21 May 2007

Coal-fired barbie

My first barbecue for the year was an interesting affair. The previous owners had left an old wooden box in the barn filled with what I thought were heat beads. So we decided to have a few people over and fire up the bbq that’s built into the summer kitchen – a neat affair with an open grill. We didn’t get back from Narbonne until 4.30 and people arriving at 6. Sylvia and I hit the kitchen running, and Sandy was on outdoor duties. Plenty of fire lighters and much work on the old bellows later, and she had the ‘beads’ glowing a treat. But they had a strange smell. When Patrick arrived at six (minus Sandra who had come down with a cold), he informed us that we had in fact fired up the barbie with compressed coal, and that he’d never heard of anyone barbequeing with it! Oops. Fortunately he went home and grabbed a bag of BBQ charcoal and we started all over again. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing after that. There was a copious amount of smoke and many jokes about turning the summer kitchen into a smokehouse.
And here’s Sylvia doing her best to cook the sausages in the gloom.

Also I’d decided to do a starter of my old squid recipe that I used to make at Cheyne Beach. But I couldn’t get the size squid I was used to. In fact the only ones I could fine were whole little ones that I had to clean when I got home. I might be a fisherman’s daughter, but this was a first for me. But actually those little heads and tentacles just pull right off! Pas un problème. Cuttlefish seems to be more popular here, and you can get all sizes – from tiny ones complete with the cuttle bone through to thick white strips that have obviously come from monsters of the deep. A slight problem also with the cooking - couldn’t get the fire hot enough (no more than 15 seconds or so on each side on a REALLY hot fire is what’s needed) …… but despite all that, the sausages eventually cooked up a treat and the currently very open-plan barn turned out to be a great spot for the inaugural outdoor meal. It was a bit windy and a few spots of rain so we went under cover.
…. and note the burgeoning fig tree in the foreground that I only chopped down a few months ago.

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