Packing a picnic and escaping to some rural retreat is something we all long to do when the weather turns warmer. Or how about the romance of dining al fresco under the setting sun, surrounded by the sweet smell of jasmine and honeysuckle? Or perhaps an impromptu barbecue on the beach as you grill some of the fresh fish you’ve just picked up on the quayside?
Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But dining al fresco still needs a lot of preparation. Simply follow our 6 top tips and you’ll never want to eat indoors again…
1. Stay cool
Make sure you pack your picnic in a well-insulated cooler with lots of icepacks. And don’t keep your cool bag in a hot boot – or trunk for any Americans reading! Keep it in the air-conditioned compartment. When you’ve found the perfect spot for spreading out the picnic rug, be sure to keep all your delicious food well in the shade.
2. Perfect packing
What’s the point of going to all that effort with gorgeous picnic loaves, salads, pies and tarts, if they’re all going to fall apart or get squashed at the bottom of the hamper by the time you reach your destination? It might seem obvious, but make sure the heaviest items are packed at the bottom and use plastic pots and boxes for more delicate dishes. If you’re packing raw meat to barbecue, be aware that meat juices can easily leak onto other foods, so pack with this in mind and store the meat in leak proof containers away from pre-cooked foods.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck outdoors after a picnic with no means of washing your hands, especially if you’ve got children in tow! Don’t forget to pack the hand wipes, or think about taking some hot soapy water in a thermos, useful for cleaning both hands and eating surfaces.
4. Beat the bugs
Nobody wants bugs buzzing or crawling all around them while they eat, so why not take an aromatic approach to keep them at bay? Try burning essential oils such as lemon, orange, clove, peppermint or mint in a special oil burner, or perhaps a candle scented with citronella.
5. Sand-free sandwiches
To really enjoy a beach picnic, be prepared. To help keep sand out of your sandwiches, bring along a blanket, beach chairs, paper towels and wet wipes. Try wrapping sandwiches in parchment paper and simply peel it back as you eat to keep sandy beach hands away from the food.
6. Keep off the chill
There’s nothing more lovely than dining under the stars but all too often when the sun goes down, the temperature drops rapidly too. Don’t make a hasty retreat indoors. Simply provide each of your guests with a light blanket, and you’ll all want to stay out until dawn. Don’t let your food go cold either – get yourself a classic Brabantia food warmer, and it really doesn’t matter how long you linger over your meal.
Where will you be enjoying a spot of outdoor dining this summer? And how do you prevent an al fresco dream from turning into a sticky, messy nightmare? Let us know your own top tips…