The days of soggy cucumber sandwiches and stodgy sausage rolls are gone, says Jenni Muir. British fare is now a delightful combination of traditional ingredients with a modern, confident twist

Celery, £2.95 per bunch

Celery, £2.95 per bunch

Celery is not native to the UK; however it grows well in peat soils and therefore thrives in the Fens. Most of the British outdoor crop comes from Cambridgeshire. Celery stays fresh longest when kept in a bunch, but is best trimmed before a picnic. Keep the leaves, and use a peeler to remove the tough outer strings.

Where: Villandry, 170 Great Portland Street, London W1., Tel: 020 7631 3131.

Luxury potted shrimp, £10.95 225g jar

New from H Forman and Son, London's traditional smoked salmon producers, is this buttery potted shrimp, made from pink-brown shrimp and flavoured with lemon balm and spring onion. Spread on crackers, bread or scoop onto stalks of fresh celery. Also available is potted lobster (£12.95).

Where: Forman and Field,, Tel: 020 8221 3939.

Bath biscuits, £1.99 150g

Flying the flag for the West Country, these new all-butter crackers from Bath's Fine Cheese Company are designed to give crunch to a cheese board. The plain ones are best for delicate cheeses (it's a good palate-cleanser for wine tastings too); the wholemeal ones with a wheatier taste are for full-flavoured specimens.

Where: The Fine Cheese Company,, Tel: 01225 448 748.

Parsnip crisps with black pepper, £1.05 50g bag

Parsnips are native to Britain and have been cultivated since Roman times. They rarely taste as luxurious as when cut into ribbons and deep-fried to give these sweet-savoury crisps. Manufacturer Cottage Delight seasons them with black pepper, or Indian spices.

Where: Cottage Delight,, Tel: 01538 398 949.

Perroche goat cheese and Montgomery's cheddar, £4.95 150g whole Perroche; £4.20 250g piece Montgomery's Cheddar (or £16.80 per kg)

The best of the old with the best of the new: the mature bite of a vintage hunk of Montgomery's traditional unpasteurised Somerset Cheddar sits well with the light lemon and herb tang of moussey goats' milk Perroche, made in Herefordshire.

Where: The Fine Cheese Company,, Tel: 01225 448 748.

Cornish pasty, £2.95 each

With their succulent root vegetables and beef, sealed in an attractive braid of pastry, Fortnum's Cornish pasties are a generous meal in themselves. When serving you may want to allow only half a pasty per person. You'll find them on the deli-counter beside Fortnum's excellent range of elegant picnic pies.

Where: Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1., Tel: 020 7734 8040.

Hot and herby pickled shallots, £3.75 500g jar

The secret of making pickled onions is to use shallots. They're not as strident as onions and, when cooked, have a pleasant sweetness. "The breath of those that eat them is not offensive to others," wrote John Mortimer back in 1707. Yet there's no sacrificing flavour with these shallots from Cottage Delight - any ploughman will be perked up by them.

Where: Cottage Delight,, Tel: 01538 398 949.

Strawberries and clotted cream, £1.79 450g punnet strawberries; £1.95 227g pot Rodda's clotted cream

Recognising that people want to buy British produce in season, Waitrose is promising that, until 28 September, all their strawberries will be English. Most will come from Harry Hall, who grows at Heathlands Farm in Berkshire and Tuesley Farm in Surrey. Pair with Rodda's clotted cream and drool Britannia.

Where: Branches of Waitrose.

Mrs Gill's rich fruit cake, £10.95

Jacqueline Gill began her company in Devon, more than 10 years ago with this rich, lightly spiced fruitcake. It takes three days to make, from English butter, dark muscovado sugar, local eggs, plump vine fruit and brandy. The company also produces delicious traditional Dundee, porter and crunchy almond cakes.

Where: Forman and Field,, Tel: 020 8221 3939.

Sheppy's Kingston Black cider, £1.55 500ml bottle

Fine West Country cider comes in a range of interesting varieties. The Kingston Black apple, which originates in the Vale of Taunton Deane, is rare and old. Taunton-based cider producers Sheppy's transform it into a refreshingly crisp, clean-tasting cider with full-bodied fruit aromas.

Where: Sheppy's Cider,, Tel: 01823 461 233.