Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding is almost here. Bunting is being hung and everyone is waiting to see what dress she goes for, and whether her father turns up. Over 2,000 commoners have been invited to attend the festivities at Windsor Castle, but there’s a snag: lunch will not be provided. Instead, revellers will have to bring their own picnic.
This has gone down badly in some quarters. ‘It’s pure meanness,’ trilled Suzanne Moore in the Guardian. But if I were going, I’d be delighted by the stipulation. Wedding lunches can be so stuffy. A proper picnic lunch is often a much more civilised experience.
So with those 2,000 revellers in mind – and many more royalists who will be celebrating with picnics of their own – here are a few ideas for delicious items to squirrel away in the picnic basket. I’ve tried to avoid too much cooking, save for a sausage or two. Picnics should be breezy affairs…
It’s worth having something for people to pick at while you set things up. Waitrose’s Avocado smash would go well with crisps or breadsticks. I’m partial to Walkers crisps at a picnic – salt and vinegar or prawn cocktail – but if you want something smarter, tortillas are a reliable option. Radishes are also delightful at this time of the year, especially when dipped in salt.
You can’t beat a cold sausage. Cook them the night before and serve in bread rolls with lashings of mustard. Farmison’s royal Sussex sausages are scrumptious. I cooked some recently for a boat trip picnic and they didn’t last long. Or try whipping up these delicious sausage rolls with mango chutney, a recipe courtesy of Spectator Life’s our Vintage Chef Olivia Potts. If you want to steer clear of too much cooking, scotch eggs or pork pies from Fortnum and Mason’s make life easier. A quiche works well too: Waitrose do salmon and broccoli ones, as well as the classic quiche Lorraine. Or pack falafel, a bag of lettuce leaves, some hummus and pita, and let people stuff their own sandwiches. M&S is a good bet for these items.
This is what truly makes a picnic. Pack a few different items to help add flavour. Fortnum’s Piccalilli goes well with the above items. These gin-pickled cucumbers from Newton & Pott (available at Harvey Nichols) add tang. A dollop of chutney perks up cold meats and cheeses – Rubies in the Rubble make tasty ones. As mentioned, mustard is important – I like to have a pot of Colman’s close by at all times.
Something sweet to finish things off is crucial. If you have an ice box, Pimm’s ice lollies are a fun novelty (Whole Foods Market and Ocado stock them). If it’s too much stress keeping them ice-cold – and a picnic should never be stressful – Ottolenghi’s white chocolate and strawberry brittle would work well. Otherwise, load up on strawberries, which taste best when slightly warm – and dip in sugar. If you can keep it cool, pack clotted cream. For those who really want to get into the royal wedding spirit, try baking this take on Harry and Meghan elderflower and lemon cake.
Vital. What’s a royal wedding without a bottle of something that goes pop? Berry Brother and Rudd’s Crémant de Limoux is preferable to sickly prosecco – or try the Spectator’s favourite: Pol Roger. Elderflower and fizzy water is a lovely non-alcoholic option or you could make your own lemonade.
Pack a rug, a sharp knife, a bottle opener, some paper plates and cups, and a few napkins – and away you go. Let the wedding guests enjoy their sit-down meal; there is no finer way to eat than ‘sur l’herbe’, hoping that the rain stays away.