Good weather MUST be enjoyed. Picnics, a classic in the outdoorsy repertoire of things one can do, is often forgotten, or made last minute and without care for detail. We invite you to revisit the picnic scenario, plan it, and enjoy it the best way possible way. With so many extraordinary makers in the city that need our support to thrive in their businesses, we suggest you go with everything as local as possible. Because, what could be better than enjoying high quality local products from makers to whom you actually can say, “Cheers!” in the neighborhood bar?
QUICK SUMMER BREAKFAST
Hungry and rushing because your friend is about to step out in a parade and wants you to be in the front row to see the costume he’s been working on for six months? Staking out your spot early for Doo Dah and need some nourishment to settle in for the long haul? Shop around the North Market for 10 minutes and come out with an excellent local breakfast to tuck into your bag. Some still-warm baked beauties and the caffeine punch of this outstanding, smooth cold brew will give you the quick energy needed to start a sunny and fun day. Perfect place? Goodale Park, or any green patch where parades and hunger meet.
Maybe you’re not a grab-and-go type; you’d rather show off your own kitchen and crafty skills. lf Pinterest is your thing and you have an a accumulation of paint leftovers, this picnic is for you. Paint the basket, make the sandwiches, brew the tea, and bake the dessert. Your picnic mates will surely enjoy this basket and will feel the love in every bite. Perfect place? The Scioto Riverfront at sunset or the Franklin Park Conservatory.
Some quickie recipes:
Grill a locally-sourced flat iron steak, slice it thin and place it in a Lucky Cat focaccia, spread it with homemade herbed mayo and dress with microgreens.
New to the homemade mayo game? It’s easy: blend on high speed, one egg and, while still blending, slowly add one cup canola oil. Once the mixture has emulsified (gets thick, like mayo), add four spoonfuls of chopped fresh herbs, the juice of one lemon and salt to taste. Blend again until the herbs are distributed throughout.
Rustic fruit pies:
Search “easy pie dough recipe” online and make half the recipe. Divide dough into four pieces and roll into circles. Mix one pound local fruit (chopped into smaller piece if need be), one teaspoon cornstarch and ½ cup sugar. Mix and let sit for a few minutes. Place one quarter of the fruit mix in the center of each circle, fold edges partially over the fruit. Brush with egg wash (one egg beaten with water—this gives pastry its glossy finish), sprinkle with sugar, and bake to 350° until golden brown.
Minty Citrus Tea:
Make a pitcher of green tea, add fresh mint leaves, lime slices, and let it cool. Sweeten with local honey to taste.
Have fun with the picnic basket! Pick any ole’ basket up on the cheap at a thrift store and use some leftover paint to partially decorate it, making light brushes here and there. Let it dry well before using.
ROMANTIC AND UPSCALE
To arrange a picnic basket for a loved one requires way more effort than making a restaurant reservation; anyone can dial a number. Creating a meal under the sky, however, has this unique magical surprise factor that is worth all the effort. Grab a CoGo bike and cycle around looking for local treasures to make a charcuterie and cheese board. Pair that with fresh local artisan bread, a refreshing local saison and some top notch French-named sweet treats. Instead of the chatting and noise of a full restaurant at dinner, you will listen to the sounds of the city. Perfect place? Schiller Park for a night of Shakespeare in the Park from Actor’s Theatre, Park of Roses (full bloom right now!) or the gardens your backyard (if you think some privacy may be needed!) Don’t forget to add some local flowers too.
And, finally, some overall tips for your al fresco extravaganza:
bug spray or a bug candle
a bottle opener
a knife, if cutting cheese or salamis
napkins or paper towel (picnics tend to be messy)
a cooler to put things if you are going to wait for a while before eating
cell phones—well okay, bring it to instagram your basket but then put it away, have a conversation!
portable speakers —listen to the birds!
foldable chairs or tables—sitting on the ground, on a blanket, is part of the fun!
Where to buy everything
North Market—Obviously, as almost everything is local there.
In general, Weiland’s Market, Lucky’s Market, and Hills Market have a plentiful local products section, enough to make a very decent picnic basket in one stop.
Clintonville Farmer’s Market for Swainway Farms microgreens. •