Monday, 15 June 2009

Picnics in the Park

Whatever the occasion make the venue outdoors in one of London’s many parks which all have something unique to offer.

Green Park – Post-work Picnic

After a day spent gazing through the office window at glorious sunshine, an impromptu after work gathering on the grass far surpasses a pit stop in the office boozer.

Green Park provides the perfect space for central London workers and provides a good stop off for anyone on their way to Victoria station or West London. It has the advantage of a park-side Marks and Spencer, just inside the tube station, which stocks everything you could need from plastic cutlery to sandwiches, sushi or mezze.

Or if you fancy classic English fare and your wallet can be stretched, wander along Piccadilly and drop into Fortnum and Mason for a selection of nibbles any wicker hamper would be proud to house. Choose from perfect pork pies, terrines and cold meats in the basement delicatessen and find yourself helpless to resist the impressive array of condiments and savoury delicacies which have become synonymous with Fortnum’s.

Hyde Park – All Day Weekend Grazing

A perfect antidote to that all too familiar weekend hangover, lazily lounging in the park is a fail safe way to relax and recharge the batteries. Being central and easy to get to, the open expanses of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens make it easy for people to drop in throughout the day. And for the aquatic minded the rowing boats and pedalos on the Serpentine could provide the opportunity for a floating banquet.

The obvious pitfall is that everyone might arrive cradling the same pot of humus and bag of tortillas, so delegation is key. Essential equipment includes a frisby, the weekend papers and painkillers for those struggling to get over the previous nights antics.

Whole Foods, at the Kensington Gardens corner of the park, is a well known food-lovers Mecca and has an almost bewildering range of choice for any al fresco feast, but with a little bit more organisation this is the ideal opportunity to indulge in some culinary creativity and embrace the Tupperware boxes sadly resigned to the dusty top shelf.

Regents Park – A Romantic Rendezvous

The picturesque rose gardens and topiary of Regents Park are an ideal setting for a romantic stroll while the surrounding tree spotted lawns offer plenty of secluded spots to throw a cashmere blanket. In the early evening sunshine picturesque Primrose Hill, to the north of the park, is a wonderful setting to share a bottle of something sparkling but remember that swigging from a full sized bottle is never seductive, this is not a time to forget the glasses. Finally you could complete the evening at the enchanting open air theatre which is showing productions throughout the summer, from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest.

En route to the park try and pass by La Fromagerie on Marylebone High Street which is home to all sorts of picnic possibilities such as classic continental charcuterie, juicy olives, sweet or savoury breads and as the name would imply a staggering collection of cheeses.

The organically farmed pork sausages from the Honest Sausage cafe, halfway along the Broadwalk, may not make for elegant picnic food but are scrumptious all the same either in a bun or with buttery mash.

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