How To Do Picnic Season Right

Photo: Cultura/Rex/REX USA.
Let picnic season begin! Whenever there is a glimmer of sunshine, we Londoners are likely to be found with hamper in hand and pasty skin on display, unfurling our blankets on the dewy ground. But, with a culinary history of soggy sandwiches and stale cakes, life isn’t always the picnic we hoped it would be.
While your open-air feast should be fancier than a pin-thin baguette and a hunk of cheese, it shouldn’t be too laborious either. And, most of all, it should suit your personality. After all, one person’s lavish picnic porn is another’s turn-off. Whether you like a grand gala in the grass or a mellow munch in a meadow, we’ve got some helpful hints and delicious recipe ideas to make sure that your moveable feast is a walk in the park. All you need to do is cook up, pack up, and call your crew.
Here, we've rounded up London's many different types of picnicker for a face-off, complete with the perfect recipe for each brand of alfresco adventure. Which picnic tribe are you?
1 of 4
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Artsy-Fartsy Artisanals
How to spot them: They stalk one food experience after another, iPhones in hand, uploading on Instagram as they go.
Occupation: Brewer / baker / food-trucker.
Pin-up: René Redzepi.
Least likely to say: “Local schmocal.”
Pitch: Greenwich Park — or anywhere that's spitting-distance of Maltby Street Market.
Basket case: A sturdy, reusable, sustainable, Neal's-Yard-logo-ed, canvas bag.
The spread: Heirloom tomatoes from Natoora, Berkswell cheese from Neal’s Yard, and natural biodynamic vino from Dynamic Vines.
Contingency plan: Grazing small plates at the latest Russell Norman opening.

Mackerel, Horseradish, & Beet Pasties
500 g ready-rolled puff pastry
500 g smoked mackerel, flaked
6 tbsp crème fraiche
1 heaped tsp horseradish
6 spring onions, finely chopped
250 g cooked beetroot, chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped dill
2 tbsp freshly chopped, flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
The juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

2. Mix together all the ingredients (apart from the egg and pastry).

3. Divide the pastry into 6 even pieces, roll out each large enough to cut out a 17.5cm/7” disc.

3. Brush pastry lightly with beaten egg and bring up sides to meet over the filling.

4. Press edges firmly together to seal, and crimp.

5. Brush with beaten egg and repeat with all remaining ingredients.

6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden-brown and crisp.
2 of 4
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Hipsters
How to spot them: Thrift-shop throwbacks mixed with high-top trainers, bearded blokes.
Pin-up: Lana Del Rey
Occupation: Vintage clothing dealer/ DJ who aspires to be the best songwriter you’ve not yet heard of.
Pitch: Victoria Park, where the hipster quotient is high.
Basket case: Sequined carrier bags by Ashish for the fashionably ironic.
The spread: Bread, cheese, and organic strawberries from one-stop shop The Albion, plus Sriracha sauce from Longdan Express in Shoreditch.
Contingency plan: Cocktails on the rooftop at Shoreditch House or brunch at Bistrotheque.

No-Cook Prawn & Noodle Spring Rolls With Easy Chilli & Peanut Sauce
16 rice-paper spring-roll wrappers
32 cooked king prawns, butterflied
50 g beansprouts
½ a red pepper, cut into extra-fine strips
125 g rice noodles, cooked
5 spring onions, cut into fine strips
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
16 small sprigs of coriander
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp caster sugar
The juice of 1 lime
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce

For the peanut & sweet-chilli dip:
60 ml sweet-chilli sauce
The juice of 1 lime
4 tsp of crushed, salted peanuts

1. To make the dip, combine all the dip ingredients in a bowl and stir well.

2. For the spring rolls, combine the cooked rice noodles, spring onions, peppers, beansprouts, mint, sugar, garlic, lime juice, rice vinegar, and fish sauce and mix well.

3. Dip the rice-paper circles into hot water for 15 seconds and then lay on a tea towel.

4. Dab with another towel to remove excess water and then lay on 2 prawns (vertically, down the middle, leaving a 2 cm space above and below the filling).

