The UK has been named as Europe’s leading BBQ nation. We fired up the BBQ 115.3 million times in 2016, so it’s unlikely that we would let a small thing like lack of a private garden stop us; however; if you live in a block of flats, is it safe to barbecue in a confined space like a balcony – and will it upset the neighbours?
While it’s tempting to set up a barbecue on a terrace or balcony, or in a communal garden, be sure to check that it’s even allowed; the use of a barbecue may be prohibited by the lease and that insurance will cover you in the event of an incident. Your managing agent will be able to advise you or check the lease if you manage the property yourself.
If you’re still keen on grilling al fresco on your balcony this summer, be extra vigilant. Be aware of what is on other balconies above, to the side and below you, and that your neighbours may not always appreciate the smell of a charcoal grill. The easiest way round any objection is often to invite them to join you – even if they decline, they will appreciate the courtesy.
Embers and discarded cigarette butts falling to the balcony below are a particular hazard. Of course, you should also never leave a barbecue unattended. No matter how careful you think you are, there is always a risk of setting the whole building on fire as Zurich – one of the top insurers we work with – has pointed out in a free leaflet.
Real al fresco
To avoid problems with the neighbours, you might want to BBQ further afield in a park or on the beach. Some areas ban BBQs, but there are usually clear signposts. A few years ago, some boroughs put blanket bans on BBQs in their parks; however, these bans have been overturned in some areas because of public demand, so why not enjoy a new vista? Good public BBQ etiquette is to find somewhere downwind of other people and be mindful of where the smoke is going.
Of course, some people will never be happy to have you fire up next to them. BBC Masterchef judge Greg Wallace is on record as saying: “Cooking in public places should be illegal. It’s going to smell. It’s going to cause a mess. If you want to cook you should do it in the kitchen.”
What are you cooking?
Burgers are now the top choice for the British BBQ, which seems a bit of a shame when there are lots of exotic alternatives. Here ae a few ideas:
Korean: a method of roasting beef, pork, chicken or other types of meat. The most common dish is bulgogi – beef which is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and pepper before being traditionally cooked using gridirons or perforated dome griddles.
Bavarian : placing meat (beef, pork or chicken) in a Bavarian style marinade such as wheat beer, or cooking classic Bavarian-style products such as veal sausages on a BBQ, to be served with sweet mustard. Other Bavarian favourites such as pork shanks or sliced meat loaf barbecue just as well, and are perfectly accompanied by Bavarian snacks such as pretzels, homemade cheese and pickled cabbage.
Smoking : with the emphasis is on cooking ‘low and slow’ – cooking the meat (or even veg) for as long as possible over a low heat. This means it retains its nutritional value, and takes on a more succulent texture with a smoky flavour. These barbeques do need to be connected to an electricity.
Deli-style : foods such as smoked-salmon, hot pastrami, and smoked ham which were once confined to the deli can now be created with ease on a slow-heating bar-be-que.
Vegetarian: vegetarians used to be lucky to find the occasional corn-on-the-cob at a BBQ gathering, nowadays grilled halloumi, veggie-burgers and vegetarian kebabs are on the menu.