National Picnic Week started on 13th June and actually runs for 10 days. If only all weeks had 10 days we would get everything done then!
The idea was to have it in June to capitalise on the best of our British weather. Pity it wasn’t in April as summer was here then and it appears we saw most of the sun for this year then. Its aim is to give us all the opportunity to make space in our busy lives to get together for a blether and share good food and drink. To help you make the most of this fantastic celebration we've come up with our guide to celebrating National Picnic Week with a Scottish twist.
As soon as we began thinking about picnics food was first on our mind. We all have our own picnic favourites, so we asked our local sandwich specialist, Border Baguettes in Duns, to come up with some ideas for a perfect filling. Conveniently ScotlandShop employee Sarah is married to Ian who owns the shop. Needless to say the photoshoot nearly ended in divorce and Sarah says she takes her hat off to anyone who can work with their other half! We quizzed Ian on his Sandwich making tips. To begin with he said:
The trick is to go to Border Baguettes and Ian and the team can make it for you, but if you decide to go it alone, or getting to Duns is a little geographically challenging, start with the bread. Go for something special but just remember to make sure it's got to be strong enough to support your fillings... "Dinnae be shy with your filling combinations" says Ian. If you think it's going to taste good, give it a try and see what you can come up with. You never know it could be the next Club or BLT.
Ian went on to tell us a few of the stranger requests he's had over the years such as Branston Pickle and Banana or the Ice Cream sandwich, not between cookies or wafers as you might expect but between white bread.
Here are a few of Ian's inspired creations:
First up is Roast Beef, a classic traditional British favourite with salad in a Barra Gallega, a traditional baguette from Galicia in northwest Spain. It has a crispy crust and light airy crumb and keeps fresher for longer. From those great British Sunday lunch roots the roast beef sandwich in itself is becoming a classic. In America the most popular toppings are mayonnaise, sauce and American cheese, or in some cases a combination of all three. Sounds a little odd to us but we are certainly willing to give it a try! The topping of choice in Britain is much more likely to be horseradish, although this does have quite a kick so Ian advises a gentle touch. Our Black Watch
tartan polycotton napkins
are perfect for catching the crumbs.
Second in line is Coronation chicken salad in a rustic oval bite. Combining chicken and curry spices this filling was named after it was created for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Not sure if the Queen ever eats the traditional Coronation Chicken but picnicking is a family tradition that any family, royal or otherwise, can enjoy at a relatively low cost. In 2012 Coronation Chicken was given a bit of a revival when Heston Blumenthal created a variation called Diamond Jubilee Chicken for guests at the Royal Garden Party. Famous for his multisensory cooking experiences apparently some of Heston's original ideas were turned down by Health and Safety but we are pretty sure this may have been the picnic of century.
Last but by no means least we were also very fortunate to receive a sample of Ghillie & Glen Scottish Smoked Salmon from Macrae Edinburgh, part of the Young’s Seafood
Group. Pictured on our Brushed Wool Tartan Rug
in Troon tartan
a poppy seed bagel was the choice of bread this time with lashings of cream cheese topped off with rocket leaves, a definite office favourite. Ghillie & Glen derives its name from one of Scotland’s oldest types of smokehouse. Traditionally, Scottish estates had their very own smokehouse, smoking a wide variety of food from both land and sea as a preservation method and the Ghillie would be the man in charge of the estate, it's lochs and helping guests to fish. The wonderful smokey aroma is still extremely popular today, nowadays for flavour rather than preservation. Just think of all the extra barbecues we would have is the Scottish weather allowed. This week we also discovered that bagels in fact originate in Poland, and not America as we all thought. This came as a pleasant surprise to Aneta here in the office as she is originally from Poland. Now hugely popular in North America as well as Europe, bagels have even been enjoyed in space! Canadian American astronaut Gregory Chamitoff took a batch to the International Space Station in his 2008 space shuttle mission.
With venues aplenty, going for a picnic is a tradition which passes on from generation to generation. Who hasn’t got memories of that picnic we had in the appalling weather, when we all pretended we weren’t freezing to death; or the abandoned picnic when the weather was so bad that we came home and spread the picnic rug on the living room floor and had our picnic there, in the comfort of our own home? Usually they are eventful family occasions, involving some unexpected interaction with nature in my family, notably the picnic by the lake when my brother accidentally hooked a duck instead of a fish with his rod or a family member being chased by something be it a ram or a flock of geese, guaranteed to liven up the occasion.
You really don’t have to travel far to find a picnic spot, everyone has their favourite spot and the choices are endless, but if you’re stuck for ideas have a look at our Best Picnics in Scotland
Blog from last summer, including our favourite, Coldingham Beach.
There are of course essential items other than food that you need for any picnic:
- Something to sit on. We have a great selection of picnic rugs for you to choose from including our Pride of Scotland waterproof backed rug which comes in very handy on damp days. My husband always insists on a chair, his throne as I call it, so he can order us all around while he sits in comfort.
- A good drink. We have just discovered Summerhouse Drinks in Pitsligo on the Moray Firth coast, makers of the most fabulous traditional lemonades. Finalists in the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards this year, and based near Aberdeen, their drinks are made from 100% natural ingredients, raspberry and misty varieties are their bestsellers. They also make their own tonic water, which it would be rude not to try with gin - our choice would be Eden Mill's Love Gin, Scottish of course and full of exotic flavours such as red rose petals and marshmallow root which results in a stunning pink colour.
- Storage and crockery. Maybe not quite as exciting as planning the menu, but there are so many brilliant storage ideas to aid in transporting all your hard work to the perfect spot. Crockery can also add some of those finishing touches to make your day that little bit extra special. If your struggling for ideas Good Housekeeping are here to help with their ultimate picnic kit. From cooling boxes to cake stands, they've got it all covered. Look out for our Troon lambswool picnic rug from our bright checks range with gorgeous greens and purples to match the floral setting.
- The final vital ingredient is good company, so get your friends and family together and plan a picnic this weekend, can’t promise any sunshine but there will certainly be some lasting memories made!