heavily and salt lightly. (President’s Choice makes good blends for salt-phobics.) But even applied with a generous hand, the salt in Weber’s mixes doesn’t overpower. In fact, all the other spices in the blends I tried are equally well behaved. Nothing aggressive, no one flavour stands out too much. The Six Pepper has a bit of a jalapeno kick, but nothing that will knock any teeth out.

The downside of being too well balanced is a personality that doesn’t always get noticed. These are dependable, tasty blends, but no guest is going to sit up and insist on knowing what you put on the steaks. Not if you apply them straight. Next time, I’ll use them as a convenient base, tweaked for some needed oomph—maybe dusting a little smoked paprika over the Cajun, or ground cumin over the Steak blend.  But if all I have to do to get something really good is add one or two spices, these mixes are a true convenience.

Your chance to do your own taste test: I have two extra sets of six blends up for grabs. If you’d like to try them, how about we trade? Submit a barbecue tip or funny grilling story in the comments below and the best two, judged subjectively by me on Friday May 29, will receive a set. (You’ll need to enter your email with your comment so I can contact you, but your email address won’t be published.)