There are two things you need for a truly impressive gourmet picnic; a peaceful location and a range of delicious, edible treats. You'll have to look elsewhere on the WeekendNotes website to find some suggestions for the first criteria but look no further for help with the second. I am here to provide you with a range of dead easy gourmet ideas that will have you basking in the sun and over-indulging in no time.
You see, the trick is, when you're trying to impress someone you have to put in a little extra effort. Now this doesn't necessarily mean hours in the kitchen baking your own bread or catching, filleting and smoking your own salmon but it does require a little thought.
When you're at the supermarket, don't buy the same bread you've shoved in the toaster every day for the last 16 years, try something different, something interesting. Even if that special someone doesn't like the taste they're sure to be impressed at your 'gourmet' selection.
Below you will find a regular old shopping list (bread, cheese, soft drink) with a few very simple suggestions to jazz it up a bit. A kind of pimp-my-picnic if you will.
Bread: This is probably one of the simplest grocery items and one of the easiest to improve. Even supermarkets these days provide a range of interesting breads, my personal favourite being Olive Bread, a kind of Italian Ciabatta with big, juicy olives inside. Ensure you buy a fresh, uncut loaf.
Cheese: Again, nothing too unusual about this item but even the smallest IGA should provide you with any number of choices. For a picnic, avoid cheeses like salty feta and instead try something different. My suggestion is find the scariest, mouldiest looking cheese you can find. Even if you hate the strong taste it will be fun trying it, and you might just surprise yourself. If in doubt, pick up a nice Camembert or Brie as well, just to be on the safe side.
Crackers: Rather than stick with Savoy's, you're better off buying a selection of crackers in the one box. They usually come with a guide to match the cheese to the crackers and whatever's left over will taste delicious in dip.
Dip: Avoid Tzatziki and Hommus, they are plain and boring. My personal favourite is Spicy Capsicum but the possibilities are endless. If you're looking for something to spread on your bread green pesto goes well with just about anything. One scrape of this will turn your ham and cheese sanga into a gourmet masterpiece.
Meat: This is the perfect chance for you to get creative as the deli's in most supermarkets are surprisingly well stocked. The best bit is, you don't have to buy anything pre-packaged so at the risk of annoying the deli staff you can just about ask for two of everything. Think about it as your own little food based Noah's Ark. (Don't forget the Cabana and a small packet of smoked salmon)
Antipasto: Once again, the deli is your friend, and hopefully the deli attendant still is too. Antipasto is usually sold by weight so one scoop of sun-dried tomatoes, one scoop of black olives, one scoop of green olives, two dolmades and four stuffed mini capsicums shouldn't cost too much at all.
Drinks: When you're trying to impress, I'm afraid it is time to leave the Coke and Lemonade behind and be a little bit fancy with your good old soft drinks. Try sparkling mineral water with a freshly cut lemon or soda water with a dash of lime cordial. Fruit juice is also a winner, you don't need a two litre monster of orange juice, a smaller mixed fruit juice served in a champagne glass will have your guest all bubbly.
Alcohol: Unless you're well prepared with a bucket and ice you're probably going to want to stay away from the white wine, especially on a warm day. But grabbing a bottle of champagne out of the liquor store fridge and a few strawberries is always a showstopper. If that's not your thing a nice bottle of red wine goes well with antipasto and if you do have to go for beers, spend a little extra money on a fancy import...and bring a glass!
Dessert: All that bread and wine and meat and cheese is probably going to have left you and your special someone especially full. But as my sister says, everyone has two stomachs; your main one and your dessert one. Still it's probably safe to say that we can avoid rich chocolate cakes and thick, fried donuts and settle for the less is more approach. Nothing beats nibbling on a few grapes and some fresh seasonal fruit. We've all had apples and bananas before so depending on the season, try to find either some mangoes, nectarines, strawberries, raspberries or melon. Once again no preparation needed, just slice it up right there in front of you.
Despite what they say, boys love a good chocolate (almost) as much as us women do. So to top off an exceptional afternoon, nothing and I mean nothing, beats a small, rich, decadent box of chocolates. So don't rush out and buy a family block of Fruit and Nut or an enormous box of Favourites, a three pack of something like Ferrero Rocher, Lindt or Guylian will be more than enough to settle the cravings of even the sweetest tooth. And in the ultimate romantic gesture you can even let your better half have the last one. Maybe. You did put in the effort after all!
Note: When you're packing do not forget a chopping board, bread knife, four glasses (two for alcohol and two for non-alcoholic drinks), serviettes, small knives for the cheese, two plates for the main course and two smaller ones for desert, sharp knife for fruits and lemons, picnic blanket and your camera.