It’s been a long time coming, but the UK seems to have finally entered summer, so slap on the sunscreen,  grab your flipflops and get outside to enjoy the sunshine – while it lasts.

Park Life

It seems as if everyone has descended on the green pastures of London this week (with the smart ones taking a picnic). This weeks Foodie Friday has an insider’s guide to one of London’s best parks for a bit of al fresco dining, and to what you should be putting in your picnic basket.

Victoria Park, or Viccy Park, as it is affectionately known, and the nearby areas of Broadway Market and London Fields, is the epicentre of upmarket East London bohemian cool. Victoria Park was the first park in London to be open to the public, and it still holds onto it’s old world feel with its boating lake and disused Victorian bathing ponds, fragments of the old London Bridge and Grade II listed drinking fountain. You’d half expect to see a child with a hoop-and-stick skipping past. Strangely, this is still a possibility, as thanks to the area’s revival as one of the coolest postcodes in London, the hip mums and dads are only a few steps away from bringing hopscotch and the hoop-and-stick back. Victoria Park’s modern makeover has brought about a trendy coffee establishment, The Pavillion where hoards of stylish sunbathers flock, and an array of music festivals are hosted. Take a leisurely stroll along the canal and see barges transformed into second hand bookstores and cafes until you reach Broadway Market. Best on Saturdays, this market comes alive every week with hip crowds, delicious food from around the world, and spontaneous dancing as crowds from the pubs spill out onto the street amidst some very talented buskers. We recommend taking a picnic and spending a day exploring the many eccentricities that Victoria Park and it’s neighbours have to offer.

What to put in your picnic basket:

For starters, only a retro wicker picnic hamper will do, complete with blanket and plastic wine glasses, but balanced out with a four-pack of Red Stripe. Those trendy East Londoners, what are they like?

Food wise, it is important to remember that East Londoners have a real passion for food and they love their world cuisines. We suggest asking everyone at your picnic to prepare a dish, and get competitive. Think spicy Ghanian curries, fiery mexican dishes and homemade hummus. Keep it quirky and wow your fellow sun worshippers by taking the time to make a vodka watermelon for true Viccy Park status.

Bastille Day

The U.K. has felt a lot more like it’s more climate-endowed cousins across the Channel this week, with soaring temperatures embrace that party spirit and celebrate Bastille Day this Sunday. Bastille Day, however misleadingly titled, is not a tribute to chirruppy synth-pop, but is a celebration of all things French. Bastille Day, or French National Day, takes place every year on the anniversary of the storming of the royal Bastille in Paris which kick started the French Revolution, dontcha know. Bastille Day celebrations are taking place all over London this Sunday, so there’s no excuse not to share the love.

Bastille Day at Bankside:

By far the biggest Bastille Day celebration in London is taking place in Bankside and Bourough Market from midday until 10pm.Borough Market are hosting on a French feast to kick things off. For the rest of the day, expect crafts, snail-racing (really), promenade entertainers and a demonstration kitchen as well as a whole host of French food traders.

In the evening a massive party will be taking place with food and drink, theatre and live music and djs. Those French sure know how to have a good time.

Gourmet Barbeque Recipe

We all know that inviting your nearest and dearest round for a summer barbeque is really about showing off your mean cooking and hosting skills. Impress your guests with Peter Lloyd’s delicious recipe for Grilled Chicken with Kumquat and Lemongrass dressing, with not a burger or bottle of ketchup in sight.

Chicken Marinade

1 tsp. chilli powder

2 tsp. turmeric powder

1 Tbs. sugar

Salt to taste

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and rub the chicken with the mixture. Marinate for 2 hours or leave overnight.

Kaffir-Lemongrass Syrup

½ c. fresh lime juice

¼ c. rice vinegar

¼ c. sugar

6 oz. lemongrass bruised and chopped

10 leaves kaffir chopped

Bring to lime juice, vinegar and sugar boil and steep with lemongrass and kaffir. When cool, strain through a chinois, pushing for total extraction.

Kumquat-Lemongrass Dressing

Kaffir-Lemongrass Syrup                                    2 Tbs. Grapeseed oil

3 oz. shallot minced                                          2 oz. ginger minced

½ lb. kumquat rondelles, seeds removed                        1 red finger chili, sliced into thin rondelle

2 tsp salt

Sweat shallots and ginger in oil until almost tender. Add kumquats and lime juice infusion and bring to simmer. Simmer 30 seconds, remove from heat, season with salt and let cool at room temp.

To Serve

Cilantro chiffonnade

Season chicken and roast in the oven under broiler to char skin. Cut in half lengthwise then in fourths. Put on plate and top with Kumquat Lemongrass Dressing. Top with cilantro chiffonnade.

Tired of Teriyaki? Bored of BBQ Sauce?  Can’t take any more ketchup? Well get down to CABANA this weekend for some BBQ inspiration and add some zing to your grill! With marinades that really pack a punch, you’ll never be stuck with boring old sauces again- choose from Chilli Mayo, Tamarind Ketchup, Tomato Salsa or Chilli Béarnaise! But be careful, these sauces are so popular that you’ll have people barbe’QUEUING’ around the block!

Everyone knows that a BBQ isn’t complete without some delicious cocktails to refresh the cook (and everyone else of course) And with such a scorcher of a weekend ahead, it seems only right to go all tropical with a Red Tail Parrot! So put you sunnies on and shake your tail feather with this fruity recipe:

Red Tail Parrot

1 Shots of Cachaça
1 shot strawberry puree
1 shot passionfruit puree
Juice of 1 lime
Prosecco

Strawberries (for decoration)

  1. Add the cachaça, strawberry puree, passionfruit puree and lime juice – give a good stir
  2. Top up the glass with some nice cold prosecco
  3. And finally, cut a slit into a strawberry, pop on the edge of the glass for decoration and enjoy!