With such a huge variety of parks and green spaces, London has a number of great options for barbecuing with friends throughout the city. Check out our guide to holding the perfect London barbie below, with top tips for where, how and what to barbecue this summer.
Location, location, location:
If you have a garden then you’re in the perfect position to stoke up the coals and get grilling. However, not everyone is lucky enough to have their own outdoor space. Fear not, this shouldn’t deter you – there are options available so you can still enjoy outdoor grilling in and around the city.
The main thing to remember is that the royal parks won’t allow barbecuing of any kind, so stick to picnics in the following spots:
Highbury Fields, Islington: There’s no ban on barbecues in any Islington parks or open spaces, so spots like the 29 acre Highbury Fields are open game for anyone looking to stoke up.
London Fields, Hackney: This green space in Hackney offers a designated barbecue area. It’s also just up the road from Broadway Market, meaning on Saturdays you can shop for fresh barbie fodder at the weekly street market before sparking up the grill.
Burgess Park, Southwark: The only Southwark park with designated barbeque areas, offering eighty purpose built barbeques and ten spots for disposable ones. If the weekend’s looking sunny it will be worth getting there early as they work on a first come first served basis.
Wandsworth Park, Wandsworth: Now offering three dedicated barbecue stations (large tree trunks with metal plates fixed on top), this riverside park is an ideal spot for outdoor eating. The park also has a brand new putting course, so you can enjoy a light-hearted golfing session following your food.
Caledonian Park, Islington: Offering over 18 acres of green space, Caledonian Park is the second largest park in Islington and welcomes barbecues throughout. With its gorgeous clock tower, you can also walk off your grilled grub with a stroll around the ornamental gardens and orchard.
What to cook:
The perfect summer barbecue needs perfect food, so we spoke to Ilja Harvey, a cookery teacher at Pudding Pie cookery school and an expert in grilled food for some of her top tips:
Marinating some meat before hand, even if it’s just for an hour can make such a difference and doesn’t need to be complicated at all. All you need is some oil, herbs, spices and a little seasoning.
My favourite recipe is for either chicken or spare ribs; for 2kg of meat all you need is a tin of coconut milk, one heaped tablespoon of honey, two teaspoons of Chinese five spice, a little salt and pepper.
Marinade some king prawns in a little olive oil, parsley and lemon juice for a minimum of one hour. Place them on skewers and wrap them in some pancetta. Grill for five minutes each side or until the pancetta is cooked. So delicious.
Pre-cooking chicken and spare ribs also saves time and allows for even and thorough cooking and more time to concentrate on other items.
Vegetables are also delicious on the BBQ, stuffing a pepper with risotto, garlic, parmesan and mozzarella then wrapping up in foil before allowing the pepper to roast on the barbecue is mouth-wateringly good. If you prefer it meaty, add some minced meat.
With so many wonderful markets in London, you’ll be sure to pick up some fantastic, fresh, seasonal veggies to grill (check out this seasonal calendar to see what’s available this month). For example, asparagus is perfect throughout the early summer and is so easy to barbecue; just drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before grilling for two to three minutes.
When barbecuing, particularly in public, it’s important to maintain awareness of safety at all times. Generally all of the parks above ask the following:
Make sure that your cooker has a stand so that it doesn’t damage the grass
Carry plenty of water for extinguishing the coals thoroughly after cooking
Don’t put hot coals or a hot barbecue in the bin – allow plenty of time for it to cool
Be aware of houses and homes around you – it’s better to barbecue towards the centre of a field or park so they aren’t bothered by the smell or smoke
Dispose of litter thoroughly, these are public spaces and this helps everyone to enjoy them
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