Summer is a wonderful time for relaxed entertaining, when the evenings stretch on a bit longer, guests can spill out onto terraces and gardens, and we’re spoiled by an abundance of delicious seasonal produce. We’ve compiled five of our top tips from around Rocket to provide you with the perfect formula for an upgraded, effortless summer barbecue.
There’s no better way to kickstart an evening than a really good cocktail. Sbagliato, which translates to “mistake” in Italian, is fabled to have originated when a bartender accidentally grabbed sparkling wine instead of gin when making a negroni. The result is this delicious cocktail which has the flavours of a negroni without packing quite as big of a punch, making it a perfect sundowner for warm summer evenings.
50ml sweet Vermouth
Prosecco for topping up
Add 25ml each of Campari and vermouth to two large glasses filled with ice and top off with the prosecco. Gently stir together and garnish with a slice of orange.
Step aside, sausages. This summer, master cooking fish on the barbecue. Invest in a fish cage, which will make your life a lot easier, and choose a fish that is robust enough to stand up to the flames – we love grilling a whole turbot and making this the centrepiece of a meal.
Get the coals really hot, then place your fish on the fire for 15 minutes on each side. Make a dressing prior to cooking and put it in a spray bottle so you can continue to spray the fish as it cooks to get the skin golden and crisp. We favour simplicity and use equal quantities of fish stock, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. Once the fish is cooked, served it whole or carved on a bed of green vegetables with some grilled lemon halves or an amazing miso and orange beurre blanc.
Salads are a fantastic way to make the most of the wonderful array of summer produce available this time of year. Pick up some Isle of Wight tomatoes which are so superb they only need to be sliced and dressed in a bit of olive oil and seasoning. Leave to macerate for an hour then transfer to a bowl and garnish simply with freshly torn basil leaves and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. To upgrade your presentation, Head Chef Mathieu Defrance recommends Belazu’s balsamic pearls which provide amazing pops of flavour that go so well with the salad.
A simple but superb potato dish is always a welcome addition to alfresco dining. Pick up the best Jersey Royals you can find, then place them in a large pot and cover with cold water and a generous pinch of sea salt – the water should taste like the sea. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain in a colander, then toss in a dressing made with really good olive oil, dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and lots of chopped fresh herbs like chervil, parsley, mint or chives.
When choosing flowers and foliage for your table set up, Rocket’s Head of Creative Rachel Warren advises drawing inspiration from your menu and choosing seasonal varieties that complement your overall theme. For example, embellish your table with ingredients from your dishes – pots of fragrant basil, mini tomato plants, and plump lemons.
Keen to incorporate flowers? Head to New Covent Garden Flower Market early on a Thursday morning and leave with armfuls of the most beautiful, seasonal English flowers that look and smell amazing. The early bird catches the worm – the market opens at 4am, and we suggest arriving by 6:30am to grab the best of the bunch. We particularly love the bundles of English foliage from Porter’s and exceptionally perfumed English roses from Green & Bloom.