Despite the threat of rain and a quiet start, The Big Grill turned out to be one of the nicest festivals I’ve been to. Although the food was maybe a little more pricey than we were expecting (most items hovered around the €10 mark, meaning people were having just one option rather than sampling a panoply of BBQ delights) it was well worth the expense, as everything was perfectly cooked and evidently made with care and good-quality ingredients. Another surprise was the weather. When the event was first advertised, Dublin was in the middle of a fairly balmy fortnight, but yesterday definitely had a late-summer or even early-autumn feel, with a cool breeze, chestnuts on the ground and the smell of woodsmoke everywhere. I liked it, and it made me feel that grilling and barbecuing could be a real option at other times of the year, not just at high summer.
We tried Kinara Kitchen chicken tikka on freshly-made naan, Wexford hot dogs from A Pig’s Tale and a bubblingly good buffalo mozzarella and basil margherita pizza from the Big Blue Bus stand. For drinks, we had beers from Rascal and Eight Degrees Brewing, along with peach and passionfruit and strawberry-basil bellinis and a 3FE coffee, all of which were lovely.
Although the food and drink was all great – really great – the Big Grill’s real strength is how small it is. It’s a great place for bumping into and catching up with friends, and since the main focus is on food, once everyone is fed there’s lots of time to talk. It’s also a great place for spotting trendy hipster dads and minor rugby players, if that’s of any interest to you.
GRILLED PEACH & TOONS BRIDGE MOZZARELLA SALAD WITH MINT PESTO
After watching (and smelling) food being grilled all day, I decided I wanted to make something using lots of grilled ingredients – peaches, sourdough bread and yellow courgettes from the garden for a late summer salad. I also used some gorgeous Toons Bridge buffalo mozzarella, which is made in West Cork and is dense and tastes like mozzarella should – creamy and saline rather than watery-bland, and it goes really well with the peaches. Make this on the barbecue or just an ordinary grill; either way it will taste great. If you want to make the salad a bit more substantial, fold some slices of silky-soft parma ham through at the end.
for the salad:
1 medium-sized courgette
Mint & basil pesto
4 ripe but firm peaches
Leaves (rocket, lamb’s lettuce…)
1 buffalo mozzarella ball
for the mint & basil pesto:
A good handful of mint and basil leaves
50g of cashews + walnuts/blanched almonds/pine nuts
50g of grated parmesan
1/2 a clove of garlic, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Make the pesto first – just blend everything together, adding oil till you get a nice dropping consistency. Oil the grill and heat. Cut the peaches into quarters and grill, leaving them alone so that char-marks can develop. Slice the courgette and add oil and seasoning. Rub the halved garlic cloves over the sourdough bread and grill till golden and crisp and then set aside. Arrange the leaves on a nice plate and dot with some pesto. Add the courgette slices and dot the salad with pesto again. Tear lots of fresh herbs over the salad and squeeze some lemon over them. Slice each peach quarter and add to the salad, along with a little more pesto. Drizzle a little balsamic over at this point, if you like. Tear the mozzarella ball up into lots of small pieces and arrange artfully over the salad, drizzling a little olive oil on top. Serve the salad at room temperature.