“When they’re cooked, you scoop out the scallops and soak the butter with the brown sourdough. For dessert, I’ll roast the peaches in tin foil and serve it with a bit of yogurt.” Fire certainly isn’t necessary. You can enjoy a dirt picnic—as long as you prepare before you leave, Miller says.
Miller loves everything about his picnics to be finger food—the Wild Picnic chapter in his new book, Outside: Recipes for the Wild Way, includes recipes for zucchini, chard, goat cheese, wild mushrooms, thyme sausage rolls, and smoked mackerel Scotch eggs. Meanwhile, Roberts will take a homemade quiche or zucchini and goat cheese pie wrapped in tin foil, as well as a can of cherries and damson.
If all of that sounds daunting, make life easy by packing sourdough sandwiches, cheese, sauce, and a plate of toast with a pot of hummus. Avoid anything oily or liquid, warns Charlie Hebert, chef of the Ox Barn at the Thyme Hotel in Cotswolds, because it will always fall off.
Don’t worry if your flight looks dull, Miller promises that everything tastes better outdoors, no matter what it is.
“It was a great outing for me a bottle of hot soup with my wife in the wind and cold on the slopes in Charmouth. This is the marvel of picnics – it’s not really about the food, it’s about the splendor of the moment.”
Weight is the main consideration. Pack it as much as possible but do your best to keep everything cool. Miller swears by a cooler bag for drinks, a backpack full of picnic provisions, and a few freezer blocks.
The appetite for tech picnic gadgets is insatiable this summer: Figures from John Lewis show a 70 percent increase in sales for Weber foldable barbecues and a 133 percent increase in cold bags. Picnic equipment overall saw a 98 percent increase in sales. But Miller says most of us have everything we need at home.
“I have a basket in the boiler room full of enamel crockery that comes out every year and an old square blanket,” he says. “I took my Opinel knife and cutting board, and rolled a pile of Duralex cups in a tea towel.”
Try to avoid single-use plastics, Roberts adds — glass jars are a great alternative — and if you have a dog, don’t forget the water bowl.
It goes without saying that you should leave your picnic spot clean and put out any fire. “Stay there until it comes out and then put the ashes into the ground — it will nourish the soil,” says Roberts. Rather than fiddling with the washbasin, Miller suggests taking an extra basket liner to stash all of the soiled bins in your suitcase. “This way you can handle all the laundry when you get back.”
It’s also another great reason not to take the kitchen sink.