As we head into the entertaining season with restrictions on indoor gatherings still in place, there’s never been a better time to head to your nearest park for a picnic. And at Carriageworks Farmers Market – held every Saturday in Eveleigh – you’ll find almost everything you need to prep the perfect spread, all from NSW producers.

Personally, I like my picnics to be “picky” – a bit of this, a bit of that, and just meander slowly through the meal. I will always include bread, cheese, charcuterie and fruit. Depending on the event or season I will go for something more substantial as well, but making sure it’s always easy to eat – preferably with my hands. And of course, let’s not forget an all-important bottle of local wine.

First, though, no picnic is complete without a basket. So, stop by 2 Duck Trading and buy a beautiful French basket.

Bread, crackers and nuts
We have some great new bakeries selling at Carriageworks, so look out for the giant crusty baguettes from Berkelo, or gluten-free bread from Hudson’s. For those less bread-obsessed than me, you can’t go wrong with the super-crispy gluten-free buckwheat crackers from Nonie’s Food. And don’t forget a bowl of macadamias from Hand ‘n’ Hoe Organics to nibble on while you set up.

Cheese and dairy
Cheese and dairy in general have come a really long way in Australia the last 10 years. We are much more in line with Europe nowadays, particularly with our varieties and styles of cheese.

We have an incredible selection here found at several different suppliers – seek out St Albans goat’s cheese from Willow Brae, or an alpine-style semi-hard cow’s milk cheese called Pearl from The Pines; buffalo mozzarella from Vannella Cheese; and Pecora Dairy’s sheep’s milk blue, Jamberoo Mountain Blue. I like to drizzle honey from Maya Sunny over the blue cheese. And don’t forget the butter from Pepe Saya for your bread.

Charcuterie
For charcuterie my go-to is saucisson from La Bastide, which I cut thin or thick with a hunk of bread, or eat just by itself. A lighter option would be Brilliant Food’s smoked ocean trout rillettes, or even a vegan pepperoni – Peppernoni – from Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher. I can’t go past Ryan Broomfield’s (Broomfields Pies) pork pie – it is seriously good. Crumbly pastry, dense pork filling just as it should be. It goes well with some kraut from Food by Holly Davis.

Salad
Kurrawong Organics is my go-to for salad and veg for crudités, and Darling Mills is my pick for salad herbs. Use juicy ripe tomatoes from Mountain View and G&M Putrino, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil from Alto and topped with Vannella’s mozzarella. Bob’s Farm and Burnbar Fruit both have delicious avocados, and I would squeeze a lemon from Eden at Fanelli Organics or Prickle Hill over the top and spoon out the flesh for the salad (or smear it on bread).

The main event
If you want something more substantial, a fast and effective centrepiece is my quick lamb shawarma. You can cook it at home before the picnic or if there is an outdoor barbeque at the picnic ground, you can cook on-site. Grab some lamb back straps from Farmer George or Mimosa Valley Lamb and marinate them in a couple of teaspoons of baharat spice blend from Spice Zen, a pinch of Olsson’s salt and a grated red onion from Block11 Organics, Kemps Creek Farm, or A&W Muscat. Grill the back straps for five minutes per side and rest for five minutes, before thinly slicing and drizzling with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I serve this with a spoonful of zhoug from Darling Mills. If prep time at home is not your thing, we have fantastic sausages from Linga Longa and LP’s Quality Meats to cook on the barbeque. Pair them with handmade Worcestershire sauce from Prickle Hill, made from their prunes.

Drinks
For a light, summery picnic drink, it’s pretty hard to go past a bottle of prosecco from Freeman Vineyards or their Rondo Rosé. Or, try the Mudgee single-vineyard chardonnay from Eloquesta. Non-alcohol drinkers can try making a spritz with Riberry shrub from Currong Comestibles mixed with sparkling water (or pop a splash in your prosecco).

Dessert
Pudding at a picnic for me is almost always fruit, maybe with something a bit more indulgent on the side. Choose a slice of apple tarte fine from Nadine Ingram at Flour and Stone, or a block of 70 per cent chocolate from Origin Chocolate. Late November is nectarine time, and Kurrawong Organics is well stocked with them. Throughout December and January pick up a bag of cherries from Drive In Orchards and strawberries from G&M Putrino. Prickle Hill even has late-season nectarines and plums between February and March.

Last but by no means least – in fact, of vital importance to any picnic – don’t forget impress your friends with flowers from Mayfarm Flowers or Jonima Flowers. Put them in a jam jar, throw out your favorite rug and you are all set to go.

Carriageworks Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8am–1pm.

carriageworks.com.au