May is the perfect time for a picnic! It’s late enough in the season that the air has warmed up, making the outdoors irresistible, but early enough that it’s not too humid or buggy. When I travel to Italy or France, I often put together a simple picnic lunch to enjoy and, here in Charleston, where we attend outdoor concerts and festivals frequently, we always supply ourselves with nibbles and wine.
From these vacations and outdoor events, I have acquired a few picnic tips that I would like to share . . .
- Pack only food that tastes good chilled or air temperature, such as grapes, apples, cheese, and crackers.
- Limit meal options to those that require minimum on-the-spot preparation, such as a loaf of bread that needs slicing or a premade roasted chicken that needs carving.
- Avoid messy foods and sauces. A turkey sandwich with lettuce and cheese is delicious, but if you’ve layered on the mayo and mustard, you could end up with a soggy, dripping mess.
- Be conscious of food weight, because you are stuck carrying whatever you bring. Large glass containers and heavy foods or drinks quickly grow tiresome. Lighten your load with a Klean Kanteen Wine Karafe, which is lighter and more spill-proof than a traditional wine bottle.
- Don’t forget the tools! A block of cheese is useless if there is no knife to slice it, and wine is difficult to drink without glasses—of which I recommend using unbreakable polycarbonate or acrylic variety. Lightweight and reusable Bambu Veneerware Plates and Utensils are the perfect picnic serving ware. (And make for perfect organic bamboo gifts, too!) Because I hate having sticky hands, I throw in biodegradable EO Organic sanitizing hand wipes, available at local drugstores.
There are endless possibilities for picnic meals, but here is my recommended menu for a simple, gourmet picnic, comprised of ingredients you can put together from your neighborhood grocery store to a village bake shop to a local farmer’s market.
Start with some fruits you can eat whole as a snack, such as tasty pears, grapes, and oranges. Next, add your favorite bread. I love French baguettes and sourdough loaves. Gather a rich variety of complimentary toppings. I suggest purchasing a couple types of gourmet cheeses—since you only need a small amount, go ahead and splurge on the best quality. Next, add a flavorful pate and a tasty hummus. Round out the spreads with a jar of something sweet and fruit-based, like a homemade jam, jelly, or preserves from a local farm, such as Stono Farms in Charleston. Top everything off with an outstanding bottle of wine selected to enhance the foods. If you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and toss in a couple squares of dark chocolate or a giant cookie to share for dessert.