In this article, Hayley Baddiley from Denby shares her tips for putting together the perfect artisan picnic for your loved ones this spring.
As the weather improves and we start to gather outside, you’re no doubt looking forward to putting together a lovely, cosy evening for your closest friends and family. But how can you make sure your springtime event is the best it can be?
If you really want to impress, an artisan picnic in your garden, or in a park or another public space, is the perfect way. Unlike mass-produced or processed food, artisan goods such as cheeses are made on a small scale by craftspeople and experts in their trade, often slowly but always with lots of care and attention to detail. So, by hosting your own artisan-inspired get-together, you can wow your guests with fresh, local produce of the highest quality while you catch up.
Below, I’ll share my tips for putting one together, including which foods to choose and how to decorate your table.
Serve a variety of different food
For an elevated evening, your focus should be on the taste and presentation of your food. Platters and charcuterie boards are perfect for this, because they allow you to showcase a variety of different foods, and they let the quality of the meats, cheeses, and other produce you’ve chosen speak for themselves. With a selection of tasty platters and accompaniments, your guests will be able to pick and choose, so everyone can eat their fill of what they like. Plus, sharing boards like these create a more social setting, which we’ve all been missing.
In the UK, we’re blessed with a wealth of farmers, growers, and makers that can provide some of the best food in the world. Take a look in your area and see what’s for sale from artisan producers nearby, then look for accompaniments with similar credentials from local farmers like hand-picked strawberries, and free-range ingredients such as eggs and milk. Not only will you be able to impress your guests with this authentic spread, but you’ll be doing your bit for the local economy and for the planet too.
To really push the boat out, why not try growing your own vegetables in your garden or in a planter? Root vegetables like potatoes and beetroot are great starter veg, or you can keep it simple with home-grown herbs on your windowsill if you’re short on space. These home-grown touches will accompany your artisan purchases perfectly.
Set the table
A great way to display your food is to use high-quality tableware in a variety of different bright, bold colours. Decorated dishes can be aesthetically pleasing and, if they’re well-made, are ideal for withstanding outdoor use. Plus, colourful ceramics can help make the evening feel more relaxed and social than if you were to use more formal, white dinnerware. Even if you’re hosting your evening in a public place, it’s better to take sturdy, reusable tableware than paper or plastic disposables. They’re also much easier to eat off!
Similar to selecting artisan produce, you could seek out homeware that has been made by hand and has other conscious credentials. Then, to continue the theme, look for or make your own rustic table decorations out of natural materials such as wood and seashells — or keep it simple with bouquets and sprigs of fragrant herbs from your garden.
Include a drinks menu
Complete your evening and take it to the next level by including a selection of carefully chosen drinks for your guests to try. When picking your wine or fruit juices (don’t forget to include non-alcoholic options), look for pairings that will complement your artisan goods. For example, sweet pear or melon flavours go great with strong, flavourful cheeses like stilton, and the sharpness of cranberries and cherries means they are best suited to a creamy brie. Making this effort won’t go unnoticed by your guests, who are sure to be wowed by your knowledge and thoughtfulness.
This spring, a get-together packed full of artisan produce is the ideal way to reconnect with your nearest and dearest. Whether you’re hosting at home or in a public place, the tips in this guide can help you put together the perfect food and drink experience.