Although most of us are watching the thermostat cautiously, hoping not to touch it for a few months, the summer sun is slowly setting. The next few weeks offer what is perhaps 2022’s last chance to grab the picnic blanket and take it to the park.
We can’t help the changing seasons; we can, however, improve on hummus, sad batons, and all the other brittle and overly cold dishes that always threaten to derail an otherwise perfectly decent picnic. While it is true that London’s parks are often close to Sainsbury’s, they are also close to other shops, many of which prepare bread, salads and serve quality wines, charcuterie, smoked salmon and cheeses. Here is our selection of the perfect one-stop shops.
Green Park, Piccadilly: Fortnum and Masons
Not only is Fortnums five times bigger, 50 times less stressful, and 500 times better than the M&S near Green Park station, it’s not much more expensive either, if you buy wisely. Of course, there are the famous baskets and they have a lot to recommend, especially the Summer Adventure basket, which comes with mushroom and bean pate and the obligatory chilled bottle of roses in a bottle bag, but there is plenty to do picnic in their food hall, a wandering that is an experience in itself. Start at the cheese counter with a slice of cave-aged cheddar, then move on to the pantry for accompaniments – especially good fig cheese and butter crackers. Then head straight to the deli for charcuterie, anchovy dressing, olives, wild boar or mushroom pate, and scotch eggs, which may also come in their cooler bag this year, complete with toppings.
181 Piccadilly, W1, fortnumandmason.com
Regent’s Park: Panzer’s
For 50 years David Josephs has been shopping at Panzer’s; first with his parents, who went there with his parents first, and then with his own family. Then came the devastating news: his beloved local gastronomy was for sale. After 70 years of service, the owner and co-founder, Peter Vogl, could no longer keep up. Josephs had a little knowledge of fruits and vegetables, ran three other shops, but he also knew that Panzer’s was also a community center, so he bought it on the condition that Mr. Vogl would spend a year showing him the basics. Since then Panzer’s has gone from strength to strength, strengthening its Jewish roots: the homemade challah and bagels remain among the best in town; smoked salmon, cream cheese and hummus are all made according to their recipes – and relying on them with the best versions of any gastronomy you can imagine: cured meats from Italy and Spain, handmade samosa every week from a local, a surprising variety of sauces, chips, pickles and salads and, outside, an abundant display of fruit and vegetables that change reassuringly with the seasons. Pre-order one of their picnic baskets for speed and ease (and a cooler) or, for the full experience, go on a Friday when the challah is fresh and Panzer’s is at its peak and liveliest.
13-19 Circus Road, NW8, panzers.co.uk
Hyde Park: Harrods Food Hall
There are, in my opinion, only two reasons to visit Harrods: the decorations for the Christmas tree and the food hall. Both are a sight for sore eyes, but the latter has the advantage of being edible and using it perpetually. Like Panzer’s and Fortnums, Harrod’s has baskets, but I don’t know why anyone would deny themselves the pleasure of breathing in the aromas in their on-site sourdough bakery; pick a cheese from the dairy (think Borough Market condensed into a long cheese counter); or head to their takeaway section for a choice of jewel sushi or a sandwich so well-topped it verges on the impossible. Opt for their golden and fragrant coronation chicken, encrusted with raisins and onion bhaji, and banish all memories of those sad yellow mud pots from the supermarket. Don’t miss their pastries either.
87-135 Brompton Road, SW1, harrods.com
Clapham Common: that of Trude
Trude’s warm and welcoming grocery store is basically a call to London’s best small pastry makers: Two Tribes beer, Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses, Snapery bread, Secret Smokehouse smoked salmon and charcuterie from The Real Cure. It’s also right on the Common, so there’s absolutely no excuse to settle for Sainsbury’s near the station, with its ransacked shelves and sticky floors. Don’t miss the lamb kibbeh, baba ghanoush and flatbreads from the acclaimed Levantine-inspired Arabica restaurant, or Trude’s rainbow leaves and vegetables – bright pink radishes in particular refuse to be ignored.
10 The sidewalk, SW4, trudes.co.uk
Ruskin Park, Camberwell: Grove Lane Deli
Like the park from which it is a stone’s throw away, Grove Lane Deli is small but perfectly formed. Run by an Afghan journalist-turned-baker from Camberwell, it’s not quite the place for a DIY picnic, unless you have a bread knife and a penchant for high-quality canned fish, but it’s absolutely the place to be. place to get a sandwich. Made in their light open kitchen with their homemade bread and generously filled with their latest creation, recent hits have included beetroot with whipped herb feta, caramelized onion and pickled fennel and poached chicken with tahini ranch dressing, grilled peppers , rocket, and chimichurri. Add a can of Perello olives, a seasonal pastry and a bottle of Macon de Villages and that’s it.
