Life Food & Drink

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Top tips to enjoy your Summer Picnic

Child-friendly treats, quick bites and food for fussy eaters Sharon Hearne Smith shares her top tips for al fresco dining...

Sharon Hearne-Smith

Published 22/06/2014 | 02:30

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Sharon Hearne-Smith and daughter Pearl enjoy dining al fresco.
Sharon and daughter Pearl
Sharon and daughter Pearl
Sharon and daughter Pearl

Whether under the shade of a tree in a pretty park, enjoying the lapping water on a beach front or even perched on a roadside bench when breaking a long journey, I have always been a big fan of a picnic.

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It provides a great excuse to relax and unwind and indulge my favourite pastime of enjoying food with family and friends. My most memorable picnics were the ones where all stops were pulled out. I love to hang lanterns or bunting in the trees, set up a little drinks refreshment area, bring along a kite, Frisbee, tennis ball and rackets and other outdoor games, play sweet music from a radio. And not forgetting the food, which would be laid out decadently in the centre of the most colourful rugs and cushions.

Food for a picnic needs careful consideration. It should be transportable, work well cold and be easily managed. As with every meal, I like to consider who I am preparing for. I like to create a variety of colours, textures and flavours that is nutritionally balanced, too.

I am blessed that Pearl, my daughter, loves her food as much as I do. She is quite adventurous for a three-year-old, eating just about anything, but saying that, I still accustom the menu to suit her age and ability.

The tomato in the centre of the goat's cheese tart provides a fun, juicy squirt while getting those all important veggies in. For fussy eaters, bring along things like tacos or tortillas, allowing them to pick and choose what they like from a selection of fillings.

Asparagus spears with hollandaise for dipping or strawberries and cream make for very romantic sharing of food on a picnic a deux.

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Sand provides a sticky challenge when trying to enjoy a picnic on a beach. Mini quiches, vegetable  crudites and little smoked salmon and cream cheese rolls make perfect quick bites you can pop in your mouth before the sand attacks.

My top picnic tip is to take drinks with you straight from the freezer. That way they can act as cool blocks for your food and then will be defrosted, but still perfectly chilled, by the time you come to drink them.

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Besides food and drink, some survival essentials include wipes for sticky fingers, a bottle opener, a light board and knife with protective covering, a salt and pepper mill, hat and shades, sun screen, a parasol and, let's be realistic, a brolly. Now go on, pack a picnic!

Sharon's Top Five Picnic Recipes

Elderflower and Raspberry Punch

Jam jar pavlova

Chicken rice paper spring rolls

Ham, egg and edible flower finger sandwiches

 Goat's cheese and tomato tartlets

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