The summer of twenty-eighteen is going to go down in British history as an unprecedented series of events that has left the nation quite simply flabbergasted. England got to the World Cup semi final, Danny Dyer called David Cameron a ‘tw*t’ on live television and we’ve all melted in over 30 degrees in heatwave after heatwave which has led to outcry and a hosepipe ban that the Aussies are getting copious amounts of amusement from. Well they can laugh all they like, just as long as we can keep whiling our Sunday afternoons away with al fresco barbecues in the garden.
Last weekend, in yet another plot diversion from the mid-summer Sunday roasts we’ve become so accustomed to over the years, the clock struck barbie o’clock once again. We’ve been enjoying shopping at our local butcher for meat over the past few weeks and tucking into simple homemade sides such as baked potatoes and parmesan roasted tomatoes but last weekend, we thought we’d give M&S’ sizzlin’ summer BBQ range a crack of the whip (or the Weber grill) while we were at the M&S Cheshire Oaks Food Hall.
The range is an impressive repertoire of seasonal barbecue ingredients that has all bases covered from classic burgers ‘n’ buns to vibrant vegan options and tasty free-from alternatives. Mouths a-drool and eyes like saucers, we were positively spoilt for choice but eventually made our selections, fired up the coals and ate ’til we were fit to bust and now I’m here to report back on my favourite items from the edible collection…
As is customary of any great British barbecue, we kickstarted proceedings with a big ol’ bowl of tortilla chips and dips to nibble on while the grill warmed up. What you can see in the image above are the Chorizo & Red Pepper Tortillas, the Sour Cream & Chive Dip and a Houmous Selection which were all delicious. What you can’t see however are the Salted Tortilla Chips and the Onion & Garlic Dip which were so absolutely divine that they were snaffled before I even had chance to put my iPhone into portrait mode. Definitely a nice little something savoury to amuse your bouche while you salivate over the main event.
In between the showers and blankets of grey cloud, the sun did make a few guests appearances so M&S’ collection of seasonal beverages were very well received. We cracked open the Summer Cup Fizz which is a medley of gin, cucumber, melon, spices, lemon peel and Earl Grey tea and the Raspberry Fruit Beer which is made using surplus M&S bread which were both pleasant and undeniably refreshing.
Although I was super impressed by the manufacturing ethos behind the beer, the highlights for me from the summer drinks offering had to be the Grapefruit Frizzante and the Laid Back Cider. The Frizzante is a marriage of zesty grapefruit juice with a sparkling white wine which was akin to a rosé wine spritz and not something I’d usually pick off the shelf but something I was more than happy to sip through during the afternoon. The cider has a traditional apple flavour but has been specially created by Westons Cider to offer a lower alcohol option. Very, very nice indeed.
The ringleader of the M&S summer barbecue range and the item which seems to have taken up permanent residency in our fridge since the weather reports took a turn for the better is what M&S have dubbed ‘Our Best Burger Ever‘. The team travelled the world to find the ultimate burger and found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Brooklyn then spent months in the M&S kitchens finessing their replica recipe with a focus on flavour and texture.
What they created were extra large patties made from select cuts of prime British beef including short rib, sirloin fat and bone marrow which melts through the meat to baste while cooking. They’re chunky, delicious and deliver a truly upmarket burger experience, especially when crowned with a Cheddar & Onion Burger Topper and sandwiched between a toasty Signature Burger Bun which is a natural source of Vitamin D and fibre.
As far as burgers flipped from the comfort of your own barbecue at home are concerned, these really are the dog’s you-know-whats but if you’re entertaining little ones or prefer something less hearty, the Beef Burger Flatties are a great alternative. Whichever you choose, you’ll be taking advantage of M&S’ unique beef traceability efforts in which they’ve worked hard to become the only national retailer to say they can trace 100% of their beef back to the farm – and even the individual cow – it came from.
Other knockouts from the summer BBQ range had to be the Boozy British Bangers which are laced with Sheppy’s™ cider and honey roasted British Bramley apples, and the smokey hot dog-style Posh Dogs™. We grilled all of these on the barbecue until they were borderline burnt – just how we like ’em – and then nestled each one into a tasty Onion Posh Dog™ Roll which are made with caramelised onion and enriched with butter and egg. These really were a heavenly combination, especially when finished off with a generous dollop of Smokehouse Tomato Sauce which brings an authentic oak-smoked flavour to the table.
So all in all, our Great British barbecue was Great and British in every single way it could have possibly been. We had sun, we had rain, we had HAIL; we had cremated sausages and we sipped cider from a tumbler because supping straight from the can just isn’t the done thing here in Blighty. Then when we were done cursing the weather and eating our own bodyweight twice over and scowling as if somebody had forced us to do so, we sat down with a cup of tea and indulged in a synchronised afternoon nap in front of Tipping Point.
I’ve actually teamed up with the lovely lot at M&S Cheshire Oaks to give you the chance to WIN a £50 M&S Gift Card so you can host your own Great British Barbecue! All you need to do is share a tweet via the box below and be following me on Twitter (@hihungryharriet) and Instagram (@hihungryharriet).
This competition has now ended
Post and competition in collaboration with Marks & Spencer Cheshire Oaks but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.