For many of us, dining al fresco can be as simple as pulling out a sandwich, maybe a nice salad and parking it on a patch of green real estate. For others, however, picnics are simply outdoor extensions of fine dining restaurants, with real china, crystal glasses and decorative candelabras.
Perhaps nowhere is the trend for fancy, outdoor picnics more popular than in the UK, where restaurants and luxury retailers offer a plethora of gourmet picnic hampers and catered lunches.
Boutique, lifestyle concierge service My London Planner, for instance, will cater fine dining picnics around the city, laying everything out before guests arrive and clearing everything away once they’re finished. Nary is there a plastic plate or cup in sight, as crystal goblets are filled with champagne and silverware used to spear gourmet treats.
London department store Harvey Nichols also stocks the Gourmet Trotter, a luxurious, mobile version of the picnic basket that looks like a golf bag and is compartmentalized into three detachable sections.
The bag comes fully equipped with English china, glassware, cutlery, stainless steel storage containers, cheese and cutting boards, salt and pepper mills, linen napkins and a corkscrew.
The price tag for the Gourmet Trotter is between £395 and £495 (about US$600-750).
Until September 30, the Ampersand Hotel is also offering luxury picnic packages that include an afternoon tea picnic hamper with champagne for £40 (about US$60) a person. For the quintessential British experience, horse riding lessons can also be added for £75 (about US$115) a person.
And for an ultimate picnic experience in the Italian mountains, the tourism board for Alta Badia has concocted a travel package called Peaks of Gastronomy, in which guests are rewarded for their mountain climb with picnic baskets prepared by Michelin-starred chefs at different mountain resorts.