By Catherine Dunwoody

Remember W Network’s The Shopping Bags? Co-host and co-producer Anna Wallner may have closed that chapter of her career some time ago, but she’s moved on to an exciting new project.

Wallner has recently purchased Vancouver catering and event-planning company, Savoury Chef Foods. After wrapping her last series, Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag, she studied at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. Since Anna is a culinary enthusiast, we asked her to share her favourite picnic spots in the lower mainland, and what she likes to eat. Here’s what she had to say:

“I love a picnic. And eating al fresco is my favourite way to enjoy a meal with friends. A gorgeous summer’s eve, cold drinks, delicious food and a relaxed atmosphere is pretty much perfection in my mind.

Savoury Chef Foods picnic
Image courtesy of Savoury Chef Foods

When you picnic with me you’ll be getting a gourmet offering. I’m in favour of grazing. A little of this and a little of that. A charcuterie board ticks the box perfectly. Cured meats, terrine, cheeses, dried fruits, compote, olives and fresh bread are a great way to get things going. And instead of traditional sandwiches why not go with wraps that can be sliced diagonally, which have great visual appeal and lend itself to the snacking approach.

Pack a nice bottle of wine or if you’re going non-alcoholic I suggest a bottle of sparkling water in a mason jar filled with mint and citrus for added flavour and refreshment.

Image courtesy of Savoury Chef Foods

Including cloth napkins and cutlery from home (not plastic), proper outdoor plates and a blanket also elevates things and helps to make your picnic feel special.

Picnics are a fun and affordable way to make the most of summer – who needs to sit on a restaurant patio when we’ve got so many free picnicking locations on offer?

When choosing a location, I personally avoid the beach. Who wants sand in their food?! I also avoid dog parks. I love my dog but I don’t love other people’s dogs nearly as much and I definitely don’t want them sniffing around my supper! I avoid anywhere that draws a crowd (i.e. playgrounds.) Seclusion is key. Pebbly beaches are a good choice as are grassy areas with shady trees and views.

Of course, those of us who are dedicated to the art of picnicking are always on the lookout for new and unknown locations and we are extremely protective of our secret spots.  So don’t ask me to draw you a map. But I will share a few starting points: In North Van head to Cates Park and Lynn Canyon. Port Moody is still surprisingly undiscovered for picnicking and you’ll finding picnic bliss around Buntzen Lake.

I always like to include some kind of activity around getting to my picnic location, be it a bike ride or a hike.”

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