THE CALOR MINI-BBQ TEST DRIVE

 

In my part of the world, a hillside in North East Cork, just by the border with County Waterford, we have not been having much of a Summer. Last year, we ate outside on the terrace most evenings, and got through a lot of lumpwood charcoal.

This year, we have so far managed a rather breezy lunch and a supper that was abandoned on the basis that dining al fresco in coats in July is just not a bundle of fun.

However, I am a great believer in the barbecue and the taste it can impart to meat and, indeed, to vegetables. On the website you can read a recent recipe for barbecued chicken; believe me, it works; I made the mistake of departing from its wisdom the other day and ended up with wings that could have come from Nando’s. Yes, that bad.

Anyway, being something of a barbecue aficionado, I’ve been test driving, so to speak, the Calor Mini-BBQ, both at home and on my travels. It’s very compact and portable and has space inside for a 400g gas cartridge. You can hook it up to a 6kg cylinder too, if you’re cooking for a crowd but you won’t want to lug one of those along the beach.

It’s a clever design, I have to say, but strictly speaking it’s more of a griddle than a barbecue although the holes in the cooking plates allow considerable heat to hit anything lying over them.

I have found it best for doing things like chicken thighs and pork chops rather than steaks. It doesn’t reach the kind of temperature you need to sear a piece of beef and give it an outside crust while keeping the inside perfectly rare. But, to be honest, you need charcoal for that and, again, you won’t want to lug that along the beach either.

The Calor Mini-BBQ costs €169.99 from hardware and DIY shops. I think it genuinely could transform the family picnic, especially as the heat source seems to be well protected from the wind. And in a Summer like that of 2015, this is a good thing.