I am obsessed with picnics! What, after all, is more fun than preparing a simple meal, grabbing a bottle of wine, finding a beautiful spot in a park or near a pretty stream, and whiling away a breezy afternoon on a blanket, dreaming, dozing, or gazing up at the blue sky? That’s my kind of party, whether the guest list includes two friends or ten.
Here are some of my favorite tips, and a couple of recipes to inspire your next moveable feast.
1. Keep it Portable
If you fancy yourself (or aspire to fancy yourself) a serious picnicker, you might want to invest in an easy-to-carry picnic tote or backpack. I found a bunch of nice looking, well-designed options that also include space for a wine bottle on The Wine Bag. Updating what goes into the basket matters, too — these essentials are a great place to start.
For plates, instead of throwaway plastic, focus on eco-friendly options, such as the stylishly disposable plates made from fallen leaves at Verterra (available at Whole Foods last time I checked). They are compostable and will disappear naturally within 60 days.
2. Think Practical
Fold up an oversized trash bag and pack it with your picnic supplies. Lay it on the ground underneath your blanket. It will keep your blanket dry and clean and help to ward off bugs. At the end of the picnic, just roll up your blanket, and then use the trash bag to collect your garbage. Voila!
Prepare simple foods that travel well. Paninis are the perfect picnic fare, as they are easy to make and pack (just stack them between sheets of wax paper), and are delicious at room temperature. Just be sure to use a sturdy country bread or focaccia and let them cool a bit before you pack them to avoid Soggy Sandwich Syndrome. Serve them with a brightly-flavored Rosé, and opt for side dishes that are finished with olive-oil based dressings rather than mayo or yogurt, which can spoil. This radicchio slaw is crunchy, delicious, and good for you.
Instead of a clunky ice pack, tuck a bag of frozen organic berries in your picnic basket to keep foods cool, and once you’re settled in at your chosen spot, tear the bag open and drop the berries into lemonade or water for a lovely, refreshing garnish.
3. Add a Dash of Panache
Take along a throw pillow or two, preferably in a bold color or pattern. Pick soft pillows that you can stuff into a tote bag, and you will not only be the most stylish al fresco diner on the picnic circuit — you’ll also be primed for a perfect post-picnic nap!
If you’re feeling especially festive, bring a Vazu. What’s a Vazu? It’s a portable vase that looks like the most attractive Ziploc bag you’ve ever seen, until you fill it with water, stand it up, and pop in a couple of wildflowers you’ve picked on your way to the picnic. PS. They make great hostess gifts, too!
(Photo above courtesy of William Geddes)