French trip – La quatrième partie – Gas v charcoal.

Barbecue litThere are plenty of topics on which I flip and I flop.
The cork v screwcap
On the one hand, the screwcap keeps the wine in perfect condition and allows you re-seal the bottle. On the other hand, you would have difficulty making a cool notice board from 500 screwcaps and I rarely find the need to re-seal a bottle.
Tie v no tie
I am a good while in business. I love the idea of wearing a stylish tie with a nice suit. I also love the thought of arriving into work in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. On this I am more flip than flop.
Lift v stairs
7 years ago, we moved into a new office on the 4th floor (5th floor Americans) . I made a decision to be a ‘stairs’ person. I have stuck with it. But still, every day, the lift calls to me. It is getting harder to resist the siren call.
Gas v charcoal
In theory, I am a gas man (read that as you will). It is quicker, cleaner and probably cheaper. The romantic side of my nature leans towards the coals and their unique addition to barbecue flavour. But, this trip to France has blown them both out (of the water). I now favour vine roots. Nothing adds an elegant smokey subtlety to the barbecue like cooking over vine roots. On this one, the flip-flops stay on the feet. I was convinced of this in my latest holiday recipe, cooked on a very hot summer night: Barbecued Garlic Chicken with Apple, Walnut and Roquefort Salad.
Corn fed chicken

A plump, small, corn-fed chicken. Just enough in it for two hungry diners.

We started with a nice small corn-fed chicken. This I chopped and marinated in olive oil, garlic and black pepper.

Chicken in marinade

I’ll spare you the brutal chopping shots. You can tell that we like the garlic.

The Chantraise apples and walnuts were asking to be paired with the strong salty Roquefort cheese and lovely fresh lettuce.

Apple walnut & blue cheese salad

The salad ingredients. It looks pretty complete. Those apples were wonderful.

I have to throw in one gratuitous shot into the post. The walnuts provided the photo fodder this time.


The difficult part was not eating them as they were released from the shell.

There was nothing to the salad. Wash and tear up the lettuce. Break up the cheese. Chop the apples and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts over the lettuce. Dress with oil and balsamic vinegar if you like. It’s tasty with or without.

Apple walnut & blue cheese salad

That didn’t take long. It was a hot evening and the biggest problem was the cheese melting.

The chicken was cooked ‘over vines’ and was delicious. While we were waiting and sweating over a hot barbecue, we consumed a few glasses of Rosé. I know that you want a picture of the wine. It’s at the bottom of the post. Now back to the cooking.

Chicken on barbecue

The slow shutter speed makes it look like the third ring of Hades. The chicken was not carbonised. It cooked beautifully.

Here’s the lot together, on my plate. It did not stay there for long.

Chicken with salad

A nice piece of bread made a meal of it. Even if the butter melted along with the cheese.

Sorry, I nearly forgot the drink shot. Rosé wine is such great value over in France. It is wonderful to drink on a hot evening without any financial guilt. Other forms of drink related guilt are your own business.

Rosé wine

The perfect tipple for a balmy evening. I don’t think we spent more than €3 on a bottle.

My only problem with my flopping down hard on the side of the vine roots is that at home, I have a gas barbecue and no access to vines. I think I can feel a flip coming on…

Written by
Latest comments
  • Chicken looks great. Not many vines growing here on Baffin Island… I’d love to try cooking that way though 🙂

    • You could start a Baffin Island vineyard.

  • When you say ‘vine roots,’ I’m assuming you’re speaking of grape vines. Yes?

    • Yes Adam. Not that I see them here in Ireland.

      • Well, we have a couple of wineries in my neck of the woods. Maybe. Just maybe..

        • When they tear up the old vines, it leaves them with a problem, you with an opportunity. You could always take their old barrels and burn them, if they let you.

  • Outstanding post! Love the flip-flops. I am sticking with charcoal because vines are hard to get and gas just doesn’t get hot enough for true grilling. Love good rosé as well. Chicken and salad look delicious, and you can’t go wrong with freshly baked French bread. I remember 12 years ago on a vacation in France we went to get a poulet rôti still warm from the rotisserie and had it with a salad and fresh bread that had just come out of the oven.

    • Thanks Stefan. Happy days indeed. As I type, it is getting dark at 8.40 PM. We are heading into the autumn, for sure. I suffer the same heat problems with the wok. I have a wok ring on the hob but it just does not get the intense heat needed for very quick stir frying. I will battle on all the same.

      • I use my wok mostly for wilting large amounts of endive and spinach at once for the very same reason 😉 Real stir-frying is only possible on industrial-strength wok burners that are about 20 kW if I remember correctly.

        I’m soon going to enjoy some later summer in the USA, but I’ve been building up a stock of scheduled posts so there will be 3 posts a week even if I can’t find proper wifi anywhere in the national parks.

        • I have a few racked myself. However, I have to use the French ones while it still resembles the summer. I am twice a week for the next three. Then it’s back to one for the time being. Enjoy the US of A.

  • Brilliant post – love the flip vs. flop! and i had no idea people even used grape vines for cooking. They must let me out of my cage more often! The salad is gorgeous. i need to try some rose’ – I always overlook it..

    • Hi Trish, I can still taste the salty cheese with the beautiful apple. Delicious…

  • I am a screw top girl these days, I am afraid. Not as poetic, perhaps, but far less likely to be off….All the photos are fantastic, but my favorite is the rosé bottle: Grand Ordinaire. It says so much!

    • Thanks Natalia, like I say, I flip and I flop on this one…

  • You’re making me terribly jealous. Summer in Scotland has been dire. Never a great place for BBQs, if the weather’s OK the midgies aren’t. I think we”ve had lunch outside once this year, on a very unseasonably warm day in March. Vine roots sound wonderful. Do they have a great aroma that imparts itself to the food? Mind you, with all that garlic I’m surprised you tasted anything else, but then you have to keep the vampires at bay!

    • Vampires and the Wife both.

    • They don’t give any strong flavour but they burn nice and hot.

  • As a rule I prefer charcoal, but you are right – I’ve cooked saucisse over a vine root bonfire, in Pyrenees France and they did taste amazing.

    • “saucisse over a vine root bonfire, in Pyrenees France” kind’a says it all.

  • Nice meal. Corkscrew, tie, stairs, gas.

  • Don’t get me started. Oh you did. Always buy screw top in case I knock the bottle over. Never wear a tie except when visiting a Very Important Client. Always use the lift because its painful having to speak to the CEO when you get to the top floor and you’re out of breath. Always use gas because charcoal is, well, a pain in the arse.

    • I look a fool trying to pour with the screw top on. My pants are held up by the tie. I am the CEO. Maybe the stairs is why I don’t get the respect I deserve. Easier to BBQ in the Irish rain on gas.

  • Gas for convenience, but charcoal and vines for flavor! Great post, Conor.

  • How about cooking on planks… any posts on that?
    I do have grapes that never fully ripen and plenty of vines. I’m a gas girl myself (you too, read that as you will…). Think we could just wedge some vines in there somewhere somehow?

    • Sadly, if it’s gas, it’s gas. My ‘French Connection’ was telling me about the vines at the weekend. The local growers occasionally plough up the old less productive vines. These are left in heaps in the fields. Anybody who wants some is welcome to take it away. Any left is burned (without the addition of meat and tasty things) in the field. What a waste!

Join the conversation, you know you want to....

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: