hen it comes to the races, we’re all guilty of overdoing the drinking and tending to forget about eating well. So this year, instead of dodgy takeaway, why not pack a picnic hamper to enjoy trackside. Creating the perfect hamper is easy. Think about which foods that you can share and graze on all day such as deli items, mini sandwiches, salads and sweet treats to keep the blood sugar levels up. While not everyone wants to lug a heavy picnic basket to the track and back, there are plenty of ways to reduce waste and make your picnic eco-friendly, including recycled cardboard containers, plates and bamboo cutlery. Still need help? Here are some local places where you can pick up a race day picnic hamper winner.
Albert Street Food and Wine
A well-known foodie destination, this is the perfect place to create a bespoke hamper to suit your budget and tastes. Anyone familiar with Philippa Sibley and her team know that they source quality produce from the best suppliers and growers and pride themselves on bringing the country to city. For those who tend to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice on offer (as we did), just ask any of the staff for help. They’ll not only help you to create a feast that’s guaranteed to go down a treat, they’ll also be firm and insist that Sibley’s famous lemon tarts alone for lunch may not be a wise idea.
Our picks: Harris Farm Smoked Salmon, Istra Proscuitto, Will Stud Petit Camembert, Albert Street Marinated Olives, Piper Street Terrine and Rillettes, Noisette Baguttes, Laurent Perrier Champagne, Moritz beer. Cost $150.
382 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 8354 6600
For the gang at Egg, sharing is caring. They’ve made an easy with a selection of sandwiches, bagels and more. It includes what they like to call an old fashioned chicken sandwich (16 pieces, $69), which we all know is a race day classic. Using free-range poached chicken and a homemade mayo, they’re the perfect race day food. For seafood lovers, they offer a smoked salmon poppy seed bagel (16 pieces, $69).
Our pick: it would have to be the prawn sandwiches with a basil aioli. For the sweet tooth there is a choc brownie box (16 pieces, $43), which you may decide not to share.
21 St Edmonds Road, Prahran
(03) 9510 6805
Bright Young Things
Getting into the spirit of Spring Racing Carnival, the clever team at Bright Young Things have created $90 boxes containing a range of delicious morsels that you and your guests can munch on all day long. There are 20 choices on the menu, including both savoury and sweet options. Each item has been given a racing name, such as It’s a Wrap (duck, pine nut and saffron bisteeya labne), Horse’n Round (spiced gingerbread horse popsicles) and the favourite to bring it home, French Fancies (parmesan sables with potted prawn, sherry and shallot rillettes). Offering vegetarian and gluten-free options, punters can choose from between 20 canapé-sized items or 16 larger-size items that come in a beautifully presented box.
(03) 9429 6001
Gourmet food lovers and those who picture themselves in an episode of Downton Abbey won’t be able to resist the luxurious picnic baskets at Fitzrovia ($150, serves two). Made fresh on the day using the finest local produce, they incude Scotch quails egg, sausage rolls, savoury vegetable tart and a range of miniature sandwiches such as Romsey Range rare roast beef, horseradish and wild rocket baguette. Packed into a beautiful picnic basket, complete with cutlery, crockery, blanket, glassware and a corkscrew, this is a picnic for grown-ups. As an added bonus, the guys there can arrange chilled wine or champagne for pick up at the Prince Wine Cellars.
155 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
(03) 9537 0001