If we can drag our eyes away from the clouds for just a moment, let's take a look a the grill.
Because tonight we are barbecuing, and there are three standout items on the menu. You may choose any or all.
The coals are white hot and the beer is very, very cold and the white wine is less cold because if it is, you can't taste it. Never chill white wine too much. (Plus, I hate it, in restaurants, when they put freezing bottles of white wine in those '80s-style plastic wine chillers. Or even earlier-era ice buckets. I always take the bottle right out again. Why pay $20 or more for wine you can't taste?)
I digress. I'm like that in late summer, when golden clouds are morphing into strange shapes overhead before disappearing behind the roof and the second gin and tonic has kicked in and there is a delicious aroma rising from the grill ...
Oh. The grill. First item on the grill tonight is: corn.
It's a late summer staple. Corn on the cob becomes corn on the hob; and there is quite possibly a poem in that, if not an entire song. Because barbecued corn is the ne plus ultra of summer outdoor dining. Maybe even of life.
I read a recipe in which herbs were plastered all over the corn before cooking. DON'T DO THIS. The purpose of herbs in life is to improve the taste of something. NOTHING tastes better than ripe, sweet, just-picked, tender, yellow corn.
Grill your ears of corn until you can't stand not to be eating them any longer. Then remove the corn to a plate. Now you may drown it in butter. Butter doesn't change the taste, it just amplifies it; so pile it on and rachet up the taste to 100 decibels. Heaven. Salt and pepper is also kind of allowed, within reason, but it is not necessary.
Second item on the grill tonight is: chicken in basil, Indian-style.
Obtain chicken pieces with skin and bone, for example, Maryland or bone-in breasts with skin. Slash the chicken through the skin and marinate in: a blended mixture of half a cup of basil leaves (and I was just looking for another way to use more basil), five garlic cloves, an peeled inch of ginger, two tablespoons of oil, a tablespoon of lemon and a little salt. The mixture also requires half a cup of yogurt: if you process the ingredients, add the yogurt afterwards and fold it through with a spoon. Marinate for up to a day.
Barbecue, turning once. Juicy, aromatic, sensational. This was beyond expectations. I had to switch on the electric fence to keep the neighbours out. But I threw them the bones. Pace!
You might serve this grilled basil chicken Indian-style with a little saffron-infused basmati rice; or grill some fenugreek roti right at the end. Some hot lime pickle will go nicely as well. (Chicken recipe from the New York Times, courtesy of Dr. Alice.)
Last item on the grill tonight is: pork and fennel sausages.
I don't just throw sausages on the barbecue, because that wrecks them. I do it the proper way. First, make sure they are good sausages. You can only do this through trial and error. I have a shortlist of butchers who supply excellent sausages of one kind or another. These pork-and-fennel came from my favourite in-town butcher, S&R Meats in Sydney Road, just around the corner from Victoria Mall. Next to the smokes shop. Handy.
Next, poach the sausages in just a little water. (By the way, this method does not work with $4.99 supermarket sausages containing 75% oatbran or chaff or papier maché or whatever it is they put in them.) Then, when they are almost cooked through, slice lengthways and place on barbecue, flat side down, until nicely browned. I wrapped them in a sage leaf each, straight off the bush near the barbecue.
Dessert? It's still hot, so let's pile in the car and drive up to Achillion cakes in Sydney Road and have some deliciously honeyed galaktoboureko, and some Greek coffee with a shot of Ouzo on the side. I love Greek coffee.