Most people would agree that the excitement of deciding to have a picnic is often dampened by the reality of shopping for and preparing the food! Which is a shame as having a picnic is a great thing to do on Gozo, and our lovely island has some amazing picnic spots.
So, we were delighted to discover there is a company on Gozo that does all the hard work for you. After all, the only thing better than the experience of eating delicious home-cooked food in the gorgeous Gozo countryside is not having to make it yourself!
And what if the picnic could be delivered to your Baron Holiday Home before you set off for a day of exploring Gozo? Or, better still – what if the picnic could be set up for you with blankets and cushions at an ideal Gozo location? Well, all of that is now possible.
Ana Kisling & her daughter
In the latest of our interviews with local partners, we talked with Ana Kisling, the mastermind behind Gozo Picnic, to find out more about the company and the range of picnics and private catering services it offers.
How long has Gozo Picnic been running? And what prompted you to start your business?
I set up Gozo Picnic in 2018. It was a business idea that combined my passion for food with the flexibility to look after my young daughter.
I’m originally from Ukraine and I first came to Gozo in 2009. At that time I was working as a flight attendant on business jets. It was an amazing job and I got to learn a lot about food and different cuisines. And not just by sampling the food – I got to learn from and work with amazing chefs, for example in China and the Seychelles.
As a single mother I could no longer continue with my job and I wanted to live here in Gozo. I have local knowledge of the island and an understanding of what tourists may want to experience. So, setting up Gozo Picnic seemed a natural thing to do. And now after two years I’m very happy that my clients like what I do and I love helping them discover and explore Gozo.
Can you tell us about the various services you offer?
Gozo Picnic offers two services. There is my outdoor picnic service – with a range of menus to choose from, and help with setting up and suggesting picnic spots if needed. Our picnics are eco-friendly and sustainable. I never use single-use plastics. Instead I use reusable containers and glass, and even coconut husks.
Sustainable, eco-friendly and delicious! Photo credit: Gozo Picnic
I also provide a private catering service. For instance, this week I am providing breakfast and lunch for a group of 20 people who are visiting Gozo.
For both services I always ask my clients what they want – for instance, local, traditional cuisine and if there are any dietary or allergy requirements.
Another service I offer is to do the first shopping trip for those clients who are renting self-catering villas. They want to make the most of their short holiday time and don’t want to waste any of it hanging around supermarkets etc.
So I can put together a hamper with groceries for their first day or two and maybe even a homemade lasagne for the freezer – which comes in handy later in the week when they don’t want to cook. I can also go to my local butcher and prepare a BBQ with marinated local meat for my clients.
Do you work with local produce suppliers?
Of course! Gozo produces amazing, organic fresh produce. Not only have I discovered the best butchers and places to shop on Gozo – I’ve also made friends with local suppliers.
For instance, the Dreams of Horses Farm near Xaghra keeps chickens and goats and I make sure I buy fresh goat’s cheese and eggs from them. I also try to work with seasonal foods when they are at their best – such as Lampuki (local fish) in autumn and strawberries in spring.
Do customers choose from set menus or can you tailor a picnic to suit their requirements?
I offer both. In terms of set menus, I offer three menus:
Gozo Picnic’s Mediterranean Menu. Photo credit: Gozo Picnic
Mediterranean Picnic: comprising a great range of local antipasti such as gbejna (local goat’s cheese), sundried tomatoes, olives etc. Plus II-Hobz tal-Malti (locally baked bread), a pasta salad and homemade tiramisu.
Tokyo Picnic (gluten free): comprising a range of rice rolls and sesame noodle dishes and a coconut milk pudding.
Indian Picnic (vegan): comprising some delicious Indian snacks.
In addition, I also offer seasonal menus. In summer this will mean more fresh fruit and smoothies. While in winter I’ll make soups and pies. In autumn I’ll include Lampuki.
I can tailor a picnic to suit a client’s requirements but I need to make a minimum of two portions. It’s easier to cook for two rather than one and I try not to waste any food.
It helps to know your customers too. I know that for local Maltese customers I need to prepare large portions! Whereas other nationalities like French and Italian will not eat as much. So I’m careful to prepare the right amount of food to reduce any waste or left-overs.
Can you tell us a little about the various delivery options you offer?
Whatever works for my clients works for me! I’m very happy to deliver picnics to their Baron Holiday Home, or, if they are out on an adventure on Gozo, I can arrange to meet them and hand the hamper over to them, so they can find their own picnic spot.
I’m also happy to work with clients if they wish to spring a surprise for their partners or families – they can go for a walk and they turn a corner and there’s a lovely picnic all laid out and ready to be enjoyed.
Can you give us some examples of picnics you’ve organised?
I’ve organised picnics for all sorts of different occasions. Lots of birthdays, anniversaries and family celebrations.
Picnic with a view. Photo credit: Gozo Picnic
And so far I’ve organised three special picnics to help set the scene for marriage proposals. One of these was quite a production for a French man travelling with his girlfriend and 10 friends. He created a special quest for his girlfriend where she had to look for clues around the island. I had quite a challenge to set up a picnic for 12 people at the cliffs near the Xwejni Salt Pans – which was the final location in the quest.
The sun was setting and she got lost somewhere and I was worried about keeping the champagne cold and everything perfect. It was nerve wracking but it all worked out right in the end! She said yes and they had a lovely romantic picnic to celebrate with the sun setting in front of them.
Do you have any favourite locations on Gozo for picnics? And which locations would you recommend for a romantic couple / a family / group of friends?
I do have lots of favourites but I always try to tailor the picnic spot to the time of year, time of day, and the prevailing wind conditions.
For instance, one proposal picnic I was asked to arrange was in summer at noon – when it gets very hot on Gozo. So I found a lovely shaded spot in a pine forest overlooking Mgarr harbour, which worked well – she said yes!
Most couples seem to prefer sunset and I think Xlendi and the Salt Pans are the best locations on Gozo for a romantic picnic.
For families, I usually suggest the Ramla Hills – just to the left of the famous Ramla Beach. You get a lovely view of Ramla Bay and you can have a sand-free picnic in a safe place for the children.
For groups of friends or people out cycling, walking and exploring Gozo, the locations will depend on the weather. You can plan a specific location but if it suddenly gets too windy you need to move. Also, in summer some of the fields are fertilised and you really need to be away from the smell! I like to talk to my clients two days before a picnic so we can assess the weather forecast and choose the best picnic spot.
What's the most unusual picnic/catering request you’ve had (location/content)?
One of the more unusual picnic requests I had was from a woman in Australia. Her parents were travelling and she wanted to surprise them on their 40th wedding anniversary by organising a picnic for them on Gozo.
She told her parents a few hours before the actual picnic and I picked them up and took them to the Salt Pans for a sunset picnic. Then I took them back home again. They were very happy.
What’s the best review you've ever received?
I think it was from the French guy who I organised a proposal picnic for at the Salt Pans. As I said it was a very challenging job. And it was made more difficult by the lack of phone reception and the fact that his fiancee had got lost somewhere, following his clues. But I kept calm and everything worked out well in the end. They told me that I had been a big part of the success of the event. And that makes me very happy.
Do you enjoy your work? What do you enjoy most?
My work makes me very happy! To do the work you love is almost like not working!
Ask us for help
You can book your picnic here.
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise car hire, tours of Gozo, and many other things to do on Gozo for our guests. Just get in touch and we'll tell you all you need to know about walks near to your rental property, special events in villages nearby, and other local information.
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