30 January 2012 by Robyn Campbell

Top 5 winelands chique-nics for summer

Although old-fashioned picnics will probably never go out of style, increasingly, Cape wine estates are upping the ante with their connoisseur chique-nic offerings.

At face value, picnicking is supposed to be a joyous, communal activity that takes place in the outdoors and involves time spent with loved ones, enjoying the fresh air and nibbling on delicious foods followed by snoozing or sport.

That’s the textbook version of how a picnic is supposed to happen. For some, just 1 experience of soggy sandwiches, ravening insects, and sudden downpours puts them off picnicking for life. Others, like me, never stop dreaming of the perfect picnic…

Face it – picnicking can be a fraught way to eat. It’s not so much a meal as a full-scale military manoeuvre, and the odds of all the factors like the food, the company, the weather, and the location, aligning, are about as likely as me possessing the winning Lotto ticket. Tata ma chance...

Enter the chique-nic – a combination of all the best elements of a regular picnic taken to new heights. Literally, as many of the venues that offer chique-nics (also called chic-nics) also include a table and chairs – no more numb and damp behinds from sitting on the grass…

Face it – picnicking can be a fraught way to eat. It’s not so much a meal as a full-scale military manoeuvre, and the odds of all the factors like the food, the company, the weather, and the location, aligning, are about as likely as me possessing the winning Lotto ticket.

Although old-fashioned picnics will probably never go out of style, increasingly, Cape wine estates are upping the ante with their connoisseur chique-nic offerings. Traditional picnic fare has been banished (au revoir hard-boiled-blue eggs) and replaced with gourmet basket buffets that can include shucked oysters and panna cotta dessert with champagne-soaked seasonal fruits a la Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek.

At Alle Bleue the picnic has grown up. Chic-nics come with cushioned garden chairs, chilled ice buckets, white linen and silver cutlery to complement al fresco treats such as curried prawn cocktail and baked cheesecake with fruits marinated in grappa. Kids’ picnics come in the form of a retro handkerchief tied to a stick filled with healthy homemade meatballs, sandwiches, yoghurts, fruit and juice. It’s called a Stick-nic. Alle Bleue picnics are available all year round, and must be pre-booked. Call +27 (0)21 874 1021, or email info@alleebleue.com.

Another estate to follow the chique-nic trend is Spier. Spier is renowned for their sustainable eating ethos, and their chef uses food grown on the Spier farm or local, natural, and organic produce wherever possible. Seating is old school (BYO blanket and sit on the lawn) but the use of 100% biodegradable packaging and cutlery, and the choice of Gourmet, Relaxed, Vegetarian, and Raw Food picnics are as chic as can be.

To all intents and purposes, Vergelegen‘s “picnic” is an a la carte meal, but the camphor tree forest setting earns them a spot in this blog. Definitely the picnic for those who prefer not to eat their food with their fingers or dine too close to the ground, here you'll tuck into smoked salmon parfait, Moroccan-rubbed rare beef fillet, a summer berry cheesecake, and a cheeseboard. Walk off those calories with a tour of Vergelegen’s historic and impressive gardens. Picnics are available from April to December. Booking is essential. Tel: +27 (0)21 847 1346.

From September to April, Solms-Delta wine estate offers a happy compromise between a traditional family picnic and a gourmet meal you haven’t had to prepare, pack, and schlep yourself. A member of staff will carry your foodie feast and wine to a shady spot by the Dwars River on the estate. Numbers are limited to ensure a level of privacy, and each basket includes Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn 2010, or spring water bottled at source on the estate. Pack your towel and costume. Solms-Delta picnics are available from September to April, and must be pre-booked through the Fyndraai Restaurant on + 27 (0)21 874 3937.

 

 

Category: Arts & Entertainment, Food & Wine

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