Al Fresco Cooking Tools: France

There’s nothing quite like a hot cooked meal when you’re out camping.

Every time I fire up a pocket-rocket or a trangia, with the smell of the dew still fresh in the air, I’m instantly transported back to my days as a Scout.

Those early attempts at al fresco cookery were fraught with problems. When you’re a child, attempting to prepare your own meal outside you are faced with more than a few dilemmas. First of all – what do you eat? You can’t pack tins in your bag because they weigh too much. Carrying raw ingredients in your bag is also daunting as then you’ll have to prep them yourself. As an imperilled Scout I had to think of all of these worries, without even considering the matter of getting my stove to work whilst saving my flammable tent from almost certain destruction.

It suffices to say that all of these challenges dissipated with age and experience, however I also now have the distinct benefit of 21st Century technology. With each passing year we’re gifted with more and more futuristic gear with which too cook our campsite grub with, but the gear that you choose to use will inevitably depend on a few variables such as your budget, your camping amenities and your fellow campers.

Dad and I recently returned from a week long hiking/camping trip to the South of France. Despite it being March the weather was mild, allowing to spend most of our evening outside, shooting the breeze and cooking up some lovely meals. Here’s a little look at the toys we took along with us on our relaxed food tour of the South coast:

The Cooker

Weighing just 4.1kg, although the Campingaz Camping Chef Folding Stove is bulky it’s a smart option if you’ve got the space in your bag for it. This is the first piece of kit that gets packed when Dad and I are thinking of leaving for anything more than a couple of days. Two hobs and a grill, each with separate controls and auto-spark, makes this a no-brainer, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd. Being able to warm up some beans, whilst frying off bacon and toast bread at the same time, is simply a novelty that doesn’t get old.

The official Campingaz fuel cartridges are relatively cheap (buy 24 for under £30 at Amazon) and the cooker itself, at under £40, is an absolute steal. Highlight of the week was whipping up an al fresco Coq Au Vin: deliriously indulgent outdoors cooking.

The Right Utensils

Whilst camping crockery is not hard to get hold of (I mean, just take your crockery from home right?) finding decent utensils that will pack away and stay clean can be a challenge, especially if you’re wanting to challenge yourself to do more than just fry up some eggs…

My Dad stepped up to the plate here by bringing along his Primus Campfire Prep Set. I get sick with jealousy every time he pulls these out to prep a meal, the fold-up pack is a smart black and the tools themselves are of a high quality. Stainless steel and oak pair to make some truly effective cookery equipment – just make sure you keep them clean and packed away safely!

Pots That Just Work

The right camping pots shouldn’t cost you an arm and an leg. Although we’ve gone through our fair share of them in the last few years, the set that’s stuck with us are these Anodized Pots from Texsport. For less than £30 you can get a cracking set which includes a large pot, smaller pot and deep frying pan – as well as two lids. Whilst this product is far from sophisticated or sleek, the mesh bag that it comes with does the job and it’s really hard to fault the performance of these pots, especially when you consider the price.

As I said – these worked best for us with our requirements, but you might find that you’ll need something a little different for your camping adventure. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have for your upcoming trip – happy cooking!

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