The summer is almost over! (How did that happen?) In New York, I like to make the most of the summer by spending time in some green spaces – and hey, being near the water never hurt to compete with the 108 degree weather. So we have been doing a lot of picnicking recently. Now, picnics can mean a lot of things from Little Red Riding Hood skipping through the forest with her big basket to buying a sandwich and eating it on a bench. We like to meet somewhere in the middle.Most picnics for us in NYC happen post-work. This is helped in part by the fact that on almost any night in the summer time you can find a place to watch outdoor movies from the comfort of your own blanket or folding chair (just don’t be the person with a really tall camping stool whose head is in front of the screen!). My favorite places to meet friends are Hudson River Park), where you will find me tonight watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (hence the picnic post) or Brooklyn Bridge Park (where the crowd was so large for Ghost Busters that we couldn’t even see the movie!).
Don’t tell the people patrolling the government parks, but the best part about picnicking is: the wine! My favorites to partake of while watching the sun set over the Hudson River are chilled bottles of sauvignon blanc. It is hard to come by without a visit to the tasting room, but Jessup Cellars just released their first Sauvignon Blanc. I had the pleasure of tasting it in June, and while Napa sauvignon blancs don’t usually excite me, this one is top of my list! Sunday Bay 2008 Pinot Noir is also a great lighter red from New Zealand’s Central Otago appellation that I enjoyed with coworkers recently.
Some picnicking essentials? Well, first you need a comfortable and durable blanket. We use a serape my mother-in-law gave us as well as a few sweatshirt material Ithaca College Class of 2005 blankets we like to show off. The more waterproof blanket below was inspired by my friend Faye who recently brought a similar blanket to Brooklyn Bridge Park, thereby avoiding the wet grass!
Glasses are a must to properly enjoy your wine. (I will admit to red solo cups occasionally, but NOT if I’m enjoying Jessup.) We have a set of these acrylic Crate and Barrel glasses in turquoise and they can go anywhere.
We learned the hard way two weeks ago that when we need ice, we shouldn’t put it in our canvas tote bag (yeah, still have a water stain on that new bag…). I found this plastic wine bottle tote and portable ice bucket on Amazon. Easily collapsible for post-picnic transportation, and keeps everything cold and water stainless during.
Of course, if you are like me, and you are heading out after work you will need to haul everything with you to the office. Now maybe you have a car and this is slightly more convenient, but I am schlepping it on the subway. Therefore bags and totes are essential. Here are some great options:
I’ll admit, I found this on Etsy and just thought it was cute. Usually we throw a cutting board, cheese knife, cheese spreaders, and plastic utensils straight into the tote bag without a thought to organization! But these utensil rolls keep everything neat and tidy (use them with bamboo silverware as pictured to be even more sustainable).
For the picnic determined, or shall we say, Picnic All Stars, there is this amazing Go Anywhere Picnic Table. Disclaimer: I don’t think that the park rangers will like you sticking this in their lawns. But I thought it was cute (and very affordable) and a great addition to any hardcore picnicker’s set up.
Now in NYC, when we are enjoying are wine on various lawns at sunset, we probably have not thought about this ahead of time enough to prepare crudité and canapés to enjoy (or even pasta salad). Therefore several picnic services have cropped up that delivers right to your spot – seriously. Try Perfect Picnic NYC that deliver to many locations in lower Manhattan or That Picnic Place. If, like me, you like to be an over achiever you can put together your own spread. I like to gather a collection of cheeses, meats, olives and bread to enjoy. My favorite place to do that is BKLYN Larder where their staff can pair cheese with anything AND you can taste test to your heart’s content before you buy.
I realize not all of you are enjoying the delightful humidity of a NYC summer right now. For those of you who find yourself in Napa, picnic options abound. I recommend visiting Oxbox Market to fill up your baskets. Many of the wineries have picnic areas that you can use after a tasting or tour. Napa Valley Vintners provides a list here. My personal recommendation is to head to Pride Mountain Vineyards and after a tour of their caves head to their hilltop picnic area. When we were visiting Jessup we even saw a chauffeured limo drop a couple off with a prepared picnic lunch – how romantic.
Here are some articles for reference on more picnic locations. Grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and enjoy the rest of your summer al fresco!