A French Picnic In The Park at Fulham Palace
Being from the countryside but living in Fulham, West London I often take walks around Bishops Park and along the river when I’m craving a bit of green space, and when the weather is nice (but not too hot!) I sometimes take my laptop and work on the patio outside Bishop’s Palace. I’ve long thought it would make the perfect spot for a picnic, so after a busy morning of Christmas press days scouting out items to include in this years Christmas gift guide (naturally I took my boyfriend along with me as it was his day off, both in his role as this blog’s unofficial Cheese and Coffee Editor, but to also carry all my press packs and samples for me!) we packed up a few picnic-friendly treats from the fridge and headed down to the palace to spend the afternoon lazing under a tree with some French-inspired treats and an essential bottle of ice cold French rosé.
I think part of the reason I made such a terrible fashion blogger is that when I love an item I wear it again and again. My skirt is from a years old Milly x Banana Republic collaboration and my sunglasses are from Versace, but knowing this won’t really do you much good! However, I want to give a shout out to Boden for their great striped, Breton tees I’ve been wearing for years and own in so many colours. So practical for the summer, and very French! My Hamam towel we were using as a picnic blanket and my panier we used as a picnic basket both from Sarlat, but you can find similar at Cologne and Cotton (my mother and I love their linens too!)
So, what did we pack for our picnic? For a no fuss picnic I usually grab a big pack of mixed antipasto meats to pick at, and some good bread. Usually I’d go to the bakery for a baguette, but we’d already done a fair bit of walking and carrying so I cooked up a pair of my secret weapons: these frozen baguettes from Waitrose are amazing, and reading in 10 minutes once your oven is hot! I usually serve them up when I’ve not had time to bake bread as a size, or make them for slightly fancier sandwiches. We also packed all of the apricots we had leftover from my jam making (you can get 15 for £1 on North End Road market at the moment!) and one of my baking experiments by way of dessert. As you know, I can’t eat most cheeses, but I also grabbed a jar of marinated goats cheese from the fridge; something else I’ve been playing around with!
A few weeks ago HIPCHIPS, a new deli in Soho selling freshly fried, hand cut crisps with homemade dips got in touch to see if I’d like to try one of their boxes, so I grabbed one to take along (though, if you live a bit more Central than I do you can get them delivered!) I think they’re a great idea for parties (just open up the box) and picnics – though I’d recommend getting their medium box, with just three dips for the two of you – we had loads left! You can get sweet dips too, but I gave those a miss and chose six of their savouries. They change all the time, but do get the Moroccan Yogurt, Real Tomato and Coronation with Mango Chutney. However, give the Ranch, Baba Ganoush and the Jalapeno and Lime a miss!
Another shout out I need to give is to my favourite Côtes De Provence rosé makers, Mirabeau who gifted me a couple of bottles of their wine to enjoy this summer (their great, several use plastic goblets came from their terrace at Taste of London!) Their Pure flagship wine not only looks beautiful in the bottle, but also is just as fresh, crisp and bright as you would wish for in a rosé to drink outside. As with most of the other picnic items in this post, you can find them in Waitrose or order their wines on Ocado. If you don’t have a proper picnic wine cooler to keep it cold, do what I did and rig a DIY cooler out of some flexible ice packs and a tight fitting plastic bag, or decant your wine into Swell bottles before you go to hold it at temperature.
You’ll notice our brand new Sip by Swell bottles; we were actually given them at the press day that morning, and filled them from the Brita filter in the fridge before heading out as we did not think it would be a good idea to work our way through an entire bottle of wine without packing any water too! We were amazed; our water stayed ice cold for several hours out in the sun, and we’ve both been pretty inseparable from them since. They’re great to go to bed with too as you can still have a nice cold glass of water if you get up in the night without having to get out of bed and head down to the kitchen! You can browse the Sip by Swell collection here (they also have some exciting Harry Potter and Superhero collections coming this Christmas) and the regular Swell collection here.
A few more recipes that would be great to pack for a picnic: Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Spinach & Feta Quiche, Easy Almond & Apricot Sausage Rolls, No-knead Rosemary & Black Olive Bread, Vietnamese Steak Salad Summer Rolls, Gin & Watermelon Juice with Fresh Basil, Homemade Labneh with Olive Oil & Za’atar, Giant (Israeli) Couscous with Pomegranate & Pistachios, Cucumber & Mint Lemonade, Watermelon & Mozzarella Salad with Pine Nuts and Mint.