A red and green tartan blanket bought at a thrift store in James Bay holds permanent residence in Jena Stewart’s vehicle for Friday night picnics along Dallas Road.
The seaside green space allows the Devour Restaurant chef time to relax after a busy day at the restaurant with her favourite way to enjoy a meal.
“I get to try a whole bunch of different things in one meal,” Stewart says. “You get to eat 15 different things, and little bits of it, so you’re not overwhelmed.”
She packs napkins and plates into a cooler and says the addition of a sharp knife is critical to the perfect outdoor dining experience. A sharp little folding picnic knife from France is Stewart’s pride, and key to slicing into a decadent two-hour waterfront meal.
She brings a visual feast of cheese, meat and a tureen that fills the blanket, still slightly sandy from the last Willows Beach outing – sometimes Willows makes the cut, as it’s a little closer to home and Ottavio’s is on the way for a quick pickup of good old blue cheese and a little quince paste if the homemade has run out.
Stewart’s centrepiece of the meal includes a Sockeye salmon rillette, a rich mix of steamed and smoked salmon and créme fraîche sealed with a layer of clarified butter to maintain freshness. It’s a traditional French picnic food, served with crostini and caper berries alongside a light and refreshing summer salad of sticky black Thai rice topped with fresh cut mango and snow peas.
Victoria’s busy Devour chef routinely creates takeout feasts, as the Broughton Street restaurant is a common stop for travellers heading out on one of the various ferries, or flights out of the city.
Alongside the gourmet, a tin of smoked oysters is slightly out of place.
“Pack things that don’t fit, just because you want them,” Stewart says.
As the sun lowers and the sky gets that magical dusky light, out come the flourless chocolate brownies.
Stewart smiles. A perfect picnic? “When the picnic basket’s empty and you don’t have to cart much back to the car.”
The tiny restaurant space at Devour on Broughton is open Monday to Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Stewart prefers lemon water or perrier with her picnics, but Devour partner Rebecca Wellman says a Sandhill White is the perfect July picnic wine.
GET IT TO GO:
Don’t have time for a full meal? Devour creates tasty from-scratch sodas and floats served to go.
Devour’s menu changes daily and is online by 10:30 a.m. at devour.ca.
By Christine Van Reeuwyk