4 Steps to The Perfect Picnic

Plan a picnic

Maybe it is the unpredictable nature of British weather, but when the sun shines, our enthusiasm to grab every possible opportunity to enjoy a few rays inevitably results in as much alfresco dining as possible. But, there’s no getting away from it; the perfect picnic needs some planning. So how to go about preparing it in a way that doesn’t induce stress and hours slaving in a too-hot kitchen?

1 Pick your spot
With so many country parks and gardens to choose from it isn’t too hard to find the perfect spot for a picnic. Even the metropolis of London is forty percent green space. The canniest of picnickers will select a spot that enables them to make a dash for the nearest pub should storm cloud prevail. And those who’ve gone all out on the entertaining front will want somewhere within a short distance of the car or railway station.

2 Travel light
The Victorian picnic took the meal in its entirety outside. The Edwardians went for full scale banquets. We don’t all have servants and livery to carry and set up our feast, so a fuss-free approach is your best bet. If you can’t carry it, it’s not coming. The romantics amongst us hanker for a wicker hamper, real china plates, cutlery and napkins. If you don’t want the weight consider compostable plates and cutlery. A decent size picnic blanket (preferably with a waterproof back) is a must. A corkscrew, wet wipes and a sharp knife will come in handy. And don’t forget a bag for your rubbish.

3 What to eat and drink
Keep it simple; do it well. Forget soggy sandwiches and opt for a centrepiece with a few easily transportable salads to accompany. Go classically British with traditional pork pie with piccalilli, or for an alternative, Leiths’ Ham hock, caper and mustard pie (see recipe) which appears in the cookery school’s new cookbook How To Cook Pastry. The piquant flavours of the capers and mustard are a perfect foil for the richness of the cheese, ham and buttery pastry. Accompanied by a simple waxy potato salad and crunchy green beans with a zesty lemon vinaigrette, you have the perfect spread. Houmous and refreshing crudités such as radishes, carrot and cherry tomatoes travel well; or enjoy a Spanish twist with tortilla and charcuterie, empanadas and olives. For dessert, strawberries and cream or a DIY throw-together Eton mess. To sup – some homemade lemonade, a bottle of Prosecco, or favourite wine. Don’t forget the corkscrew and portion sensibly. No matter how generous you may wish to appear, you don’t want to find yourself carrying it all back!

4 How to store it
Tupperware is your friend and a cool bag is a good option – no-one wants food poisoning! Pop drinks in the freezer before leaving and not only will you have chilled drinks but they will keep your food cool too. A wicker hamper gives a great aesthetic but is entirely optional.

Looking for more ways to make your picnic perfect? We’ve got you covered with indulgent picnic recipes and al fresco dining tips.

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