No garden, no problem: the latest barbecues are more portable than ever, and designed to be used on a tabletop, or even a balcony.
Remember when we all used to be self-conscious about our barbecuing activities? We’d mutter inane jokes about the weather and trot out that old chestnut — “throw another shrimp on the barbie” — in an Australian accent. It’s as though we knew deep down that we were trying too hard to become something that Mother Nature never intended us to be: blissfully sun-kissed steak-flippers.
Somewhere along the way, though, we lost our sense of al fresco irony and the barbecue became our summer oven and the patio the outdoor room. Along with this new-found self-confidence, came the accoutrements of pro-level grilling: brand-name gas-fired models, expensive patio furniture and special dinner sets designed for the outdoors only.
Even beyond our back gardens, the barbecue has been having a moment in the, ahem, sun. It’s a theme at this weekend’s Taste of Dublin festival, in Iveagh Gardens, where there will be a huge firepit grill on site. Next month Guinness will host its fourth Meatopia festival — the name is self-explanatory — while the Big Grill, the homage to beer, beef and beards, returns to the city for its sixth outing in August.
Barbecues are as much a slave to a hot trend as any other household good and, like mobile phones, they’ve been getting smaller, smarter and better looking — they’re design-led, rather than made with chunky lines that appeal to the alpha male. They can be charcoal or wood-fired, or powered by gas or electricity, and the niftiest models are portable, smokeless table-top versions – a subtler alternative to the gas-guzzling Webers and Broil Kings. Nab ’em while they’re hot.
The Everdure Cube by celeb chef Heston Blumenthal is a portable table-top charcoal barbecue with some design cred. It has an integrated food-grade storage tray, bamboo prep board and porcelain enamel firebox, and it’s easy to store and clean. A heat-protection shield keeps external heat to a minimum, and it can be moved using the two cool-to-touch carry handles, even during cooking. It comes in black, blue, grey and orange and costs about €170. For stockists, see kettler.co.uk
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