A perfectly retro picnic

My grandmother, picnicking at Stanwell Tops circa early 1940s

With this beautiful summer weather, and a long "Australia Day" holiday weekend, I could think of nothing nicer than breaking out a rug and a basket for a bit of a retro picnic.

The original 'retro' picnic is best described by Elizabeth David, "Not long before the war I was staying with friends in Marseilles. One Saturday night a picnic was arranged for the next day with some American acquaintances; it was agreed that the two parties should proceed in their own cars to a little bay outside Marseilles, and that we should each bring our own provisions. On Sunday morning I and my friends indulged in a delicious hour shopping in the market on the avenue de Rome, buying olives, anchovies, salami sausages, pâtés, yards of bread, smoked fish, fruit and cheese. With a provision of cheap red wine we bundled the food into the car and set off, stopping now and again for a drink; so that we arrived at our rendezvous well disposed to appreciate the sun, the sea and the scent of wild herbs and Mediterranean pines..."

Not having Ms David's avenue de Rome market close to hand, I have included in this post a couple of my favorite picnic recipes - pimm's punch, refreshing watermelon, feta and mint salad, a sweet but anissed infused pear and fennel seed chutney and very lovely spicy red pepper, chilli and lamb sausage rolls - I dare you to have just one!! I also have included a couple of tips for a grand day out, with a retro touch...

Picnic tips

* Don't forget your picnic basket and plates, glasses, cutlery, napkins, at least one sharp knife or bread knife. For a retro touch, don't forget to pack a thermos with your preferred tea or coffee.

* Wrap your food up in greaseproof paper and kitchen string for a real retro feel.

* Remember to pack your corkscrew. Nothing worse than having to figure out a creative way to get the Chablis (or Ms David style - your cheap red wine) open sans corkscrew.

* Take your hats, screen and for this time of year - insect repellant!

* It is always handy to take some baby wipes for sticky fingers, some garbage bags and whatever else you need to clear up your picnic.

* Don't forget to take your boule or bocce, fishing kit and whatever other picnic games you might desire...

There is something so classically retro about Pimm's, which I love. It's so nice to sip a drink, that your Nanna may have had in 1940. While its nostalgic - its also incredibly refreshing, the fruit pieces and herbs for the Pimm's punch can be cut and sliced beforehand and placed in a container, so that you can mix up the pitcher at your chosen picnic location


This watermelon, feta and mint salad is also incredibly refreshing on a hot day - it is especially nice when the watermelon is very chilled. The sweetness of the melon contrasts so beautifully with the salty, creamy feta and the tang of olives. Like the fruits pieces for the Pimm's punch, the dressing can be mixed ahead of time and placed in a separate jar and poured over the salad at the last minute.

This recipe transforms the classic Australian sausage roll into a spicy, moreish picnic snack with the inclusion of my lovely Aunty Faye's red pepper and chilli jam (click on the recipe below for a link to the chilli jam recipe). If you don't have the time to make the chilli jam, you can aalways use a store bought chilli jam.

Red pepper, chilli and lamb sausage rolls

1 kg minced lamb

1 onion, finely chopped

¼ cup red pepper and chilli jam (*click on the link for recipe)

50 gm currants

2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 kg puff pastry

1 egg, lightly whisked

2 tbsp sesame seeds


1. Combine lamb, onion, chilli jam, currants, parsley and cumin and season.

2. Roll out puff pastry into a rectangle. Take a handful of the lamb mixture and roll out into thin long sauasge shape and place along the longest edge of thr pastry. Roll over pastry to enclose, brush eggwash along pastry edge and press to seal. Trim along length of pastry and repeat with remaining mixture and pastry.

3. Preheat oven to 200C. Brush sausage rolls with eggwash, scatter with sesame seeds and cut into 5cm lengths. Place on baking paper-lined oven trays and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden

Last but not least, there is also a little pot of pear and fennel seed chutney in my picnic basket. While not quite dating back to 1940, this recipe is taken from the pages of Madame Zen's 1970s recipe notebook. The chutney is quite sweet, so it makes a perfect partner to an aged cheaddar, some parmesan or even a Greek kefelograveria.

Pear and fennel seed chutney

1kg of pears

1 green apple

500g of white onions

2 cups of granulated sugar

2 cups white vinegar

1 cup seeded golden raisins

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of salt


1. Peel, core and chop the pears and apples, peel and chop the onions.

2. Put all of the iingredients in a preserving pan and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the mixture thickens and is syrupy - about 1 hour. Stir during cooking to prevent the chutney sticking.

3. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.



  1. What a fabulous looking picnic Mrs M. The sausage rolls look divine! Enjoy.

  2. Thanks Kate, hope you have a great Australia Day!

  3. You are making me long for the summer Mrs. M! It just happens to be snowing right now...
    Your picnic set up looks lovely, especially those sausage rolls. Love the flavor combination and the sesame seeds. I hope you and Mr. K are feeling better and are enjoying the long holiday weekend. Maybe that soup of yours did the trick ;) xx

    1. Thanks Emilie! The soup worked and we are out in the sunshine!! I love summer, but being able to find a cosy corner in winter is lovely too! Hope you have a warm winter weekend ; )

  4. Mrs M, you know I love your work... this is another BEAUTIFUL post. That photo of your grandmother is just awesome! Love the recipe, love the layout and styling.

    1. Thanks so much Lizzy. I love this photo too - it is one of my Grandfather's - he was such a brilliant photographer! It actually one a prize back in the 1940s and was on the front cover of the Women's Weekly!! I'm currently using the national archives site to try and find out which edition!!

  5. Goodness, those sausage rolls look good! Sounds like you've had a wonderful day! :)

  6. Thanks Celia! It was a great day - thankfully the sun was shining unlike today's downpour!!

  7. Delicious looking sausage rolls! I adore them and your version sounds scrumptious-perfect for a picnic! :D

  8. I love picnics, even though they're not really big here in Greece (it's my English side that loves the blanket, thermos, sausage rolls and cucumber sandwiches with sand in them!). These snacks look wonderful, and I'm definitely trying the chilli jam sausage rolls!

    1. Hi Eleni, thanks for your lovely words! Picnics aren't really that big in Greece are they (it took Mr K a while to accustom to the idea - well, my idea of a picnic anyway) - maybe they are not so big in Greece because of all those fantastic tavernas in gorgeous, picturesque locations : )

  9. I am so glad I have discovered your beautiful blog! I see you are familiar with greek cuisine thanks to your husband!
    Many kisses from the woderful island of Zakinthos (I bet you agree,don't you?)

    1. Hi Lenia, I am so glad you found my blog!! Welcome!! Zakinthos is such a beautiful island - we still have lots of family there! I am hoping for a visit again this year ; )

  10. What a gorgeous retro picnic! I just love it all.
    My nans favourite drink is a Pimms punch and I had my first not very long ago, it included cucumber also. I am so pleased to have the recipe, I will need to make it for her!

    I have also been wanting a recipe for a fruit chutney so I will be pinning that too!

    1. Pimm's is the best isn't it! It was a recent discovery for me, so refreshing in summer and I adore it with strawberries ; )


Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate every single one!

© Mulberry and Pomegranate
Maira Gall