Last Updated on May 16, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Picnic time is here again.
Summer is on its way which means picnic time is upon us. Even though we can now meet up once again indoors to eat with friends and family, al fresco dining is always popular in the summer months. Picnics are part and parcel of the summertime ritual even if, in the UK, the weather often sulks just as the picnic basket opens to reveal the quiche, salads and boiled eggs. In warmer climes, the sun is guaranteed to shine and the food differs too. Invited to review a picnic, delivered to my door by the luxury digital marketplace, Cosaporto, I was intrigued to see what might be offered as part of an Italian spread.
Cosaporto translates as ‘what can I bring?’ – that sentence that used to pop out of our mouths back in the day when we were invited round to other people’s homes. Those days have finally returned and so will the dilemma about what to take along to please your host. Forget a bottle of wine or chocolates bought at the petrol station kiosk. Cosaporto has the answers – a fabulous range of (mostly Italian)luxury shops on its books filled with everything from flowers to gourmet ice cream, gorgeous deli products and cakes. Make your selection online and Cosaporto will pick up your goods and deliver them to you or your host, sometimes within a couple of hours if the shop is open. You can even add a card.
The picnic hamper was curated by Eat Vita, an Italian food home delivery service. Established by Roberta Almatelli in 2016, this Italian missed the taste of fresh fruit and vegetables when she moved to London and established her business selecting the best fresh and artisanal products from Italy to deliver them to Londoners’ doors. Eat Vita offers a subscription service including a range of fresh fruit and veg as well as dried foods, charcuterie and cheeses. You can order Eat Vita’s Italian picnic hampers through Cosaporto which will also deliver gelato kits and drinks to round off the meal.
The products in my picnic box were all organic and were truly excellent quality. The fresh items included gorgeous vine cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries. There were two kinds of cheese, slices of mortadella, a small jar of honey, and three jars of cured items – olives, sundried tomatoes and cime di rapa. The dried goods included a packet of scaldatelli pugliesi (an Italian, fennel flavoured breadstick) and a box of baca di dama, an Italian hazelnut biscuit.
The day before the picnic it rained heavily and was so cold that I had the heating on. But in true Italian style, the sun came out for the picnic and we spent a relaxed afternoon under the apple trees that are just coming into leaf. I assembled the main course items onto a sharing platter and simply added a loaf of ciabatta and a rosemary focaccia. A clutch of chilled bottles of Peroni and an Umbrian Merlot rounded out the Italian theme.
The variety of foods represented several Italian regions from the Sardinian pecorino to the scaldatelli which hail from Puglia. The honey and the biscuits are made in Piedmont. The cheeses and mortadella made for a great sandwich filling, the Sardinian pecorino had a lovely sharpness in contrast to the creaminess of the Robiola. I don’t usually put out honey with cheese but it does go rather well and this little jar was something special. This was no run of the mill picnic basket and hence I had my first introduction to dandelion honey. The olives were plump, the sun-dried tomatoes pungent and the cime di rapa was new to us all. It is not particularly photogenic but it is quite delicious. It translates as turnip tops but looks like tiny florets of broccoli. That got me googling and I realised that the proper name for turnips is Brassica rapa. I had not realised that turnips belong to the brassica family – that is one of the joys of eating unfamiliar foods, there is always something to learn. Cime di rapa is very popular in Italy. Neapolitan diners will know it as friarielli. Shoppers in the UK can buy fresh cime di rapa online – it is also known as broccoli rabe or rapini.
For dessert, we enjoyed the fresh fruit and the tiny, melt-in-the-mouth baca di dama (lady’s kisses) biscuits that looked lovely with the fruit and added a little crunch extra sweetness. These tiny hazelnut biscuits, sandwiched together with chocolate spread (hence the idea of a kiss) are popular in Northern Italy. This dessert would be perfect with a bottle of Vin Santo but since this picnic took place in my garden, I popped into the kitchen and put on the kettle. Much as I enjoy a picnic in the park, the joy of one’s own lawn (if lucky to have one) is that the tea is always hot.
Cosaporto will deliver a picnic box to you and has a range of tempting offers including vegan and gluten-free picnics. They also deliver a delicious selection of cakes, ice creams, drinks, deli items and even flowers. Cosaporto can deliver a special gift not only to your door but to anyone whom you wish to surprise. The list of speciality shops from which you can choose or curate your gifts is very impressive and will ensure that you are getting top quality goods.
If you want to find out more, do check the Cosaporto website
For an alternative check out our review of Nifeislife – an Italian Home Delivery Service