Coronation Festival: perfect picnic recipes

Date:10-07-2013 07:58:05 read:4

Coronation Festival: perfect picnic recipes

The Coronation Festival heralds the start of posh picnic season. Xanthe Clay gives her tips on how to eat chic.

Fit for a queen: Xanthe Clay's picnic feast Photo: Christopher Jones
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Christopher Robin and Alice will be in good company next week, should they fancy another trip to Buckingham Palace. More than 12,000 of us are purportedly heading to the Coronation Festival, to throng the grounds and celebrate all things British.

The Royal Warrant holders will be on parade, including some of the jewels of British food and drink: cheesemongers Paxton and Whitfield, Shipton Mill flour and butcher Donald Russell. Not to mention South African-owned behemoth 3663, which supplies the likes of Burger King. That’ll put paid to any elitism cracks.

Although festival- goers won’t be able to bring any food in, there’ll be grazing galore: a John Lewis picnic hamper at £90 for two includes English sparkling wine, Spanish ham and smoked salmon stuffed with lobster and crab. There’s a £60 option too, with Hebridean crab and Pimm’s.

It seems nowadays no festival is complete without some sort of stellar foodie offering. The Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire will feature chefs including Fergus Henderson, Yotam Ottolenghi and the team from ultra-trendy Polpo (August 8-11); while Jamie Oliver and Alex James’s Big Feastival (August 31-September 1) has a Street Food Alley where outfits such as the sensational Yum Bun will be plying their wares.

But for most of the great British picnic opportunities, the best option is to bring your own. Of course, you can buy the whole lot ready made – there is plenty of choice out there. How about the all-British Melrose and Morgan picnic hamper for two with Chegworth Valley strawberries, Montgomery cheddar, a handmade pork pie and a canvas bag but no umbrella. Not posh enough? Then head to Corrigan’s Mayfair for a luxury picnic for £1,000 upwards – with butler thrown in.

Or you can take the boutique artisan route: make it yourself, for a bargain price. With a few judicious short cuts – ready made custard, oat cakes, really good pork pies – it’ll be as gourmet as anything on offer. And with absolutely no flaccid quiche.

Picnic smart

Pack a large bag of ice in the bottom of the cool box instead of freezer blocks. There’ll be plenty for the drinks and the ice bucket, and you won’t have to carry it home.

Paper plates are grim, and plastic cutlery is pointless. Use metal knives and forks (charity shops are a great source of mismatched vintage pieces). Enamelled tin plates from camping shops have a retro charm and will last forever.

Nothing tastes good out of a plastic cup. Even those clever plastic picnic glasses, the ones that look unnervingly like the real thing, feel depressing. Sturdy glass tumblers (Ikea) are good for wine and soft drinks. For champagne I love the pricey but virtually indestructible silver-plated flutes from Selfridges, currently on sale at £50 for a pair.

Paper napkins are convenient but cloth or linen makes even cheese sandwiches feel lavish in a Brideshead way. Plus, you can use them to wrap the glasses in.

The Coronation Festival runs from 11-14 July at Buckingham Palace

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