When a party consists of baking, balloons, burgers and babies you know you're in for a good time. When the baking has been done by Sian Redgrave, the balloons are the size of a small house, the burgers are the best you've ever eaten and the babies are as cute as a button then you're good time just turned into a little slice of paradise.
I was in my element. The big kid inside me squealed and clapped at the donut wall, gazed in awe at the magical carousel, grinned like a Cheshire cat at the balloon arches and drooled like a dog at the colourful lolly buffet. Of course, not forgetting that the reason we were there was to film the final episode of the Great Australian Bake Off and not just stuff our faces.
Friends, family and guests were all lined up outside the picnic area ready for our grand entrance. As they called action you could feel the buzz and excitement as we edged closer to the picnic party and of course the Bake Off shed in which the three finalists were finishing off their showstoppers.
It was that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment as we stepped through the balloon archway and were faced with an explosion of colour, sound and smell. First things first we located the perfect picnic position (aka prime photo taking backdrop) before Sian made a beeline for the coffee van. While she was doing that I ran around the party like a mad man taking photos before the donut wall and lolly buffet were demolished by all the sugar hungry children.
"Cake is for LIFE, not just for BIRTHDAYS."
While most people would consider a picnic to be a couple of crustless sandwiches, a bag of Twisties and a few carrot sticks thrown in for good measure, you've clearly never attended a Sian Redgrave picnic. So we chowed down on an Isreali couscous, lentil, cauliflower, green bean, tomato and broccoli salad, a quinoa, radish, spinach, pomegranate and almond salad, a cheese board with all the trimmings (provided by yours truely) and of course a couple of baked treats because...........bake off.
Living up to her title of season one's Bake Off winner Sian's coconut and raspberry slice was heavenly. Beautiful and crumbly and finished off with a dusting of pistachios and rose petals. Her lemon meringue pie with a twist was incredible. The twist? Passionfruit! Perfectly short pastry and creamy, tart lemon curd with pops of passionfruit seeds and the stickiest, marshmallowy meringue.
You'd think after bringing enough food to fill 40 people we'd have no room left even for oxygen. You'd be wrong.........Bring on the burger!
If I'm honest I wasn't expecting much from this burger, I assumed it was just a filler for all the kids. Something easy and fuss free to keep them quiet. Never did I think I would claim one of the best burgers I'd eaten to be at staged picnic in the middle of a field from a food tent. Oh how wrong I was. And of course you can't have a burger without fries. Thin and crispy, just how I like em.
It wasn't all about the food (although that did play a very important part) it was also the experience of watching the epic grand final of three homemade bakers for one of Australias greatest reality shows. Sometimes watching them play out in real life can taint the tension and excitement that the TV brings to the living room but there was no doubt that the sweat on each of the contestants brows was as real as my sugar high and the tension just as raw. We arrived for the last two hours of their bake and the shed doors were left open for the guests to come and watch as they pleased.
Now we couldn't leave the party without taking a ride on the carousel. For Valentinas sake of course. However judging by the look on her face and ours it's not hard to see who were the real kids in this situation. It really is true what they say about children bringing out the child in you. You begin to see the world through their eyes and your wish is for them to see and experience as many beautiful things that the world has to offer. Candy floss and carousels included.
Sadly V and I couldn't stay to witness the announcement of the Bake Off winner. My motherly duties called and it was waaaaay past V's bedtime. We did get to watch the finalists bring out their masterpieces and serve them at their table of family and friends. And I can tell you that they looooook goooood.
But before we headed home there was one thing left to do........
"GOOD things come to those who BAKE."
FAN GIRL MOMENT! Seeing as Sian and Maggie go way back (2015 to be precise) I was able to nab myself a quick piccie with the Queen of cake herself. She is as adorable in real life as she is on the box. Courteous, graceful and humble as ever, the perfect example of celebrity.
I'm sure by now it's no surprise that Bake Off gets me a wee bit excited. Not only for the food porn but for the people it has brought into my life. Firstly, it is because of Mrs Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig and Caramel Ice Cream that I am married to the man of my dreams. What started out as an ice cream flavour debate soon became a dinner invitation and eventually a marriage. It is also because of Bake Off that Sian up and moved to Sydney and is now one of my best friends.
Food, family and friendship. Three of life's greatest pleasures. Thank you Great Australian Bake Off!