There's nothing that screams 'British Summertime' louder than some al fresco grilling - particularly in some light drizzle.
But why settle for sizzling up those steaks and sangers on an ageing rustbucket when you can invest in a shiny new barbecue?
Read on for our round-up of the best new backyard broilers, then snap one up and get cooking before the inevitable three-week hailstorm begins.
Char-Broil Patio Bistro 180 (£128)
If, like me, you’re prone to taking the concept of flame-grilling a little too literally, you might be better off cooking your bangers on one of Char-Broil’s patio-friendly infrared barbies. You’ll still need to attach a tank of butane or propane but the flames never touch the food at all, instead heating up convection plates that radiate an even heat around the lid.
There’s a ‘Surefire’ ignition button to light the gas, but despite the name there’s a hole for a match round the back in case it fails to ignite and infrared heating uses less gas than normal burners, plus it prevents the risk of flame-ups and unevenly cooked food.
No, it’s not as manly as cooking a pig in a hole in the ground, but that’s the price you pay for not living on a desert island.
Casus Grill (£5.99)
My colleagues must be planning to emigrate to Australia, because I’m pretty sure the UK only gets about two barbecue weekends per summer. That’s why I’ve taken the realist’s choice with this biodegradable single-use grill.
The cardboard frame slots together in minutes, and its insulating lava stones keep the heat going for about an hour. OK, that bamboo grill rack isn’t quite big enough for an extended family feast, but its size makes it perfect for camping trips. And food always tastes five times better when it’s your only option for 30 miles.
While the Casus is only about the size of a cereal box, it's a far more exciting proposition than a bowl of Cheerios. It also releases about 50% less CO2 than those aluminium instant barbecues, providing a bonus warm glow of righteousness.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett wifi (£379)
So this party was your idea, was it? But you've made all that effort, and all you get to do now is stand next to a pile of charcoal waiting for it to get hot enough, then stand next to it some more making sure the sausages don't burn.
You should have got one of these: a hardwood pellet burner with Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor and control its temperature from your phone. As a bonus, the app lets you run run multi-stage cooking programmes and set timers so your food is cooking before you even get to your door. It also has a smart sensor that heats up the grill to compensate for any air temperature drops. What's that, you want a drink? Maybe later.
verycook PLANCHA GRILL SIMPLICITY (£299)
According to my dad, “BBQ-ing is harder than it looks”. While he’ll never recover from the great brisket disaster of ’97, this Plancha might be just what he needs to get back on the meat-scorching bandwagon. Why? It’s really easy to use, with two steel burners for expert heat distribution and a non-stick cooking surface that can be cleaned with a minimum of fuss. Is all that simple enough for a man who once burnt a can of baked beans?
I guess there’s only one way to find out. Gulp.
Now we all know that different meats taste best when cooked at different temperatures. To that end the issue, Plancha has two separately adjustable burners. What's that? Not sure where to store that spatula? This grill’s magnetic sides mean you can stow away your utensils with casual ease.
Everdure Cube (£149)
The Cube might look like a fancy coolbox to put your pork pies in, but this block of Blumenthal-endorsed barbie is quite the opposite. It is just as portable as a picnic basket, though, with no gas to worry about: just fill the porcelain enamel firebox with charcoal, set it alight, and when you’re done it’s small enough to store in the shed.
There are far fancier barbecues in Heston’s range, but as I’m only a very occasional outdoor cooker, much more than this would be overkill. Might as well save the money for more burgers and buns. I picked the orange one in honour of my signature dish – grilled Wotsits – but the Cube also comes in black, khaki and grey and on top of the colour variety, there’s a protective plate underneath, so you can put it on a table and not worry about leaving black burn marks.
BURNT TO PERFECTION
Want to be a barbie doll? Follow these tips for charcoal-infused perfection:
Light up early: Don’t wait for your guests to arrive before getting your flame on. It takes at least 20 minutes for most BBQs to reach the right temperature for cooking.
When in doubt, marinate: Unless your meat has been farmed locally by a cabal of angels, you’re best off marinating it for added flavour. And only season right before cooking.
Don’t cook cold meat: Grabbing steaks and the like out of your fridge? Make sure they’re up to room temperature before slapping them on the barbie, otherwise they might not cook evenly.