floor picnics for valentines day
We’ve been together a little shy of four years, my Koji-san and I, and in all that time, we’ve not celebrated Valentine’s Day once.
Never booked ourselves in for a fancy dinner date. Never hired out a room in a swanky hotel. Never arrived home to an over-sized bunch of overpriced flowers.
And that’s ok. It suits us (and our budget).
But this year, having done the deed, tied the knot and finally (finally!) worked our mortgage down to a respectable amount-left-to-pay, I decided it was high time we celebrated all things red and pink, romantic and otherwise.
(Two weeks early.)
In the early days, when budgets were tight and dining tables non-existent, when share-houses were standard and the only room one could have to oneself was behind bedroom doors, we’d spend our evenings eating picnic-style.
A tin of smoked oysters (his favourite) and a plate of cut up fruit, some cured meats and fresh pita (my favourite). Two glasses of lemonade, a couple of tubs of leftover dip, some chocolate.
Blankets off the bed and spread on the floor (we’ll shake the crumbs off later!), pillows from the sofa, a couple of tea towels in place of napkins.
It was easier than a proper picnic. No packing everything up into baskets and containers. No carting heavily laden eskies from house to car to park and back again. No forgetting the drinks and having to go back home to get them. And more ice.
(Plus, it was a quick and easy roll over to get back into bed afterwards).
The first meal we had in our apartment was a floor picnic.
Borne partly out of necessity (we had no furniture) and a sense of sheer determination – it was the first evening in our apartment after a six month long battle to get the keys back – we set up camp.
A moving rug on the floor. The two of us, curled up around a toaster oven with a whole smoked fish, some Lebanese bread, a puddle of olive oil and some pickles.
The toaster oven stayed plugged into the wall and whenever we wanted a bit more hot bread, we could have it. Much more civilised than cold bits and bobs in the local park.
We shifted the dining table and rolled out the rugs.
Pulled together some quick bits and bobs and settled in for an afternoon.
To make it as quick and easy as possible, shortcuts were definitely taken. Ready-made is your friend.
I made some cupcakes (though I came very close to buying some bright pink donuts instead!), cracked open a packet of chips and another of strawberry yoghurt coated rice crackers (they’re technically toddler food, but I like them too much to care).
Strawberries were tossed in a bowl and a bunch of washed grapes found their home in another.
Store bought meringue shells were filled with whipped cream and (more) berries, and figs were torn open and draped lovingly with proscuitto di parma*, a shower of cracked black pepper and a stream of olive oil.
And the rest? Well, I’ve popped some recipes down below – though they’re more guidelines than recipes. We had more than enough food for lunch and dinner (with a little nap in between), so figure out how hungry you’ll be and cater accordingly.
- half a honeydew or rockmelon
- 7-8 slices of thinly shaved proscuitto di parma*
- a drizzle of olive oil
- parmigiano reggiano*
- Cut the rind off the melon and cut it into wedges. Pop it in the fridge so it is really cold and juicy when you eat it.
- Just before eating, drape the proscuitto di parma over the top of the melon wedges, drizzle with olive oil and shave or grate a snowfall of parmigiano reggiano all over the dish.
- ¼C marscapone
- a couple of sprigs each of chives & dill fronds
- 10-12 blini
- 1 packet sliced gravlax (I used the Superior Gold Smoked Salmon Gravadlax*)
- Pop the marscapone into a bowl and use a pair of scissors to snip chives and dill fronds into the bowl - about a tablespoon of each. Use a spoon and mix it up well until the herbs are nicely dispersed and the marscapone is creamy.
- Heat the blini up according to the instructions on the packet (or make your own!)
- Use a couple of teaspoons to scoop a half teaspoon or so onto each warm blini and top with a curl of sliced gravadlax.
- 1 packet of smoked salmon
- leftover marscapone & herb mix (from the blini)
- white pepper
- 1 shop bought barbecue chicken
- store bought pesto (I used Sacla Italia's squeezy packs*)
- 1 bit of mayonnaise (I used Kewpie)
- 1 loaf of white bread, thickly sliced
- Prepare the fillings first. Separate the slices of salmon and make up some more marscapone mix if you need it. Sprinkle some white pepper (a pinch or two) into the marscapone mix and stir it through for a spicy hit.
- Pull the breasts off the chicken (saving the rest for another meal) and chop them up roughly. Add a good squeeze each of pesto and mayo into the chicken bowl and mix it up until it looks like it'll squish nicely between two slices of bread.
- Make up the sandwiches - a spread of marscapone and layers of salmon on the one and a good dollop of roast chicken pesto mix on the other - trim the crusts and slice into fingers. Good oh!
- a handful of lovely tomatoes
- a smaller handful of basil leaves
- a drizzle each of olive oil & balsamic vinegar
- a pinch of flaky salt
- a crack or two of black pepper
- a few good shavings of parmigiano reggiano
- Chop your tomatoes every which way, making sure there's at least one cut surface on each.
- Tear up or chop the basil, making sure you've bruised it well.
- Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the pepper and salt.
- Get your hands in and give everything in the bowl a good turn over so the tomato juices start to escape.
- Just before serving, use a vegetable peeler to shave some curls of parmigiano reggiano to scatter on top.
*I received samples of the Superior Gold Smoked Salmon, Proscuitto di Parma, parmigiano reggiano and Sacla Italia pesto featured in this shoot. All samples were accepted and eaten in accordance with onebitemore’s editorial policy. #notasponsoredpost