Picnic with Panache

Anastasia Bow-Bertrand 29 May 2014

Summer days and freedom are on the horizon (albeit across a tempestuous exam-filled sea), which means perfect picnic weather and opportunities are yours for the taking.


What would a picnic be without a picnic basket? Katie Batchelor

Setting:

I’m an any-weather sort of picnic person, but a patch of dry grass, a thick blanket and a glorious view always help. But take al fresco blanket-eating out of the box, and you can even try dining buffet style on a punt, or rooftop terrace.

Necessities:

A blanket. The bigger the better. Make it a fitting backdrop, which can also double up as a wind/rain shield if England lives up to typical form.

Pen-knife. Everyone should own one. Perfect for de-corking bottles, slicing, spreading, etc. Get your survival instinct on.

Paper plates, napkins and glasses. Make them pretty but disposable: the last thing you want is washing up when you get home. Leave cutlery at home and opt for finger-only food (all serious prep can be done in advance – in a kitchen).


You may have to take the picnic inside if it rains…
 Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

Food and Drink

A basic picnic should include the equivalent of starter, main, desert, as per a packed lunch but with a few decadent extras.

For starting nibbles, head to Market Square for a selection of olives or feta. Fingers are definitely suitable implements for eating. Also pick up some crinkle-cut crisps (or make your own cheese straws) and a pot of hummus and guacamole.

My fail-safe sandwich choice is pan bagnat. Basically a delicious, crusty loaf filled with Niçoise ingredients or any other combination provided there is a vinaigrette or salsa of some sort which gives the innards a delicious squidgy contrast to the exterior. Can be made vegetarian friendly too.

Another delicious, summery option is a bean salad. Throw together the remains of your cupboard – haricot, kidney and butter beans, with finely sliced red onion, tuna chunks (optional), roasted peppers, diced cucumber and a red wine based vinaigrette (mix with the oil from the peppers). A seal-tight container and plastic spoons would help.

Scones are super easy to make, and easily transportable. Stuff them with raisins and buy some tasteless, but fun, squirty cream to accompany them. A bunch of grapes and a tub of strawberries are the perfect accompaniment.

For a less stodgy finale, try your hand at cherry clafouti, delicious served cold.

Keep drinks simple. Opt for wine that doesn’t need chilling, or a last-minute stop at the nearest shop for chilled beer and lemonade.

Lay out your spread and dig in!