Picnics are such enchanting occasions, an endorsement of Summertime. A congregation in nature, it’s about decamping to mood-boosting locations and making merry over long lunches and good conversation. Typically, each person brings something delectable to the party and it all unfolds as a convivial exercise in democratic dining. The most fun and even more fabulous when another preps le picnic for you, turning it into a super-spoil made for your snacking pleasure. All you need to do, is show up.
Since forever, much has been written describing and talking up the blanket banquet. In Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows poor Mole practically comes undone when Ratty describes the contents of his ‘fat wicker luncheon- basket’, and everyone knows what a fine time the Little Teddy Bears had down in the woods that day. It’s happiness, fellowship, good food and sunshine that make all picnics equal, whether you’re chasing a chunky baguette with a pint or nibbling on vintage Gruyère, a coupe of Dom Pérignon in hand. (Dom is on their wine list by the way, so why not splurge – Chef recommends it!)
THE BELMOND MOUNT NELSON LAWN PICNIC
W. Somerset Maughan declared that “there are few things as perfect as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.” He was of course on point and on that note, enter the Mount Nelson’s excellent rendition of the lawn picnic.
Select a spot along the palm avenue, in the main pool area or the fountain gardens, the latter being where we settled into an al fresco feast in the shade of ancient oaks, especially appreciated on a very hot day. The leafy, cool sanctum takes in vibrant petunias views, manicured flower beds and the Terrace. The soothing sounds of tinkling water ever-present and the prettiest of hotel façades presiding, painted in a hue of pink that hovers somewhere between candy floss and rosé wine.
Once you’ve alerted the cheerful Concierge crew that you’re present and accounted for, you’ll be shown to your reserved spot and in minutes, a laden pannier arrives weighted down with (eco) bowls of bite sized nosh.
With a bottle of crisp Truter Chenin chilling on ice, we waded slowly through the lawn luncheon. The vegan tapas included avocado rice paper wraps, a roasted vegetable selection, slow roasted spiced olives, mixed nuts (squirrel alert on this one! 🐿 😄🥜 ), dried fruits and crudités. A lot right, but wait there’s more! Tofu stuffed with savoury fried tempeh (fermented bean cake), mushroom balls, pakora (deep fried veggie fritters) and mushroom kebabs followed. Just love the petit gateaux -a lemon curd éclair, cashew nut cheesecake and carrot cake swiss roll – and ending with strawberries, vegan cream and a vegan chocolate sauce was the berry on the top!
The vegetarian offering was the same but with the addition of mushroom empanadas, veg samoosas and passion fruit eclairs for sweets. Kudos to Chef for curating a mezze to satisfy two picky eaters.
Joining me that day was my friend Tamsin Snyman, a lover of everything food related, plus a food writer, cookbook publisher, restaurant reviewer and Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best (South & East Africa). She was delighted to discover that the hotel offers a plant-forward approach to grazing. “So refreshing,” she said, “The Mount Nelson is over a century old, an iconic property and certainly ahead of the picnic curve.” On point.
The Belmond Mount Nelson picnic is a winner. You can book one Wednesday to Sunday from 13h00 with a cost R395 per adult and R250 per child. Remember to book a day in advance via +27 21 483 1000
THE GARDEN COTTAGE SUITES
What I didn’t mention was that the picnic happened over my birthday weekend. I was also invited to stay over and experience one of the specialist Garden Cottage Suites: Honeysuckle Cottage.
Decorated by Graham Viney, it’s a light and lavish two bedroom residence. Such an elegant space that channels hints of 18th century opulence and comes complete with marble bathroom, a king size bed (the pillow menu is a wonderful touch!), and two kitted-out kitchens, making it the obvious accommodation choice for a post-picnic staycation with friends or loved ones. The private pool doesn’t allow children so comes with all the quietude one needs for a tranquil stay.
Staying over was a stunning birthday weekend finale and needless to say the dance in the foyer (see the Insta Reel) with Head of Concierge Services Muchi Gubwe and his Team, was a brilliant, fun way to start my Born Day!
What a weekend! Because Belmond. #letsmountnelson
Reservations | Front Desk: +27 21 483 1000 | firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to enquire about the SADAC rate for South Africans.
The Belmond Mount Nelson is at 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa.
Have a scroll through my Instagram Reel here and until next time,