3 June 2015
Winter is now firmly behind us. Open the windows, turn the central heating off and dig out your favourite flip flops. The long summer days play host to many wonderful music festivals, sporting events and fun filled occasions with family or friends. This can only mean one thing - the picnic season is upon us.
Relaxing whilst grazing over a mini feast for the whole day is a great way to spend some precious free time. Whether you are lazing by a quiet stream reading a novel or playing rounders with 16 children in a meadow, there is no arguing that food always tastes so much better when eaten outdoors.
In true Great British style, I have heard some say that to be sure of a successful picnic, you need the weather. Not so. I have attended many amazing picnics where we held onto our hats or sheltered from the rain under the open boot of a 4x4. Obviously good weather is appreciated, as is good company but the single most important thing about a good picnic is having great food and drink.
Whether you are planning a romantic picnic for you and your significant other or a fabulous feast for friends, choose your ingredients carefully.
A romantic picnic with champagne, strawberries and dipping chocolate is fantastically indulgent. Your fizz should be cold and served in glass flutes always. A sparkling wine never tastes the same from a plastic beaker! The strawberries should be sumptuously sweet and the chocolate sauce for dipping, as if made especially for picnicking comes packaged in re-sealable jars. Perfect.
Alternatively, preparing a Mediterranean feast for friends can be just as luxurious. Choose Italian flat breads and ciabattas. Forget butter, thinly spread fresh pesto or tapenade before layering slices of salami and cheese. Rather than wrapping in cling film, take some extra time with your presentation. Using a piece of grease proof paper to wrap around your bread, secure with string. I promise you, it is like opening up a little gift. If you prefer, everyone can make their own at the picnic. Have a platter of various cold meats and cheeses accompanied with chutneys and jellies. Crudités should be prepared for dipping in hummus, succulent olives stuffed with garlic or lemon are another great addition to the picnic. To satisfy your sweet tooth, prepare some pineapple, strawberry, kiwi and grapes. Again, bring along the secret weapon of dipping chocolate. You can always have some marshmallows tucked away too. All this can be served with a light cordial. My personal favourite is blackcurrant and basil. It's light and refreshing and can be mixed with still or sparking water. You can even add a dash to some prosecco. Summertime in a glass.
Now preparing these fabulous picnics is all well and good however you cannot start planning without one key item. A plastic backed picnic rug. These are undoubtedly the single best 'picnic' invention. Doubling up as a barrier against damp ground and a cosy blanket to wrap up chilly children when the cool wind picks up, no picnic would be the same without one. Tupperware is another picnic must have. I am not talking about the ugly Tupperware you use to store leftover bolognese in your fridge (although this does the job too). I have discovered a whole new concept of picnic ready Tupperware. Coloured bowls with airtight tops available in every size, perfect for transporting and serving mouth-watering salads, dips and dishes. They look good on your picnic rug, prevent your fruit salad from ending up in the foot well of your car enroute to the picnic and act as the perfect deterrent for those pesky wasps.
Hmmmm, all this said, I must dash. I am off to plan a picnic!
Gastro Nicks is a high quality delicatessen based in Collingbourne Ducis near Marlborough - all their artisan produce is available from their shop and online www.gastronicks.co.uk