Whether you’re headed for the mountains, the park or your own back yard, planning a perfect picnic is a summer must. From blankets to baskets, food to drinks, here’s what you need for a variety of alfresco spreads. Let’s eat!
Delicious cheeses and meats will turn a plain picnic into a foodie fest
The food & drink: For an easy, yet delectable offering head straight to The Truffle Cheese Shop. The store, which specializes in handmade, small batch cheeses, charcuterie and other specialty foods, will custom pack everything up for you, including, of course, cheeses (think Quadrello di Bufala from Lombary, Italy or Montealva Curado from Andalucia, Spain), plus items such as Alexian Pate de Campagne, apricot preserves, olives, cornichons, walnuts mixed with dried cherries and Ritual Chocolate Madagascar Sambirano. To drink: San Pellegrino Limonata, or a fine wine. Baskets start at $40 for two people, $60 for four and $80 for six or more. At The Truffle Cheese Shop, 2906 E. 6th Ave, denvertruffle.com
The basket: The Truffle provides a rustic wicker basket lined in gingham fabric that includes dishes, glasses and utensils (a small deposit is required) or a tote.
The blanket: Crate & Barrel Tinley waterproof canvas picnic blanket, $39.95. At area Crate & Barrel stores and crateandbarrel.com
The extras: Picnic at Ascot deluxe Malvern bamboo cheese board set with hidden drawer that stores four stainless steel tools, $92. Twigs and Twirls polka dot straws, $3.99. Both at 11main.com
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Takeout fried chicken never tasted so good
The food & drink: Elevate your picnic takeout game and order from Steuben’s to-go menu. We grabbed fried chicken, biscuits, watermelon and feta salad, deviled eggs and cupcakes (vanilla, chocolate, maple walnut—oh, my!). Pour the kids some lemonade and pack some Stack Wine (shatter-proof, tear-apart, single-servings of wine) for Mom and Dad. At Steuben’s, 523 E. 17th St., steubens.com; drinkstack.com
The basket: Vintage red cooler, $75. At area Williams-Sonoma stores, williams-sonoma.com
The blanket: Tinley blue tablecloth, $19.95. At area Crate & Barrel stores, crateandbarrel.com
The extras: Hammered mason jars with straws, $10.95 each; birchwood flatware, $9.95; palm leaf dinner plates, $9.95. All at Sur la Table, surlatable.com
A LITTLE ROMANCE
Love is in the (outside) air with sweets and treats
The food & drink: Load up on sensuous desserts, fruits, salmon served with cream cheese on crackers and other romantic bites from gourmet stores such as Whole Foods. We kept it local with 34 Degrees Crisps (out of Denver) and Boulder’s Chocolove. Be sure to pop a bottle of Krug Rosé Champagne (featuring a blend of wines from three grape varieties and several vintages) to make your picnic extra memorable. Visit krug.com for store locations.
The basket: Picnic basket with wine caddy, $74. At westelm.com
The blanket: Multi-stripe picnic throw, $49. At westelm.com
The extras: Slate board with rope handles, $39.95. At area Williams-Sonoma stores, williams-sonoma.com
COOL & CASUAL
Fresh ingredients put an upscale spin on classic fare
The food & drink: When you’re getting the gang together, you can’t go wrong with a fresh baguette, beautiful meats and cheeses, colorful fruit and, of course, pie. For this spread, we headed straight to Marczyk Fine Foods for bread right out of the oven, Vermont Smoke and Cure smoked pepperoni, Olli Salumeria Calabrese out of Virginia, La Quercia Prosciutto Americano from Iowa, Blue d’auvergne cheese from France, house-made mozzarella and green beans with walnuts, along with Rocky Mountain Fresh hydroponic tomatoes out of Lyons and organic California apricots and medjool dates. Grab some local canned beer—we like Wynkoop Brewing Company Mile High Pale Ale—and Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider. For dessert? House-made peanut butter pie. Oh. Yeah. At Marczyk Fine Foods, 770 E. 17th Ave. and 5100 E. Colfax, marczykfinefoods.com. Visit wynkoop.com for store locations.
The basket: Outfitted canvas picnic tote (includes four place settings with acrylic wine glasses, red melamine plates, blue check cotton napkins and stainless steel and plastic knives, spoons and forks, plus a round wood cutting board and plastic salt and pepper shakers), $99.95. At area Crate & Barrel stores, crateandbarrel.com
The blanket: Turkish lightweight striped throw, $49. At area Williams-Sonoma stores, williams-sonoma.com
The extras: Sur la Table hammered acrylic wine glasses, $29.95. At area Sur la Table stores and surlatable.com; Twigs and Twirls polka dot straws, $3.99. At 11main.com
RECIPES FOR YOUR PICNIC
July is National Picnic Month! Here are a few classic recipes to add to your alfresco dining repertoire:
Marczyk Green Beans with Walnuts and Herbs
Courtesy Barbara Macfarlane, Marczyk Fine Foods
2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
1 cup chopped and roasted walnuts (roast in a pan in a 350-degree oven until fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Pour into sieve and shake gently to get the outer flakes off the nuts). Set aside.
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced thyme
A few mint leaves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Feta cheese (optional)
Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and keep them green. Rinse and pat dry if you are using them right away.
Add walnuts, oils and vinegar and herbs, and let sit for a while so all the flavors go together. Add a little feta if desired.
Note: This dish travels well and can be served cold.
Steuben’s Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon oregano, chopped fine
1 teaspoon chives chopped fine plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add eggs and boil for 12 minutes. Plunge into ice water. When completely cooled, peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Separate the yolks from the whites.
In a medium bowl, break up the egg yolks with a fork until they are very fine. Add mayonnaise, mustard, tabasco, onion, herbs and lemon juice, and blend with a whisk until smooth. Using a piping bag or a spoon, divide yolk mix equally into egg white halves. Garnish with paprika and chives.