The joy of picnics

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.