August is the perfect month for an evening picnic- the temperatures start to drop in the evening, making the crazy heat a bit more bearable. I am headed to a few picnic destinations this month- Diner en Blanc later this week, Ravinia at the end of the month, and Langdon Beach for my children’s pre-school.
Packing the perfect picnic is all about variety, and choosing items that are treats instead of the boring go-tos that you include in your kid’s lunch (if I see a Lunchable, I will smack it out of your hand…nicely). I asked the experts at Pastoral Artisan Cheese & Wine what their favorite items are, and they sent me snaps of their pre-packed picnic baskets! How easy is this?? Oh, and Diner en Blanc Chicago attendees get a sweet 15% discount this week on cheese, charcuterie and bread at all of their store locations.
Sweet and savory, the way every picnic should be! A taste of 3 different cheeses with a baguette and sweet treats including Spanish chocolates, local sea salt caramels, and Michigan dried cherries.
Picnic Tip: Make sure to add sweet treats, and try to get locally made goodies if possible. A sea salt caramel goes well with a slightly salty cheese!
Why not go classic French since they do picnics so well? Pate, preserves, creamy, sweet & savory cheeses, olives and mustard create a delish meal!
Picnic Tip: Try gathering food from one region, including local cheese and condiments; cultural immersion in a delicious way!
Cheese from multiple sources is a fun way to compare and contrast- this spread has goat’s milk, water buffalo milk, and sheep’s milk cheeses. And have you tried spreadable salami? Adding just a small dollop will change your picnic!
Picnic Tip: A drizzle of high quality honey can take bread and cheese to a sweet new level!
Why not go all out and try some unique flavors and combinations? Curried Cauliflower, Pickled Green Beans, Smoked, Herbed Ham add to the mix in a flavorful way. And my fave- Peanut Butter Cups from Wild Ophelia in Illinois. YUM!
Picnic Tip: The addition of vegetables, pickled or fresh, can lighten up a meat and cheese-heavy picnic.
Although sampling savory delights from other countries can be a fabulous adventure, you can stay local and still be amazed! The cheese, salami, sausage and confit are all from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.
Picnic Tip: Want a truly Midwestern experience? Go on the Wisconsin Cheese Tour to see where your delicacies are made!
I hope you enjoy your picnics this summer and fall- if it rains, head indoors and have a picnic inside! Cheers!
Disclosure: All photos are compliments of Pastoral Artisan.