The British Summer is a fickle beast. So while the sun is shining, our thoughts turn merrily to the relaxing idea of sipping a glass of crisp white wine with friends while nibbling on something delicious as we enjoy its all too fleeting warmth.
A good picnic is about more than just food. Given that it is almost akin to camping, so it may be surprising to acknowledge that presentation at a picnic counts. We may be willing to accept a bit of grass in our spritzer but brown avocados in the salad, and battered bananas really do dampen the appetite. Sandwiches with the filling oozing all over the plastic bags in which they are wrapped, or a plate of sweaty cheese, can ruin the best made plans.
Unless you are headed for Glyndebourne – at which point you need a 4×4 and a candelabra, below are some tips and advice, which may come in very handy for a wonderful, sociable, family al fresco dining experience.
Trying to balance plates on your lap while using your knife and fork can be tricky, so stick to food which can be eaten with just a fork or a spoon, and incorporate as much finger food as possible – this will make the experience much more relaxing.
Try to add as much colour as possible to your display with carrot sticks, red grapes, strawberries or iced cakes. Sandwiches may be practical, as are sausage rolls and crisps, but a blanket covered in beige food is not terribly exciting.
Speaking of sandwiches; be careful with the fillings you choose. Tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches may be delicious at home, but are far less appealing when they have been squashed in the bottom of a hamper, the bread has become soggy and the filling has oozed out of the side. It is far better to bring a whole French loaf with plenty of options for fillings, either homemade or from your favorite delicatessen, in small tubs. It add to the fun of a picnic too.
For salad lovers, adding a little tomato and avocado can create a luxurious zing to the occasion. However, keep the avocado in a separate a container, covered with a little lemon juice – this stops it going brown, but don’t overdo it. Cherry tomatoes are better for picnic salads too, your lettuce could look like a soggy, service station reject if you sliced beet tomatoes into it before you set off.
Everyone loves to snack on a slice of cheese at a picnic. If you wrap it in waxed paper, the cheese won’t sweat, so it will look and taste far better.
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I have yet to find a picnic bottle carrier which really keeps my white wine sufficiently chilled, and warm cola is just as unpleasant. Therefore, I would recommend taking a thermos flask of ice.
Traditional picnic hampers look beautiful, with neat sections for knives, forks, and plate, but they weigh a ton once filled and can be awkward to carry if you have to walk more than a few hundred meters from the car. Added to which, most of them are not insulated, so everything inside can get a little warm.
Thermal back packs or wheelie bag hampers are far more practical, and often much lighter. There are some wonderful ones on sale at the moment, in all the colours of the rainbow.
However, for the traditionalist, some cleaver fellows have even combined the practicality of the wheelie bag, with the elegance of the wicker hamper but they are rather expensive.
Most picnic blankets claim to have a waterproof backing, but not all blankets are the same. It is wise to spend a few pounds more and buy one with a proper waxed backing, rather than the woven plastic which gets a bit damp after a short while.
Wet wipes – I cannot recommend them strongly enough for all picnics. A paper napkin is ideal for holding an overfilled sandwich, but it simply does not clean sticky fingers well enough, so I bring both.
One of the things people seldom consider when preparing a picnic, is the packing away at the end.
So bring plenty of spare bags. At Purely Shutters we are proud of our environmental credentials, so therefore, please forgive our nag about asking you to take all of your rubbish home with you too.
At Purely Shutters, we pride our self with the quality of workmanship in all of our products. Our plantation shutters come in up to 7 shades of whites and creams to match what every interior look you desire. We also have solid woods shutters and plantation hutters which can be stained to create up to 17 different looks to inspire and enjoy.