Idea Lab

The Art of the Picnic

Dining al fresco is making an elevated comeback. Ditch the paper plates and plastic forks, here are the picnic essentials you didn’t know you needed.

Basket + Blanket…
Let’s start with the basket. Peterboro Basket Company is the oldest continuous manufacturer of baskets in the United States, dating back to 1854. Standing the test of time, their products are as beautiful as they are practical. From wine totes to pie trays and the classic picnic model, you cannot go wrong.

Grab your basket and start scouting a sunny section on the lawn. To avoid grass stains, make sure you have your Pendleton blanket handy. These roll up and can be secured with beautiful leather straps, carried around with ease. In a variety of bright stripes and colors, you will be the centerpiece the park!

The tools…
The goodies that go inside your picnic basket are crucial. Channel the Europeans and look for items that exemplify quality and value. I like to get my hands dirty, picking at bites and licking my fingers clean. The only utensil worth an investment is an opinel knife. Made in the Savoie, the little mountainous region tucked next to Switzerland, these wooden-handled knives have been made by the family-run company since 1890. They are the perfect pocket knives to cut through a hunk of Challerhocker cheese or thick Saucisson.

Wipe off your hands on linen napkins from Les Toiles du Soleil. I first fell in love with these while in the south of France, these cheerful fabrics hail from Catalonia and have no rival. Thankfully, they now ship overseas!

Don’t get too hung up on wine glasses, only snobs would try and make stems work outside. For Glou Glou (french for Glug Glug) picnic wines, stock up on Picardie tumblers. Durable and charming, they are exactly what you want for a no-fuss meal.

Drinks + Snacks…
For edibles, search for staples you and your friends can graze on throughout the afternoon. My favorites include paté with dill pickles and mustard, radishes with beurre de baratte and fleur de sel, cured meats, cheeses and a good baguette. For an elevated touch, cut thick slices of preserved black summer truffles and layer it on bread with plenty of butter. This is a favorite of Daniel Brunier, the winemaker at Vieux Télégraphe and great with a glass of Gigondas rosé or rouge.

Make sure to keep all your wines chilled, even light-bodied reds should be cooled down to cellar temperature. To keep your wine at this refreshing temperature, clever tools from companies like Vacu Vin do the trick.

Other delicious picnic wines? Look for examples with low-alcohol, refreshing acidity and versatility. My favorites include Muscadet, Bugey-Cerdon, cru Beaujolais, Bandol and Corsican rosé, Riesling and of course, Champagne.