Picnics

Picnics

By
Matt Wilkinson, Sharlee Gibb
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792896
Photographer
Patricia Niven

MR: I do believe that along with the good old barbecue, Sir Donald Bradman and the mullet haircut, another thing that is quite truly Australian is the picnic. Think about the vast space we have in this country – from the stunning national parks, beaches, rainforests and deserts to the amazing little townships dotted around with their cute little gardens and memorial areas, this is one big picnic land. And when the weather’s fine what better way is there to enjoy a wonderful day out than gathered somewhere with family and friends with the cricket bats and a footy, a musical instrument or the wireless, and a blanket and picnic basket in tow?

We as a family have enjoyed many an excellent picnic in this beautiful land of ours, as well as in many other countries across the world. And a good picnic doesn’t take much more than access to good, simple food – think baguettes, a good local brie with a few pickles, some sliced salami, a little frittata, hummus, crackers and raw veg sticks, then throw in a portable barbecue for sausages and you’ve already hit upon pure picnicking gold. Add a cheeky pavlova or lemon polenta cake to finish along with some homemade cordial and sparkling water to drink and you’ve hit the jackpot (and that’s before I’ve even sugested packing that bottle of wine in the esky).

This chapter is full of the things we love to eat on a picnic – delicious, easy to prepare, transportable dishes that adults and kids alike love. Don’t think your picnics should be limited to this selection alone though, as there are lots of other recipes throughout the rest of the book that can also be enjoyed in the great outdoors. Just remember, if you can pack it, you can picnic on it.

A NOTE ON SEASONALITY FROM MATT ...

We take a seasonal approach to ingredients at Pope Joan, not to try and get media attention by being all hip and different, but because we truly believe in it, which is why we do the same at home and when we are on holiday, too. So what does eating seasonally mean to us? Well, I start by taking the state of Victoria as my country, then I get out my seasonality chart and say to myself that I will eat what grows here when it is in season, and then, if what I want to eat doesn’t grow here, I will buy so long as it has been grown in Australia only. It annoys me that a country as large as Australia with such brilliant agriculture and a range of climates that mean produce can be in season for long periods of time should import any fresh fruit or vegetables. I’ll say this, local seasonal food tastes so much better. Fact. All the wasted energy it takes to grow and transport food across the globe is simply nuts and is an absolute waste of precious resources, not to mention the fact that those foods will be lacking in flavour. I’ve said it in my introduction and I will say it again – if you buy well-produced, seasonal tasty ingredients then you are already winning.

Seasonal eating is not always easy, though, and while summer and autumn are simple enough, during winter and into spring when you’d like a juicy, mouthwatering piece of fruit or a vegetable like a cucumber, say, it can become really hard. We ask the kids all the time what they would like to eat and in the depths of winter it’s, ‘Dad, can I have a peach, or some tomatoes, or corn, or cucumber?’. We discuss this at the table and explain about Dad’s crazy beliefs, about what’s growing in our garden and on friends’ farms. It’s tough, so for the last couple of years in winter I ask the clan to name one fruit and one vegetable that is out of season that isn’t tomatoes or strawberries that they would like over winter. The answer’s always the same – watermelon and cucumbers. And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when in the winter we let the boys know that we are going to Queensland on holiday and I hear Finn shout for joy as he goes ‘Dad, that means tomatoes and strawberries are in season and we get to eat them!’

Recipes in this Chapter

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