“I don’t care what the weather man says….and the weatherman says it’s raining!” Isn’t that what the song they play at the end of the television weather forecast says?
Who doesn’t care what the weather’s like – well people were the weather can be guaranteed, day after day that’s who.
So while the brief showing of the sun over the Bank Holiday fades into the distance (and half the city’s population head to Rome for reasons of football), so does any hope of one of those most English of pastimes – the picnic.
Oh for the family picnic!
Squashed sandwiches which unexpectedly incorporate tomato along with grass, weird angry wasps, warm pop (0r lashings of ginger beer of course), grass stained clothing, sunburned shoulders and “whiffy egg”! Who could want for anything more.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite like that. Opening up a delivery from Abel and Cole’s Summer Range yesterday gave me different view of what picnic could mean. OK there’s no outdoors in this version but what the heck – lay out a summery tablecloth and make believe there’s good weather abound.
The range includes plenty of Mediterranean favourites, ready to go. A black olive houmous (£2.20) which was so thick it was almost a mash – most definitely not of the runny dip variety – with a deep olive flavour enhanced with a good helping of black pepper, scooped up onto chunky, crunchy sesame breadsticks (£1.89).
Then there’s the hams – salty pancetta (£2.99), sweet prosciutto (£4.59) – and the taleggio cheese (£4.95).
According to my Italian Food dictionary (Gillian Riley, 2008) this cheese is often matured in caves “wafted by draughts of cold humid air”. Whether this particular variety had been treated in this way I know not – wrapped like butter, it certainly had the freshness of the mountains and was perfect with good ripe sweet toms.
Eat your heart out Famous Five travels to Roma style.
But this being an indoor picnic meant that some cooking could occur so the centrepiece became a crab salad with this season’s Jersey Royals daubed in Danish butter.
The handpicked white Cornish crab from Seafood & Eat it (£4.99) comes with recipe ideas (chili crab linguine, crab rosti for instance) which sound great in their own way but the freshness of this white meat couldn’t be bettered than served simply with a nice crisp white wine – from Italy, of course.
Now that’s what you call a picnic! Oh, and yes, there was even cricket.
* The goods from the Abel & Cole Summer Range were provided free of charge for review purposes.