Sum­mer’s just the time to enjoy a ‘chic­nic’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

WITH De­cem­ber mere days away, mostly glo­ri­ous weather and the dis­tinct whiff of hol­i­day sea­son in the air, it’s safe to say we’re on the brink of sum­mer. And what is bet­ter in sum­mer than a pic­nic?

You can pack your own and head to any num­ber of our beau­ti­ful out­door lo­ca­tions, or you can opt for one of the many wine farms which will do all the hard work for you – sup­ply­ing the food, wine, the blan­kets and whisk­ing it all away af­ter­wards so no me­nial chores when you get home.

Res­o­lu­tions are tra­di­tion­ally made at new year, but I’m ready to make one now: have more pic­nics.

We went to our first at Al­lée Bleue, Fran­schhoek, a wine, fruit and herb es­tate where they do “chic­nics” on the lawns near the tast­ing room. Part of me still be­lieves a proper pic­nic should be eaten on the ground, but that was in my younger, more ag­ile days. Here they are served at ta­bles set out in the dap­pled shade of oak trees, with um­brel­las and ice buck­ets for your wine and this suits my tired old knees just fine.

There is lots of space for chil­dren to run around and they can squeal and play to their hearts’ con­tent on the jun­gle gym, jump­ing cas­tle and tram­po­line, so it’s a good op­tion for a fam­ily day out. For those who are not fans of the lit­tle ones, they are far enough away to not be any bother at all while re­main­ing safely in their par­ents’ sight.

The wicker pic­nic bas­kets are packed with lovely light and fresh good­ies sourced from the farm. Breads are wrapped in pa­per and ev­ery­thing else is served in glass jars.

There are stan­dard and vege­tar­ian op­tions which, apart from a couple of items, are al­most the same. In­side your bas­ket you’ll find: chunky farm jam; salsa verde; tomato, gar­lic and thyme chut­ney; onion and aniseed mar­malade; a mixed salad with parme­san cheese; wild rice salad with baby car­rots, pick­led onions, basil pesto and smoked feta; baby fen­nel, red onion, and pre­served cit­rus with hazel­nut dress­ing; soy and sesame cured beef stir fry with egg noo­dles; salted chicken with co­conut shav­ings, dried mango, and co­conut dress­ing; and cheeses.

Veg­e­tar­i­ans will swop the meaty jars for grilled Mediter­ranean veg­gies in a bal­samic re­duc­tion and pick­led or­ganic beet­root with goat’s cheese and gar­lic emul­sion. The sweet end­ing takes the shape of mini melk­terts and fruit from the farm.

● Avail­able daily, chic­nic bas­kets should be booked in ad­vance. Prices start from R185 a per­son in­clud­ing two glasses of wine (cel­lar door prices are very rea­son­able should you want more), and R65 for chil­dren un­der 12. There is live mu­sic on Sun­days.

Al­lée Bleue Wine Es­tate is at the in­ter­sec­tion of the R45 and R310. More in­for­ma­tion see www.alleebleue.com, and to book call 021 874 1021.

PIC­TURE: TA­MAR THORN

FRESH: Enjoy an al fresco lunch in style this sum­mer at Al­lée Bleue.

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