Raymond Blanc describes his perfect picnic menu – one which he suggests would be perfect for Royal Ascot, but which sounds delicious all summer long.
The picnic has long been a very British tradition, but, of course, it was the French (bien sûr) who started these wonderful outdoor feasts after the revolution.
What’s not to love about sitting outdoors with friends and family with a hamper of delicious food? Bon appétit
This is a much more creative way to make sandwiches for a picnic and is prepared by carefully hollowing out the centre of a loaf of bread, then re-filling it with your choice of ingredients. Wrap it up in a bow and it will win the heart of your loved one all over again.
Crudités and dip
This is one of my favourite starters – raw vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces and served with a chive yoghurt dip. My father would grow the vegetables and my mother would place them on the table on Sunday. It’s the simplest, purest transition from the earth to the table – or picnic blanket.
This is delicious, either sliced cold or in a warm salad of new potatoes, dressed in a little white-wine vinaigrette with finely chopped shallots. Voilà!
Baguette and Comté cheese
I cannot help it: I’m a Frenchman through and through and a meal is not a meal unless you have bread, cheese and a small glass of Pinot Noir.
Pickled quail eggs and celery salt
Perfect little soft-boiled eggs, which will take on all sorts of flavours in your pickling liquor.
Bottle of Champagne
Why not bring a little joie de vivre to your picnic? Perfect when the sun is shining and uplifting when it’s not (I think we all know you can never trust the English weather).
Potted crab with avocado, topped with prawn butter
A real classic served at Brasserie Blanc and one that I can’t resist when I’m visiting.
Pâté de Campagne or a smooth chicken-liver parfait finished with Cognac
Easy to make a few days in advance and wonderful on freshly baked baguette. Yes, bread once again – I do love my bread.
Scones, jam and clotted cream
One of my favourite English traditions and a staple item on my afternoon-tea menu at Royal Ascot. But which goes on first, the jam or the cream? You decide!
Simple and delicious, the best French variety – of course – is Gariguette. A taste of my home.
This year, Raymond Blanc will be taking over the Panoramic Restaurant during Royal Ascot, celebrating his third year at the event. For more information, visit www.raymondblanc.com