Go alfresco for October

by Andy Bryenton

Alfresco dining sounds just that little bit classier than simply going outdoors — ironic, considering that our ancient ancestors dined this way most every night. But with spring here at last and daylight saving giving us long, lingering twilights in which to relax, the allure of a table in the open air is calling.

October is harvest season in northern climes, leading to perhaps the biggest festival of food and drink in the world — Bavaria’s Oktoberfest.

Recently German tax inspector Oliver Struempfel broke the world record by carrying 29 full steins of beer to the table in the home of this annual event, but things are likely to be a bit more subdued at our local equivalents.

Even better, with the craft beer scene booming, Kiwi celebrations of the liquid amber gold are likely to be gourmet affairs.

Another fine tradition in the open air is the Kiwi barbecue, which is finding new inspiration in an unlikely place — the deep South of the United States. The art of the ‘pitmasters’, those gurus of the slow cooked brisket and the cajun spiced pork belly, is alive and well in New Zealand, with competitive barbie chefs squaring off in the Jack Daniel’s national championship. Expect flames, marinades, dry herb rubs and secret sauces in Napier on October 7 and 8, and in Canterbury on March 24 and 25 next year as part of the nationwide tour. Better than watching, try your hand at a fresh barbecue recipe in person. Visit www.facebook.com/NzBbqPitMasters for some inspiration, then get down to the butcher’s with a wish list.

Then again, there are plenty of other ways to get outdoors with a fine meal — ones that don’t involve charcoal and hard work. The local restaurants, taverns and grills of Canterbury come alive as the temperature rises and balmy evenings replace the chill of winter. Pick a favourite spot with outdoor dining and allow yourself to be tempted.