So long, cold days and dreary skies. Summer is right around the corner and nothing pulls us out of a Netflix-and-sofa mood like a couple extra hours of sunlight. Happy hours at your favorite rooftop bar or beer garden are a blast, but on days when you’re craving a little extra elbow room and the ability to talk and not shout, grab your favorite people and a blanket and have a picnic. This year, make the gathering more than a cooler, boxed wine and a blanket. Pack, prep and party like a pro using these picnic tips from luxury food and NYC lifestyle blogger Svitlana Flom of Art de Fete.
Instead of having everyone show up in the same shorts-and-a-tunic picnic uniform, pick a fun theme. Flom loves the idea of a French-style picnic. “Ask your lady guests to wear berets or for an Americana-style picnic have them wear A-line belted sun dresses and hats. For guys, shirts and khakis,” she suggested. Forget that of-the-moment group text and opt for sending out an evite with all the information.
Divide and Conquer
Make the picnic a team effort by delegating different tasks to your squad. “Let one be responsible for chilled beverages like water and wine.” Flom said.
Flom is a self-proclaimed wine person and is completely on board with last year’s rosé trend that doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Still can’t bring yourself to think pink? Pick up a bottle of Sancerre. “It sips so easy when chilled and works great with room temperature food.”
Since you’re serving wine, a cheese board is a no-brainer. “As generic as it might sound, people love it,” Flom insisted. She advises having at least three types of cheeses: a soft (brie or Camembert), semi-soft (blue or goat) and hard (Parmesan or Gruyère). “Cheese should be tasted at room temperature, so pack it straight from the fridge and by the time you are at the location, its internal temperature will be perfect and ready to be enjoyed with a glass of chilled Sancerre.” Throw some no-fuss condiments in your basket like caramelized walnuts, raw almonds, figs, fresh grapes and berries.
If you decided to go with the French-style theme, add some festive flavor to your spread with easy-to-share terrines. Inspired by the terrines chef Daniel Boulud makes at Epicerie Boulud at Lincoln Center, Flom loves to make duck, rabbit and beet terrines with cornichons, whole-grain and regular mustards and of course, a fresh baguette.
It’s summertime and the eating is light and easy. Pack a salad with fresh greens and tomatoes, but don’t season it beforehand. “Salt extracts liquid and the salad will become mushy. Instead, display flaky sea salt and pepper in cute little glass jars so everyone can season a salad themselves,” Flom said.
The Main Dish
“As a main dish, kebabs are wonderful,” Flom beamed. “Chicken thighs are much juicier than chicken breast and tastes equally delicious hot or cold.” Fish lovers will enjoy salmon or swordfish kebabs. Serve with a medley of roasted bell peppers by simply roasting them in the oven, then peeling the skins and slicing them into strips. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and dashes of salt, pepper and parsley.
You’re outdoors on a blanket, so going all out with decorating is a definite don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some fun touches. Flom likes to serve food on colorful boards to brighten up the blanket. “For some sophistication, wrap cutlery in individual napkins, secure with kitchen twine or ribbon and place them into small metal buckets or Mason jars.”
On a gorgeous day, heading home to the great indoors just isn’t high on your priority list. Keep the picnic going after the food has been gobbled up and packed away for leftovers by enjoying some party games. Flom likes easy and fun card games, or you could try one of these four outdoor party games.