I won’t delay. It is unseasonably warm outside and, that being such a rarity in this parts, I really should take advantage, but not before leaving you with this month’s contribution to the five star makeover series.
This month’s theme called for a makeover of dishes where wine was a major ingredient. I chose that old-fashioned triumph of sponge, fruit, jelly, custard and cream, the sherry trifle.
My mini trifle tower
Yes, ’tis true. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a potluck empty-handed when everyone else has brought dishes that people would stampede to get to. Yet, despite having had the best part of two months to ponder the latest five star makeover – which called for a little gourmet creativity to be applied to our choice of seasonal farmer’s market produce – I sat there yesterday morning, deadline looming and nary an idea in my head about what to bring to the makeover party.
I sipped my coffee and considered the options. Deploying the ‘laptop ate my blogpost’ excuse was top of the list, followed closely by a handwritten sicknote from my Ma. Alternatively, I could take my chances, potter down the road to my local vegetable vendor and hope for inspiration to strike (or, failing that, lightning, in which case I would probably have singed hair but an excellent reason for needing an entirely different kind of makeover). Lucky for you (and for my future hairdressing expenses) the lightning stayed away.
My most local source of fruit and veg, after my own backyard, that is
I don’t know about you, but I probably ate as many childhood summer picnics sitting inside while it rained as sitting outside in the sunshine. Still, soon-to-be-soggy tomato sandwiches, tayto crisps, club orange and mikado biscuits were as much of a summer treat inside our holiday caravan as out. Eating in also meant you avoided the inevitable gobful of sand that accompanied a meal on the beach, which was a not unimportant consideration.
Fast forward an unspecified number of years and my picnics, when they happen, are more likely to consist of crusty bread, a nice block of cheese, ballymaloe relish and a more adult beverage. Throw in some potato salad, coleslaw and maybe a tossed salad or sorts and I’m more than happy. It’s simple food to which the warmth of the sun (when it’s there) always adds its own particular seasoning.
That’s not to say, however, that you can’t mix it up a little every now and then.
This month’s 5 star makeover asked us to do exactly that: take some classic picnic fare and give it a shiny new look. Armed with a stash of ingredients from my recent Lebanese travels, I thought that I would take the simple tossed salad of tomato, lettuce and onion on a journey to the Middle East. The result is a salad packed with Lebanese flavours. The preparation, though, is simple, which is a must for picnics in Ireland. Too much time spent getting ready and you might have to enjoy your picnic inside, again.