As we slip out of summer, it's just right for an evening picnic on the banks of the Yarra or kicking back on a blanket while listening to the Sunset Sounds in Victoria Gardens.
Years ago, I would picnic with my friends every week or so. We eventually got it down to a fine art; one would cut up a barbequed chicken, another made a salad, another brought wine. One girl had the picnic basket and cutlery, another friend would wash and cut up fruit. The one couldn't cook was the designated-chip-buyer. Some dips, a loaf of bread and we were very content.
Last week I went to another Melbourne institution, the Australian Open. And we decided to picnic, in the grounds, before heading in to watch the players tear it up, gladiator-style.
And in my basket I packed tiny baby cucumbers and strips of red capsicum from Reliable Fruit & Vegies. Also picked up a gorgeous 2 kilo box of Tasmanian cherries that Joe assured me were the best he could find.
In the back fridge I found whole little pansies, purple and yellow, which I froze in ice cubes for a little floral touch to our elderflower cordial.
Chasos' Gourmet Deli provided vivid green Sicilian olives and feta stuffed peppers, tiny tubs with just the right amount to last a couple of hours (who wants to take leftovers home from a picnic?).
Then some beautifully thin prosciutto and breasola from Pete n Rosie's, along with a wedge of Comte, and a pack of pate. Fancy wholemeal crackers from Foodhouse Deli. Dips from Naheda's Choice.
And we sat in Melbourne Park and nibbled and drank under the vividest sky. And just before we rose and took our seats, I pulled cold cold lychees from the ice. A final surprise on a gorgeous night, good food, excellent company, simple things.