Yorkshire foodies share their picnic ideas

PUBLISHED: 07:16 08 July 2020

Fat rascals and fondants for a Bettys picnic

Fat rascals and fondants for a Bettys picnic


Four Yorkshire foodies give their advice on creating the perfect al fresco feast, from beach to back garden

Frances Atkins will pack a home made gourmet picnicFrances Atkins will pack a home made gourmet picnic


By Frances Atkins, chef at The Yorke Arms, Nidderdale

It’s imperative you have great, fresh lemonade for a picnic – I think it’s terribly romantic. Or a chilled white wine (dependent on transport). I also love Annabel Makin-Jones’s Tame & Wild strawberry drinks, which are amazing and not too sweet. On my menu would be a chicken and asparagus presse, vegetable blinis or vegetable tarte tatin, homemade mayonnaise, cold langoustines and strawberry tarts. I’d make it all from scratch myself, including my own bread – wholemeal baps served with great Wensleydale. You don’t need to leave Yorkshire to eat really well. I’d go into the hills by a river, with my husband Bill and two Labs Polly and Penny, to enjoy the sound of the river and birdsong. The dogs are great company, although of course they’ll try and eat the lot – they’re Labradors!

As a child, we would have picnics every Saturday at Bolton Abbey, at what I thought was the beach – it’s actually a sandy area near the bridge. We went with neighbours and would enjoy doing what children do – throwing stones, swimming and playing. We’d have orange juice and iced buns and fight over who got the ones with the pink icing. My mother made the buns and we always had butter inside them, which we wouldn’t dream of doing these days! We’d also collect wildflowers to press, though these days you’d just take photographs of them.

I think it’s important to put in some effort, savour the flavours and enjoy eating out in the fresh air.

See the website for future bookings and details of private hire theyorkearms.co.uk

Robyn serves up a stylish picnicRobyn serves up a stylish picnic


By Robyn Cox, head of beautiful at Bettys

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all how to celebrate differently and to make an occasion of something when we can. Having a picnic in your own back garden presents a nice opportunity to go all out, particularly as our gardens are looking amazing at the moment! You can take anything from the house outside to make your picnic beautiful. I would go for natural, rustic textures, with a wicker hamper. Pastel coloured linens are on trend (I like Walton & Co and Woods Fine Linens in Harrogate). I don’t like plastic plates at the best of times; even when I’ve been camping under normal circumstances, friends have been amazed at what I bring to eat off. So, I would use normal tableware and glasses, but something chunky and not delicate, which looks great on camera.

I’d have flowers – pastel pink peonies and cherry blossom would go well with my linens. And dress up for the occasion – I love Swallow & Sons in Malton for menswear. Then just add straw hats and sunglasses.

But a picnic also needs to taste delicious. I would have Bettys fondant fancies and macarons, which are beautiful colours, and fresh bread. I recently made a delicious asparagus quiche, so I’d recreate that, too. I got the asparagus from Spellow’s Village Shop in Marton-cum-Grafton, which has been my little lockdown saviour. I’ve been lucky enough to have flour, so I made the pastry, and it was delicious. Probably because of all the double cream. Then I’d have some crisps, a delicious homemade Caesar salad and coleslaw. Simple ingredients that taste amazing. For drinks, Rare Bird gin from Malton with Fever Tree tonic or ginger ale. Or elderflower gin made with the elderflowers that are springing up near my house.


Alysica the forager (c) Thomas SkovsendeAlysica the forager (c) Thomas Skovsende


By Alysia Vasey, forager

My ideal picnic would be on a sunny day in July, and I’d head to the beach, somewhere like Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby, Scarborough, anywhere by the sea. You have to pick your spot carefully. A picnic in the woods sounds like a good idea, but you don’t want to be inundated with bugs and ants.

I’d make some elderflower champagne (and make sure to pack it up in plastic bottles, as it’s still fermenting, so you don’t want it to explode). I’d take scotch eggs and some of my wild fennel and sweet cicely chutney; smoked salmon or mackerel and cream cheese wraps, to which I’d add freshly picked sea herbs like samphire or sea aster; roast beef on sourdough with wild garlic-caper mayonnaise and freshly grated horseradish. Then, for dessert, homemade scones with cream and a sprinkle of freshly picked bilberries, and a sweet woodruff and strawberry cheesecake. Getting kids to pick fresh sea herbs is a great way to entertain them.

I’d love to go with my university friends, the class of ’02, who are now scattered all over the world. Or just me, my mum and the dogs, so we could sit and watch them exploring coves, splashing in the sea, sniffing out crabs, just doing what dogs do. I tried to train my chocolate Labrador to be a truffle hunter, but she’s untrainable. She’s eaten hundreds of pounds worth or truffles! My top tip is to get an electric cool box that you can plug into your car’s lighter, and choose food that won’t spoil. After all, you don’t want to have a lovely day at the beach and then come home with food poisoning!

Alysia’s book, The Yorkshire Forager: A Wild Food Survival Journey, published by Headline, is available to buy now.

James Mackenzie (c) Tim GreenJames Mackenzie (c) Tim Green


James Mackenzie, chef patron of the Pipe & Glass, South Dalton, Beverley

It might sound surprising coming from a chef, because everyone expects we’d be drinking champagne and eating fois gras sandwiches, but picnics for my wife Kate and I are about making sure the kids, Tom, 11, and Molly, eight, are happy. They’re good eaters, but they know what they like, so we’d have scotch eggs, homemade sausage rolls (they like the game sausage rolls from the pub, but they won’t do the fancy ones with the black pudding!), ham and cheese sandwiches, crisps and salad. You don’t want hassle; you just want to enjoy where you are. Invariably I’d be driving, so drinks would just be some cans of fizzy pop and water for the kids, but if it’s a back garden picnic, we’d have a big cold box of wine!

I don’t have to get too much from shops because I can sneak plenty of things from the Pipe & Glass kitchen, so I’d take along some of our signature potted pork, and the kids would want some gingerbread men, cinder toffee bites coated in dark chocolate, strawberries, macarons and brownies. There’s definitely a sweet theme!

I’m originally from Filey, so we might head to the clifftops and take the dog for a run about. My mum still lives there, so we’d invite her along. The kids and the dog would be happy with a cricket bat and ball for entertainment, or a tennis ball, or a rugby or football. Any ball really! u

See the website for future bookings and details on the pub’s takeaway service pipeandglass.co.uk

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Yorkshire picnic

Local produce for your Yorkshire picnic

Click and collect a selection of treats from the Castle Howard farm shop, including a cream tea box for £19.99.



The Little Yorkshire Hamper Company has a selection of fun hampers, including The Ladies Day, with prosecco and sweet treats (£50).



Cedarbarn Farm Shop in Pickering has bespoke Lockdown Hampers, from £20, and mixed cases of six bottles of wine for £65.



Order a crate of delicious cloudy apple juice directly from the Yorkshire Wolds Apple Juice Co website, from £20 for six bottles.



Cheese fans need look no further than Wensleydale Creamery for hampers filled with artisan cheeses and more, from £25.95.



North Brewing in Leeds stocks a range of interesting craft beers which are perfect for a day in the sun. Select the option to buy a pint for the NHS, and they’ll make sure a drink gets into the hands of a well deserving NHS worker once lockdown ends.



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