July 19, 2010

Eating Al Fresco: How to Pack a Winning Picnic

Packing a delicious picnic meal involves more than tossing a few sandwiches and drinks into a basket. In fact, it's more of an art: everything from packing to eating to lying down in a food comatose daze because sitting up puts undesirable pressure on your overstuffed stomach. (When I get married and buy a house, I'm going to make my hubby have a picnic with me in our backyard, or on our dining room floor on rainy days. You think I'm kidding...). Simply put, I love picnics!
Perhaps that's why I enjoy going to the Hollywood Bowl so much. It has really compelled me to practice my picnic-packing skills, and if I can say so myself, I do pretty darn well. Here are some key tips to enjoying an epic picnic. And remember, practice makes perfect.

1) Keep it simple by sticking dishes that can be served cold and with little serving prep. (ex: sandwiches, salads (leaf, pasta, potato), cheese, salami, crackers, chips, pre-cut crudités, olives). Fingerfoods work best, or something that requires just a spoon or a fork. (a spork?)

2) Avoid food with mayo unless it's in an air-tight container near an ice pack/ in a cooler and you know you're going to be eating it right away.

3) If possible, pack your condiments separately (packets or small bottles are best), and add when you're about to eat. Soggy bread is no fun.

4) Always pack extra utensils. Don't forget the wine opener or the non-plastic knife if you'll be cutting anything tougher than a piece of cheese. Be prepared.

5) Pack plenty of beverages. Whether it be a couple of bottles of wine, cold beer, or water, be liberal. Stay hydrated!

6) Don't forget about dessert! Cookies, fruit, macarons, tarts, something to cleanse/ change your palate with something sweet.

7) Depending on where and when you plan on having your picnic, pack necessities like sunblock, hand sanitizer, and bug spray. Frisbees, kites, footballs, and volleyballs are good additions too.

8) Last, but not least: Think of the person who invited you to the picnic. Pack her/his favorite foods as a sign of appreciation. :)

chicken caprese sandwiches and Mediterranean-inspired orzo salad made by ms. bare

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