For the BBQ Kings & Queens

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Lets face it, with the temperature soaring, there’s not much inside cookery going on round here! There’s the nightly smell of food on a hot grill, which can have varied results.

If your foodie continues their endeavours outdoors too, then here’s some great suggestions to make this their best season of outdoor cooking yet!

Smokin' Rigs and Great Recipes
Smokin' Rigs and Great Recipes

1. Show them that barbecue can be an extreme sport, not to mention a technique for mass catering, with a copy of Extreme Barbecue: Smokin’ Rigs and Real Good Recipes. If they start building contraptions in the garden, then it’s probably something out of here!

2. Buy them a barbecue that will be real talking point! Have a look at the Nordic barbecue, which is a tower barbecue, which is different. It’s said to cook things more healthily than normal, as food cooks next to the heat source and you get no flames from dripping fat. And apparently all that makes the food taste better, which will be key for the foodie! They’re also pretty new, so will be a real wow when they have friends round. If it’s a competitive foodie environment, they score big brownie points!

3. If there’s likely to be steak on the grill, then how about a branding iron? Firebox have one that you can personalise, so you can put everyone’s name on their steak, or any message you like! It’s a bit of fun, but serves a practical purpose!

4. Buy them something fabulous to slap on the grill. A good time to check out your local butcher, farm shop or farmer’s market. We used to live in Hampshire, and would make a summer weekend trip to O’Hagan’s Sausages to stock up with something unusual. Drunken Duck sausage anyone? We’re also enjoying some from Jimmy’s Farm that we bought at a country fair recently. We had the lamb sausages, and also the gluten free classic sausage, so perfect if your foodie suffers with an intolerance.

5. They might need something a bit more special than HP Sauce and Heinz Ketchup to go with those burgers. I’m quite impressed with the ones Jamie Oliver is offering, the tomato one in particular. It’s a bit special, and very tasty!

They should also try checking out the BBQ Blog, this is about serious bbq’ing complete with competitions! We have such a long way to go here in the UK! There’s a great entry on a barbecue road trip, so if you want to treat them to a very different trip across the US, this might be for them!

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We all scream for ice cream

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Another glorious day, more temperature records broken…even more need than ever for great ice cream! Now you could pop out to the corner shop for a Fab or a Strawberry Mivvi, but the true foodie is not going to be happy with that! Unless your local stocks something fab like Minghella’s, or Roskilly’s for the Coconut Ice Cream.

 

Be cool with great taste! The Gaggia ice cream maker with built in freezer compartment

 

So I would suggest if they are an ice cream aficionado, then it’s time they started making their own. I’m reliably informed by an ice cream addict that the Gaggia is the Rolls Royce of ice cream makers. It’s fantastic in that as long as you have bench space, it stays out ready to go all the time. With others, you have to know in advance you’re going to want to make it, or wait until the bowl has frozen.

Or if you want a bit of interactive fun with a tasty end result, then how about the ice cream ball? You put everything in, play a bit of footie with it and hey presto, ice cream! Got to be one of the most fun ways of making dessert!

For ice cream inspiration, then check out the Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, for chunky, flavoursome ice creams or perhaps The Ultimate Ice Cream Book for equally flavoursome but slightly more sophisticated offerings.  And if you’re just going to dish up vanilla, then you’ll need to make a great sundae or knickerbocker glory! So pick up some hundreds and thousands whilst you’re down the shop!

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A taste of summer

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Lime Squeezer - all juice, no mess

 

It seems like it’s been a true summer’s day all over the UK today, although tempered, of course, with heavy downpours in places. So I’ve been thinking about warm summery flavours, of which one of my favourite is lime.

It’s tropical but sharp, and goes with all sorts of great things, from fruit to griddled halloumi (one of my favourites). But it can be a so and so to get the juice out of, and doesn’t really love having to use the same juicer as the lemon gets! So if your foodie is a gadget gatherer, then one of their gifts has to be this lime squeezer.

With that vivid green colour, there’s no mistaking what this one is for! It easily squeezes out all the juice and doesn’t drop in any of the seeds, pulp or peel. And at under £10, it’s also a perfect credit crunch gift, with the only thing getting squeezed being the lime, not your bank balance.

What are you going to do with all that lovely juice? Well browsing around I came across this great recipe on The Cottage Smallholder for Coriander and Lime Juice Pesto, which sounds amazing. This would make a really great light summery supper stirred through pasta, with a crunchy green salad on the side, and possible a glass of something white and chilled.

 

Bill Granger Everyday

 

It credits Bill Granger with being the inspiration, who is one of my favourite cooks. I’ve never eaten at any of his places, or even stepped onto Australian soil, but a great many of his books line the bookshelves here. It all looks invitingly fresh and healthy, but not dull. The sort of flavours you want to eat when it’s hot, but not when it’s February.

