The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful, and so is the barbeque… or picnic, at this time of year.
We are blessed with a slew of awesome food producers and growers, as well as some divine locations to eat al fresco. You can park at a lookout and recline on a grassy bed with a view, pack a gastronomic backpack and go deeper into the rainforest, rest at a picnic table overlooking the water and near a barbeque, sip and sup while supine on the sand at the beach, or even hire a barbeque boat and grill a gourmet meal on board. Just remember to take your rubbish home.
First there are drinks. We have many locally sourced options to choose from: mineral water, juice or kombucha or locally brewed beer and local gin and rum. One idea for picnicking is to pre-make any mixed drinks in jars, put the lid on at home and add ice from the esky once at the location.
Here’s a recipe from Cape Byron Distillery using Brookie’s Gin:
Garnish: Lime Wedge
Method: Build in glass over ice and stir
60ml Brookies’s Slow Gin
Top with Ginger Beer
A first course idea is a simple antipasto board, which could include locally produced cheese, local olives, some figs or other fruit, locally made crackers and local ham – we got all of ours from Mullumbimby IGA. If you’re more organised, whip up some corn, double cheese and chive mini muffins before you leave home:
Double Cheese and Chive Mini Muffins
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup parmesan freshly grated
1/2 tasty cheddar freshly grated
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
2 free range eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups plain flour sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, cheeses, herbs, olive oil, 2 eggs and milk. Add 2 cups sifted plain flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder, folding in gently until just combined.
Spoon mixture into two lightly greased 12-hole mini muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or cold.
For the main course, a big salad is super easy: a bag of loose-leaf greens with your other favourite salad vegetables such as capsicum, tomato, cucumber and carrot is super easy – go for colourful combinations. For extra minerals, flavour and crunch, add seeds; try (raw or toasted) hemp, sunflower or sesame. For an easy dressing simply squeeze lime or lemon juice over it and some olive oil if you have it. We made a beautiful organic salad with produce from Santos Mullumbimby and the farmers’ markets.
Add local seafood, tempeh, felafels, frittata or meat for protein, and some artisan bread from one of the many fabulous local bakers – and the meal is complete!
Another option is organising a local caterer to make up a gourmet picnic or barbeque for you, some will even deliver to your outdoor location. You can go for a themed menu such as Middle Eastern or Mediterranean and have a grazing table or multi-course affair.
The final course can be as simple as watermelon wedges or as indulgent as a luscious chocolate cake, either house made, catered or picked up. A wander to the nearest gelato establishment is also a fine option.
However you do it, the most important thing is to get outside, feel the earth on your feet, the breeze in your hair and let nature bring you back to balance once more.