Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Operatic Picnic at Glyndebourne

Last Wednesday I organised for myself and 8 friends to go to Glyndebourne to see Figaro. The opera was wonderful but the event can be almost just as much about picnicking, dressing up and catching up with old friends as it is about music. Over the day there are three hours of picnicking and three hours of opera so it really is fifty fifty, the perfect mix of entertainment and relaxation.

This also means that there is an amusingly high degree of picnic competitiveness going on with seasoned Glyndebourne-goers bringing out garden furniture, white table cloths and complete dinner services. There were a good deal of Fortnum's hampers oneupmanship too. I have to say (though I am biased) that our humble, homemade collective effort undoubtedly trumped the majority of others, even though I have a deep and obsessive love for Fortnum's condiments and chocolates!

Here is what we had:

Delicate finger sandwiches:

Cucumber and mint butter sandwiches on standard packaged white bread

Whizz up mint leaves - destalked - with butter (a small handful to 50g butter) In a food processor / magimix. Taste to see how strong you want it. Spread, then cover with a layer of sliced and blotted cucumber pieces (the blotting is essential in avoiding sogginess). Trim of the crusts  if desired.

Smoked salmon with dill and lemon butter

Again whizz up 50g butter with a small handful of fresh dill or a table spoon of dried with a good amount of black pepper (to taste) and the juice of a quarter of a lemon. Put together with sliced and blotted  cucumber.

Chicken and tarragon mayonnaise

Roast your own chicken for extra-succulent meat. I made my own tarragon mayonnaise, recipe below:

Tarragon Mayonnaise
2 Eggs yolks
Groundnut oil/other tasteless oil (270ml)
Extra virgin olive oil (I put around 100ml)
Salt (to taste but a lot, 3 big pinches, Maldon is tastier)
The leaves of 6 stalks of tarragon finely chopped (taste as you add it see how strong you like it - it intensifies after a few hours when the tarragon begins to infuse the rest of the mayonnaise)
2 tbsp Juiced lemon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp or so of water to thin to your desired consistency

Pop an empty big glass or plastic bowl in the microwave for a minute to warm it. Or if you don't have a microwave to hand, place your bowl above boiling water for a few minutes. Don't let any water get into the bowl.

Place 2 egg yolks in the bowl – whisk for at 1 minute (ideally with an electric whisk) until airy and beginning to thicken.

Then, slowly drip the groundnut oil in whilst whisking (add too much at once and it could curdle). It should start to get thick and glossy.

After you have added around all the groundnut oil you can extra virgin olive oil whilst whisking. Then add the tarragon, and salt. 

Drip in the lemon and vinegar, tasting as you go along to get an acidity that you like (you can add more or less than what I suggest).

Finally, thin it with water until it is your preferred consistency, remembering it firms up a bit more in the fridge.

Other things we ate were: 

Madeleine's and salt caramel brownies

Victoria sponge and oat and rasin cookies 

And the most delicious homemade velvety, chicken liver pâté 

To drink we ordered everything from Majestic and got a much better offer than your standard supermarket. I thought the £16 De Telmont Grande Réserve Champagne was particularly good value. 

Don't forget a cool box, plenty of ice, Pimms fruit, nice tableware, champagne glasses and, of course, your tickets!

the knobmobile in front of us!