When I moved to France, I didn’t really know much about outdoor cooking. What I did know is that using a barbecue and charcoal is for the experts. You can spend hours trying to find the right temperature and cooking food so that it is not overdone or underdone! I never quite worked out how to achieve this without inhaling a huge amount of smoke!

In France though it’s very different, the barbecue is ancient history and everybody but a few purists have progressed onto the Plancha! If you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with the Plancha, it’s a Spanish invention by all accounts and widely used throughout Mediterranean countries for cooking fish meat as well as legumes !

I wondered why my neighbours in France were able to conjure up amazing food without looking as if they had just emerged from a burning building with food that looked as if it had burst through the earths atmosphere. The black singed food replaced with colour and retaining its taste without losing the crispy bits that everybody loves from their meat and fish.

I discovered the Plancha is much easier to clean as well, there is no baked on grease from past barbecues, no wire brushes required or dangerous fluids to remove the coagulated food. Just a hot plate to clean into the convenient grease hole situated in the corner of the plate.

All in all the experience of cooking with a Plancha for the occasional outside chef is far more rewarding on the taste buds, much healthier and incredibly less frustrating than cooking like a cave man. Fuelled by gas, the heat can be switched on immediately, regulated and turned off at the turn of a knob!

It makes the visit to the local market a whole new experience, you can be much bolder with your choices of meat, you can easily cook vegetables as well as meat and fish to suit your taste!

So when I was packing away the barbecues at the end of last year, I thought this would be one of the first things to upgrade at La Balie. So if you’re visiting us in 2023 there is modern Mediterranean alfresco cooking available in each of the cottages. For those expert with the charcoal, then of course this option is still available and I admire your dedication and skill in this form of cooking!