I love picnics. There’s something about eating outdoors in a very lazy fashion that is appealing. Relaxing. And as much as I love going on picnics, I also like the planning. What to eat? Recently I’ve had a hankering for corned beef. I thought of cooking it as a traditional meal (complete with boiled bbaby carrots, cabbage, mashed potatoes and a horseradish/mustard sauce) but then decided it would be much better served in sandwiches – a là Reuben (the best version of this is from Katz’s deli in New York) – with mustard, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. On rye bread of course.
The other day in Melbourne I met a friend for a drink and bite to eat at the Gertrude St Enoteca – Brigitte Hafner’s little place. Always delightful with its small menu of sandwiches, baguettes, salads, vitello tonnato and cheese platters, and its tiny list of exceptional wines by the glass. And I remembered that there was usually a corned beef sandwich on the list so that was what I was going to have. It was with great disappointment that there was no corned beef on the menu that day. I voiced my disappointment and was met by a look of utter astonishment. Corned beef? Isn’t that rather down market? It was my turn to look astonished? Downmarket? Where have you been? And have you never had a Reuben? Who doesn’t like/love Reuben sandwiches? Sigh. Clearly we had very different ideas about food. But my desire for corned beef with sauerkraut and mustard has not waivered and so I checked the weekend weather report and found that Sunday was going to be a gorgeous sunny day with a top of around 27 degrees. Just right for a picnic. And perfect to take our bikes out for a spin and find a lovely place along the river and sit and eat our lovely sandwiches and drink a bottle of wine.
As luck would have it (or not), the short bike ride to the river turned into a bit of a marathon. M found that there was a nice spot by the lake near the Noosa Botanical gardens which was just up the road (about 10k away). Sounded good. Nice easy ride, lake-side picnic. Perfect. Except that the map didn’t show that there was a fence along the road which prohibited you from going around the lake. So back we rode and then on along the road till finally we found a turn-off to the gardens and then rode along even further. I wasn’t very happy. We had now been riding for 90 minutes. That wasn’t part of my picnic plan. Eventually though we did find the gardens and a lovely spot by the lake to spread out our picnic and laze away the afternoon. As for the picnic itself: a triumph! Not only home made corned beef and sauerkraut but also mustard and rye bread. All thoroughly delicious and washed down with a bottle of sparkling red.