Choose Continental for National Picnic Day With European Cheeses

International Picnic Day.

Food often tastes better when eaten in the sunshine and International Picnic Day on Tuesday 18th June is the perfect opportunity to put together some delicious European alfresco snacks.  If you are looking for inspiration for your summer snacking, below are a few tips for the perfect picnic so you’re all set for 18th June.

Picky pairings

French CheeseEuropean cheese is sure to delight at any time of day, and in any weather. Sylvain Soulard, head chef of Pique Nique and its sister restaurant Casse-Croûte in London, recommends Comté as it can be cut into bitesize chunks for easy sharing and travels well.

For those who like to bring a little sophistication to proceedings, Sylvain suggests pairing the cheese with a good bottle of champagne or a white wine from the Jura.

No one likes limp lettuce, but you don’t need to avoid greens altogether. Celery, carrot and cucumber sticks, chopped cauliflower and cherry tomatoes are delicious dipped in fromage frais flavoured with herbs and spices. Dried fruit and nuts also add texture and are delicious served with Brie and hard cheeses such as Cantal, Abondance and Tomme de Savoie.

Choose your bread carefully

With so many breads on offer, soggy sandwiches are thankfully a thing of the past. If you can find some pain de campagne, try a version of a Pan Bagnat by tearing out the centre of the bread dough and layering with Emmental or fromage frais with herbs and garlic, tomatoes, lambs lettuce and sliced black olives. Baguettes and Ciabatta also work well.

You can also try the famous French ham and butter sandwich with nice slices of Brie or Beaufort, prepared with a good baguette and cut into pieces.

If you really want to try something else special, why not bake or buy some scones which can be delicious with sweet and savoury fillings.

Eggstra Easy

For something nutritious, filling and tasty that is simple to prepare the night before. Whisk eggs with a hard cheese such as grated Comté with finely chopped mushrooms, fresh herbs, onions or grated courgettes and place a couple of dessert spoons into each hollow of a cake tin. Oven cook until the mixture rises and the egg is cooked in the middle.

You can also switch up with a bloomy rind cheese like Camembert or a blue like Bleu de Gex.

Keeping cool

If you plan frequent picnics this year, it’s worth considering buying a cool bag and storing some cool blocks in the freezer the night before, to keep everything fresh (and your drinks chilled) until you reach your destination.

Make sure the cheese is the first to be brought out of the cool bag as the full flavours and textures release at room temperature – unless it’s a scorcher and you don’t want the Brie or Camembert running off the plates!