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barbecue

Nothing beats a 99 on a summer’s day in Ireland. Yes, come rain or shine, the balance of gloriously cold, sugary ice-cream; crumbly, chocolatey Cadbury’s Flake, and fresh, crispy cone is positively second-to-none.

But world-class frozen confectionery isn’t the only perk of staying on home-soil during June, July and August.

In fact, we’d take blissful, weeks on end of beer-gardens, of road-trips, of festivals, of long hikes and even longer evenings over the sweltering heat and uncomfortable air of warmer climes.

Yes, you can have your year-round sunshine Florida; take your balmy beaches, Costa del Sol – there's an awful lot to be said for even the most dreary and overcast of summer days on the Emerald Isle.

In short: craic doesn’t need to be tropical… it only needs the right attitude.

So without further ado, SHEmazing! looks at the top six reasons why our humble Irish summers are the absolute best… 

 

1) Festivals

The festival scene in this country has positively exploded over the last few years. And it’s no longer just about music and comedy. From food and farming, to yoga and music and pets, there truly is something for everyone.

Even less-than glamorous campsites are an, ahem, experience not to be missed. Tent mishaps, toilet misdemeanours and just a load of near-misses – the tales live on long after the weekends have ended.

2) The beach

After a promising outlook from the good folk at Met Eireann, temperatures hit a tropical 18C – meaning only one thing: a mass exodus to the nearest stretch of sand.

The tailbacks will be horrific (sunny-day traffic going to Rosslare builds up around Bray) but the waiting packets of warm Tayto, sand in your pants and random encounters with half of your year from school make it all worth it.

3) Summer fashion

We won’t let a little rain stop us from donning our finest summer attire. No siree. And if in doubt, just ‘accessorise’ with a giant tote bag.

After all, at his time of year it’s the only thing in which we can carry around our requisite jumper, jacket, sunglasses, sun cream, umbrella, makeup, flats or flip-flops, chewing gum, nail varnish, a packet of popcorn, and a pair of dangly earrings. #Sorted.

4) Road-trips

You gather up your four always-up-for-it mates, and bungle yourselves into a car: you’re hitting the open road.

No trip is ever complete without Westlife's greatest hits or the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, but you'll all end up belting out Ten Green Bottles anyway.

Granted someone will always be "bursting" for the loo, and all of your phones WILL die at once (why did no one bring a USB charger?) – still, so long as you have a family-sized bag of sucky sweets, you're seriously sorted.

5) The forecast-defying BBQ

"We’ll just go for it": a definitive, game-changing phrase heard around the country from the months of May to September. But it wouldn’t be an Irish summer without a confident throw of the barbecue dice.

Some poor soul (probably one of the guys) is inevitably left in the rain turning a half dozen sad-looking sausages (while you and the rest of the girls retire to the conservatory for a natter) but that gorgeous smell of charcoal and singed meat is matchless. 

6) The spontaneous 'why not?' soiree

A true Irish summer wouldn’t be complete without a spontaneous party thrown for no reason at all. It's late afternoon, there's mischief in the air, and you get the word out: you're kicking off a bit of a session. 

In fact, so long as you’ve got your squad, a playlist, plenty of food and the right tipple by your side, it won't even matter if it rains. 

 

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Regardless of how summer 2015 pans out weather-wise (though we’re quietly confident it’s going to be a scorcher), we’re still intent on holding a heap of barbecues.

So get in a bag of charcoal; order another cylinder of gas – the great Irish climate hasn’t stopped our love of al fresco dining yet, and we don’t intend to start now.

And for garden soiree devotees looking to keep costs down (sausages, burgers, salads, and skewers can cost a pretty penny, after all) we are seriously impressed with what’s on offer at Aldi.

There are Irish Angus burgers, gourmet bread-buns, lamb spare ribs and rack chops, Irish buffalo mozzarella, jumbo BBQ sausages, and chicken skewers in delicious ginger chilli lime or piri piri flavours.

We also tucked-in to Aldi’s beetroot slaw earlier, and let’s just say after sampling this, you’ll never go back to plain old, regular coleslaw again.

Included below is a recipe for Aldi’s finger-lickin’ BBQ chicken so you can hone your outdoor cooking skills this weekend before the main events really kick-off.
 
Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 1 packet chicken thighs
  • 1 packet chicken wings
  • 1 packet chicken drumsticks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pack of sesame seeds, toasted
  • Fresh coriander
  • 2 fresh limes
  • A tub of coleslaw
  • BBQ sauce

Method:

  1. Remove the chicken from its packaging and place on a plate. Cover with tin foil and let it stand for 30 minutes to allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Heat the BBQ grill to a high heat. Brush the chicken drumsticks, thighs and wings with a little extra olive oil. Place the thighs and drumsticks in the centre of the grill and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, using tongs to turn regularly.
  3. Place the wings around the thighs and drumsticks, on a slightly cooler part of the grill, and let them cook for 20 to 25 minutes, turning regularly. When the chicken has cooked through, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the coriander leaves and cut the lime into segments. Serve the BBQ chicken with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, a scatter of fresh coriander leaves, some lime segments on the side for squeezing, a bowl of our Specially Selected coleslaw for extra crunch, and some BBQ sauce for dunking.
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Barbecues are the symbol of summer. Having one means a) It’s sunny outside or b) It’s the summer and you don’t care whether it’s hot or cold out there, you are having a party.

Here are 10 essentials you need before you even start:

Meat markers
After a few drinks all meat starts to look and taste the same.

Plastic red cups
Just to get the American vibe started.

Paper plates
Eating off a ceramic plate just ruins the whole BBQ flavour… seriously!

Tongs
For flipping that meat.

Chef hat and apron
Just in case anyone forgets who is cooking dinner.

Funky straws
Just because.

Heater
If you can get one of these your BBQ can go on all night long.

Meat thermometer
You don’t want to get the blame for everyone going home with a dodgy stomach.

Bucket of ice
To keep the beer cold of course.

Kitchen towels
Because BBQs can get messy.

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These lamb koftas would be perfect for a summer BBQ served with some pitas and tzatziki.

What you’ll need: 

  • 120g lamb mince
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove. finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice of half a lime

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and combine. This is easiest with your hands but if you are squeamish you can always wear some plastic gloves!
  2. If using, place the wooden skewers into a bowl of cold water for about 15-20 mins. This will ensure they won’t burn or split.
  3. Add the meat around the skewer evenly.
  4. If grilling, place under the grill until the meat is cooked through.
  5. If barbecuing, place on the barbecue until the meat is cooked through.
  6. Serve with pita, salad and tzatziki.
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