Picnic Dates - The Essentials

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One of the most inexpensive ways to spend time over good food and a great bottle of wine, is the classic romantic picnic. However don’t go popping the champagne just yet – picnics may look simple, but the key to a successful blanket-date (that's of the picnic-kind, get your mind out of the gutter!) is preparation. You need to carefully consider your location, time of day and weather conditions – even the most perfectly prepared picnic can be rudely interrupted by rain, ants, mosquitoes, passers-by (particularly in the evening) – the list goes on. You will also need to make sure that you have all of the picnic essentials – you can never be over-prepared! You don’t want your date ruined because you forgot to bring the corkscrew, or glasses, or a sharp knife – or you didn’t check the weather forecast beforehand. It doesn’t matter how long you have been slaving over individual salmon quiches or Chinese tea-eggs – you forget the essentials, and you invite embarrassment, backpedalling and over-thinking – which can be dangerous on a date! Do I sound like I am speaking from experience? *cough* Um…

It’s easy really – keep all of your picnic essentials in a basket – in the back of your car, if the need arises for a little spontaneity. What are these magical, mystical essentials?

Glad you asked!


  1. Picnic Basket – a simple and romantic way to keep all of your goodies hidden from view – and of course and easy way to carry everything at once.  You didn’t see Little Red Riding Hood juggling the biscuits and a hot thermos of chocolate for her grandmother in several old Coles bags did you? Tip: Basketworld have a very nice selection of picnic baskets – anything from the basic to the fancy-schmancy-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ones.  Failing that, try Myer and Target for a fairly decent range with prices to match almost every budget.

  2. Picnic Blanket – I know size isn’t supposed to matter in this day and age – but when it comes to picnic blankets – it does. You need to have ample room for two people plus your basket – and potential for “stretching out” later in the date.  (I said stretching out – what were you thinking?) Leaning back onto an ants nest, whilst makes the date unforgettable – does so in the wrong way. Tip: Break of Day have some great picnic rugs – check out the ones that conveniently roll up and buckle-shut! Sweet! You also may want to consider a rug with a waterproof underlayer – especially if you’re picnicking after the rain, or at the beach.

  3. Candles – An absolute essential for a night-time picnic! Not venturing out past dark? So you think! You’re going on a lunch-picnic. You have a lovely meal prepared, a few glasses of wine, and you get talking. Suddenly it’s 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun’s about to go down.  Never mind- you have candles, and of course wind-shielding candle holders. Don’t forget the matches! Tip: Ikea are more than a quirky and ergonomic furniture store – they also have some practical and inexpensive candle-holders. The Candle Nut have some beautiful tealight holders too – and you can shop online! The deeper the better – there’s nothing more annoying than constantly re-lighting candles! If you’re looking for something a bit more ornate or fancy – you can try Dusk - but be wary of the expense! Tea-light lanterns may also be a cute and inexpensive way to go!

  4. Glasses – of course everyone drinks wine from the bottle at some stage in their life – but on a romantic picnic? I think not. Have some sturdy glasses in your basket at all times – not the frail, thin crystal ones that your mum keeps in the front cabinet. Avoid plastic glasses too. They may be convenient – but there is nothing classy about tupperware.  What size or shape is up to you – but I don’t think the specific white wine/red wine glasses apply to picnics. Unless of course of course these things are important to you…

  5. Plates – Again, no need to break out the good china for this – and yes plastic IS allowed here – but for a date – try to go for the more good-quality plates. A lot of picnic baskets nowadays come with these, which is a bonus.

  6. Cutlery – Get a set of sturdy picnic cutlery. Make sure you also have a sharp knife – you never realise you need it until you don’t have one! While I’m on the topic – don’t forget the corkscrew! Much of today’s wine production is in bottles with screw-top lids, but there will always be that one occasion when your bottle will have a cork – and no matter what your knife-wielding skills are like – there’s only one way that baby is coming out…

