Earlier this week we filled you in on local places where you can buy pre-made picnic packs, a good option for busy/lazy people who are planning on heading to the Piccolo or Spoleto finales. Now let’s talk about putting together your own picnic. You can find most of the ingredients you need at the farmers market, though you can head to any grocery store for more budget-friendly options.
The most important thing is to choose simple, non-fussy foods that can be served at room temperature, preferably without plates or utensils. Start with something carby, like a crusty loaf of French bread, foccacia, or crostini. Then pick out a few things to put on the bread, like cheese, tapenade, and/or chicken salad. If you go for a hard cheese, pre-slice it at home so you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself and bleeding all over your pretty picnic blanket. While you’ve got the cutting board out, dice up some summery fruits like melons and berries for a fruit salad — or just throw a watermelon in the trunk and deal with it when you get there (again, be careful with the knife). If you’re craving heartier fare, include some fried chicken or individually-wrapped sandwiches.
For dessert, again shoot for non-messy finger foods that won’t melt. Some crowd pleasers include caramel sea salt brownies, rice krispy treats, or just plain ol’ cookies.
Of course, we’ve left the best for last: Drinks. Bring some water so you don’t get dehydrated, obviously. As far as alcohol goes, wine or champagne is probably the easiest option — just don’t forget the corkscrew. Beer is doable but you’ll end up with a lot of trash. As a liquor girl, I like to keep it simple with a bottle of booze and a mixer like lemonade or tonic. Last year I made some mint simple syrup and put it in a jar to make mint juleps. The only problem with those is everyone wanted one and we quickly ran out.
A few other things to pack: a blanket and/or lawn chairs (I prefer chairs), bug spray, napkins and wet wipes, a trash bag, a lantern for when it gets dark, and, of course, ice.