Al fresco dining has always been a summer staple. When the sun is shining, we can't help but congregate in gardens and parks to enjoy good food and great company. Then, winter comes and we retreat back to our dining rooms to dream of the next summer.
It doesn't have to be that way! A predicted trend for 2018 is the wintercue (or winter BBQ), and we're here to give you the low down on getting prepared to embrace this new phenomenon and carry the party on all the way through to Christmas – and beyond!
1. Fuel up
If you've gone to the effort of gathering family and friends for your inaugural winter BBQ, you need to make sure you're not going to run out of fuel. If it's chillier outside, then it might take a bit more fuel to keep your BBQ going, so stock up in advance so your guests aren't left feeling cold and hungry when you have to nip out and get some more.
2. No peeking!
For the impatient, lifting the lid on the BBQ can be an irresistible habit, but please abstain! Every time you lift the lid, you lose heat from the BBQ. Cooking in cold weather can yield more flavoursome food, so resist the temptation to look.
3. Get a wind break
If the wind is up, then make sure your BBQ is in a sheltered area. This will ensure that the BBQ is easy to light and stays lit. When getting your BBQ up and running, one single turn of the handwheel on the gas tank will be enough to get it going – there's no need to turn it all the way to begin.
4. Safe storage
Get a good cover for your BBQ to make sure it remains safe from the elements. Either that, or store it safely in a garage away from wind, rain and snow that might cause it to not work properly. Always store your fuel in a dry place away from the elements. By making sure you do this, your BBQ is good to go whenever the need to wintercue takes you!
5. Perfect your space
Finally, you want to make sure your winter BBQ is comfortable for your guests. Invest in a good patio heater and provide your guests with blankets to make sure they stay warm and cosy. Remember also that the shorter days mean that you'll need good lighting outdoors so you can see what you're doing! To keep food warmer for longer, serve up your culinary delights on thicker ceramic plates that will retain heat more effectively.
Whilst it may take a little bit of ingenuity, a winter BBQ is sure to be a hit for your next dinner party. It's unique, fun and brings a little taste of summer to those long winter evenings. Let's get cooking!