26 Aug, 2020
No matter the setting - the edge of a lake, surrounded by mountains, breathing in sea air or in the middle of a rural campsite - there's a sense of freedom which comes with following your own path and sleeping under the stars. After a full day of swimming in the sea, hiking, biking or exploring woodland you'll want to gather around the campfire with your friends and share stories with a glass of wine and a tasty meal to match.
So, once you've found your spot, pitched your tent and set up a comfortable camp, you'll be ready to get grilling, boiling, frying and toasting.
How to make a campfire
Before you build your campfire, make sure you give the area a safety evaluation. The last thing you need is to have your plans for a weekend adventure halted, so ensure the area you're in doesn't have any overhead branches or nearby bushes that could potentially catch fire and remove any dried leaves.
Campfires can feel a bit ambitious the first time, but if you embrace it with these simple steps, you'll get your camping meals on the go in no time. The ideal area you'll be looking for will need to be flat and a little rocky. Collect some large stones or rocks and arrange them into a U shape to create a form of fire pit, then you can start building your fire within that structure.
Build from the ground up with crumpled paper or dried moss, then top with kindling wood. Light the paper or moss underneath the kindling wood, and as that begins to catch, you can start to top with larger pieces of firewood. As the fire progresses, move some of the burning wood to the back of your pit - keeping the coals at the front - and then place a grill on top of the rock structure and you can get cooking!
Remember, your fire will usually only be effective if you use dry wood - green wood or wet wood either won't catch or will produce unpleasant smoke.
Campfire cooking tools
We've pulled together this handy list of go-to campfire cooking tools to get you started on your adventure:
- Robust oven mitt
- Heatproof tongs
- Fire poker
- Iron skillet
- Dutch oven
- Tin foil
Camping hack: chill a bottle of Dark Horse wine in a nearby stream to ensure an optimal serving temperature. Secure it with pebbles to prevent it falling over in the current.
When on holiday, our days often centre on the food we're going to enjoy in the evening and that doesn't need to be different when you're camping - there are lots of bold ideas to choose from. Keep things simple, amplify the flavours and you'll be able to create mouth-watering campfire meals.
When you're camping, there are lots of things you'll need to do without that would otherwise be easy to grab while cooking in your kitchen - so it's all about the preparation! Sticking to mainly vegetable-based meals can be a great idea if you have no access to a fridge, but if you do have a camping fridge, the world is your oyster! (Maybe even literally!)
To make things super simple, you can even prepare and cook everything in advance at home and you'll just need to reheat when you're hungry.
Dream up your recipes, prep your meal ingredients and pop them into labelled tins or containers. Pair your recipes with your favourite Dark Horse wine and you'll have a gourmet camping experience like no other. Here are some meal ideas for camping with glorious wine pairings to help inspire the campfire chef within.
Steak, asparagus and peppers
Did you spot a local butcher on the approach to your camping spot? Why not make your activity of the day a walk to buy some succulent steaks? On your way, explore the area and take tone of other great spots to visit during your time.
A steak might seem like one of the more daring camping meal ideas but it's incredibly simple to make on an open fire. Make this a one-pan wonder by frying some fresh asparagus and mixed peppers as a side and pair with a smooth, bold wine with hints of black fruit and espresso - like a Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mac and cheese
After a day packed full of activities, a portion of creamy and indulgent mac and cheese is exactly the kind of camping food you'll want to tuck into with your friends.
A top tip is to make a batch of macaroni in your kitchen at home, transfer into aluminium tins, top with cheese then wrap with foil, pack into your cool box and you'll have an incredible meal ready to go when you arrive.
Place a grill over the top of your hot coals with your aluminium parcels on top and heat through until the centre is piping hot and the cheese gooey and delicious. Dish out the servings and pour everyone a glass of smooth, oaky Dark Horse Chardonnay - this drop pairs famously well with creamy and rich pasta dishes. Toast your holiday and enjoy but don’t forget the ice!
Warm goats cheese salad
You don't need to stick to grilling hearty, warming dishes in camp - if you're blessed with a hot day, you're likely to fancy a light, summery salad accompanied by a chilled glass of Rosé.
Create the unexpected and put together courgette, aubergine, peppers together with goat's cheese in tin foil parcels and grill them on your campfire. When cooked, accompany with some green salad leaves, fresh basil and olive oil for a fresh take on camping food. Pair with the delectable Dark Horse Sauvignon Blanc, offering citrusy notes to cut through the rich cheese.
Remember the whole idea of sleeping under the stars is to go on an adventure and blow away the stresses of everyday life while surrounded by nature. So if things don't completely go to plan, embrace it as part of your journey and go with the flow - be patient and always keep a good sense of humour in tow!