Keep your picnic practical and portable with a delicious spread (good for grown-ups and children) that can be prepped ahead.
Here are all the picnic recipes and hacks you need for the perfect summer day out.
New picnic rules for summer
1. The strategy
Picnics should be all about ease of use. No one wants to be slicing, serving, portioning out or carrying the kitchenware that goes with all that. Salad leaves turn limp, dressings leak, fruit bruises easily… Here’s the answer: rethink the picnic and approach it as function food.
2. The food
Make small, sturdy, bite-sized things that don’t need crockery or cutlery. Hand out linen napkins, which look good and lighten the load (and won’t end up as litter), leaving everyone to help themselves.
3. The containers
Airtight tins lined with napkins make for swishy presentation without any heavy lifting. Stack them in a collapsible crate for transporting, then pop off the lids and serve. Try vintage biscuit tins, kitchen storage tins or enamel roasting pans that have lids.
4. The glasses
Do pack glasses and spare your guests the tepid wine from a paper cup. Go for the iconic French bistro glass (above) – stackable Duralex Picardie tumblers (from R92,55 for a set of six) – or Vicrila Elytium wine glasses (around R40). Both are made from tempered glass and pretty resistant to breaking. Stainless-steel is another keep-it-cool option.
5. The must-have tool
The Opinel No.10 Corkscrew Folding Knife (R450) is an all-in-one tool that eliminates the awkward question: who brought the bottle opener?
Also read: How to make your own plastic-free picnic kit.
The only picnic recipes you need this summer
Spicy ham sandwiches
Prepare the night before, arrange in a baking tin covered with a dampened tea towel and seal. Keep it in the fridge until just before you leave.
145g cooked ham, finely chopped
2 sweet gherkins, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1⁄4–1⁄2 teaspoon Tabasco
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise (more creamy than tangy, such as Hellman’s)
8 slices white bread
chives, finely chopped, (optional)
1. Mix the ham, gherkins, mustard, Tabasco and mayo together until well combined.
2. Spread about 1⁄4 cup of this filling onto each sandwich, slice off the crusts and cut into triangles. If you like, press one side of each triangle into the chives.
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
white pepper, freshly ground, and salt
finely chopped parsley
1. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to the boil.
2. Add the eggs and cook for 9 minutes. Drain and fill the pot with cold water.
3. Once cooled, peel the eggs.
4. Halve the eggs lengthways, scoop out the yolks and place in a bowl.
5. Add the butter, olive oil and mustard to the yolks, season and mix well.
6. Arrange the egg whites in the container they will be served in, cut side up, and season.
7. Pipe or spoon the yolk mixture into the whites and sprinkle with parsley. Cover tightly and refrigerate until just before you leave.
They sound fancy, but they’re really not. The mini versions are the perfect ratio between sweet abtter and tart fruit, but you could also make them in a normal-size muffin tin.
150g unsalted butter, melted & extra for greasing
185g icing sugar
40g cake flour
5 egg whites (about 150ml)
100g ground almonds
125g raspberries (1 small punnet)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C and butter a miniature muffin tin – grease it well so they pop out easily.
2. Sift the icing sugar and our into a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites.
4. Add the butter, almonds, sifted icing sugar and our and mix until well combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into the mu n tin so each hole is about two-thirds full.
6. Top each one with a raspberry and bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean and the tops are light gold.
The best-value wine to pack
The bubbly: Born in the Worcester vinelands, the Meander Pink Moscato NV won the Best Value 2016 sparkling award, for good reason. It’s pink, it’s on the sweet side, it’s R50 and the judges described it as ‘unpretentious, fun and delightful’. Sounds like a dream picnic.
The perfect white: Yes, he’s famous for Chenin, but Ken Forrester’s Petit Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (R45) shows how versatile the man can be. It’s a lip-smacking little beauty at a very good price, making it a shoo-in category winner at the Best Value awards.
The quafferbox: Go on, buy yourself a cardboard cask and carry it with pride. And when you’re praising Bacchus in the sunshine, the dry and crispy, low calorie, low alcohol (9%) 5L Drosty Hof Extra Light at around R30 per litre will do nicely. Don’t swirl, don’t sniff, just open wide and enjoy.
Picnics have a major flaw: sunshine. It’s good for lizards but bad for winos. I obsess about temperature when dragged al fresco because, wet rooikrans braai wood aside, few things in life are less satisfying than a warm glass of wine. In fact, I’d rather have a cold glass of Chateau de Plonk than a warm bottle of Chablis.
So here are three invaluable heat hacks:
1. Chill your wine a bit more than usual – and decant it into a flask. Yes, that device you use for coffee works equally well as a cooler.
2. Open a vat of cardboardeaux, drain as much wine as you need to from the silver bag to force a blue ice brick or two into the cavity. Even better, use frozen (still) mineral water bottles. Genius.
3. Nothing beats bubbles. Like screw-top wines, they negate the corkscrew but require extra effort: to maximise surface contact, freeze gel ice packs around a dummy bottle, then strap them (like life jackets) onto the bottle you’re packing.
This story first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.
Our February issue features a wild new way to traverse the Baviaanskloof, the Okavango Delta’s most affordable safari, 6 local shores to explore and Italy’s 8 prettiest dips.