* Chick Fil-A lovers can finally exhale. The Atlanta-based purveyor of fried chicken finally relented and purchased land at the Marketplace in Council Bluffs. Their fried chicken, whether in wrap, sandwich or biscuit form, is the stuff of legend. There’s no word on an opening date, though, so you’ll have to keep pestering your friends who work at Mutual of Omaha (there’s a Chick Fil-A in their cafeteria that offers a reduced menu) to hook you up for the time being. * Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, and if you haven’t figured out what to get your dad this year, we have some suggestions. Dads are to grilling as barbecue sauce is to ribs, so a barbecue or grilling-themed gift is usually a sure bet. There are plenty of grilling and barbecue cookbooks available, so it’s pretty hard to go wrong on that front. Yes, there’s always those combo kits with a spatula, long-handled fork and a baster you can find everywhere from Marshalls to Lowes. Most hardware stores also carry hardwood charcoal, which differs significantly from briquettes. Hardwood is just that — charred wood. The benefits of using hardwood is that it burns hotter than briquets and there are no additives. Briquettes, particularly cheaper brands, have all sorts of crap in them in addition to charcoal — there are binders, furniture shavings, and all sorts of materials you’re better off avoiding. That said, briquettes burn at a more consistent rate, and well-known brands like Kingsford (one of the first producers, by the way) are reliable. Another good gift for the charcoal griller is a chimney. What was once the staple of outdoor cooking and specialty stores is showing up in the Targets of the world. These tall canisters allow you to safely light a batch of charcoal without lighter fluid. It wouldn’t be barbecue without some hickory smoke wafting through the neighborhood. Yeah, you can buy mesquite-flavored briquettes, but you can easily pick up a bag of hickory, mesquite or even apple, cherry or pecan chips for smoking for a couple bucks. Selection varies by store, but the Westlake Hardware outlets have been the most reliable for me. Two other items that’ll come in handy (and cheaper) can be found at a local restaurant supply store: long-handled tongs and a couple sheet pans to carry your bounty to and from the house. You can find supply stores in the phone book and they’re more than happy to sell to the public.


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