We’ve had a funny summer so far this year. Funny as in odd rather than joyful! The good old British Summer seems to have surpassed itself in 2016. We’ve barely seen the sun at all and temperatures in May – with two Bank Holiday weekends to contend with have been dire. The draw of moving to warmer climes becoming more and more appealing – surely people are happier in the sun!?
However, whilst we stay here and brave the weather, ever hopeful, the BBQ season is well under way. That’s when you really feel like it’s summer, even if the sun doesn’t manage to burn through the cloud!
Us English must come second only to our Aussie cousins for our love of barbecues. They don’t have to be raucous, unruly affairs either. I set out this past Bank Holiday to arrange and throw a BBQ Fit for a King. So, using only the best ingredients and the suppliers, I set out to give the BBQ an upmarket makeover.
Now the centre point of any BBQ has of course to be the meat. Catering to a larger crowd as I was for this, I needed simplicity with less being more. Ie not too much choice, a few delicious options that would speak for themselves.
So, where to go for the best meat in London? Which butcher has more links with royalty than any other? A butcher who is sure to know what is fit for a King (or Queen – as the case may be!). Of course it’s straight to the charming Danny Lidgate at Lidgate’s. This family-run concern has been going for five generations and the shop in Holland Park is as famous as its produce. Passionate about what they do and supporting a network of nationwide farmers who are also, they even source meat from the Prince of Wales’ Highgrove Estate. Meat doesn’t get any more regal than this. The choice, when browsing their website leaves you wanting to order everything on offer and that’s before even looking at their groceries and deli section and don’t even get me started on their famous pies. Alas, I had to reign myself in.
I decided on a burger and two sausages (hot dog buns included) each. Not any burger but Earl Stoneham Farm wagyu beef burgers. These cows graze on lush Suffolk pasture and locally grown maize to produce the most mouth-watering, rich flavoursome beef that makes for jawdroppingly awesome burgers. Then for a selection of sausages. An impossible choice, using only the best ingredients led me to my more original choices of chicken and apple, gluten-free beef, venison, wild boar, caramelised onion and Victoria & Albert. Plus that meant that all dietary requirements were met!
Let’s move on to another cornerstone of any gathering that involves food. The drinks. For the children and those not drinking alcohol or wanting that added healthy hydration, we decided on a the best form of water that anyone could wish for – coconut water. Cocofina coconut water has received numerous awards of excellence in food and drink. Their products win Great Taste awards year after year. And coconut water really is the drink of kings. Found only inside young coconuts, this substance is so healthy that it was used as a plasma substitute in WW2 due to its perfect ph and electrolyte balance. It’s high in chloride, magnesium and other minerals and is nature’s natural energy drink!
For the oenophiles though, good wine is a must. Moreno Wines, another family-run business spanning generations was my go-to place. Serving the industry for over thirty years with a huge bias towards Spain, they are based around the corner in Maida Vale. I knew that I could count on Marcel to offer up some of the best accompaniment to the mouth-watering meat. The business – started in the sixties in Portobello – the then heart of the Spanish community – grew to import the best of what Spain has to offer. Now, Spanish cuisine is amongst the most popular in the UK. Moreno Wines was at the forefront offering regional wines to a very appreciative consumer and are experts in their field and beyond!
A Hermosa Neblerio Tempranillo from Andalucia with its dark, fruity and slightly earthy aroma, provided the perfect match to the beef and a 2008 Piancornello Brunello-di-Montalcino from Tuscany with its complex taste and good finish proved to be a big hit also as did the Pinoso Pontos Cepa 50 Vinas Viejas Monastrell with its intense fruity flavours.
For dessert, I wanted to keep it simple so some regally-designed cupcakes in a royal variety of colours did the job perfectly. Supplied by Srcumpalicious Cupcakes. I happened to stumble upon Melissa Reid whilst doing some research. A business born from a passion for cooking and family and friends who egged her on to take it to the next level and this is exactly what Melissa did.
Her baking is on another level. Using fairtrade, local organic ingredients, her cupcakes are the best! Soft, sumptuous and rising to the occassion. Melissa created the most beautiful, regal, soft and indeed scrumptious cupcakes. when it was time for dessert, we couldn’t keep anyone away!
Lastly, but by no means least. When putting together any event of a party nature, I always turn to my frinds at Partyrama. We used bunting, table covers, paper plates, plastic knives and forks, plastic wineglasses, table covers – they stock them in every and any colour imaginable. Anything that you need to party, they stock it and it all arrives next day delivery. You will never need to worry about a thing again. What I love about them is that everything is all in one place.
So, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to BBQ like kings and queens, then follow my advice; go for the best of the best and keep it simple, innit?!