Wednesday, November 9, 2016

French Inspired Fall Picnic

With the last of the Halloween candy stash well finished off and Christmas decor already popping up in every store it's easy to let the Fall season pass us by in a blink. And though we've long bid "au revoir" to the sunny days of summer, Autumn offers an equally delightful a venue for outdoor pursuits. Crisp fresh air and glorious foliage lure us outside without the worrisome sweltering heat, swarms of skeeters, or sunburn.

 And what better excuse to spend the day outside than a leisurely afternoon picnic. While paper plates, burgers and flip flops are the mainstay of summer picnicking, Autumn is the perfect time to embrace a slightly (dare we say) more civilized take on dining al fresco. Whether at a park or on your patio, it's easy to create a cozy yet elegant fete when you include simple gourmet inspired treats, old fashioned fun and games and a few creature comforts. 

Bread & Cheese Covers
Of course with food being the star of the event, finding accessories that are portable, practical and pretty can be a challenge.
 Browsing one of my favorite magazines I came across the most delightful french bread covers which sadly came with a less than delightful price tag of over four hundred dollars. Quality and beauty aside this was a purchase which wasn't going to happen. Neither, sadly was a last minute pastoral retreat in the french countryside for that matter. 
 Not to worry, with some inexpensive baskets, printable labels and twine, I can give my outing a bit of french provincial charm and keep my cheese and baguettes pest free for pennies on the dollar.
Simply find suitable sized baskets and weave twine through top for a handle. 
 I then created labels using type and lovely images from the and cut and decoupaged them on card stock.
 I then simply popped onto basket with glue.

Grandmom's Faux Boursin Cheese
While petite rounds of this savory, but pricey, french gourmet cheese make wonderful party fare, it's easy to whip up your own version with staples you probably have on hand for a fraction of the price.

This recipe was a favorite of my grandmother who always served it with traditional water crackers. But it's delightful with sliced crudités, baguettes or even as a sandwich spread with fresh veggies. 

1 package cream cheese, softened
8 oz butter, softened
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic (depending on taste)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp chives

Mix all ingredients until blended and chill at least an hour or overnight. Add more or less of the herbs according to taste. The flavor is better if chilled longer.
Serve with baguettes spruced up with a quick wrap of parchment baking paper and a sprig of herbs.
We opted for simple fruit, bread, cheese and nuts for no fuss snacking, but for heartier fare, you could browse french cookbooks for recipes for quiches, vegetable terrines and tartes. Wine, mineral water or juices round out the menu.

Faux Boules
Though I couldn't tell you the difference between Boules, Bocci and Petanque, all describe wildly popular bowling games played throughout the world. In Europe it's commonplace to spot small groups of friends gathered, with great concentration, rolling metallic balls on patches of gravel or grass in public parks or town squares. In honor of this classic pastime I thought it would be fun to brush off my old bocci set which had been sitting idly in my garage forever and give it a quick makeover a la francais.
Bocci is a fun portable game and used sets can often be found at yard sales.
Boules uses shiny metallic balls with engraved grooves to differentiate them. I opted for an easy redo- using subtly different color metallic spray paints I had on hand. Simply perch on cups or lids, spray one side and let dry, flip over and paint the other side.

a thrift store basket (previously holding a child's tea) set makes a picnic perfect carrier
When the competition gets too fierce, books and art supplies provide relaxing ways to wile away the afternoon
"Shop" your house for accessories that add some comfort but aren't too precious to spend a day outside.
 A charming Waverly curtain swag (a clearance find at Lowe's) adds a pastoral touch.
Make sure to include some extra treats for unexpected guests. Our friend Tempest is getting a bit close to the wine.

Autumn is the hush before Winter    
                                        french proverb

for more Fall for francophiles (and the easiest apple tart) 
visit our post

all the joys of Fall!


  1. What a beautiful picnic! You are so creative. Thank you for sharing at Monday Social.

    1. Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed the picnic :)

  2. Christina, I love your fall picnic. You are so creative to come up with your look alike French basket covers. We have been having gorgeous weather. Perfect for a fall picnic! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Thanks so much and thanks for hosting your lovely parties! We've been to lucky to have some beautiful Fall days here too :)

  3. Hi Christina, hopping back to let you know you will be featured at SYC later today.

    1. Thanks so much Jann! I'm delighted to be featured.

  4. Penney,
    I love your homemade basket food covers. Of course, I love the entire post with all its French inspiration.
    You are one of this week's features at Monday Social on November 20.


    1. Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed the post and thrilled to be featured.

  5. I cannot explain myself why I don't receive the update of your blog for so long ... sorry I've lost this post of yours too, sweet Christina, I so love Fall and all the little precious moments we can still enjoy outside !

    Hope you had the best of weeks I'm sending my dearest love to you

    Xx Dany

    1. Thanks so much Daniela!
      My computer does the same thing and I miss so many posts!
      I just love Fall too and it seems this year has flown by so fast I wanted to make the most of the season. Hope all is well with you.

      All the best


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