5. Next, lay over the coriander sprig followed by a tablespoon or so of the noodle salad.

6. Fold the bottom of the rice paper up over the filling. Fold in the sides, and then roll up like a fat cigar.

7. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with a bowl of dipping sauce.

3 of 4
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Bourgeois Bohemians
How to spot them: St. Barths tans and espadrilles from Chanel or Penelope Chilvers.
Pin-up: Pippa Middleton.
Occupation: Party planner / gallerist / Made in Chelsea extra.
Pitch: Playing "Shag, Marry, Kill" at Chelsea Physic Garden.
Basket case: The family's well-loved Fortnum & Mason hamper, complete with bone-china crockery and a cosy cashmere throw to match.
Contingency plan: Mimosas at The Bluebird.
The spread: Stilton from Paxton & Whitfield, foie gras from Fortnum & Mason, Trealy Farm charcuterie, brownies from Mount Street deli, and a case of Moët.
Most likely to say: “Another treasure-chest cocktail please, barman.”

Fennel Scotch Eggs With Romesco Sauce
400 g good-quality pork sausages
8 medium eggs
1 bulb fennel, finely chopped
3 rashers rindless, smoked, streaky bacon or pancetta, very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp hot, smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin, ground and roasted
4 sage leaves
1 tsp oregano
sea salt and pepper
125 g stale ciabatta bread or country bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs

For the romesco sauce
75 g almonds, blanched and skins removed
75 g stale ciabatta or any other crusty, white loaf
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
275 g peppers, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded
1 ½ tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
½ tsp sweet paprika
Sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
90 ml extra-virgin olive oil

1. For the sauce, combine the almonds and bread in a food processor and blitz until you have a crumble.

2. Add the tomatoes, peppers, paprika, garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice and pulse again until the mixture is smooth.

3. Now, slowly pour a steady stream of olive oil into the blender as you are mixing.

4. To make the scotch eggs, put 6 eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 4 minutes.

5. Drain and run under cold water for 4 minutes. Peel and set aside.

6. Fry the fennel in a little olive oil until soft. Split the sausages with a sharp knife, tip the filling into a mixing bowl, and stir in the fennel, bacon, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, sage, oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

7. Beat the 2 remaining eggs into a shallow bowl, and lay the breadcrumbs on a plate.

8. Divide the sausage mix into 6 equal portions, roll into balls, and flatten.

9. Dip 1 egg at a time into the beaten egg and then wrap the sausage meat around it, making sure it is well sealed, and evenly covered.

10.Dip in beaten eggs again and then roll in breadcrumbs.

11. Repeat with the remaining eggs and set aside until ready to fry.

12. Heat enough oil to deep-fry the eggs in a wok. When oil is hot, fry the eggs, making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.

13. Drain on kitchen paper when golden-brown. Serve with romesco sauce.

4 of 4
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Juiceheads
How to spot them: Glowing skin. Lululemon yoga pants. Hungry, but oddly buoyant.
Pin-up: Gwyneth Paltrow.
Occupation: Hedge-fund-elite-turned-yogini.
Pitch: Downward-dogging at Regents Park.
Basket case: Canvas tote from Anthropologie.
Contingency Plan: Drinking in at Roots and Bulbs on Marylebone High Street.
The spread: Raw health crackers, Jax Coco coconut water, Bounce energy balls, and kale chips.
Most likely to say: “If you can make it through a juice cleanse, you can make it anywhere.”

Watermelon & Avocado Gazpacho
500 g ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
250 g watermelon, chopped into chunks and seeds removed
1 small Lebanese cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 green jalapeño pepper, chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 ripe avocado, finely diced
30 ml sherry vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of coriander leaves
the juice of 1 lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Puree half the tomatoes, half the cucumber, half the avocado, and watermelon until smooth.

2. Stir through the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper — and chill in the fridge. Add a splash of water if too thick.

3. In a small bowl, mix the spring onions, jalapeño, coriander, lime, avocado, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mix well and scatter a couple of tablespoons over each serving of gazpacho.