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Serious Picnicking!

When the weather is blazing hot, I find it so hard to be inspired in the kitchen and my thoughts turn to picnicking (how funny is that verb and spelling?!) and small meals alfresco.  We are so fortunate to have the High Line right out the backdoor at Chelsea Market Baskets, so I can grab some snacks (or more substantial pupus) and go enjoy a gorgeous summer sunset from the elevated park.

Luckily also for me, CMB has some prepared picnic baskets that are easy to grab and go, and the only items that I add to make it a meal versus a snack are 1) extra drinks from the fridge case (you can never have too much water or Luscombe Organics), and 2) cheese (because CMB has recently started carrying Brooklyn Salvatore Ricotta and I could eat it by the half pound!).  Here are my top two picks for Summer Picnic Baskets from CMB (plus a few handy picnic accessories):

Chelsea Evenings

For starters, Chelsea Evenings’ carrier is the handiest picnic basket for New York because it is tall (yes, tall enough for a bottle of wine) rather than wide, so it doesn’t take up tons of space, but still carries a lot.  Post-work, instead of hitting the happy hour scene, I love a glass of chilled Big Tom’s Bloody Mary mix, which is made with Portuguese tomatoes and a special blend of 21 herbs and spices (and honestly, is just as delicious on its own without mixing anything else in).  And later in the meal, I switch to drinking Luscombe’s Elderflower Bubbly which is effervescent and slightly floral, but helps rehydrate after a salty Big Tom’s!

Now, the all-important important bites: a one-pound bag of Bazzini’s Pistachios which are perfect for snacking because you shell each one, so I don’t overeat them (the way I might just grab a handful of almonds or peanuts); Barnier Olives; Molinari Salami (the easily sliceable, always a crowd-pleaser, core of the meal); Mondovino Wine Crackers (I know I can’t stop talking about Ricotta cheese, but put a little on these crackers, and it’s a match made in heaven); American Vintage Wine Crackers; crispy Traou Mad Cheese Crepes and Paso Almond Brittle for a little sweetness at the end.

It’s a fully stocked basket, and because CMB takes all of the work out of assembling it and the basket is a great piece on its own, the $99.00 price is less than I’d spend to put together my own picnic meal, and with the gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson River or the interesting streets of Meatpacking District and Chelsea much less than I’d pay for an alfresco meal anywhere else along the West Side!

View of the Mediterranean Picnic

I’m tempted to cut-and-paste the description of our “View of the Mediterranean Picnic” straight from our CMB website because it captures the basket’s components and flavors so well, but I’ll resist and just give you the link (click the hyperlinked basket name above), so you can read more if you’re looking for a little extra!  I love the flavors of the Mediterranean- olives, artichokes, parmesan, lemon, thyme, mint- and they are all present in this gorgeous picnic basket (which P.S. would make an excellent gift because the cutlery and serving pieces are all in sets of four, so it’s ideal for a family or small group!).  Your seaside-escape dinner includes: Luscombe Sicilian Lemonade (yes, we put it in nearly every summer basket because it is so good), Ortiz Piquillo peppers with tuna, Divina Stuffed Olives, Busseto Salami, Divina Crostini, Mondovino Wine Crackers , Bella Cucina Artichoke Pesto, and Divina Olive Bruschetta.

All of these flavorful items are packed in this traditional picnic basket that has been designed to make picnicking (there’s that word again!) easy. And, did I mention it also includes a corkscrew?  If you’re picking it up at the store, you might also stop at the Chelsea Wine Vault for a regularly corked bottle of a cold white wine (seriously, more often than not I seem to forget a corkscrew on picnics and with this basket, it’s built right in!). People are always complementing the handsome basket, so although this picnic is a little more expensive than Chelsea Evenings, I think it is totally worth the $119 and will last for many summer adventures to come!

There are two more items that I think are essential for outdoor dining: a good picnic blanket and a sturdy wine tote. Funny how somethings become essential, right?!

CMB carries a very nice fleece picnic blanket from Picnic Time ($18), and it’s extra handy because it rolls up tightly (like a yoga mat) for storage and has a nylon carrying strap long enough to go over your shoulders (hands-free because you’re carrying a picnic basket!). Lastly, CMB just got these in for summer, and I love the print as well as the functionality of the Tag Canvas Wine Tote ($15.95) with padded sections to keep bottles from clanking in transit and because it is such a great looking tote, I wouldn’t just use it for wine, but as a smaller, not-taking-the-kitchen-sink beach bag and for bringing snacks for Bryant Park’s Monday night outdoor movies!

Save yourself from “picnic basket envy” and get your urban picnic basket today, then get to the High Line and take full advantage of summer nights in New York City! See you soon at the store!