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I remember sliders coming into my consciousness around a decade ago, when "small plates" and grazing were all the rage and everyone was trying to outdo everyone else with winning new restaurant concepts. Don't remember one called "Sliders", but did think at the time that they were rather ingenious little things. You could serve them at drinks parties without fear of too much oozing and dribbling… indeed, I remember them being offered up a few years back at that highlight of London's social season and arts scene, the Serpentine Summer Party, when The Ivy and Scott's sister catering company Urban Caprice was doing the honours. You could find them in restaurants and on bar menus, but I don't think they'd quite made it to the kitchen supper at home. Yet.
Sliders were, of course, an American invention. The origin of their name seems to be buried somewhere in naval history - these "burgers" were named sliders by sailors, because they were greasy and would easily slide out of the bun unless you held on for dear life. The legendary White Castle, the most famous thing to come out of Wichita along with Glen Campbell's lineman, lays a claim to the invention of the slider concept in the twenties - they were selling small square patties cooked on top of a bed of finely chopped white onions with a slice of pickle for just 5¢. Others treat them more like mini burgers - tiny replicas of the classic hamburger - with the slice of cherry tomato, spring onion disc and mini gherkin playing their essential roles, in a Goldilocks's Baby Bear sort of fashion.
But they are so much more versatile than that. If you think of everything you can do with a "meat" ball (pork, beef, chicken, lamb, fish, lentils; Asian, Italian, Scandinavian, North African, Thai)… double that for these perfect patties. You can serve them in buns, or gluten free - and the rather more exotic amongst us have been known to use soft-shell crab, chorizo, shrimp, cuttlefish and goat - not all at the same time obviously - to make our patties. They crop up on fine dining menus as well as at the more casual diner: Japanese street food virtuosos, Kurobuta, offer up wagyu sliders with onion tempura, umami mayo and Japanese BBQ sauce; and I'm sure that if you asked that debonair Austrian master chef (the chef equivalent of a super model) Wolfgang Puck to knock you up a slider at his plush establishment Cut at 45 Park Lane, because you couldn't manage the whole grilled Australian wagyu beef burger, Ogleshiled Cheddar, shallot-jalapeño marmalade and garlic aioli, he would gladly oblige.
But, if you want a slider party in the privacy of your own barbecue patio (I also highly recommend a disposable BBQ on the beach or in the park on one of the swelteringly hot days that we regularly enjoy in this country over the summer), I have the perfect solution. Look no further than Farmison & Co, who have been squirreling away ideas for the past I know not how long and have now come up with an array of burgers and sliders fit for a brand new Duchess of Sussex and her Duke. For starters (and this is before they even launch their shiny new range of blended burgers and sliders), there are the "big on flavour" prime chopped steak sliders, made with dry aged heritage breed meat which are mouth-wateringly tasty. For those in search of warmer (if it were possible) climes, there's the aromatic Indian chicken kofta (and I'm counting these as exotic types of sliders) and Mediterranean style lamb meatballs (these too). Cooler temperatures proffer venison kofta from the Cairngorms, but with north African spices; these are a rarity, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the website.
I secretly fancy a steak tartare slider - that's allowed, right? And Farmison & Co have the most perfect mince to make that with - or, if you were feeling particularly flush - you could do a special order of your favourite fillet, rump or sirloin steak and have one of their master butchers prep the meat for you - all hassle free, delicious and delivered to your door. Just add shallots, capers, Tabasco, tomato ketchup, Lea & Perrins, olive oil and an egg yolk. Maybe a splash of dry sherry or Cognac. Oh, and French fries. Mmmm hmmmm.
And, on Tuesday, 12 June, you are in for a right royal treat. The blended burgers and sliders are coming to a computer near you and you'll just be a click away from slider heaven - the Blended Fillet Steak Slider, the Short Rib Blend Slider and the hand pressed Steak & Bone Marrow Slider for starters. Sizzling away on the barbecue or griddle pan, you with your cool drink in hand, salads, buns and sauces - done… need I say more?