Picnic, Man | Guest Writer Patrick Cusick
Jul 14th, 2014
Asking a man to offer his point of view on picnics renders a result similar to that of asking him to deliver a dissertation on fabrics. “Ums” lead to stutters; stutters lead to “well, ya’-knows,” and “well, ya’-knows” lead to no-so-gracefully changing the subject.
As much as I love cooking, I must admit that I draw a blank when it comes to choosing items for a picnic. I suppose that’s because I picnic – oh, I don’t know – maybe once every 3 years? I cook at least twice a week. As such, being confronted with the dilemma of selecting appropriate picnic fare carries with it the potential for decision vapor lock.
But, for a relatively intelligent bloke like me, it shouldn’t.
To that end, I’ve devised some simple guidelines aimed at providing a solid foundation for picnic perfection:
- Bread: You simply must have bread, preferably something “artisan” (I know – I’ll put a dollar in the “artisan” jar).
- Crackers: Not Nacho Cheese chips and nothing Jacked! or Extreme!; get nice, proper crackers.
- Salads: Grab a couple cold salads. Maybe one pasta-based, another with veggies, or even a seafood salad. Keep it light, though. Or just keep it easy and pick up a few ready-made salads from the Deli.
- Dip: An avocado or artichoke dip is nice. Hummus works well too. If you couldn’t resist buying the Nacho Cheese chips, you can get salsa, but you’ve already blown it, so better luck next time.
- Cheese: Again – not nacho, but something spreadable or sliceable for the crackers is a good idea.
- Fruit: Honestly, just get grapes. If you don’t like grapes (people don’t like grapes?), strawberries or any berries work well. But really: who can resist feeding one another grapes from the vine, à al Roman Empire. “Grapes, Caesar?” “Why yes, Cleopatra.”
- Olives: Because…well, olives. If your deli has a self-serve olive display (WIN!), get something fancy. Green olives stuffed with blue cheese or feta are amazing. If you don’t like olives, that’s OK. Caesar and Cleopatra will eat your share. Otherwise, roasted peppers or stuffed mushrooms are good too.
- Meat: Some kind of cured meat is nice. You cannot go wrong with a quality salami or prosciutto.
- Beverage: Grab some nice wine, a craft beer, hard cider, or you can be good and get some nice juice or sparkling wine, but – honestly – who wants to be good?
- Also, don’t forget a clean blanket (NOT a bath towel), a sharp knife, a couple plates, forks and knives, and napkins.
OK, so it isn’t that difficult to throw a proper picnic. Albertsons has such a terrific selection of gourmet edibles, it’s actually quite easy.
Go forth and picnic. And picnic well.