Have barbecue — will travel

Barbecues have come a long way in the past decade — and portable ones are the latest trend.

Alfresco dining, outdoor kitchens and even wood ovens have become the norm in countless backyards, with many Aussies cooking several meals outside each week. Likewise, barbecues themselves — and what we cook on them — have changed dramatically.

One of the biggest barbecue trends right now is the portable barbecue, with models such as the Weber Q and Heatlie Mariner leading the charge. This means we are no longer restricted to the backyard, so more people are packing up the barbecue on a Sunday afternoon, throwing some lamb chops, snags or seafood in the esky and heading off for a leisurely picnic at the beach or in the country.

The caravan and Grey Nomad crowds were one of the first groups to perfect the art of barbecuing on the go. What better way to meet fellow travellers, exchange stories and find new places to visit than over a meal cooked on a barbecue attached to your campervan or caravan? Over the years I’ve seen some ingenious portable barbecue setups on caravans, including those housed in a recess on a slide, enabling it to be slid away for travelling and easily set up for the next meal.

Portable barbecues aren’t just great for people on the move. Compact, light-weight and easy to manoeuvre, they’re also a good option for people living in apartments and rental properties. Visit your local barbecue store and you’ll quickly discover that today’s moveable units have moved on from the humble three-legged gas burner of old. Today’s portable products are stylish, compact enough to put in the back of the smallest car and ideal for cooking a range of food — everything from that special steak to freshly caught fish on the beach. Which brings us to what features should you look for in a modern portable barbecue.

First, I suggest going for a stainless-steel finish as it is more likely to withstand our harsh climate. A unit with removable burners is also a good idea as they allow for additional portability and easy cleaning. A handle is essential, as is a good-quality stand to ensure the unit is safe when lit.

Safety considerations are particularly important with portable barbecues. When transporting a gas bottle in your car, ensure it is adequately secured and that it won’t roll around the vehicle. Failure to do this can result in the gas cock being easily knocked and the vehicle filling with dangerous gas. If planning to use your barbecue in a park, be sure to check out the safety and fire restrictions before you go as many parks now insist that visitors use the barbecue provided. If fire ban restrictions are in place, remember these apply to gas barbecues as well as those fuelled by wood or charcoal.

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