As we head in to high summer it is time to take some time off work, break with the usual routines and appreciate the great outdoors as much as possible. If there is one thing our island race excels at it is the art of picnicking, whatever the weather, so this month I thought we would concentrate on readily portable dishes to enjoy au plein air. Unless you employ servants or sherpas it is best to keep things simple and opt for foods that require little or no attention or adornment on arrival at your destination.
Crudités of sliced raw vegetables such as carrots, radishes, celery, peppers and cucumber can be embellished with a pot of garlicky hummus or tzatziki to provide a tasty and healthy appetiser. A nervy, young Loire Sauvignon with cut grass scents and a lively mineral streak makes a good al fresco aperitif – Jerôme de la Chaise's quintessential Quincy would be ideal.
Smoked mackerel pâté is also quick and easy to prepare – you simply mash up some mackerel fillets with crème fraîche, lemon juice, a spoonful of mustard or horseradish and season with plenty of salt and pepper. I would serve that on some pre-toasted sourdough or flatbreads and, if blessed with sunshine, a bottle of Lina Pieretti's delightful, coral pink Coteaux du Cap Corse rosé and savour its crushed berry scents and flavours.
Cold pies and quiches make fine picnic fare but I'm not a great pastry man and so I favour an even simpler and lighter frittata. My preferred version is a straightforward amalgamation of beaten, organic eggs, grated courgettes, chopped mint and crumbled feta cheese that I warm up until setting in a cast iron pan and finish off under a hot grill before allowing it to cool to an ambient temperature. That should go down pretty well with the rosé too but if anyone does want to segue on to a drop of the blushful Hippocrene you could do far worse than Alain Graillot's sun-kissed 'Tandem – Syrah du Maroc'. It's brimming with dark, brooding fruit with licks of black pepper and tarry tannins - a chunk of mature Cheddar would be an apposite accompaniment.
For dessert it is hard to improve upon a watermelon – they're wonderfully refreshing and no washing up is required.
By: Jason Yapp