Our guides have put together amazing picnics at the foot of landmarks, in the back of our vans, by the ocean, in forests and across the world. So it’s only natural that’s how we celebrate the 4th of July weekend. Below are our guides’ top five picnic tips, as well as a few favorite summer recipes to impress your family and friends.
Shopping for your picnic is a twofold task: first deciding what to buy, then going to the store. When creating the menu for your picnic, don’t forget to include regional specialties! Small items such as cheese in Vermont, jamón ibérico in Spain, or wine in France can bring a picnic to life when accompanied by stories of the farmer or vineyard. And secondly, to save yourself time, be sure to organize your menu into a shopping list by departments of a grocery store: produce, dry goods, condiments, bread, diary and deli.
Picnics can be stressful, especially when hungry guests are waiting to eat. Make it easier on yourself by prepping as much as you can in advance! This will save you LOTS of time later on. Veggies can be chopped, pasta can be cooked, and lettuce can be washed. If you do chop lettuce or other veggies in advance, be sure to put a napkin in the plastic bag to absorb moisture and keep things fresh.
When it comes time to assemble your picnic, the display is nearly as important as the food on your table. Place cardboard Ziploc boxes, empty berry containers, or upside-down bowls under your tablecloth. Then set a bowl or platter of food on top, and a flat table will be instantly transformed into a bountiful multi-level display. Tilting the food toward guests will allow for easy viewing and serving.
The second key to elegant presentation is garnish. Use fresh leafy vegetables – parsley, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce – to line bowls and fill empty spaces. Buy carrots, beets or radishes with the tops on. Bell peppers, lemons and limes can add zest and color to the display. Scatter pistachios, chocolates or uncooked pasta to add texture to the table.
Over and over, guests are ‘wowed’ by their guides’ ability to provide a feast. F.E.A.S.T. is actually a mnemonic device our guides use to help remember the five most important principles of creating a killer picnic: Full, Elegant, Appetizing, Selection, and Timely.