Who doesn’t love a picnic? Camp chairs littered across the grass, chilly bins and coolers taking up prime table space and a slightly distracted dad minding the bar while the patties burn unhindered. Just add friends, family, a bottle of sunscreen and plenteous mosquitos, and you’ve got yourself the perfect al fresco affair. Oh, and don’t forget that photo-worthy charcuterie board, cocktail line-up and designer picnic rug. If this even remotely sounds like your recent family outing, we’ve got some tips that might make your next open-air repast a little less strenuous.
The key to al fresco is to eat outdoors, preferably food prepared ahead of time, rather than cooked on the spot. This concept has, of course, been around for hundreds of years and originated in Italy. Like many Italian traditions, al fresco is about sitting back, relaxing, and revelling in the company of family and friends.
Things, however, got a bit complicated when the idea spread to the United Kingdom. Queen Victoria, no doubt plagued by the fear of missing out on the popular new trend, held her picnics at Balmoral Castle in an upper meadow, which included a phalanx of butlers and footmen, a full dining room table, dining chairs, and a sideboard for coffee and dessert. Cucumber sandwiches really do taste better out of doors after all – especially when served off heritage bone china!
With that image in mind, suddenly assembling a hamper for the family doesn’t seem so difficult after all! Avoid that marathon of packing every conceivable article, each with varying degrees of usefulness, into the back of the car. It is time-consuming, stress-inducing and in most cases, unnecessary. The best picnickers will keep a basket ready at all times, with each item check-listed and allocated a specific spot, from the saltshaker to the salad servers. Once the feasting is over, the basket is replenished and ready to go for next time. Yes, you can use our El Gusto Picnic Checklist. You’re welcome. You’ll never forget cheese knives or a rubbish bag again.
Unless you’re planning on bringing a chef and one or two butlers, think outside the box (or the basket) and pack foods that require little to no work at the time. Cold pasta salad or home-cooked meat pies will fill up even the hungriest of the party. Alternatively, you could offer wedges of quiche or chicken salad with wraps for a lighter option. At the bar, swap out your cans for a fruit punch, either non-alcoholic or with something a tad tipsy. Finally, round everything off with frosted cupcakes, homemade biscuits, or a fresh fruit salad.
Yes, you might be doing a little more prep at home, but you’ll thank us when you’re sitting in the sun enjoying the lunch that literally took you seven minutes to serve up.