Back to Glyndebourne, this time for The Cunning Little Vixen and to accompany it – a picnic. Picnics and Glyndebourne are synonymous. People tip up with everything from a fully butler-served dinner with linen, crystal and candelabra, to a bag of sandwiches in a foil wrapper. The lawns become covered in tartan rugs, folding chairs and the evening is peppered with the popping of champagne corks.
Over my 31 years as an audience member I have done the food thing in every conceivable way, from butties and crisps to a Fortnum’s feast. I’ve made picnics, bought picnics and attended other people’s picnics. I’m always amazed at how much low grade hummus and taramasalata makes it’s way to such a high grade event.
So after last week’s dinner in the Mildmay, I booked a picnic from Carluccio’s in Brighton. It required booking 24 hours in advance but was ready for me to collect from noon on the day.
First impressions matter and I was impressed by the compact nature of the picnic, stored in a nice blue chill bag, an almost perfect cube of food with plates, cutlery and napkins too.
So what do you get? Well we started with some excellent black olive focaccia, sliced salamis, olives, roasted peppers and balsamic onions. There was more than enough for two as a starter and to be honest, it was the basis of a reasonable interval snack on its own.
Next out of the bag came two salads of smoked mackerel with radishes and a good dressing. Generous once again to be a decent main course in a solo role. I loved it too, lots of crunchy radish that had been kept crisp and fresh by the presence of a plastic ice block in the bag.
Next out came a tray of delicious couscous with diced roasted vegetables. I loved this, lots of herbs and the fat couscous that looks almost like tapioca, it was nice and easy to eat too in an alfresco setting.
That would sound like mains over – but no, out came two trays of herbed new potatoes and chicken supremes. A huge portion that was almost the straw that broke the camel’s back. In fact we only tackled one box and did not finish that.
To top off the savoury courses came two individual cheese flans – really good with excellent crisp shortcrust pastry and a tasty filling. My guest Ms Mc T loved this and polished off one in no time much to the detriment of her appetite for the other dishes which she nibbled at the edges of.
I ate mine too, and loved it. That should have been the end, but there was pud to come, a lovely chocolate and raspberry tart each, then a bar of chocolate. I hope by now that you are getting the picture, this was no mean picnic, this was a feast, designed for two but more than enough – plenty for one more, maybe even two.
What I loved most was the food, it was all as good as food in the restaurant. The ease of getting it came second, the fact that I did not have to cook, or wash up, figures in there too. Oh, and the price, the price for a picnic for two is a very handsome £45. Now by any measure that is good, had I gone into the local supermarket and picked up convenience foods I suspect that I would not have done quite so well in quantity and certainly not in quality. We added a bottle of Champagne to our picnic, from home, and had the most delicious evening on every level.
Picnics cannot be ordered online, customers are advised to contact their nearest Carluccio’s 24-hours in advance to arrange a picnic to collect. Jubilee St, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1GE, 01273 690 493