Summer is barbecue season, but what food and drink makes the best of a sunny afternoon in the garden?
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Villagers Fine Sausages
Surely the most important component of any barbecue, Kent and south east London have some great butchers offering some beautiful meats.
I counted more than 70 varieties of sausage in the menu of Villagers Fine Sausages in Beckenham High Street. Many of them are award winners and according to the chaps in the shop, all but two are sensational on the barbie.
Anyone with South African friends will know those guys love a braai (their version of a barbecue) and Villagers’ South African-inspired Boerewors. It’s densely packed and meaty, with well-seasoned prime beef, pork belly, coriander, red wine and vinegar.
It’s hugely filling and bursting with moisture.
Other bangers highly recommended by Villagers for the barbecue include the Toulouse, which is packed with flat leaf parsley and garlic.
Go to englishsausages.com
Mark (left) and Trevor of JM Danslow
Now your sausages are sorted, head down to JM Danslow in Windmill Street, Gravesend.
Owner Trevor and manager Mark have all the old favourites but also specialise in exotic meats, with camel, crocodile, ostrich, reindeer, venison, wildebeest, zebra, kudu and rabbit available.
Trevor and Mark said all of the meats, which come in a steak format, are perfect for the grill this summer.
Kangaroo meat is a particular delight. Not only is it rich in flavour and a beautiful when cooked rare, it is lean, full of protein, low in fat and contains iron, zinc and antioxidants.
Manager Scott said a lot of the customers looking for exotic meat were English and looking for something adventurous.
He said: “We get people from Sittingbourne and Maidstone who have found us online and they want something different and exciting for a dinner party.
For bigger get-togethers, JM Danslow also rents out its spit roasts for free. They’re great for a hog roast if you have upto 150 people to feed, or a couple of pork legs (£30) could feed up to 80 people.
Scott said the seven coal-fired spit roasts were popular and easy to use.
He said: “It’s a very, very good idea and it is going fast.
“It’s different. It’s not your normal barbecue.”
Go to danslowbutchers.co.uk
Believe it or not, Kent produces some pretty great plonk.
Chapel Down produce a couple of summery wines which are perfect for a barbie. The English Rose 2013 (£10.99) has notes of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and redcurrant and a palate full of juicy ripe berries and a crisp finish. It goes brilliantly chilled with a barbecue, salads or grilled fish.
The 2010 Chardonnay (£10.99) has fresh aromas of apple, lime, apricot and pineapple, a nice weight and texture, and a classic mineral finish. The grapes are all from Kent, Surrey and Sussex vineyards.
Go to chapeldown.com
A hot summer’s day calls for something light and refreshing.
Brockley Brewery’s Pale Ale is just the ticket. It is full-bodied, malty with a tangy hop flavour and a refreshing finish. A fridge full is a necessity. As the name suggests, it is brewed locally – alongside a growing number of great south east London and Kent craft beers – and the Brockley
Brewers have recently started bottling so you can get them in rather than having to find a pub.
Go to brockleybrewery.co.uk
Unlike most ciders, Merrydown is made with eating apples to make a luscious clear cider that slips down nicely in the sun. It’s not ever-so-local, though it is made with a Sussex recipe, so it’s from too far away, either. 500ml bottles are available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.
Go to merrydown.co.uk
Stephen Harrington and Roberta Levent of Harrington's Kitchen
Fresh bread is best, and there is no way of getting a fresher of more luxury loaf that you know you’ll love than baking it yourself.
Get yourself along to Harrington’s Kitchen in Beckenham or Cocoa and Heart in Bexleyheath if you need a lesson. Go to harringtonskitchen.com or cocoaandheart.co.uk