A pastoral picnic worthy of the finest tables for two

Sunsets, wildflowers, and rustling trees may be romantic, but bugs, ranch dressing, and tree roots digging into your tailbone are less so. Because your love is precious, a picnic for two is the perfect opportunity to raise the bar a little with a sophisticated presentation and a selection of fine products.

A sharing platter of treasures from the sea or land

You don’t need to take the ITHQ’s Gourmet Picnic 101 class to impress your sweetheart: simply concoct a sharing platter worthy of the finest bistros using top-quality ingredients. To guide you in your choices, follow the three-flavour rule from Recettes du Québec, which recommends the presence of fatty, sweet, and sour or bitter ingredients.

If you’re a seafood lover, you can create an original tasting board with the most delicate flavours. Salmon bonbons, shrimp mousse, squid salad, fresh Northern shrimp, whelks, crab cakes, marinated turbot, smoked halibut, and even sturgeon caviar: in just one stop at the local shop, you can gather everything you need to fill your platter with maritime delicacies. Then top it all off with a few handfuls of fresh berries for the sweet element and some crisp endive leaves for a touch of bitterness. How about impressing your partner with a culinary masterpiece of your own that looks extremely difficult to make? Don’t worry: with our gravlax recipe—as tasty as it is simple—you’re in business… and we’ll even let you take the credit!

If the mere mention of fishing makes you seasick, close your eyes as you pass the fish market and continue on towards the butcher’s shop. Smoked duck, spicy coppa, Bündnerfleisch, nut- and fruit-flavoured sausages, venison terrines, jerky, and foie gras ballotines: you’ll find everything you need to satisfy your AAA carnivore cravings. With a delicious onion confit or apple chutney, a few pickled gherkins or green apple slices, you’ll have no trouble creating a charcuterie board with well-balanced flavours.

Watch out for those details, though! (They say that’s where the devil is!)

To make your date an unforgettable experience, think of the little touches that will make all the difference. A month of lower back pain is a high price to pay for being too cheap with your significant other. If you’re not 20 anymore, but you’re still planning on looking lustily into each other’s eyes for hours on end, make sure you have some comfortable seating options. Folding memory foam chairs, compressible pillows, inflatable sofas: thanks to technology, your passionate conversations in the shade of the mighty oak tree don’t have to be painful for your back or joints!

If you have no intention of turning your duo into a love triangle, plan a little trap in which the wasp that’s been circling you for the last ten minutes can go skinny-dipping for eternity. All you need is an empty plastic bottle, a little sugar, salt, vinegar, and patience. Finally, never underestimate the importance of wet wipes to freshen up… A formal marriage proposal with a dollop of Boursin cheese in your beard erases a bit of the magic!

A family-friendly format: get off the beaten track (a little)

As you know, a child’s favourite sport, apart from putting ketchup on everything, is resistance to change. Fortunately, because parenthood has turned you into an undisputed master of deception, you can ease your brood out of their comfort zone by cleverly camouflaging a few new elements behind reassuring classics.

The muffuletta: all for one (sandwich), and one (sandwich) for all!

If your kids’ diets are anything to go by, sandwiches and their derivatives are a food group in themselves. So why not respond to their demands with a giant sandwich that will leave them completely speechless (at least for a few minutes)? La muffuletta—a loaf of bread with the inside removed that is then filled with cheese, vegetables, and cold meats—is an Italian classic that will kick your family picnic into overdrive. To ensure that everything stays together, Josée Di Stasio suggests making it the day before, or at least 4 hours before slicing.

Raw veggies and dips: eclectic vegetables and funky sauces

Raw veggies are to picnics what coleslaw is to roast chicken: a cliché that’s hard to avoid. Let’s face it, they’re great for little hands in a hurry to get out and play, and for big hands tired of fussing about. That being said, we don’t want to shock you with this news, but did you know that there’s a whole world of options out there beyond sad celery and drab cucumbers?

Next time, slip a few unexplored crunchy vegetables between two rows of cauliflower and carrots: fennel, black radishes, artichokes, sweet peas, purple broccoli, and even peppers of different heat levels. To honour our magnificent local produce, trying enjoying slices of raw white turnip and asparagus heads when they’re in season.

Now, what to do about those ever-present dips? To subtly jazz up those famous fry sauces or onion dips, simply replace half the required amount of mayonnaise with sour cream or Greek yogourt.

Time to celebrate: fuss-free indulging

Finally! Your two nieces, the twins Nadine and Nadia, have graduated from high school with flying colours. Family, friends, neighbours, and dogs will mark this important milestone with a festive picnic in the park just down the road. The only catch: you’re still reeling from the 6 trays of devilled eggs, 92 butterscotch cupcakes, and 8 bowls of potato salad that made up the last poorly organized potluck… And, besides, what are Sasha (allergic to eggs), Kevin (on a keto diet) and Maryka (who just got a job at the Quebec League for the Protection of Potatoes) going to eat?

Leave your skills as a gustatory phobia therapist or collective indigestion manager for another day… This time, let the caterer concoct mouth-watering, personalized lunch boxes, and get ready to celebrate with a light heart and a lighter belly!