As the weather warms up, keep your outdoor dining spread uncomplicated with the following tips from Mike McEnearney, Creative Director of Carriageworks Farmers Market.
Personally, I like my picnics to be “picky” – a bit of this, a bit of that, and just meander slowly through the meal. I would always include bread, cheese, charcuterie, and fruit. Depending on the event or season I will go for a “main event” something more substantial as well. But always easy to eat – preferably with my hands! And of course, an all-important bottle of local wine.
GOOD BREAD AND DIPS
We have some great bakery offerings at Carriageworks so look out for the crusty giant baguettes from Berkelo, or gluten free bread from Hudson’s Bakery who also do great crackers for cheese. Keep your eyes peeled for Kepos Street Kitchen who make the most sublime hummus, freshly made falafels and other tasty morsels to start the proceedings.
CHEESE AND DAIRY
Cheese and dairy in general have come a really long way in Australia the last 10 years. We are much more in line with Europe nowadays with our variety and styles of cheese in particular.
We have an incredible selection here found at several different suppliers – seek out “St Albans” goat’s cheese from Willowbrae or buffalo milk mozzarella and other fresh cheeses from Vannella. Most importantly, don’t forget your butter from Pepe Saya.
For Charcuterie my go to is saucisson from La Bastide which I cut ad hoc thin or thick with a hunk of bread or just as it comes. Make sure you visit LP’s Quality Meats for the best mortadella outside of Bologna, a lighter option would be Brilliant Food’s smoked ocean trout rillettes or even a vegan pepperoni called “peppernoni” from Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher. We also have the fantastic Ryan at Broomfield’s Pies. I can’t go past his pork pie – it is seriously good. Crumbly pastry, dense pork filling just as it should be. All of the above are perfect with the delicious pineapple and chili chutney and pickled fennel from Condimental.
FEAST / SUBSTANTIAL
If you want something more substantial or warming, a fast and effective centre piece is my quick lamb shawarma. You can cook it at home before the picnic or if there is an outdoor BBQ where you are, you can cook onsite. Grab some lamb back straps from Farmer George or Mimosa Valley Lamb and marinate them in a couple of teaspoons of baharat spice blend from Spice Zen, a pinch of salt and a grated red onion from any of Kemps Creek Farm, or AW Muscat stalls. Grill the back straps for 5 mins per side and rest 5 mins before slicing thinly and drizzling with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I serve this with a spoonful of zhoug from Darling Mills. If prep time at home is not your thing, we have fantastic sausages from LP’s to cook on the BBQ. Look out for the handmade worcestershire sauce from Prickle Hill made by James’ dad from their prunes.
To drink it’s pretty hard to go past a bottle of Mudgee single vineyard chardonnay from Eloquesta. Non alcohol drinkers can try making a spritz with riberry shrub from Currong Comestibles mixed with sparkling water or pop a smidge in your chardonnay for an Aussie kir. There’s also an assortment of kombucha from Herbs of Life.
SWEET & SAVOURY
Picnic Pudding for me is almost always fruit with maybe something a bit more indulgent on the side. Choose a fat slice of apple tarte fine from Nadine at Flour and Stone and some sweet spring strawberries from G&M Putrino. A must are the most divine dried prunes and dates from Prickle Hill that for me are the perfect final mouthful.