Finally. The sun is shining and it feels like summer. We’ve only waited most of 2016 for a spot of warmth, so let’s celebrate with a picnic. It’s such a British thing, isn’t it? The picnic. Yet what used to be a humble event has been elevated to so much more.
Don’t get me wrong. A couple of sarnies, hard-boiled eggs, crisps and a drink is fine if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to prep. But these days, a pimped up picnic is really something to devour and behold with friends and family.
Picnic hampers come in all shapes and sizes. And you can get some really fancy ones too with all the essentials you’d expect plus cheese board, finest cotton napkins and champagne glasses – for which your al-fresco feast needs some culinary consideration.
Yet regardless of how you choose to roll, I’d say no picnic should ever take place without a cool box. A decent sized one with plenty of ice to keep your wine and beers chilled and your food fresh and zingy, because nobody appreciates warm drinks and limp sarnies. Proper plates, glasses and cutlery are also my thing. Sorry but I just can’t do disposable. Plus it’s greener, so extra brownie points for that.
My favourite picnic menu is a bit like this. A fresh salad of seasonal offerings starring the crunchiest gem lettuce, cucumber, tomato and a dash of seeds. A pile of sarnies with a range of fillings stuffed into artisan breads. Smoked ham and cheddar cheese. Sumptuous prawn and avocado. Deliciously creamy egg and cress. And for tradition, delicate cucumber sandwiches cut into fingers. (Remember to season everything or pack salt and pepper for an extra shake.)
For afters it’s got to be the mother of all cakes, the Victoria Sponge. Loaded with fresh cream, jam and strawberries and, because it matters to me, presented to my guests on a glass cake stand.
Wash everything down with chilled wine for the grown ups and a lovely homemade lemonade for the kids. The sun is shining. The grass is green. I can hear birds singing. And my traditional, yet perfect, picnic is complete.
But hey, that’s just me folks. The Internet is awash with ideas and recipes to create the picnic that’s perfect for you. And really, that’s what it should be. A picnic that’s perfect for your chosen setting and guests. A delicious spread with a little culinary consideration that matches the loveliness of the great outdoors. Better make hay while the sun’s shining.