It’s the second installment of Our Minds Festival
The Cape Town picnic basket professionals
The Picnic Company & Mustard Catering has you covered for all outdoor events
“You eat with your eyes first,” says Lauren Rohloff, owner of the Picnic Company (also Mustard Catering). “When you open the container, whether it’s a box or a basket, you need to go ‘wow’.”
It’s the perfect day for a picnic, but before launching into my catered spread, I’ve come to, um, pick the brain of the lady behind the business.
The Picnic Company is Cape Town’s picnic professionals; they create gourmet picnic baskets and boxes for your outdoor alfresco soirée. The contents of these packages (from textured boxes with ribbon detail to varnished wicker baskets) truly are ‘wow’—expect a smorgasbord: cheese, main course dishes, bright little snacks and more, the majority of which is made by the team on-site.
Life must literally be a picnic for Lauren; the Picnic Company has been making ants happy since 2004, and has packed and prepared thousands upon thousands of picnics (she tells me that for one event they produced over 9000 picnics in two days).
The organisation delivers all over Cape Town directly to the location of your soon-to-be unpacked leisurely meal, or you can collect from the head office in Diep River. Not to mention, each year the devoted team conceptualises a range of new menus to choose from, so there’ll be a picnic to please most palates, from classic offerings of cheese, bread and charcuterie to picnics tailored to wellness. “All dietary requirements are considered,” says Lauren. There are options for those with food allergies, and kosher and halaal items are brought in specially. “All you have to do is ask; we’re 100 percent negotiable.”
And it’s not just food. The picnic company deals in ‘unforgettable occasions’, and will practically move mountains to bring a client’s picnic passion to life. “We’ve had a lot of proposals,” says Lauren with a chuckle. “For one couple we set up a picnic on Table Mountain. The girlfriend was none the wiser. When they came up from their hike, the picnic was there waiting, complete with scatter cushions, French Champagne and even a waiter to serve them.”
Special days are also given special attention at the Picnic Company; endearing basket inclusions range from roses on Valentine’s Day to crackers for Christmas. They also pride themselves on their collection of lavish kitchen teas and their range of kiddies picnics too.
Not to mention, thanks to Lauren and her industrious team, picnicking needn’t only be relegated to the warmer months. Winter picnics come with a hot meal to eat in front of the fire or on a blanket on the living room floor. What’s more, the company doesn’t just cater for the private picnic, but for corporate functions too; they’ve also conceptualised many big events. The sister company, Mustard Catering, focuses more on this side of the business, from canapés and cocktails to heartier spreads.
As Lauren helps me pack my two picnics into the backseat of my car - I can’t wait to head to Green Point Park to rip them open – I ask her one final question: "Do you picnic in your spare time?"
“I would be devastated if someone took me on a picnic,” she says laughing.
OUR PICK OF PICNICS
There are many different picnics to choose from; plus, The Picnic Company is more than happy to create a customised picnic basket especially for you. But in the meantime, here’s a taste of what to expect.
I Love Cape Town
Naturally, this is our favourite picnic at CapeTownMagazine.com. The food is proudly South African: start with smoked snoek pâté with a freshly baked pretzel baguette and caramelised apricot compote. Then move onto a board of Cape cheese with green fig preserve. For mains there’s a Cape Malay-inspired salad of pickled fish. And of course, there’s biltong, koeksisters and melktert too. Wash it all down with rooibos iced tea. To be enjoyed preferably with a view of Table Mountain.
Vintage Alfresco Picnic
Spread your blanket under rampant bougainvillea or by any flourishing foliage, and tuck into this charcuterie platter of salami, Black Forest ham, olives, and sundried tomatoes. Pair this with the cheese board, and you’re off to a good start. The main meal is a Caesar-style chicken salad—juicy chicken topped with a creamy dressing and tangy Pecorino. For dessert: delightfully gooey, homemade nougat, and a bright and light fresh fruit salad.
Afternoon Tea Picnic for Two
Who says picnics have to be a lunchtime thing? Take this portable high tea to a rose garden near you (Kirstenbosch Gardens would also be ideal). Once you’ve found your spot, indulge in cucumber and dill cream cheese sandwiches as well as smoked Franschhoek trout and horseradish cream on pumpernickel (there’s also chicken liver pâté and toast points). This picnic is made complete with freshly baked butter scones with homemade lemon curd and whipped cream. The finale is blueberry cupcakes with granadilla frosting and chocolate fudge fingers. As for the tea? Bos Iced Tea does the job nicely.
Mezze Picnic for Two
Channel the Greek Islands, and head to the beach with this picnic. The spread is made up of Mediterranean finger foods like dolmades and pita served with hummus, taramosalata and tzatziki. There’s also a platter with Greek feta, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers and marinated aubergine. The fishcake bites come next, light and crispy, and eaten with a caper dill remoulade. Also on offer is a tabouleh salad, a vibrant melange of olives, cherry tomatoes, mint, parsley and bulgar wheat. Dessert stays with the theme, and is salted sunflower seed and honey tartlets, as well as homemade nougat.
Once in a Lifetime Picnic
This is the ultimate hot date picnic; find somewhere romantic and secluded to enjoy it, preferably at sunset. Unpack the wicker basket, pop the Graham Beck Brut Rosé and start with duck pâté and caramelised apricot compote with crisp savoury toasts; next up is melon slices with Parma ham. Then, sexy bites of fresh sushi, followed by calamari and prawn salad and artisan ciabatta rolls stuffed with smoked salmon, rocket and cream cheese. Move onto a cheese platter with homemade preserves and savoury biscuits. Finish off this picnic of a lifetime with seasonal berries with vanilla-infused mascarpone and a selection of petite fours.
*All picnics come with eco-friendly disposable cutlery and wooden boards as well as serviettes and seasoning. If you’d like to also have a blanket set up, or other outdoor furniture, simply enquire; otherwise, you’ll need to bring your own. It's necessary to book (phone: +27 (0) 21 706 8470 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) weekend picnics by 11am the Friday before, and it's necessary to book weekday picnics by 11am the day before.
By Malu Lambert
Tip: A picnic box from the Picnic Company is also a great idea for padkos (meals for road-tripping)
The Bill: The sky’s the limit when it comes to experience and price: there are top-of-the-range picnics with French Champagne to wallet-friendly options, like the ‘Shoe-String package’.
Enjoy one of the Picnic Company’s gourmet picnic baskets at one of these picnic spots in Cape Town
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