Who doesn't love a picnic? Really, what could be better than gourmet food, good company, delicious champagne and of course, the ultimate luxury money can't buy, beautiful weather and sunshine.
There are so many ways to make dining al fresco not just a delicious experience, but a luxurious one as well. It’s important to build the perfect picnic from the ground up. Like camping, you need the proper gear to survive, and by survive, I mean bask in all of nature’s gifts. Start with the right picnic blanket and make sure you use one that is made specifically made for the outdoors. Another absolute essential is a proper picnic basket. Any good basket is furnished with proper cutlery, plates, napkins, glasses, etc. The basket itself should be lightweight and have comfortable carrying handles or straps.
Of course the most important part of any picnic is the food. It’s fun to plan a picnic with unique food you don’t eat every day, such as caviar with crème fraiche on a cracker. Try not to forget that everything you eat will be while you are sitting on the ground, so choose foods that are easy to consume and not messy. Finger foods like cut up fruit and easy to slice soft cheeses, such as goat cheese are the best choices for this occasion. Picnics are also a great time to try new spins on old favorites, such as fig flavored goat cheese on a baguette or melon wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma.
Fruit is essential to any picnic and obviously a healthy choice. If you are serving Prosciutto, cantaloupe is an absolute must. Just be sure to slice it properly so you can wrap the prosciutto around it. For a very easy, portable option, figs are ideal. Figs are luxurious because they aren't the kind of fruit most people eat on an everyday basis. Another easy option is an apple. The flavors of apple compliment most cheeses and are available at every grocery store. Just keep in mind that apples brown the moment they are exposed to air, so be sure to slice when you are actually ready to eat to eat them. Strawberries are another option that go well with champagne and are easy to pack. The cost of fruit depends entirely on season and local availability.
Coach Farms is one of my favorite cheese makers. Made in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, over 900 French Alpine Goats work hard to produce milk for Coach Farms’ cheeses. Their Fresh Goat Cheese with Fig is creamy, fruity and not too sweet. It’s perfect alone on a cracker or an apple and even in a salad. Another delicious chouce is the Goat Cheese with Pear. At only $6.50 for either, these cheeses are an inexpensive, but luxurious treat. For larger picnics, you can order an assortment of goat cheese medallions containing plain, herb, dill, and black pepper cheeses for $35.
Everyone loves some bubbly. For a classic choice that most everyone likes, try Moët and Chandon Imperial Brut for $50. It’s hard to go wrong with this crisp champagne that has notes of honey, yellow peach, lime blossom, fresh nuts and brioche.
Another great champagne is Nicloas Feuillate Rosé. It’s not the first champagne most people think of, but it is relatively easy to find and reasonably priced for approximately $52. It is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. It has notes of raspberry, blueberry and red currants, because of the color, this rosé will bring some extra romance to your picnic.
Nothing pairs with a cheese plate quite like charcuterie. Choose a few different cured meats and make a platter. An excellent choice is Prosciutto di Parma, which is smoked ham from Italy. You can eat it on its own or on bread. Try Black Label Prosciutto from Citarella either at one of their stores or online for $27.96 per pound. Genoa salami is another delightful favorite for $8.99 per pound, which is also available from Citarella. Pancetta is also a great option because it’s sweet, salty and spicy, something for everyone. It costs $15.99 per pound from Citarella. However, if you want to source your picnic locally, any gourmet store or butcher shop can likely guide you in the right direction.
Nuts make everyone at a picnic go nuts! Especially if they are from the famed British curator of fine food and fashion, Harrods. For approximately $65, you can go nuts for their delicious cocoa dusted almonds. No ordinary nuts, these fine German almonds are dipped in sweet milk chocolate and then dusted with some of the world's finest cocoa powder. Packaged in a beautiful gold toned signature Harrod's tin, this sweet and savory treat is very picnic friendly. Plus, the taste of almonds and the sweet of the chocolate compliments both cheese and charcuterie quite perfectly.
Caviar is not only delicious, it’s the ultimate gourmet treat. Furthermore, its small tin packaging makes it ideal to bring to a picnic. Petrossian, which is one of the finest caviar shops in the world with multiple locations in New York, Los Angeles and several abroad, offers an interesting Caviar Tasting for Two. For $300, the set contains three 30 gram tins per person. They have even included tasting spoons. Not only will you devour this gourmet treat, you can enjoy a “caviar-off” of sorts. Petrossian also offers bigger tasting packages for larger parties. Serve the caviar with some crème fraiche on a cracker of your choice.
A perfect picnic is always concluded with the most decadent dessert. When ordinary cupcakes just won't do, Sweet Surrender's D'Or Cupcake from the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas will. Costing $750, it is made of Venezuelan chocolate from the very rate Porelana Criollo bean. It is then topped with Tahitian Gold Vanilla Caviar, which as expected, isn't just ordinary caviar. Aged for nine months, it is hand harvested and hand split. This extraordinary cupcake also contains edible gold flakes and one hundred year old Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac. Quite simply, no luxury cupcake takes the cake quite like the Cupcake D'Or does.
3 A Picnic Blanket
Nothing kills the mood of a picnic faster than accidentally sitting in something wet or dirty. Modern Cabin is the go-to company for both functional (they're waterproof) and well-designed blankets. The blankets are available in a range of fabrics to suit any taste; including modern chevron print to stripes, plaid, and toile among others. All blankets are made to order in Portland, Oregon. For $155, it is generously sized 82 X 52 inches. Of course, there are larger and smaller sizes available. Modern Cabin will also accommodate custom orders, should you have something specific in mind.
2 Wine Carrier
Champagne is essential to a luxury picnic and nothing ruins a perfect picnic faster than warm drinks. This makes a wine carrier a true necessity. For $1,450 no one makes a more luxurious wine carrier than Tiffany and Co does. The perfect complement to their Central Park Picnic Basket, the Central Park Wine Carrier is perhaps the most fabulous wine holder ever made. When you open this beautiful wicker holder, lined in fine cotton and clasped with a Tiffany Blue leather strap and brass hardware, you will find two stemless wine glasses, a sterling silver corkscrew and two cocktail napkins.
1 A Perfect Picnic Basket
Tiffany and Co.’s Central Park Picnic Basket is the most luxurious picnic basket money can buy at $3,450. Lined with fine cotton, the straps are a beautiful Tiffany blue leather and the hardware is made from solid brass. Inside the basket, you will find all the accoutrements you will need including cheese knives, wine glasses, and Tiffany Weave dessert and bread plates.
For a modern and also eco friendly option, at $232 Anthropologie’s Hillside Picnic Basket is a wonderful choice. It looks like a chic beach bag, rather than a traditional basket. It comes with a variety of accessories including eight bamboo plates, napkins, several storage containers and four cutlery sets as well as four Mason jar glasses.