Six of the best picnic hampers from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 23:24 15 June 2014 | UPDATED: 13:33 24 October 2015
Think quality when you choose a picnic hamper this summer, says Tony Greenway
Did you notice that there’s some sort of bicycle race coming to Yorkshire early next month? Everyone is making a big song and dance about it. Various people we know are getting together with friends, stuffing a picnic hamper full of goodies and settling down at a spot along the route for an alfresco feed as everyone pedals by.
That’s because picnic hampers turn any event into an occasion. They conjure up images of picnics on the lawn of a stately home, a day at the races or a spot of lunch at Headingley. If possible, you’ve got to have a proper wicker hamper, with china plates and real (not plastic) knives and forks.
Part of the fun — if you haven’t packed it yourself — is the element of surprise when you lift the lid. Last time we had a picnic, I remember looking amazed when I peered into the hamper my wife had prepared. Was that foie gras on top? And what’s that right at the bottom? It wasn’t — was it? — a bottle of Domaine des Vallées, Pouilly Fumé, Lumpfish caviar, cafe et tartines beurrées and a Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky?
No, it wasn’t. It was a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps, a pork pie and a Fruit Shoot. Still, we can dream. We can also get someone else to do it properly. In Yorkshire, there are various people who really know how to pack a hamper, which is something of an art form.
Here are our favourites…
This is a great deli run by Kirk Vincent, ex-head chef at Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden, with a fabulous picnic service. These picnics don’t come in a traditional wicker hamper (unless you want to bring in your own for Hensheldwoods to pack), instead cool bags are the order of the day (free if you spend over £30, or buy them for £3.50). What’s inside is nothing short of miraculous. The extensive menu has everything from wild boar pate and Swaledale ewe’s cheese to ciabatta and balsamic pickled onions.
Lavender’s Tea Rooms, Thornton-le-Dale
Lavender’s Tea Rooms is straight from the fevered imagination of an American tourist: it’s located in a 14th century building in a quaint Yorkshire village on the edge of the North York Moors. The only way it could get any better than that is if it — oh, I don’t know — provided its own hamper service. Hang on. It does! All picnics are packed in a hamper basket or backpack (whatever you prefer) and the accent is on local produce.
Swinton Park, Masham
You have to be hotel residents to take advantage of Swinton Park’s hamper service, but what a service it is. For example, its Swinton Hamper includes Yorkshire Ham with Walled Garden Chutney, homemade breads, pâté and olives, Yorkshire cheeses, fresh scones with clotted cream and local strawberry jam and fruit cake, plus orange juice and bottled water. The Swinton Deluxe Hamper includes all of the above plus smoked salmon with fresh lemon and a supply of hot soup and tea and coffee.
The Urban Pantry, Sheffield
Owner Reece Lippolis is looking forward to Le Grand Depart. ‘We are planning to set up some specific picnic hampers for summer with olives, meats, etc, and a nice selection of Yorkshire products,’ he says. ‘We do tea and our own ground coffee too.’ We’re sold. One of Reece’s customers is a designer who has created some cycle-themed mugs. They’re selling well in the shop so you might possibly be able to ask for one of those in your hamper.
Lewis & Cooper, Northallerton
Lewis & Cooper present a rather fine Perfect Picnic hamper in a cool bag, which includes bread buns, pâté, cooked ham, chutney, crackers, quiche, pork pie and cheese. You can also create your own traditional picnic wicker hamper, choosing your own ingredients.
Hunters of Helmsley
Hunters don’t provide the hamper but, wow, they do provide some rather lovely goodies to go in the basket of your choice. All you have to do is choose the beauty spot you want to enjoy it in.