Picnic in the Park on a Summer’s Day
Okay so I must admit when I was asked to do a story on picnicking for this month’s House and Home column in The Rage Monthly, I did a double take. It’s a lost art that most of us only see in movies that does not land high up there on the list with happy and/ or after hours, bar parties and one night stands. However, as a fairly domesticated guy these days I will"entertain"the idea!
The fact is, many of us live just around the corner from some of the most beautiful parks in the country. But if you’re not a "park" kind of person then we have some gor- geous beaches that are often featured on The Travel Channel for their fine sands and spectacular settings. Add to these natural wonders a special someone and a carefully thought-out meal or romantic delight and you have got it made!!
When I hear picnic, I immediately revert to the red ginham fabric, picnic basket, a blanket and a big oak tree. But in reality the sky is the limit and here are just a few ideas and tools to make it happen.
(1) Remember, having a picnic is only part emphasis on the food itself, and great deal of emphasis on thought and preparation, which includes taking quiet time away from the day-to-day grind, as well as some time to bond and connect. So do not get hung up on the costs, we can make it as elaborate or causal as desired! Besides, at the end of the day we aren’t really there just for the food.
(2) Pick a spot with special significance for you or your guest, or partner... if it’s someone new to you pick a spot that will create a memorable moment.
(3) For the ultimate in romance, I would go for a great wine with an artisan cheese, some crackers and perhaps a drop of sour cream and caviar as another option. Next, a variety of grapes-maybe try imported Champagne, or a nice Prosecco, with strawberries, blackberries or raspberries.
(4) If you’re shooting for more of a laid back, causal meal where you plan to spend some real time hanging out, as you chat, read and relax ... I love the following options for food menus: cold shrimp salad with artichokes and a crusty baguette with a bit of prosciutto. Or perhaps pre-cooked fried or grilled chicken, a good pasta salad withblack olives, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, finished with some brownies and/or fresh fruit for dessert. Whichever option you choose be aware of the freshness and the temperatures of your foods and pack on ice if necessary-we don’t want a happy day to turn into a sick day! lol
(5) Now for my favorite part , the gadgets , the tools, the newest fads out there, the trinkets... well you get the picture. For a good, classic picnic basket with accessories, I chose one from the multitude of options on picnicworld.net, it comes with everything you need, including plates, glasses, napkins and silverware for a party of four-for only $49.99-such a bargain.
A more eco-friendly picnic basket option on the market is called the "urban picnic box" available for $25 on boxsal.com and features a recyclable box with compostable trays, napkins, utensils, bowls, cups and even a compostable trash bag for clean up.
I love the speaker duffle bag with mp3/iPod player by Pottery Barn for $95 (if you wish to add a monogram to the bag it’s $119). Attractive, functional and it adds music as an- other element to set your picnic’s mood if the birds aren’t doing it for ya! potterybarn. com (Look under beach towels and accessories).
At only $9.95, love, love, love, the beach mat from Crate & Barrel, it rolls up with handles. They also have a wonderful portable table that folds up for simple transport and keeps the food off the ground! There are many, many other options for the picnick- er at crateandbarrel.com.
Melamine dining accessories are a wonderful, re-usable option for you and your fel- low outdoor diners-check out the Melamine bird plates, only $20 for a set of four and they’re dishwasher safe. Available along with tons more at West Elm. To order online visit westelm.com.
For great picnic recipes, check out foodnetwork.com, allrecipes.com or cooks.com; simple fast and easy-oh, and delicious! Enjoy yourselves, make it fun, make it special and most of all relaxing. Oh, and don’t forget to seize the moment what ever that may entail!
Ari Clare is the owner of House.Boi- Combining home accents, contemporary furniture, men’s clothing and interior design services. houseboisandiego.com