Easy tips to bring you closer to the Golden Fork award

Picnic Perfection



As Spoleto Festival winds down, those attending the Festival Finale at Middleton Place have an important decision to make: what will they bring along for their picnic? Aside from the obvious reasons, this decision is a crucial one because of the annual Finale Picnic Contest. Winners from previous years included multiple course meals with signature cocktails and creative themes.

For the beginnings of a winning picnic, stop by the Charleston Farmers Market on Saturday and create a meal from local fruits, vegetables, and fresh baked bread. After gathering your ingredients, choose your picnic theme. Past winners had themes like Runaway Bride and the current year’s Spoleto poster.

If you think your picnic has a chance at winning the Golden Fork, Silver Spoon, or Bronze Knife, make sure to prepare food samples for the eight Finale Picnic Contest judges. Those interested can enter the contest at the Spoleto Festival USA press area upon arrival at the Finale. Winners will be announced before the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert begins at 8:30 p.m.

For the lazier, less competitive folk, several local food markets have designed ready-made picnics. In honor of Spoleto, Ted’s Butcherblock has prepared a Picnic in a Bag perfect for Sunday’s finale. Designed for two, the picnic includes cheese, salami, almonds, grapes, wine (red or white) and water, as well as all necessary cups, plates and utensils. Order by June 13 and Ted’s will add in a Chocolate Caramel Bar from SweetTeeth Confections for dessert ($25).

Gourmet market Caviar & Bananas is also offering a ready-made option. Also designed for two, the Finale Picnic Bag includes cheese, salami, hummus, a baguette, water and wine (sparkling, white or red). Order a Finale Picnic Bag this week and it will be available for pickup starting June 12 ($34 with wine, $22 without).

Keep reading for more suggestions for packing the perfect picnic...

  • For a winning picnic, first choose a theme. Look to movies, music, and vacation destinations for inspiration.

  • Freeze drinks the night before. That way, they’ll stay cold even in the Charleston heat.

  • To keep food perfectly chilled, pack your cooler with an even ratio of ice and food.

  • Pack crushable foods in zip lock bags with air left in them to protect the food.

  • Bring finger foods for easy eating. Try miniature sandwiches, small pieces of pita stuffed with dip, and sliced fruit and veggies.

  • To go along with the finger foods, make a chilled pasta salad and a fresh summer salad. Keep the dressing in a separate container to avoid soggy lettuce.

  • Save small packets of condiments from fast food restaurants for easy packing.

  • Stay away from foods like ice cream (melts too quickly) and mayonnaise-based dishes (spoils too quickly). Bring along olive oil-based dishes and cookies for dessert instead.

  • For a simple picnic, think French. Pack cheeses, fruits, olives, a baguette, and a bottle of wine.

  • When packing your cooler, pack the dessert first, the second course next, and the first course on top. This way, you’ll avoid digging around to find what you need. Remember to always toss any food left outside for more than two hours.

  • If you’re picnicking with children, bring along a bocce ball set, butterfly nets, and bubbles for easy entertainment when boredom strikes.

  • If you want a more romantic experience, add in some chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne.

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