One of the countless pleasures of a Sydney summer is bedding down in the sunshine for a picnic. Mother nature has blessed the city with an almost embarrassing wealth of parks, beaches, nooks and crannies seemingly custom-made for alfresco dining.
“Sydney has got to be one of the best places in the world for picnic spots,” says Natalie Thomas of Sydney Picnic Co., the business she started with her husband Simon four years ago. The company combines their respective experience in the food biz (his) and the design industry (hers) to create custom picnics curated with seasonal fare and handmade menus. A feast for the eyes and the tastebuds, as it were.
“Keep it simple and seasonal and let the quality of the produce speak for itself,” says Simon of his culinary philosophy. Formerly of gourmet providore Simon Johnson, Thomas prepares every picnic fresh on the day.
The four hamper options – Picky Nic, Sydney, Italian or Mediterranean – start from $145 for two, including at least five courses. “Lots of bread and too many dips is a mistake,” says Natalie. “It makes for a pretty boring picnic.” So, no guacamole, then? “Wouldn’t you rather Australian king prawns with Sichuan salt and pepper?” [fold] The customised hampers, with hand written and menus individually crafted for each customer, could make tinned baked beans look good. Instead they are matched with dishes such as risoni, chargrilled zucchini, feta, sugar snaps, green peas, lemon zest and olive oil finished with Valrhona chocolate pots with crushed amaretti (cheese course optional).
The menus, personalised with names, messages and the date become mementos of the day—handy for the four marriage proposals Natalie says Sydney Picnic Co. caters to on an average month.
Not that Sydneysiders need romance as an excuse to eat out (side). Summer in the emerald city brings a million reasons to lay a blanket… a day at the cricket, a cruise on the harbour, Christmas parties. Really, any time is a good time for a picnic in this town. Perhaps this weekend?