Just because it has rained since Easter doesn’t mean we have to be pessimistic, does it campers? For a barbecue summer, first buy your barbecue.
You can pay as little as £7 or as much as £6,000 to burn burgers and incinerate sausages. There are culinary issues – fat run-off, ventilation and so on – but in the main, how you choose your firepower is really down to portability and how much you need to impress the neighbours.
Cheap, cheerful and perfect for toasting and roasting on the beach is the Portable BBQ Bucket from Dunelm Mill, £6.99, which comes in six jazzy colours. From stores only; there’s no delivery service on this item. It has a carrying handle and small legs, but nobody’s perfect. There are Dunelm branches all over, from Cornwall to Aberdeen, so bagging your bucket shouldn’t be a problem.
Still in the bucket bracket but a little pricier, the Whitstable galvanised version is a simple beach BBQ, with air holes to allow circulation through the charcoal while sizzling those sardines. It costs £24, and stockists include Lily and Lime. There’s also a bigger size, the Holkham, at £42.
A more caveman approach might call for the Skagerak Helios Fire Bowl. First light your choice of combustibles, lay the grill over it and follow with the consumables. The ash gathers in the centre of the pit, to drop down into a pot for easy emptying when the chef has sobered up. It’s being sold by Salcombe Trading for £199.
Moving on to more competitive al fresco cooking, the Brinkmann double charcoal Smoke n Grill is the number one bestseller in the US, where they know a thing or two about steaks ’n’ burgers. It uses low heat for slow cooking and smoking at the same time. A big joint of meat can be smoke-cooked, or food can be grilled in the normal way. It has a hinged door at the front, two cooking grills and stay-cool wooden handles. If buying through The Old Smokehouse, the smaller version is £89, and the super-duper Gourmet Smoker is £108.50. The same company is selling the Cobb Premier BBQ, which comes with a carrying bag, roasting rack and recipe book, for £99.75.
For lots of information on roasting, broasting and BBQing, check out Cook Equip. They also have the Chicken Beer Roaster for £13.50, which marinades your chook as it cooks. (In the States, where it comes from, the dish is known as Beer Butt Chicken.)
From another far-flung former colony, New Zealand, comes Weatherwax from Beeplenish, being launched in May through New Zealand Honey Shop. It protects wood, including the handles and shelves of BBQs, and costs £16.95.
Also coming soon to a kebab near you is the Hot-Pot BBQ. In summer, it’s a fully functioning griller, but once the coals have cooled and the lid goes on, you have a terracotta planter for the herbs you need for cooking. It costs £99 and will soon be available from Prezzybox. They also sell more conventional BBQs and a really, really posh Electric Drinks Cooler (£339) to hold the beers and wine.
And now, to the grand-daddy of bling BBQs, the one which is bigger than my patio (in fact, I think it’s bigger than my kitchen). The Weber Summit S670 Grill Centre – sounds impressive already – is an L-shaped outdoor kitchen with a ‘social area’. It also has a sear station, smoker box, illuminated control knobs, ice and rubbish bins and an infrared rotisserie burner. With a bit of encouragement, it can probably grill a prawn too. Available from the incomparable John Lewis for £5,999.