Its BFF's birthday this weekend and at her behest we headed up Royal Deeside for a walk around Loch Muick with Foodie Loon and Mr BFF. This was a favourite haunt of Queen Victoria when she stayed at her Balmoral Holiday home but she probably had servants to carry her rucksack and tie her walking boots. I nominated myself in charge of the picnic so duly dug out my Tiffin Box and Thermos Flask and with a tiny bit of help from M&S set out to prepare a picnic fit for a Queen.
We arrived in the car park just after 9am and were eaten alive by ferocious midgies whilst we had our flask of tea, shortbread and jammie dodgers. Walking gear was donned and we set off on the picturesque 7 mile circuit of the loch. No sign of Billy Connoly or Judy Dench but lots of other walkers out and about. By 11.30am the boys were getting peckish so we sussed out a suitable picnic spot, set up base camp and opened up the Tiffin Box.
My Prawn, Squid and Stelline Pasta Salad with Chilli and Coriander Dressing, M&S Pork Pies, cocktails sausages, olives and goats cheese, My Wild Mushroom and Garlic Fritatta, Assorted cold cuts, My rice salad with chargrilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, grapes, pine nuts and strawberries dressed with Little Doone Foods Garlic Sweet Balsamic Dressing. Girl was very perturbed when she saw me putting fruit into a salad. Not that she would have even considered eating it. Mr BFF done good and produced a celebratory bottle of Veuve Clicquot from his rucksack and I duly topped off the goats cheese with a candle. Desert was strawberries and meringues but someone forgot to pack the cream. I will name no names but they may have also forgotten the picnic rug.
We made good time travelling in Queen Vic's footsteps and despite the picnic lunch thought we could squeeze in some post walk coffee and cake. Rocksalt & Snails is a great foodie haunt in Abredeen's West End and we were delighted to discover that they also have a newly opened Coffee Shop in Ballater. There was a lovely range of homebakes on offer and we opted for Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cupcake, Treacle Toffee Apple Muffin and Blueberry and Almond Cake to accompany our Cappuccinos. All were declared delicious and we had definitely earned the calories.
The lunch menu on offer looked great with a range of soup, salads, panini's and sandwiches but it was the Platters that really caught me eye. I am definitely going to have to make a return visit to sample the Deeside Surf & Turf of Smoked Salmon and Smoked Venison. The prices were most reasonable too - certainly not a Queen's ransom. Alas no time to browse round the range of interesting looking Ballater shops, many by Royal appointment. So a return visit is a must, perhaps leaving out the walking an the midgies to give sufficient time for the serious business of food and shopping.
Updating this post in June 2013 to add it to the Four Seasons Food Challenge. The theme for this month is Picnic Food and Nibbles so this fits the bill perfectly.