It’s June. Get out there! In much of the nation, it is absolutely gorgeous right now, before the dog days of summer set in. So pull together your gear, keep it simple, be smart about safety (including food safety!), and think: picnics.
The summer of 2021 may indeed see us able to share dishes at an outdoor gathering. Here’s what you need to consider for the perfect portable outdoor meal:
You’ve gotta have the gear. We have a couple of knockout pic-i-nic baskets, so ready your best English accent and break this baby out at parties to show you still know how to have a grand time. It contains everything you need: plates, knives, forks and spoons, wine glasses and mugs, even salt and pepper shakers and a fleece blanket! Just throw the blanket and the basket down, break out your charcuterie, and wait for people to start snapping your photo.
How to Set a Beautiful Picnic Table
Yes, you could bring cheese and crackers and put them on sad little paper or plastic plates destined for a landfill. (In a pinch, we’ve all been there.) Gorgeous melamine outdoor plates, though, are an affordable luxury. How good would your olives look in those? Good design can elevate your whole day. For flatware, think: outdoors-friendly. You’ll want one good knife and a cutting board if your basket doesn’t contain them, because someone will invariably show up with a log of something difficult but delicious, like soppressata or a very hard cheese. You can come to their rescue! (You, of course, will be prepared.)
Yes, you can use the standard picnic tables kicking around, with that errant ant and that who-knows smudge of whatever. No problem; rustic works. But there’s something about draping a bright, beautiful tablecloth over the thing that really boosts the party mood. Festive can be hard to come by these days, so consider an easy-to-clean oilcloth cover. Our new ones are just incredible.
I mean. Imagine traipsing up to the event in question, breezily floating in your finest florals, with nothing but this bucket, some ice and your favorite wine in hand. We have a quartet of wine coolers designed for the outdoors, from the chic, linear Yeti to this one, which looks plucked from a museum. It’s a stylish way to avoid drinking your wine too fast just because you don’t want it to warm up! Insulated wine cups can help on that front, too! In fact, well-insulated cups and pitchers from Corkcicle and Yeti can keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours.
The Yeti soft cooler is durable enough to stand in for the galvanized tub for ice and drinks you might have handy at a barbecue, but light enough to tote to the picnic site without too much trouble. Its trademark ColdCell™ insulation is designed to keep cold items cold for days. So if you’re planning on starting your party with sips of chilled gazpacho and cocktail shrimp on ice, then finishing with an array of ice pops for sharing then any of the well-insulated coolers from Yeti will have you covered.
Someone, we assure you, will bring canned salsa and a bag of tortilla chips. Some days, that will be you. And that’s fine. If the kid is sick or the dog went bananas, no one judges. But you could also root around the fridge, the pantry, and the countertop and make something light and bright with what you have. Chopped tomatoes, peaches, mozzarella and olive oil are a juicy salad, with salt and pepper. Bring a bunch of pristine stone fruit and see who complains. Make zucchini bread — there’s certainly a ton of it right now—with butter you let warm up in your bag. But we also have plenty of picnic-perfect recipes, just for you.
Break out the cooler! It’s crucial to have something eminently quenchable at a picnic. (If you’re stuck with a sad plastic bottle of water, nothing else will taste as epic as it should in the great outdoors.) A beverage dispenser set onto a nearby picnic table provides easy access to quench-worthy drinks (including any big-batch cocktails you might be mixing!)
If picnics were a boasting sort of affair, this is where they’d do all their bragging: about side dishes. Who doesn’t get pumped to make the rounds, plate in hand, grabbing a spoonful of this and a slice of that? So make sure you bring something fabulous. It doesn’t need to break the bank, and it can be easy as pie.
A knockout recipe from chef Sarah Simmons, who changes her coleslaw to reflect the seasons.
Throw peaches on the grill after burgers and dogs come off; add them to the next day’s summer succotash!
OK, as much as we get pumped about killer side dishes, there’s nothing like leaving a picnic without enough food in your belly, right? So be the hero who brings an entrée.
A big platter of crispy, tender, golden brown fried chicken is a summer must. Immersing the chicken pieces in the buttermilk brine for several hours gives the chicken loads of flavor and helps keep the meat moist as it fries. The acid in the buttermilk also helps to tenderize the chicken.
You can use flavored tortillas, if you like, to make these veggie wraps even more colorful. Fill them with your favorite thinly sliced vegetables, then pack them for perfect portability.
You ate. You drank. Even napped (hopefully). Now rev everyone back up enough to get them out the door. A sweet sugar rush ends things on a high note. Let there be dessert!