There are two words that when put together get me really excited. Don’t let your imaginations run away with you – these two words unite to make a wholesome combination, thank you very much: secret and picnic. The idea of a secret picnic takes me back to the days when I was a youngster and my mum would whisk my siblings and I to the local beach during the summer holidays for chicken sandwiches in the late afternoon sunshine. And then she’d remember she’d forgotten something so we’d have to drive back to the house to get it and then drive back to the beach, making chicken sandwiches at dusk a more appropriate description – but still, you get the picture. Here in Ibiza the secret picnic story plays out slightly differently because Tess Prince of Love Food Ibiza is at the helm, and this is a woman with magic dust at her fingertips – Tess doesn’t forget a thing, and Tess’ picnic offerings involve a little more than thrusting some chicken between two slices of bread. (Not that there was anything wrong with that. Thanks for the memories, mum.)
Over the past year I’ve become well acquainted with Tess’ cooking, so when I was invited to try out one of her soon-to-be-iconic secret picnics, I thought I had an idea of what to expect. But no, of course that wasn’t the case. Yes, I’d done the right thing in not eating all day in preparation for the Roman-style feast I was sure I was about to receive, but I hadn’t been able to predict anything else that was about to unfold over the course of the afternoon. Firstly, we were met by Tess’ husband Dan at Bar Anita in San Carlos, and he then led us to the secret beach location (the name of which I won’t disclose). It’s an peaceful cove enclosed by rustic fisherman’s huts, and surrounded by crystal-clear water that glistened in the glorious sunshine. Tess had laid out a picnic table and chairs on the rocks, and it was a pretty enough picture to come from the still of any movie – the table was adorned with seashells, salt and pepper pots and miniature spoons, and tiny potion bottles had been filled with her famous homemade limoncello. Every detail had been meticulously planned – the end result, a thing of beauty.
The theme of today’s picnic is an ode to all things eighties with an Ibizan twist, but Tess can cater for any tastes, so Moroccan, Thai, French and Spanish are all on the menu. We’re reluctant to tuck in for fear of spoiling the scene but knowing everything will taste as good as it looks, it doesn’t take too much persuasion to change our minds. There are chicken and chorizo scotch eggs with paprika panko breadcrumbs and a spicy harissa dip, Mediterranean chargrilled vegetables, burrata, basil and cashew pesto loaf, picnic in a jar – Earl grey smoked salmon fillet with caper, dill, potato and watercress salad and avocado, asparagus and balsamic balls, and it’s all washed down with prosecco and homemade lime and mint-aid. If it doesn’t sound like your average picnic, that’s because it’s not – this is a picnic gone stellar.
There’s very little room for dessert but we nibble on Ibiza Rock ‘E’ Road – double chocolate refrigerator cake with crushed biscuits, marshmallows, raisins, hazelnuts and maltesers, and raspberry, lemon and pistachio cakes with mascarpone amaretto cream and 24c gold leaf. And then, inspired by the nearby nudists, we hop in the sea to cool off, glasses of wine in hand. The sun is dipping beneath the clifftops – it’s an idyllic way to end the day.
Tess is a true master when it comes to making a moment – her attention to detail combined with her culinary skills means you’re surprised and thrilled at every turn – that’s what makes these secret picnics ideal for any special occasion, guaranteed to add an intimate twist to any island trip. For more information contact Tess through her website (www.LoveFoodIbiza.com), which is also home to recipes, exclusive DJ interviews and celebrity chefs galore. In the meantime we’ll be basking in our inaugural experience, and revelling in the fact we’ve got new memories to add to our secret picnic stash.