This National Picnic Week (June 19-27) Scottish chefs and foodies tell us about their perfect picnic

They tell us what their favourite alfresco food is, and where they’d like to eat it

Published 16th Jun 2021
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

A Scottish picnic is an unpredictable thing.

Along with the food, to cover all eventualities, you might need a flask, anorak, Avon Skin So Soft, and SPF 50 cream.

Still, as it’s nearly National Picnic Week (June 19-27), we asked a few foodie friends to share their favourite alfresco food and their finest beauty spot.

Twitter @EastCoastCured: “Many picnics enjoyed on Leith Links in the last year, come rain, snow or shine. But the beach or woods at Tyninghame is a favourite further afield spot. Charcuterie-wise, I’d have coppa. Cheese-wise, Lanark Blue”.

Twitter @ScotFoodDrinkCountry: “A sausage roll from Bostock Bakery on the beach at North Berwick”

Twitter @highlandcook: “Got to be a tattie salad. I do half mayo, half yoghurt or creme fraiche, chives or spring onions, capers, gherkins and, if I’m feeling generous, a boiled egg. I’m not giving away my secret picnic spots, but Tarbat Ness has lots of coves”.

Twitter @Val_Bold: “I’ll be on the golden sands of Coldingham Bay. I’ll bring sandwiches made with bread from Lough’s Bakery and some of their unforgettable quiches, and cakes too”.

Coinneach MacLeod, aka TikTok star, The Hebridean Baker (and author of The Hebridean Baker, out September, Black & White Publishing)

“You can't have a Hebridean picnic without Stornoway Black Pudding, especially from Charles Macleod Butchers. I love making homemade black pudding and pork sausage rolls. And a slice of clootie dumpling (or duff as we say in Gaelic) washed down with a flask of Tiree Tea's Machair Herbal will set you up for any weather the islands will throw at you.

On the far end of the island of Great Bernera, is Bosta Beach. The white shell sand beach stretches out to the wild Atlantic waters. If you time it right, you will hear the Marcus Vergette designed Time and Tide Bell toll at high tide as you overlook the wee islands of Little Berneray, Flodday, Campay and Bearsay”.

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Coinneach MacLeod

Neil Forbes, chef patron of Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh,

“If I was forced to reveal my favourite picnic food. I would say a proper pork pie. One made by hand, quite big, not those little ones you buy in packs of six from the supermarket with hardly any filling, but a hand-raised pie, gushing with jelly and proper pork and a hint of something comforting and distinct like mace and a touch of sage.

I would also buy a Company Bakery baguette from East Coast Cured, along with some of their coppa and fennel salami. I'd then dash to Valvona & Crolla to pick some fine Italian tomatoes, olives and just-ripe peaches. Then I’d gather some exquisite cheese from I.J. Mellis and pick up a bottle of something fizzy and rosy from Raeburn Wines.

I’d pack all my delicious goodies, alongside a tartan rug, into an old, classic British car and head to the Perthshire hills to find a quiet wee burn to guddle about in, discarding my shoes and socks, rolling up my trousers and paddling in the cool peat-coloured waters. Then I would lay back on my tartan rug listening to the sounds of birds singing and trees swaying in the gentle breeze, gazing at the heather hills as I nod off for a moment or two”.

Caroline Walsh, director of Archipelago Bakery and Archipelago Provisions, Edinburgh,

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“I’d have pan bagnat (French picnic sandwich). I make mine veggie but you can use anchovies and tuna like they do in the South of France - a bit like a salad nicoise but in a loaf. It's perfect for a picnic because you prep it the day before, place it in the fridge (weighted down) overnight, then wrap it up the next day.

I sometimes take a wee bottle of my home-made plum vanilla gin too. Or my vin d'orange, which is made from rose wine with organic oranges that are marinated for two weeks. I put them in a pan, then bring them to the boil with a bit of sugar and a decent amount of brandy.

My favourite picnic destination is Seacliff. It's not too far from Edinburgh and the beach is just beautiful. It also means I get to swim in the sea to work up an appetite”.

Dion Scott, head chef at Glaschu, Glasgow,

“My favourite picnic takeaway is Dino’s in Ayr. It's local to me and is an award winning family run fish and chip shop. They’ve been in business for more than 50 years. It ticks all the right boxes and for me it’s the best batter (apart from what John Molloy is doing at The Duke’s Umbrella ) and they have the best chip shop chips. As for a destination, there’s a hidden parking spot in the middle of Galloway Forest, about a 35 minute drive from Ayr town centre, just off the A713. It has a couple of picnic benches by a stream and there’s plenty of hiking tracks nearby for working up an appetite. I can’t divulge the exact location as it’s a cherished spot of tranquility”.

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Will Docker, founder of Balgove Larder, St. Andrews,

“I had one of our Scotch eggs yesterday for lunch and would have to suggest they make ‘cracking’ picnic food. Two of my favourite locations have to be either tucked up against the dunes at Kingsbarns Beach or Craigtoun Country Park in St Andrews, which is always peaceful and full of trees and blooms.’

Emily Cuddeford from Twelve Triangles, Edinburgh,

“Free-range roast chicken, which I prepare at home to go with a sourdough baguette and a good (preferably cold) salted butter to be eaten in the warm weather by a river”.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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