I am working my way through Bill’s Food and Every Day, as well as Holiday. Now the warm weather is, hopefully, here for a bit, they are just perfect. If your foodie needs some new recipe inspiration, then try these. Just don’t look at them on a wet day, you will feel jealous!

Or else, just book yourselves on that trip to Australia and visit his resturants. That’ll be like all their foodie gifts come true at once!

 

Update

Since I wrote this, I’ve had the joy of a trip to Australia, some amazing eating and a trip to Bill’s very first restaurant. It wasn’t a let down.

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A fabulous foodie treat of an afternoon tea

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Laura Mercier Perfume Tea

 

Buying gifts for foodies doesn’t just have to be things. In many ways, experiences will last longer than many physical things you can buy. And if your foodie fancies a bit of a treat, then I love this new afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols.

The Laura Mercier Perfume Tea is a fabulous combination of tea, cakes and fragrance, so ticks lots of boxes. Inspired by Laura Mercier’s Vanilla Gourmande fragrance, Fifth Floor executive chef Jonas Karlsson has designed the most wonderful tea, that is just a bit different to your average afternoon tea. The store’s in-house tea blenders were commissioned to create a new infusion, creating a bespoke blend of jasmine, vanilla, rose and green tea to complement the vanilla orchid, liqueur, bourbon, musk, heliotrope, daylily, sandalwood and amber notes of Vanille Gourmande.

Once you’ve got a cup of tea poured, then you can choose from a whole range of themed delicacies including smoked salmon and horseradish, cheese and pickle and egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches; scones with kumquat and vanilla marmalade and clotted cream; a vanilla and lemon-infused cupcake; a chocolate praline mousse cake; a raspberry éclair with rose and raspberry cream and chocolate, pistachio and peach macaroons. I know, I could eat all of that right now.

Whilst not cheap compared to a cup of tea and a slice of cake at Starbucks, it’s hardly comparable and so the £19.95 per person could be money very well spent. You can upgrade in various ways with champagne and gift wrapped bottles of the perfume, it depends on your budget!

I have to admit to loving this idea, and it’s one I’ve used myself. I was thrilled to be involved in the relaunch of Girard fragrances last year, with a launch at The Dorchester. The team there created canapes and cocktails that matched with the key ingredients of the 5 fragrances. I can’t take credit for it being an original idea, I was inspired by the amazing sounding dinners that Chandler Burr, the fragrance critic for the New York Times, created. I wish I’d been at a few of those too!

If you fancy the food but not the bill, then I found a recipe for Kumquat Vanilla marmalade on Lick My Spoon, which would make a great treat and change to the usual raspberry or strawberry. And if you want the fragrance then you can order it from Harvey Nichols but their delivery charges are quite steep. Stop by your nearest Space NK, they’ll have it but they don’t stock it online.

I’m off to see if I can recreate those macaroons!

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A very British delight

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The Full English Scotch Egg

We’ve been introducing a friend’s American girlfriend to British culinary delights today, starting with the Scotch egg. No summer picnic is complete without them, but if you’re going to do them, do it properly! Truly, you need to be getting your eggs from The Handmade Scotch Egg Company, these are the eggs to end all eggs!

As gifts for foodies go, it’s not the first thing that would leap to mind, but these guys will send your loved one a mixed box, large ones or small ones, with flavours including tarragon and garlic, smoked bacon, paprika, chilli…even one based on an Irish white pudding recipe! I promise you, they will never look at the ones in the garage fridge in the same way again!

If you don’t want to buy online, then check out their events page to find out where they are going to be next.

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My favourite foodie gift

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From tree to can with Nudo - great gift for a food lover

 

Adopting an olive tree with Nudo has to be my favourite foodie gift that I’ve ever given. In fact it’s not just a gift, it’s a series of gifts!

You get the excitement of opening it, finding out what it is and getting to taste some of the extra virgin olive oil then and there (note to self, next time send some great bread too). Then there is the Spring package to look forward to of another 2 litres of the new season’s extra virgin oil to enjoy again.

If you needed some variety, or just some unusual but useful ingredients, then I would also try the lemon and the chilli oils. Perfect for both cooking and drizzling, they also look great in the kitchen too. Ticks the boxes for the stylish foodie: great design and even greater taste!

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Tracking down great food gifts

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I love my food, I love everything about food: eating it, preparing it, shopping for it, reading about it…just about everything except having to work it off, which is the price you pay I guess!

I wish every foodie gift was a glorious gourmet treat, but often this isn’t the case. Somewhere there are huge bottles of oils and vinegars, strange liquers and random tinned stuff. So I wanted to find the stuff that any self respecting gourmet would really want to give cupboard space to.

This is the start of my journey to track down the good stuff, and perhaps laugh at some of the really bad stuff! If you’re the gourmet, then I hope to help you write a great wish list. And if you have a foodie to shop for, I hope to help you out!

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