TASTE / Summer Picnics

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

Updated March 2021

The combination of some sunny early Spring days and the easing of some lockdown restrictions is making the idea of picnics so appealing right now!

We certainly need to grab our sunshine opportunities where we can, so picnics can often be quite spontaneous. When I lived by the coast we would dash to our local shop and stock up with various pots of olives, tomatoes, dips and bread as soon as the sun looked like it might be sticking around for an hour or so, before heading to the beach. Whilst this was great fun, on reflection it created a lot more waste than the pre-planned picnics of my childhood (when it was always sunny right?) or the Italian ones I have experienced more recently, where the sunshine is a little more guaranteed. Now I try to look out for potential sunny spells and give our picnics a little more preparation time.

However, we also think we have the solution to more spontaneous picnic-ing at Olive and Rosy! Next time the Saturday sky looks slightly hopeful, pack a few of your favourite picnic tubs, jars and other containers before leaving home then if you are suddenly grabbed by the urge to fare un pic-nic, pop in and fill them up for a perfect zero-waste feast. Here are some of the some of our favourites.

1. Giardiniera

Giardiniera (jar - din - air - ah) means ‘from the garden’ and originated as a means of preserving produce for the winter using brine, vinegar and/or oil. It first became popular in Chicago from the 1920s when introduced by its Italian community. Bite sized chunks of vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, green beans, peppers, onions or olives are marinated with mustard seeds, oregano or chili depending on how spicy you like it!

Try giardiniera with a selection of charcuterie, as part of a sandwich or mixed through cold rice to create a salad.

2. Mostarda di Cremona

Mostarda is a condiment made with candied fruit and a mustard essential oil syrup originating from Cremona in North Eastern Italy. The story of its discovery tells of a medieval apothecary where a piece of melon fell into a barrel of honey. Later when found, the fruit was still as fresh and fragrant as if it had just been picked and even more delicious!

After its invention, quinces or grapes were most commonly used but a variety of fruits now feature, such as cherries, figs, plums, pears and peaches. The fruits are candied whole before being immersed in the sweet, mustard syrup.

Traditionally it was served with boiled meats but now it is more commonly used as an accompaniment to cheese. Try it with some pecorino and bread. Bring a sturdy tub or screw top jar for this one, it’s very sticky.

3. Truffle honey and pecorino cheese

For the slightly more earthy palate, how about a little jar of honey with truffle to accompany your cheese. This truffle honey is made with Italian acacia honey from the Marche region and black summer truffles. Due to their strong smell and flavour, in Roman times, truffles were considered to have healing and mythical properties.

It also tastes amazing with creamy Gorgonzola.

4. Gaetas Olives

Olives have been part human diet for thousands of years. They were first cultivated by the Assyrians, who discovered that they could be eaten and used for oil. Olives are given their colour by the time at which they are picked, with black olives being those that have ripened.

These Gaetas are picked late in the harvesting season, in mid-March. They have a lovely purple tone, a satisfying bite with them and are preserved in brine, accentuating that famous olive tang. Perfect just nibbled by themselves. Sadly you can only grow olive trees from the pits of fresh olives but take them home with you, give them a clean and use to intensify the flavour of a small amount of olive oil for a few days before you use it. (Other great ideas for using up food scraps can be found here)

5. Foccacia

Focaccia is much older than pizza, about 2000 years or so! The name comes from the Latin meaning 'fireplace'. Historically it was unleavened as it would rise a little naturally within the mediterranean climate before being cooked in the ashes of the fire. In Italy, there are a lot of regional based focaccia variations. In the Veneto and South Tyrol regions the focaccia is a sweet bread, almost like a cake in the Veneto, typically served at Easter. We currently stock Rosemary and Cornish Sea Salt and Goat's Cheese and Red Onion varieties.

Slice it up to build your sandwiches or eat it more traditionally in chunks dipped in some olive oil from our refill service.

Due to its olive oil content it lasts pretty well once taken home and many types can also be frozen.

6. Preserved artichokes