Bonjour mes amis! Oui, oui vous l’avez deviné. FRANCE! We feel pretty lucky with this spin of the globe. The entertaining gods smiled upon us and we got to take an imaginary trip to Provence. Our idea came easily, as Provence is such a romantic place and inspiration is easily extracted from romantic countrysides. Who would we like to travel to France with? Our one true loves. So, our idea spawned from that and we created a Provencal anniversary picnic.
Meet our dapper husband who after honeymooning in France one year ago with his bride, decided to surprise his wife with a frenchy lawn picnic on their one year anniversary. Pretty sweet huh? Oui oui!
We set the scene with a pretty floral tablecloth in traditional French blue. Easily a picnic blanket, and beautifully appropriate. The food was all delectable French bites this couple loves to share : Duck pate & cheeses such as a Mimolette, Brillat Savarin, and Roquefort spread on French baguettes. Saucisson, fresh fruit, pickled vegetables and brie and butter sandwiches overflowed from the basket. Condiments such as preserved lemons, lavender jelly, and artisanal honeycomb all took them back to their picnics in the French countryside. For dessert: lavender macaroons and delicate lemon custard tarts.
A wine barrel we picked up at a garden shop became the perfect “drink boat” when sawed in half long ways. Homemade lavender lemonade infused with lavender simple syrup was the non-alcoholic refreshment.
Lillet and Rosé were two of their favorite French aperitifs followed by the elderflower liqueur St. Germain. All three make for light, summery, sweet spirits for a picnic and can be easily be cut with soda water for a sparkling spritzer.
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Mini tables were created with wine crates we picked up on ebay. A ceramic milkmaid pitcher housed our ethereal pure white hydrangeas, purple stock, amaranthus, and seeded eucalyptus mixed with fresh herbs. Vintage milk bottles were vessels for fragrant rosemary, sage, and lavender sprigs.
Adornments were created with herbs tied around Spega yogurt containers and repurposed into votives for candles. Simple baker’s twine added texture and softness.
Same with the anniversary ring box, simple lavender sprig tied up with twine makes pretty packaging without a lot of fuss.
We made our own preserved lemons and lavender jelly and we can’t encourage you enough to do it too. Preserved lemons are delicious on salads or with cheeses, sometimes we just cut and eat them straight. Simply cut a fresh lemons into wedges, submerge in salt (we used kosher) inside a mason jar, and put in fridge to “cook” for 3 months. Super yummy and easy. Your friends will be impressed with your frenchy expertise and gourmand know how. They add a little surprise in a simple arugula and oil salad.
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Lavender jelly is delicious and pretty simple as well. We used green grapes and fresh lavender picked from our bush but we think white plums would be nice too.
3 lbs halved White grapes
2 lbs raw organic sugar
2 small lemons
2 cups of lavender flowers
1 Place prepared fruit in a bowl (not metal), add lemon juice and sugar and lavender. Cover with wax paper and macerate for several hours in the refrigerator.
2 Transfer mixture to a heavy pot and slowly bring to a full boil. Taste for Lavender flavor – - let steep longer if lavender is too faint. Remove heavier parts of stems leaving some flower petals in the mix.
3 Lower heat to a light boil, skim and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to reduce and thicken, and the grape halves begin to break down. Check for a jell set at 20-25 minutes. You want it to scoop with a spoon, but pass through the tines of a fork.
4 Once the jam is sufficiently reduced, ladle into jars and seal.
We designed our jar menu tags in Adobe Illustrator with an herbal color palette and bistro simplicity. Easy to do with pantone color blocks and a good printer. Cut into squares, punch a hole and tie on with baker’s twine. If you don’t have Illustrator, you can easily make these in Word as well.
Other things we picked up to set the tone were raw linen runners, a open market basket, glass cloches, and wooden cutting boards. The last thing you need is a lawn, a park, or even a living room floor to host your picnic. Oh yeah, and a lover with a love of French food. Ooh la la. All gorgeous photos by Tinywater. Styling and design by BASH, PLEASE.