That’s right, we’re off to a fully fledged festival! It’s in a couple of weeks (14th July) in Tynemouth (the place I want to live) and it’s called the Mouth of the Tyne Festival. Set in the grounds of the old Priory, it’s basically the most beautiful festival going and the kind of place you want to take gorgeous picnic food and sit for hours.
How’s that for a backdrop to a festival? Yes please.
And, with the street carnival atmosphere, bands, stalls, shiny things, flags, street performers and other things going on in the nearby Tynemouth Metro Station (including an under 5’s area), it’s perfect for kids. I have in mind…a day in the sun, blankets, gorgeous picnic food, sitting listening to music with Mike’s rocker parents, while Gabby and my little brother are running around and Reuben is trying to crawl off with them!
Reuben with his Rocker Grandad
I love a good family picnic, poring over gorgeous food, picking for hours, having a little drinkie while the kids play. Is there anything better?! Since it’s Reuben’s first festival and my last picnic was a dismal failure (involving boring food and a sickness bug), I want to up the ante!
OK, I’ve cheated and asked Michael Penaluna, who is only head chef at the award winning Jesmond Dene House (!), for his top picnic food tips…but since they are famous for their afternoon teas and generally GORGEOUS food, it just made sense and you are going to be so glad I did!
Michael, Head chef at Jesmond Dene House – he looks like he knows how to handle some picnic food. Tell me your secrets!
Ten picnic food tips from the Head chef, Jesmond Dene House
- Use fresh, quality produce and ingredients and home-bake as much of the picnic as possible – it will look and taste fresher and more appealing. All supermarkets offer great picnic food but nothing beats going on a family picnic knowing you have created the dishes yourself.
- Bake the items in small sizes – they are easier to eat, especially for children
- Keep it simple – One suggestion for a simple but great picnic is a loaf of beautiful fresh bread, a chunk of quality cheese, tasty pate, some quality ham and some sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
- Loaf sandwich – An alternative suggestion to sandwiches is to take a loaf of fresh bread. Slice off one end and then hollow out the middle of the bread. Pack this very tightly with some delicious filling – a mozzarella, basil, tomato and rocket layered up is one tasty suggestion – remembering not to make this too wet – and then wrap the loaf tightly in cling film. Take this on the picnic and when ready to eat, remove the cling film and then slice the loaf.
- Delicious wooden skewers – of sausages and chicken pieces (plain for children or marinated overnight in a tasty bbq type sauce – always go down well). For even more enjoyment cook them on the morning of the picnic and then wrap in tinfoil to keep warm.
- Mini classics – home-made scotch-eggs (add some black pudding to the sausage-meat for an even more yummy taste and make sure the egg is runny – this is the guardian’s guide to making the perfect scotch egg) and sausage rolls with crisp pastry (brush the pastry with beaten egg and then sprinkle over sesame and poppy seeds for a crisper/crunchier taste) and maybe a salmon and quail egg tart are delicious picnic dishes.
- Refreshing jelly – For a refreshing dessert why not make some mini fresh berry jellies. Add a splash of rosé wine for the adults and fresh juice for the children. Top with some melted white chocolate and a couple of berries.
- Refreshing fruit – Sliced pieces of delicious fresh fruit such as peaches, mango and pineapple are always a refreshing success.
- Something chocolatey is always welcome – perhaps a tray of home-made brownies or some mini-sized muffins topped with fresh cream and a strawberry.
- Don’t forget in your bag of essentials – picnic rug, wipes, napkins, corkscrew (for that adult bottle of fizz), suntan lotion, umbrellas and plastic bags for rubbish (never leave this behind).
Consider the ante upped! If that hasn’t whet your appetite for a family picnic, nothing will. How good does that Loaf Sandwich sound?! And I LOVE scotch eggs, especially runny ones.
Massive pile of tuna pasta mayo. It wasn’t great. Hopefully Mike and Reuben will actually be smiling at the picnic food at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival…!
I’ll let you know how we get on with our picnic food and the Mouth of the Tyne Festival in a couple of weeks time. I can’t wait, I hope the sun shines!
Mouth of the Tyne Festival – so beautiful in the sun.
Note: The Mouth of the Tyne festival is a 3 day festival, 12th-14th July, in Tynemouth. The headliners include The Human League on 12th, James Morrisson on 13th, and the Wonder Stuff on 14th (remember them? I’m so dizzy!), and if you fancy joining us, there’s still tickets available for the 12th and 13th from ticketmaster. For the Sunday 14th July family day tickets are sold via the two Tourist Information Centres in North Shields (Royal Quays) and Whitley Bay (in the new library). The telephone numbers are 0191 200 5895 and 0191 643 5395 respectively. Maybe see you there (we’ll be the ones with the gorgeous picnic!)…
Note 2: If you liked the sound of Michael’s tips, I would highly recommend making Jesmond Dene House (Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 2EY. Tel: 0191 212 3000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) one of your key visits when you are up in the North East. Also, if you are local to the North East and like Hotel Chocolat (er, that’ll be everyone then), drop the kids off with Grannie on 10th July and go to Jesmond Dene House for a very special Hotel Chocolat themed afternoon tea (Email email@example.com for more info and tickets)!
Jesmond Dene House – champagne afternoon tea on the terrace anyone?