The Thrill of the Grill
No one can turn down a barbecue. Americans love to cook and they love to eat outdoors. Increasingly, people are claiming the outdoors as an extension of the comforts and convenience of home. Cooking and dining alfresco is more popular than ever before. Whether it's the fresh air, soaring coals, or a relaxed atmosphere, food just tastes better when it's cooked outside.
The most coveted room in the house, the kitchen, has moved outside into the great outdoors. Outdoor kitchens offer a perfect place to prepare meals without missing out on all the backyard and poolside fun.
Like all outdoor spaces, an outdoor kitchen should have a style that matches its surroundings. Its location should be convenient for entertaining and relaxing. Extra space used for dining tables and chairs, or for a counter bar with seating where you can mingle with the chef while he's concocting his favorite dish is important. Dining areas outside need to be more generous than their counterparts inside. Room for a table and chairs, plus space to move around easily is best. Outdoor fireplaces should have plenty of space for comfortable seating and lounging for guests as well.
Outdoor kitchens can be an a tremendous asset if they're well planned and well equiped.
Choosing materials that withstand the weather, are durable, and shed water, is practical. Weatherproof surfaces for counter tops and workspaces such as ceramic tile or granite, guarantees years of durability and good looks throughout the seasons. These materials also add a sense of luxury to the outdoor kitchen.
Cabinet storage is an important element to an outdoor kitchen. Cabinets alleviate the need to bring out necessary cooking equipment and utensils from inside that are used outdoors. Storage is a luxury in any space, but especially in the outdoor kitchen. Preparing meals with everything at hand as you would in the kitchen inside your home makes good sense. No need to leave the party and make trips into the house time and time again.
Barbecuing has gone high-tech. And the market for barbecue grills is hot. "Consumers are grilling much more than burgers and chicken today - and they are looking for quality tools and a greater range of accessories to have the versatility to cook any meal on the outdoor grill," said Trace Weskamp, Director of Accessories Product Development at Weber, the world's leading manufacturer of outdoor gas and charcoal grills.. New smoking accessories are one of the areas of focus for Weber. Some of these accessories includes smoking woods such as hickory, apple, mesquite, cherry, pecan or beech, depending on the chef's choice of flavor. Other new product lines are stainless steel smoker boxes which when placed on the cooking grates transforms any gas grill into a smoker. I find the new Plancha Universal Griddle, very interesting. This flat top griddle enables grillers to cook a variety of dishes on the barbecue. The Plancha features a slightly angled cooking surface, draining fats away from the food. The cast-iron construction retains heat, while the porcelain-enameled surface resists sticking.
Spicy Italian outdoor kitchens whould likely feature an imported wood-fired pizza oven, perhaps from Naples. They're integrated into a wall, create amazing flavors, and retain heat very well. You can cook other foods beside pizza in these ovens such as fresh veggies.
To cool things down, how about a swim-up bar with benches that have "zero-depth access" to give the impression you swam up from the beach, for an apres dinner beverage? Chill after you grill, and watch a movie or catch a game on a pop-up plasma while "beaching" it. And then there's the swimming pool misting system that fogs for those special evenings when you want to create a certain mood while you take a dip.
By expanding indoor life outside, outdoor activities become a part of everyday existance. Turning a blah backyard into a spectacular backyard kitchen where you can entertain, cook together, and have fun with family and friends, suddenly takes on a new and exciting dimension. The outdoor kitchen is the perfect place for good food, good friends and great surroundings that can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Now how would you like your steak cooked?