Features 1 minute 25 September 2017

6 Must-Haves For A Perfect Picnic Basket

Channel your inner Edouard Manet and recreate a picnic that rivals the idyllic meal in his famous painting Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe.

French guide picnic

The riverside of the Seine is packed every summer. Visitors come with a goal — to let loose among the glorious view and languid breeze, and of course, with purchases from the neighbourhood bakery and a glass of preferred alcohol in hand.

Picnicking is an art in France. Good food and wine are essential, but a respectable panier en osier should also include refined plates and cutlery. Claire Blondel, a longtime Paris resident who works for an online gourmet shop, recalls her picnicking ritual: “My father often goes all out to prepare an elaborate picnic basket. But for the younger generation, a busy life schedule means we’ll have to improvise with something simple but still delicious.”

Blondel notes that during July and August, many French picnic-goers would ditch the scorching daytime in favour of the cooler breeze in the evening, when they sit beside the Seine and Canal Saint-Martin to enjoy a beautiful sunset and a sumptuous meal. Find out how to make the most of an outdoor picnic with Blondel’s tips to assemble an epic panier en osier.

A hearty picnic sandwich can’t be without cheese, and cheese is a naturally handy nibble to go with that essential bottle of wine. For picnics, Blondel recommends a sturdy Comté, or Saint-Nectaire with a tough rind, as both are more likely to survive the trip without turning into a melted mess. If you must have soft cheese, Saint Felicien would be a solid pick. Blondel also gives a handy tip: Pack jambon, butter and pickles in your basket and make the sandwich on the spot, rather than beforehand. Wrapping the bread in aluminium foil is a good idea to keep it in the best condition.
It’s another all-encompassing ingredient which serves as a sandwich filling or match to alcohol. Impress your guest with French favourite Rosette de Lyon. The pork leg sausage boasts a dark red hue and a balanced fat-to-meat proportion. Goes best with a glass of red wine.

Pâté and bread is a well-loved pairing. But given that it needs to be refrigerated to keep fresh, try pâté en croûte — baked liver in puff pastry. It’s a convenient and tasty solution for picnic-goers. Simply cut it up and indulge in the silky goodness.
Quiche Lorraine
Another classic with little introduction needed. This open pie made with eggs, cream and lardon is a delicious pick for dining open-air, as it works well when eaten cold too.

According to Blondel, Salad Niçoise is a go-to option for many Parisians on an outing, and it’s not hard to understand why – the salad delivers great flavours in and is easy to put together. A mix of hard-boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables makes for a vibrant treat, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon. Make a difference and add pepper, chives and parsley before serving.

Depending on the time (and how much of a sweet tooth) you have, anything between homemade cupcakes, yogurt, or whole fresh fruits like apple and pear are good choices.

This article was written by Tang Jie and translated by Vincent Leung. Click here to read the original version of this story.


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