The start of spring deserves to be celebrated with a déjeuner sur l’herbe – a chance to sprawl out on a lawn, (or a beach), enjoy the soft sunshine, chatter with loved ones and loosen your jeans after feasting on tasty treats.
That’s why we’ve brought you some tips and tricks for putting together the perfect picnic.
Once you’ve settled on a destination for this al fresco affair (a sprawling lawn, a secluded beach spot, a mountainous clime or even your own backyard), it’s time to get down to basics. It may be useful to pack along the following to get you started.
Bring along something to sit on to avoid grass stains, prickles or sandy clothes. Any blanket really will do, as long as it’s big enough (it’s horrid to be the one person who’s one-leg-on-one-leg-off the blanket). Don’t bring along your favourite white rug – opt for something robust and colourful that can handle (or hide) a little spillage.
The Vrou-Vrou makes a perfect picnic companion. Or if you’re bringing along your four-legged friend, it might be just as good to have a Moholo. And if all else fails, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with throwing down a tablecloth, kicking off your shoes and getting into the picnic spirit.
Keep it Cool
If you don’t have any ice packs at hand, freeze a bottle of water (or two) overnight and wedge between your noms. That way your dip won’t spoil and your drinks will stay moderately cold. Speaking of which, you might think of popping your drinks into the freezer an hour or so before to chill them off. Unless you’re planning on taking a separate cooler bag for drinks, be brave and avoid taking along a bag of ice. It’s heavy and inevitably leads to a picnic puddle and squashed sandwiches (no soggy bottoms here, Mary Berry).
There will inevitably be sticky fingers. And perhaps a sloshed liquid or two. In fact, it’s standard picnic protocol to knock over your glass of vino. So come prepared with a stack of napkins.
Opt for linen napkins – they’re sturdy, absorbent and won’t fly away in the wind like dastardly paper serviettes. Plus they’re way better for the environment. We recommend having a stash of our Selvedge Serviettes at hand. In 12 different colourways, there’s no risk of confusing your napkin with the random plus-one your cousin brought along.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
When it comes to a picnic, your best bet is to keep it simple. Don’t pack goodies that need serious slicing or portioning, and leave behind items that will melt or require lots of refrigeration. Instead opt for functional finger food – tasty morsels that don’t call for extra cutlery or crockery.
If you’ve packed in something pungent (a stinky cheese or a snoek paté perhaps), wrap it in an extra napkin or tea towel to stop the scent taking over.
Another good idea is to divide and conquer with a potluck picnic. That way everyone can contribute and you’re not left lugging all the heavies. Just be sure to check who’s in charge of what, so that you’re not left with ten packets of Salticrax and no spread.
And when it comes to beverages, remember that glass is heavy to carry and worse yet, breakable. Keep it light and environmentally friendly with some biodegradable cups. If you do bring along glasses, wrap them in napkins to prevent breakage.
- Say cheese! Cheese always goes down well on a festive occassions. According to our friends at AroundCheese, one hard (Gruyère, cheddar, Manchego or Emmental), one soft (gouda or chèvre) and one creamy (brie or camembert) is always a good rule of thumb
- Crackers and some crusty baguette (see our tried and tested bread recipes)
- Finger foods such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, crudités or chipolatas
- A quiche or tart (here’s a recipe for a super simple, super delish onion & camembert tart)
- Cured meats such as prosciutto or salami (tasty and won’t go bad in the sun)
- Dried fruit, nuts and biltong are the perfect picnic snacks – they won’t spoil or leave you with sticky fingers
- A dip or two. Hummus is always a classic and guacamole is easy to whip up. Or try out these simple spreads
- Something sweet. Grapes are a good one, brownies are a fudgy favourite, and biscuits are a great hassle-free treat
- For a refreshing drink, add some fresh berries, cucumber slices and mint leaves to your water. Or try your hand at some rooibos iced tea or homemade ginger beer.
- And if you’d really rather avoid shopping or cooking at all, grab yourself a custom gourmet picnic basket from The Picnic Company.
- A trusty, sharp knife
- Tea towel
- A bottle opener
- Wet wipes
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunglasses & suntan cream
- A bag to collect any rubbish
- An item of warm clothing if the weather turns chilly
- And a board game to beat the post-feast slump!
And voilà, the perfect picnic!