Valentine's Day... Enjoy a Gourmet Picnic for Two

Valentine's Day

How do you spoil that someone special in your life on Valentine’s Day? Take them on a picnic. But then an ordinary picnic just won’t cut it - make it a gourmet one. For acclaimed chef Jackie Cameron of the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, picnics have a special romance.
— Frank Chemaly / The Independent on Saturday

Jackie Cameron's husband, Ben Wessels, proposed to her on “the most fabulous picnic that I have ever had in my entire life”.

The scene was her cousin’s farm in the Caversham Valley overlooking the river. The picnic was created by chef Alex Poltera at Fernhill and organised by her friend, fellow chef and bridesmaid Nardia Adams.

Wessels had a hand in it. “It was jammed with all my favourite food. Words could not explain how delicious this was,” says Cameron.

First priority for a picnic is bubbles. “A picnic without bubbles just isn’t a picnic,” she says. For Cameron, the perfect picnic is opening all these little containers packed with delicious tasty morsels. Flavour is king.

“So go small portions of home-made combinations. I’d much rather have many little tasters. Midlands cheese, local charcuterie and olives are all a given. Think a beautiful little trout salad or a potato salad with caviar and quail eggs. It’s about home-made bread, asparagus and Camembert,” she says.

“It’s not about meatballs and chicken wings and gourmet burgers,” she says. “I see that as padkos. If you’re doing it, do it properly.”

On the practical side, make sure there are enough cooler boxes to keep everything chilled.

“A picnic normally means great weather and no-one wants warm bubbles and food that has been sitting in the danger zone for a few hours. Yes, picnic baskets can be cute, but really, let us think about what is practical at midday in South Africa.”

Her picnic check-list includes a blanket, pillows, sunscreen, insect spray, hats, cutlery, crockery, glasses, a tin opener if you take tins, a bottle opener if the wines have a cork, serviettes, gel-hand sanitisers, a stunning view and special person to share it with.

The couple married last year and for their first Valentine’s together, “we will most probably be cooking a meal together and having a beautiful bottle of wine in our wine cellar at the school”.

“A private dinner for two on our first Valentine’s as a married couple sounds like the perfect plan. We have had many guests requesting functions at the school but I think, just this year, we are going to keep our special place just to ourselves,” Cameron says.