  7. Insulated cooler-bag – specifically one that can keep drinks cool. Regardless if you’re heading out with an ice-cold bottle of home-made lemonade, or a bottle of Hunter Valley 2006  Semillon – lukewarm drinks are a definite date-killer. Tip: Check out the “T-Chill” bags – very affordable way of chilling drinks portably. The only downside is that you need ice to keep it cold. But for a portable ice-bucket – it does the trick!
Do yourself a favour and look at combining some of these essentials in the one purchase. Not only will you save money – but you would have invested in your romantic future too. Check out the Picnic & Cappuccino section on this website – some really snazzy and clever storage for your “Picnic Essentials”.
What else? I know it’s usually the last thing we think of – but when one ventures out into the great outdoors, things well…happen. Sunburns, mosquito bites to name a few. Keep a small travel pack of sunscreen and insect repellent in your bag…just in case. A portable music player with speakers is also a novel idea if you’re tired of the nearby screaming children or traffic noise. If you have an MP3 player – Officeworks have some portable speakers for around $20 – or maybe a portable radio would do the trick – depending on what you’re looking for. Of course – background noise is part and parcel of the picnic experience – so unless music is playing a key part in your date – don’t go rushing out for iPod speakers. :)

That’s about it for now – I’ll be updating soon with a list of fantastic, tried and true romantic picnic spots in the beautiful South-East, and some other tips to make your romantic picnic unforgettable.

Cozying up in Buderim…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One of the great things about living on the Sunshine Coast, is the amount of little cafes and restaurants that you ordinarily have to “stumble” across on daytrips or holidays!

Backofen at Buderim is a sweet little Austrian-inspired bakery, fronting onto (but elevated over) the main street. Two things make Backofen legendary – it’s food and it’s customer service. Whether you are there for lunch with the in-laws or cozying up with your significant other – the staff are attentive and respectful of your needs.

Now whilst Backhofen have a unique (and filling!) breakfast and lunch menu – what makes this perfect for a mid-afternoon rendezvous, are the stunning array of cakes and desserts. You might balk a little at the prices – especially if you’re used to the $3 slab of day-old mudcake from the local carvery, but I can assure you,  the servings are massive and worth every cent.

So massive in fact…that they’re worth…sharing. *wink*

: Apple & Ginger strudel (with cream and icecream of course). Get a slice of this (it’s HUGE) with two spoons (or one!) and a couple of Chai Latte’s (PERFECT with the strudel!). Steal yourself a spot at one of the corner tables and you have yourself the setting for a gorgeous, romantic afternoon tea.

: A little slice (or rather a large one!) of romantic Vienna.
  • Where: Backofen – 65 Burnett St, Buderim
  • When: Mon-Sun 6am-late afternoon.
  • Cost: Upmarket cafe prices – but sharing is allowed and encouraged.
  • Website: http://www.backofen.com.au
  • Perfect For: Romantic breakfasts, lazy lunches, cozy afternoon and high-teas.
  • Downsides: Not open for dinner/late night coffee, unfortunately. Parking at Woolworths can be tricky at certain times of the day. That strudel is worth a walk if you park up the other end of Burnett St though!

Spanish. Chocolate. Seduction. Need I say more?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking for an intimate but interesting twist on “just dessert” or “just coffee”? Look no further! San Churro’s website tag states that “Chocolate and Churros shall be your salvation” – and they couldn’t be closer to the truth! San Churro is a little Spanish cafe on the boardwalk at Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore. They specialise in – you got it – churros and chocolate – but make absolutely divine coffee too.

What’s a ‘churro’? Glad you asked. It’s a type of Spanish doughnut – served long and hot (no puns please, I’m part-British), with a pot of melted chocolate. Legend has it that the Spanish have these for breakfast – but I believe that as much as Americans think that kangaroos exist in our backyards (actually they do populate the local university here – but I digress).

San Churro do much more than churros and melted chocolate – they also specialise in all sorts of yummy chocolate tapas, fondues, sundaes and cakes. Their beverages  are also the perfect companion – choose from a variety of Spanish Coffees and Hot Chocolate concoctions – not to mention their milkshakes! Oh my.

I recommend
: Churros for two (two sauces – Dulce de leche and Dark Chocolate  -and yes, once you dip churros in both of these babies at the same time – you won’t go back), and Madrid Mocha (no cream, but definitely marshmallows).

: Find a cosy corner couch inside the dimly lit cafe, and you have a perfect recipe for romance!

: In a nutshell? Utter chocolate seduction.
  • Where: San Churro – Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore
  • When: Mon-Sun 9am-10pm
  • Cost: Upmarket cafe prices ($5.50 for coffee, $13 for Churros for 2. $7 for 1)
  • Website: http://www.sanchurro.com.au
  • Perfect for: Late-night chocolate cravings, after-movie coffee, or something a little different.
  • Downsides: Only one of its kind in QLD (sorry Brisbane residents!), can get a little noisy on Friday/Saturday nights, given that it’s so close to the cinemas, restaurants and pubs at the plaza. Can also get very busy during peak times.
Coffee & Churros - made for each other!