Last Saturday I went to the annual Henley Food Bloggers Party and what a day it was. Perched on the banks of the Thames during the Henley Regatta in blistering sunshine, my fellow food bloggers and I witnessed something which I have seen a few times, but never to quite such a forceful degree - picnic envy.
From years of attending picnic concerts across London, I am accustomed to the sight of wonderful picnics, resplendent with starched linen, silver candlesticks, beautiful awnings and yet when one looks a little closer at these displays of luxury, the food is somewhat disappointing. How often these revellers resort to plates of smoked salmon, a bought quiche, acres of French bread and packs of kettle chips to dunk into their Waitrose dips.
No, true picnic envy is when the food, and not the pertaining paraphernalia is what arouses interest. We heard countless comments, my favourite being "wow, they've got real food" and were congratulated on our spread, much to my surprise. But our intention was not to elicit comment not to attract attention but to share our food with like-minded people who are passionate about good food. And blogging.
The delicious dishes included chicken with preserved lemons and coriander, a chickpea salad that glistened in the sunlight with its pomegranate dressing (these were by far and away my absolute favourites), picnic bread stuffed with goats cheese and peppers, homemade quiches, a plethora of salads, blueberry and almond cake (see previous blog for recipe) and the results of a Bakewell Bake-off between Xochitl and Andrew.
I made some new contacts that day, heard similar frustrations about wanting to 'get into' food and maybe friendships will be formed. And of course, tasted some fantastic food.
And I almost forgot. There was rowing. It was a Regatta after all.