Monday, May 12, 2008

BBQ Time

Sat 10 May 2008

Here in the UK we're in the grip of our 4 days of summer so every man and his dog is out having BBQs. And I'm not any different, except that I went to the South Lakes for mine - nothing like a bit of convenience!

Somehow I got roped into cooking (I suspect I might have had one or two too many glasses of wine at some point and volunteered), so much of Saturday was spent acquiring foodstuffs (even I am not so insane as to cart food across the Penines). As with all shopping, it's all about knowing where to go.

We started at Paul Butchers in Flookburgh, where we grabbed a pile of sausages, some chicken and some organic Welsh lamb mince. I was most impressed, however, by the pies: £1 each, still warm and a huge choice - we opted for steak and kidney, meat and potato and mince and onion. Perhaps it's poetic justice that those of us who live in the city get plenty of variety and exotica with our food - but for £1 (or thereabouts) we can buy some pretty near inedible pies (the ones in my work canteen, for example, or anything from Greggs or Ainsleys). Live in the country - you might have to drive for miles to buy an interesting bottle of wine, but you can fall out of your house and into the local butcher's shop for a pie worth eating.

Fortified by meat and pastry, we headed off on the 16 mile journey to Kendal to visit Booths. Apparently this is a flagship store, and only on Thursday night had someone raved to us about the downstairs/underground Artisan store. Having armed myself with a bottle of Booths* own NV Champagne (made by Duval-Leroy, and which received the 'Best Buy' of Decanter's pre Christmas Champagne tasting), and a bottle of the fabulous Querciabella Chianti Classico I headed downstairs to Artisan where by far the most exciting thing was ... THE CHEESE COUNTER.

And yes, this was actually more exciting than the wine department. They stock a small, but very tidy, selection of cheeses. The counter is staffed by a man with, possibly, the best job in Kendal. And it showed: he was calm, pleasant and helpful. He asked us what we were wanting the cheese for, how many people we needed to serve and then let us taste bits and pieces before solving our caseic dilemmas. It was so civilised not to fuss around with "oh, 100g of that one" or "oh, just cut it there with that one". We decided on our three cheeses between 6 people and he did the rest. We came away with a piece of Stinking Bishop, a piece of Wensleydale and a piece of Harbourne Blue from the Ticklemore Cheese Company in Devon.

So - the cheese cost more than the meat, the booze cost more than the other two combined ... how could the BBQ go wrong? Even with a few grey clouds overhead, the event was a success! There are no photos (no time, too much bubbly!), but the menu ran (briefly): sausages, chicken portions in a soy and honey glaze, mackerel with herbs, and home made kofta kebabs - all washed down with lashing of the red stuff** and your choice of red wine/lager/cider/white wine/bitter!

*Seriously - I can't work out if the supermarket is Booth's or Booths or Booths', so I'm omitting apostrophes on purpose, not because I can't use them!
** That's tomato sauce!

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