RHYS: I don't know about you but picnics are my favorite meals. To sit amid the beauties of nature nibbling at good food and sipping good wine is my idea of heaven. Sometimes when I'm on a hike with my friends and we find a spot high on Mount Tamalpais overlooking the Bay and the ocean we look at each other and agree that life doesn't get any better than this.
Since I've been stuck in the house I've been looking forward to my first picnic of summer and thinking back over the most memorable ones. And the winner is my mother's 75th birthday. She requested a picnic and my brother's family planned it. It took place on the cliffs above the Pacific just outside Sydney, Australia, a site shaded by gum trees. And spread on the table was every kind of cold seafood--oysters, lobster, Balmain bugs (a kind of crustation) jumbo prawns, and then a complete cheese board, salads and chilled champagne. We worked our way through it all afternoon, dozed, went for a swim, started eating again. That was when the desserts were produced--Pavlova, fresh fruit, a home made birthday cake, chocolates, port and liqueurs. I want the same for my 75th!
So, dear Reds--your most memorable picnic or your fantasy picnic please.
HALLIE: That sounds so fabulous, Rhys! So perfect -- and seafood and champagne, what luxury! My favorite picnic foods: cold fried chicken, homemade cole slaw and a slice of (also homemade of course) apple pie... or chocolate cake. Cold beer. Eat it anywhere.
Memorable picnics past are traveling in Nice, sitting on a bench by the water and eating a fresh baguette and brie cheese and smoked ham and peaches... huge ripe peaches.
JAN BROGAN: I confess that as much as I'm into cooking and good meals, I am not a big picnic fan. I love dining al fresco at home or at a restaurant, but I'm not fond of packing and transporting food and then eating it awkwardly on a lap or blanket. It seems really messy to me, and I'm always just waiting to be done with it.
That said: Although I never think of it as a picnic, my absolute favorite thing to do is to take a bottle of white wine, cheese and crackers or pita bread and hummus to watch the sunset at Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard. For me, it's not really about the food, but the scene - the little kids and puppies on the beach, the beauty of the fading day - and the crowd cheering together over nature's performance art.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Picnic. Um, no. There's no place to sit, and there are bugs. And your drinks tip over and then you have to clean up. Okay, you know I am not a complainer, but...not a fan. (With ya, Jannie.) I do love when we sit in the back yard, watching the summer stars and sipping palmyras and snacking on prosciutto and melon...it's so peaceful. We picnicked (at a TABLE) in Castellina in Chianti, with wine and pecorino and fresh peaches. Does that count as a "picnic"? (I just typed "peachful." And wish I didn't have to change it.)
RHYS: Hank, you and John should have hooked up. His idea of a picnic is eating the food in the car as we drive toward the beauty spot. And if we have to eat outside... gulp...then he needs his side plate and napkin and to sit way above any ants!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Texas in the summer is not ideal picnic land. Start with flies, ants, and ferocious mosquitoes. Add heat, and if the sun is still shining, sunburn.
I want Rhys's picnic!! I've always hankered after one of those very English picnic hampers you see in catalogs, and imagined a picnic like that... Champagne or chilled white wine, oysters, fruit, good cheese... overlooking the seaside or the beautiful rolling hills of somewhere like the Cotswolds or Somerset. Big sigh. But as for real life, I think my most memorable picnics were with my parents when we took long summer car vacations when I was a child. We'd stop at roadside parks and snack on Ritz crackers with Cracker Barrel cheddar, deviled ham, and Vienna sausages. With root beer, which was a special treat. (And sometimes, bizarrely, sardines.) I know it sounds horrible now, but I loved it then.
And then traveling in Europe with my parents when I was in my twenties we had some wonderful picnics--we bought croissants or French bread, Camenbert, salami, fresh fruit, and wine, and picnicked on the trains. Certainly a step up from Vienna sausage! Lovely times.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: If we're defining picnics as al fresco dining that doesn't include a waiter or a menu - pb&j at the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in Canyonlands National Park. Champagne and marmite and lettuce sandwiches on the Masai Mara. Chicken salad on the lawn at Tanglewood. Chablis and who remembers what we ate at a vineyard in Burgundy. Cold beer and chicken by the Merced river in Yosemite. Must go...I'm getting hungry.
RHYS: So it's all about location, location, isn't it? The food doesn't really matter... unless it's oysters, lobster, cheese board etc.. and then it does. Any memorable picnics to share?