Creating A Perfect Picnic

Well, even if the weather can’t make up its mind, I certainly know what I will be bringing to my first picnic once the weather gets nice.

With all of the specialty farmer’s markets and specialty shops in the Finger Lakes Region, treats of the sweet and savory kind have become staples for any outing. Now, there are a million family recipes for pasta salad and everyone claims to be able to pick out the choicest watermelon of the bunch. However, a few necessities always outshine the rest.

First and foremost, no picnic, cookout, or backyard barbeque is complete without some Zweigles hot dogs. The come in beef, pork, or half and half packages, and they are the best darn hot dog you’ll eat. If you dress it up Chicago-style, I won’t tell  – as long as the Zweigle is at its heart!

If you think I might be exaggerating the distinct superiority of the Zweigle dog, just know that my cousin had some stolen from his suitcase at the airport. It wasn’t his laptop or his passport that was taken – just the Zweigles. And no, TSA was not responsible – this was a genuine hot-dog-napping.

Once you’ve secured your stash of hots, swing by a local farmer’s market and pick up some sweet corn on the cob. Don’t tell my Indiana friends, but I think that New York has got it better! Throw ‘em right on the grill and then all you need is some salted butter. Yum!

An odd choice that I always ask to bring to a get-together is wine or pepper jelly. Arbor Hill wine jelly is the most sophisticated snack that you’ll ever slather onto crackers. They come in an assortment of flavors or are sold individually – my favorite is the Rosé. For the non-wine enthusiast, pepper jelly is both sweet and savory at the same time. You can get it in a variety of spice levels, but a standard red-colored spread is what I go for. Throw some cream cheese onto your cracker first and you’ve got a bite full of flavor (cream cheese to jelly ratio is highly debatable). Both of these options also make fantastic gifts.

Next, make your way to Monica’s Pies in Naples and pick up some grape pie for dessert. If you’ve never had it before, it’s typically better cold so make room in your cooler next to some local beers and lemonade. My out-of-stater friends were skeptical at the sound of it, but everyone I’ve offered it to gave a positive review. You’ll know you’ve picked out a good one if you’ve got a rich dark purple filling that smells of concord and blasts your taste buds with the sweetest kind of sour. My personal favorites are mini ones that look like jelly-filled pastries –entirely portable and entirely acceptable to not share!

Just make sure there are enough for everyone or there will likely be a good Super-Soaker dousing over the last one.

Halie Solea 2013Story by Halie Solea

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