It looks like the great British Summer is finally here! After months of grey skies and endless rain, June has brought us the most glorious sunshine. There’s only one thing us Brits think of in this kind of situation, and that’s a barbeque! I’ve spent my weekend coming up with this essential guide for how to thoroughly enjoy a British BBQ, so grab a pair of tongs, give ‘em two clicks, and let’s get cooking!
Now I’m going to presume you already have a barbeque and the necessary tools so I’m going to concentrate on food and drinks. But one tool I bet you don’t have is a good BBQ cleaner. I was lucky enough to be sent the Sizzle Buddy. This ultra-portable gadget features a 300ml capacity water reservoir as well as a curved scraping tool for getting at those hard-to-reach grill bars and a stainless steel brush for fast and effective cleaning. The heat resistant body is a real time saver as you can clean during or immediately after cooking with no problem. This is one of those things you think you don’t need until you actually get one, now I don’t know how I actually coped without it!
My first food recommendation comes in the form of a box full of meat delivered to your door. I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate going to the supermarket and finding all the burgers and sausages are all gone so what could be easier than seeing a good weather forecast and then ordering this to arrive the next day?
The Large British BBQ Meat Bundle from high quality, sustainable and ethically sourced food specialists 44 Foods contains all of the meaty mains you’d expect at a sizzling summer soirée – delicious burgers, sausages and kebabs as well as ribs and chicken wings. Everything is pre-marinated, cut, skewered and ready to go straight on the BBQ. I’m not sure how many people this was supposed to feed but as there was more than enough for 4 of us I’d suggest at least 6 adults could enjoy all this and still have leftovers. 44 Foods also gives the option of mixing and matching your order as well as adding salads, sauces, burger buns and anything else you might need from their extensive menu.
When enjoying a BBQ there is always a danger that foods might not be cooked to a safe temperature, while dad’s sausages appear black on the outside, they can still be pink on the inside….
To avoid this I was sent the Thermapen which will help you quickly and easily know that the food you are serving is safe for everyone to eat. Thermapen food thermometers are incredibly easy to use, simply retract the probe, place the probe into the center of whatever you’re cooking and in under 3 seconds you’ll have a temperate reading telling you whether your food is cooked. The device comes with a detailed guide to safe cooking temperatures so that you can be sure what you are feeding your loved ones is only ever good for them. As an ex professional chef, I’d say this was an essential in every kitchen, but perfect for a BBQ.
I was sent a great sauce for the BBQ food from Aloha 65 with fresh ingredients including roasted pineapple, ginger, scotch bonnet chilli, and three other carefully selected herbs and spices that give it a distinctive flavour perfect for barbecued meats and veg. I also tried their chilli infused pineapple chunks which we passed round after a few drinks. They provided much entertainment but being a fan of spice I actually really liked them.
Before we move on to drinks you need to remember that BBQs are enjoyed outside, so popping in and out to the fridge every time you need a top up can be a real pain. Thankfully I was given a stunning wine cooler from The Summer House. In my favourite colour of bright turquoise, they brighten up every table, bar or picnic rug. Made from tough and durable acrylic, they fit a normal bottle or a magnum but they are also big enough to have a few bottles of beers on ice. A really lovely addition to my outside dining area.
Now onto the all important drinks, because that’s what BBQs are really all about aren’t they? Though saying that I wanted to recommend something accessible to everyone so we have drinks that are alcohol free, low calorie, spirits and sparkling, white and rose wines.
Starting with something unlike anything I’ve ever tried before, Three Spirit Drinks area functional and healthier booze alternative designed by plant scientists and bar tenders. Handcrafted in the UK, their drinks are made with functional plants with active compounds, are all vegan and alcohol free.
I sampled the collection of the Livener, Social Elixir and Nightcap. The generous 20cl bottles come with recipe tips and tricks included as well as tasting notes that are incredibly accurate and interesting. I actually loved all three drinks: unique, unusual and they gave a real mood altering feel. And best of all, no hangover!
If you’re into something a bit stronger then I have a real treat for you. I was given a taste of Aber Falls limited edition single malt whisky. With initial notes of tropical fruits, coconut, mango and banana, alongside scents of sweet hay and cut grass this exceptional single malt whisky has flavours of dark chocolate and golden syrup, influences of cream and vanilla with hints of pine. When I read that I thought, ‘no chance, it’s 46% it will taste like bad decisions’, but it really does have the gradual changing flavours of tropical fruits, followed by a smother, creamier taste. It really was exceptional.
Now for a low calorie option and something a bit different. 2021 seems to be the year of the hard seltzer, a combination of fruit juice and sparkling water with added alcohol. Using all-natural fruit juices and a neutral spirit, Long Shot offers that lighter, cleaner way to drink – all of which are under 70 calories and come in 3 different flavours. Recently named one of the worlds best hard seltzers these drinks are a fantastic alternative to a boring gin and slimline tonic or that vodka and diet lemonade you’ve tried to train yourself to enjoy instead of a pint.
Now my personal favourite drink… wine. Not just any wine, Summer wine, the best kind, the kind where that first cold sip on a hot day gives you a real sense of bliss.
I was sent a selection from Independant Wines who must have heard me say this as this trio really are a taste of Summer. The Feudi di Guagnano, Rosarò 2019 was one of the best roses I’ve ever tasted. The Negroamaro grapes for this wine are harvested by hand and the grape juice is kept in contact with its skins for 24 hours after crushing, which extracts a lot of aroma and colour. This period of skin contact is much longer than a typical rosé, which explains why this wine has more vibrant flavours.
A lovely summer drink, but you know what would be even more summery? Pink prosecco! Ca’ di Rajo Pink Prosecco from Independant wines has now become one of my favourite drinks. It’s light, elegant and fresh, with an added sophistication from the Pinot Noir grape that makes it a bit special. This red grape gives the wine a vivid pink blush, as well as adding delicate tastes of wild strawberry and fresh raspberry. SUmmer in a glass!
If rose is not to your taste then the Siddùra Spèra 2019 is a splendid choice of white wine. It is incredibly bright and fresh, with flavours of zingy lemon tempered by some minerality. It’s exactly what you would expect from Vermentino, Sardinia’s signature white grape.
And last but certainly by no means least is a very special English sparkling wine from Langham Wine Estate. The English Rosé was one of three pink sparkling wines from around the world to be awarded a Gold Medal in the prestigious wine competition and the only one from the UK. With aromas of rhubarb crumble, cherry, cranberry and raspberry compote, the palate has a fine mousse with notes of strawberries and cream, sour cherry and pink lady apple with an integrated citrus acidity. A complex wine with a long finish that is more than perfect to pop open after a successful BBQ.
So there you have it. Meat, drinks and a whole lot of fun. All you need now is the weather…