How to Throw an Impromptu Picnic

IMG_3631I’m not sure what it’s like in other major cities, but San Francisco is filled with picnickers. On warm and sunny days, the city dwellers flock to their neighborhood parks, picnic baskets in tow. Since the weather here is incredibly unpredictable, most picnics are not planned, but rather impromptu. They happen at a moment’s notice usually when the weather is exceptional and a friend has off during the middle of the week and I’m not bogged down with work, or on the weekend when it’s too nice to stay in side. Thus, I’m always ready for a picnic; here’s how you can be too.

• Invest in the picnic basics. The necessary ingredients are a basket, plastic wine glasses, a waiter’s corkscrew, and a picnic blanket. Special extras include a wooden cheese board, cheese knife, plastic cutlery, decorative paper napkins, and paper plates. You don’t have to spend tons of money; I got my basket at a flea market and my blanket in Uruguay. For plastic wine glasses, I love GoVino.

• Use what you have. Start planning your last minute menu by looking in the fridge and pantry. Last night’s roast chicken can easily be transformed into chicken salad. Add fresh parsley, lemon juice, and shaved parmesan to canned tuna and canned white beans and you’ve got a salad perfect for a picnic. Even if you don’t have items to make a dish, you may have a block of excellent cheese or a basket of fresh fruit that are ideal for picnicking.

• Once you’ve gathered up some picnic components, head to the local market. Compose your picnic menu with an assortment of cheese (one hard, one soft), cold cuts (salami is my favorite), bread, crackers, chips, nuts, fruit, olives — anything that is easy to eat without utensils. You could also pick up a store made salad, but I always end up being disappointed by them.

• Buy screwcap wine. Even I sometimes forget the bottle opener. If you get wine with a screwcap you avoid the problem.

• Don’t forget dessert! A nice chocolate bar is a great finish to a picnic.

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