Make the most of the warm weather (while it lasts!) with these picnic suggestions for National Picnic Week.
As a pale, Nordic knitwear wearing, vampire of a person, summer can be hard for me.
But there is one thing that makes me appreciate the increased presence of the burning sun. Picnics!
Ideally, all my meals would consist of nibbles and be consumed in a field. In reality, I would probably end up eating far too much and freeze to death while being stung by several buzzy sugar junkies.
Personally, I think the inconsistency of British weather is what makes a warm-breezed picnic that much better. As a food & drink obsessive, in the run up to the allotted picnic weekend, I will begin to plan the pre-picnic shop. For me, this is equally as enjoyable as the picnic itself. My list will usually go as follows:
Pork pies – Pies are a very important picnic staple. I often associate these with uncles; they seem to be big fans of pork pies. Make sure you really splash out though, there’s nothing worse than a bad pie.
Quiche – Quiche’s are essentially pies whose delicious interior has been exposed and covered in egg. You can choose between the pork pie and the quiche, but if there’s enough of you I would suggest both, particularly if your aunt is in toe. She probably likes a good quiche as much as your uncle likes a good pork pie. This recipe for tomato & asparagus quiche is particularly summery with asparagus, tomatoes & goat cheese.
Crisps – When I was younger, a solitary pipe of Pringles sufficed. These days though, I like them hand-cooked. I’d suggest a bag from Kent Crisps, who with flavours like Oyster & Vinegar won’t let you down.
Bread – Purchase the crustiest French stick you can find (ideally freshly baked!). Done.
Cheese – Where do I even begin with cheese? Find your five favourites and purchase enough to drown yourself in. I recommend mixing up the textures, and would personally always include a good, tangy cheddar, a soft French cheese like a Brie de Meaux (perfectly punchy!) and something spreadable or rippable (i.e. Mozzarella!), so it doesn’t matter if you forget cutlery.
Cooked meats – Pre-cooked meats are to picnics what rain is to an English summer (destined to be together!). Roast chicken is a favourite of mine, but sliced hams are equally welcome. The earl grey ham from the Macknade deli is top notch!
Fruit & veg – To cut through the carbs, fruit and veg is a must. Classic lunchbox style crudités are good, and plum tomatoes are always a must for me. Fruit can be prepared before the picnic, which if you plan on bringing melon, I recommend doing (turns out melons are heavy). Strawberries are also a must, and entail no prep work. I have no idea if olives are a fruit; however they are absolutely a picnic necessity and too delicious to categorise!
Cocktails – A fruity cocktail is amazing on a hot day, but avoid any drinks that are yellow – wasps love both yellow and sugary things. I personally like watermelon and mint based cocktails, but you can find some other really tasty drinks recipes here. I would recommend making up a batch before the picnic and decantering into a flask, this saves carrying so many bottles. Also, instead of ice, I like to use re-usable plastic ice cubes so they don’t melt and dilute your drinks. Nobody likes a weak cocktail.
Beer – Who doesn’t love a cold beer? There are some really great brands out there now that make some lovely light summery beers. My suggestion would be Beaverton or the Wild Beer Company, who’s cans you can show off with.
Wine – As a student, my wine choice is often based on what Tesco has on offer, but if you are a real person (with a real life job) then this list of summer wines may come in handy. If you really want to treat yourself, go English with something from Gasbourne or Woodchurch.
Soft drinks – La Mortuacienne. What more can I say? These guys do the sort of soft drinks that shine on their own, and can also be added to spirits… and the bottles are beautiful, and can be re-used for your own sloe gin. Also to open them you have to pop the top off, which is both satisfying to do and makes a wonderful noise.
The great thing about picnics is you can bring as little or as much as you want, and these are just some of my picnic favourites, which can be altered depending on your own preferences. Hopefully this has given you some suggestions on how best to enjoy the lovely weather (which for me involves eating, rather than going for a run). Happy National Picnic Week folks!