The success of your backyard grilling party will stand or fall by the taste of the food that you give to your guests. In order to give them the best flavors, you should select the best ingredients that you can afford to buy locally. Easier said than done, the best ingredients are not necessarily the most expensive. So what do you look for? How does an amateur chef know quality? Here are a few simple guidelines that could help you in your quest for good flavorsome food.
Firstly, use your nose. When choosing vegetables, choose the ones that have a fresh smell. Vegetables that are out of season can taste good but mostly you should aim to use vegetables that are in season. Vegetables that have been forced will have little or no odour, avoid these. When choosing fresh ocean fish, select produce that does not smell completely fishy. OK, that may sound a little stupid but truly fresh fish should have a faint smell of ocean air. Smell is not so good for selecting meats but if the meat smells rancid you know to avoid it.
Secondly, use your eyes. Vegetables that look perfect have probably been fertilised and treated with pesticides and in terms of quality and taste are best avoided. The best flavored vegetables will be the one grown locally and in season, without the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. They will have grown more slowly and be smaller and the flavors will have developed more, that is why home grown stuff often tastes different to stuff from the supermarket. When selecting your fish, take a look at how it is displayed. Has the fishmonger taken time and trouble over his or her display? The fish should be displayed with the bellies at the lowest point to allow for drainage. The flesh of the fish should be uniform and bright, if there are traces of yellow at the edges of the cut flesh, it is not fresh. The eyes of the fish should be clear, not dull and cloudy. When selecting meat, red meats should be just that, and not grey or brown in colour. Beef should show a good marbling as that is caused by the presence of small pieces of fat that give flavor. Look also for quality stamps on the meat that you are buying.
Thirdly, use your ears. Get involved in the neighborhood network. Listen and talk to others. See what they have top say about the products that they have bought in the past, quite often, bad news travels better than good, so you will probably find out what places to avoid quite soon. Every now and then you will find someone who knows a gem of place to get beef, fish, fresh veg and so on, probably when you least expect it. After a few months or even years, you will have tried most of these places for yourself, and maybe discovered one or two extras of your own where you can get hold of that out of the ordinary food that will lift your grilling party above the ordinary.
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