Your Ultimate Picnic Basket
Say you are planning the ultimate picnic. What goes in your basket?
Mine would be:
Big slice of country pate
Jar of nice Dijon mustard
Wedge of good brie
Carr's Whole wheat crackers
Bottle of light bodied red wine
My chicken liver/apple/calvados mousse
jamon Iberico (this is my dream picnic, after all)
assorted Salumi salami's, thinly sliced
iced radishes, plugra butter, grey salt
cold fried chicken thighs
marinated grill-roasted eggplant
iced cherries and WA strawberries
chocolate decadence brownies
Rosé champagne and Badoit sparkling water, on ice
a large antique quilt,
and finally a Spanish guitarist who is playing within earshot, but discreetly out of view
of our grassy vista overlooking the French countryside.
There are a couple of things that I love about your basket:
1. You have specified chicken thighs. In my world the hind quarters of the bird is the only part worth eating. The rest of the bird is for making stock.
2. Washington strawberries. When I was a very young child my mom would take my brother and I to a big strawberry farm on Bainbridge Island to pick strawberries. These were the best strawberries in the world.
The best picnic I managed was for an outdoor show venue where you can bring your picnic, and my date chose a show for my birthday. I made a pork rillette and served it as sandwiches on Russian style black bread with mustard, lettuce and red onion. I served it with a viniagrette- based potato salad and then a fruit salad with a brownie. This was a nice picnic for two.
Today my menu would be
lox, bagel and all the fixings
sliced, drippy, ripe garden tomatoes,
homemade seedy sourdough
salt and fresh cracked pepper
just don't forget the hand wipes!
I have fantasies of opening a wicker basket in Central Park to pull out a gorgeous pork pie with pastry leaves, a plate of pate, some pickled asparagus, eggplant and cornichons to nosh on, Langres cheese and a bottle of champagne to pour over the cheese right before digging in. 7 years of living next to Central Park gives a man dreams. Like finishing said meal off with a dessert of maple bacon ice cream sandwiches with red velvet cookies brought back from my apartment by a guest who was kind enough to volunteer to make the run. Dreams, all dreams...
I don't have a recipe but the picture on this page looks like the pickles I buy so perhaps they are the same.
As you can see, the variety of eggplant used for pickling is small and round. They are left whole when canning so they retain their firm texture, which I love, since it makes for a much heartier and utensil-free snack.
My pea salad is highly variable depending on what I have on hand. Ideally it will be a bag or two of frozen peas that have been thawed, lightly coat the peas in ranch dressing (preferably Uncle Dan's), cubed ham, diced red onion, and bleu cheese crumbles.
When my wife makes it for a large family gathering with children she will omit the onion and replace the bleu with cubes of mild Cheddar. We have been known to use bacon instead of the ham as well.
Good, hearty bread, good cheese, good summer sausage. A garden salad with fresh in season ingredients and home-made dressing. Some fruit (local and in season). An ice cold beer. Maybe some good quality olive or antipasto. Some sort of sour cherry, blueberry or raspberry squares to finish.
Cold fried chicken
Cheddar cheese, sliced up and warmed by the sun
A cold can of 50/50
Cut up crudites with homemade garlic blue cheese dressing
Chocolate chip cookies or blondies
A crispy tart apple
Tortilla chips or salt and vinegar potato chips to put the cheddar cheese on
A baggie of damp paper towels
To me it really depends on the type of picnic.
Picnic at the park in early spring- good cheese, salami, pate, baguette, white wine and maybe some good chocolate for afterwards.
Height of the summer evening picnic at the beach-some kind of fun cocktail with nuts, olives and maybe cheese/crackers to start. Lobster rolls with cape cod chips, watermelon/feta or a sweet corn salad along with champagne or a nice rose. Dessert would be something with fresh strawberries or ME blueberries.
Fall picnic would be assorted crusty sandwiches, bacon potato salad, beer and oatmeal cranberry cookies for dessert.