4th Grove Lane, SE5 8SY, grovelanedeli.com
Crystal Palace Park: Penge General Stores
Some things are simply destined not to live up to the bleak expectations that precede them. The Mona Lisa is one, the eggs benedict another and a third are the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace, which to hear the locals would think were on par with the animatronics of Jurassic Park, as opposed to the barely decipherable statues covered in moss. Don’t go to the Crystal Palace for the dinosaurs, go to the Penge General Stores, which, like Trude’s dishes, feature delights from some of London’s best growers and food producers (including Ted’s vegetables, fruit and salad, Happy’s ice cream Endings and Flor’s bread). It is worth mentioning the range of vegan and celiac-friendly dishes offered here, from gluten-free crackers and vegan cheese to plant-based sorbet.
55 High Street, SE20, @pengegeneralstore
Highbury Fields, Islington and Paddington Gardens: La Fromagerie
Not one for vegans or dairy intolerant, La Fromagerie is as the name suggests: the place of cheese. But it’s also the place for many other things, including baguettes, pastries, toppings, and wonderfully seasonal fruit. At the moment in which I am writing figs in jam and velvety peaches are clamoring for the company of soft goat cheese and fresh and smooth mozzarella; soon they will be ripe plums and fleshy dates. Choose cheese in the dim light of their cellars, then emerge flashing into the light to decide – or ask a knowledgeable staff member – which wine, cookies, and stone fruit go best.
2-6 Moxon Street, W1, lafromagerie.co.uk
Burgess Park, Camberwell: Gladwell’s
“I just walked in for some milk,” my stunned mother would say as she unpacked cheese, pastries, sun-dried tomatoes and other sumptuous sundries from our local North London deli. Sometimes the milk did not appear at all. Gladwell’s promises a similar fate. This elegant and airy deli manages to be both spacious and stuffed with produce from a curated mix of fish, meat, cheese and vegetable suppliers. There’s fresh bread from the Sally Clarke bakery, French cheese from Mons, beer brewed from Bermondsey, and Greek olives from Oliveology. There is also an entire winery, stocked by South London suppliers, Wines Under the Bonnet. By all means, choose the milk – it comes from a small dairy in Kent, as it does – but stick to the range of picnic-friendly foods and drinks, especially their creativity-filled flatbreads.
2 Camberwell Church Street, SE5, gladwells.co.uk
Peckham Rye Common: Feeling the food
Birds flying high, sun in the sky, breeze drifting by: it must be Peckham Rye, the home of Peckham Rye Common and Italian gastronomy with the memorable name Feeling Food. There is everything you would expect from an Italian deli (foccacia, tomatoes, carefully pre-potted gorgonzola) and some pieces you would not expect, such as brownies, biscuits and kimchi, from local companies London Fermentary and Marta and the Muffins . There are those curiously delicious curly savory cookies that suck all the moisture out of your mouth with every bite, as well as the beloved Italian fries, the Fonzies. There are olives in abundance. Opt for these, a Caprese focaccia, a Peroni (or more) and head towards the town, the sound of Nina Simone’s ballad ringing in your ears.
40 Peckham Rye, SE15, feelingfood2017.com
Clissold Park, Stoke Newington: Stokey’s Delicatessen
I’m bending the rules here – blame the safety of being home – because while Stokey’s is a great deli, it’s one of the many places in Stokey where you can have a great picnic, and it would be a shame not to explore. Come here for the charcuterie, their specialties, bread and pastries, baked by the nearby Brunswick East bakers. Add their homemade hummus and a canned cocktail or two (made by Vacay and really decent). So go to Made in little France for a bottle of cold cream, Jaines and son fishmongers for your smoked salmon or mackerel pate, e Spence bakery for dessert.
182 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16, stokeys-delicatessen.business.site
London Fields, Broadway Market: L’Eau à la Bouche
Although I am always impressed by the elegance of fresh new delis where everything is artfully tidied around cases of wine and houseplants, my heart is with the hodgepodge, often once family-run deli, where you can’t see wine for cheese and charcuterie and where five different varieties of olives collide with nuts and dried fruit and where the tail exists outside the normal definitions of space and time. L’Eau à la Bouche is such a place. It’s French, as far as family, cheese and wine go, but the best of Spain, Italy and even Britain have a home on its creaking shelves. Where its Frenchness is unmistakable is in the purple garlic threads that adorn the walls, and in the crêpes, filled with jambon, fromage or champignon according to a recipe inherited from the owner’s mother. Order one to take away, then stock up on wine and snacks and head to London Fields for a tres jolie moment.
35-37 Broadway Market, E8, labouche.co.uk