If you do a Google UK search for ‘Ompagrill’, second on the list of results is yours truly. I wrote in praise of this essential piece of garden equipment just over six years ago, saying it was the best barbeque I’ve ever had and I’m pleased to say that the passing years have not changed my opinion.
It isn’t quite as pristine as the one in the photo [click to enlarge], but then it has been used countless times, been rained on and hasn’t had much TLC from us, apart from a once a year thorough clean in the autumn before it gets put away in the shed until next year.
The stainless steel helps, but the way it works so well is down to clever Italian design. The lighter blocks sit on a ledge underneath the bowl and lights the charcoal from below, aided by the adjustable air intake. And all the ash is collected in the bottom of the column which Mrs P clears out in the autumn. A messy job, but someone’s got to do it.
As far as I recall, it wasn’t even that expensive — if it was I probably wouldn’t have bought it — and I can’t understand why the Ompagrill doesn’t seem to be more widely available today.
The Lighter Fluid Conspiracy
Believe it or not, I didn’t sit down to extol the virtues of my barbeque, I just sort of ended up there. I actually wanted to moan about the non-availability of barbeque lighter fluid and that bloody awful gel stuff that has replaced it.
It has happened gradually. A year or two ago the fluid was all you could buy, then the gel began to share the shelf at Homebase and Morrisions, but this year the fluid has vanished completely.
The fluid was great. A quick squirt with it on a struggling barbie and whoosh! You were on your way. The gel is no substitute at all. It just sits there bubbling and puthering. If you’re lucky it might burst into sulky flame. Napalm it isn’t.
I thought perhaps that the government had banned the fluid on health and safety grounds, as is their wont, replacing it with the much safer flame retardant gel. Or maybe for environmental reasons due to its “potential to cause photochemical smog through evaporation of its volatile organic compounds.”
But it seems not, at least going off the number of people on the web willing to sell and ship you lighter fluid. That only leaves one explanation: a multilateral decision by the store conglomerates not to sell the fluid for their own nefarious reasons [profit?] and without any consultation with the end user.
And we like to think that we live in a free society.