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Summer Picnics to Remember

June 26, 2014

Summertime is picnic time, and there are plenty of places in Newport Beach to enjoy an al fresco feast, from relaxing on the beach at Crystal Cove State Park to cruising Newport Harbor in a Duffy Electric Boat.

Packing the perfect picnic is easy thanks to the plethora of specialty food purveyors in Newport Beach.

One of those, Whole Foods in Fashion Island, just launched their Picnics To Go program, which includes a variety of foodie options depending on how simple or elaborate you want your dining experience to be.

“You can come into Whole Foods and order chicken, beef or vegetarian package that includes two sides and a side cheese plate plus an insulated bag,” said Cindy O’Shea, marketing team leader for the Newport Beach Whole Foods. “It’s an easy grab and go, last minute option. We also have a more tailored option where you can go to our seafood or meat counters, select your items, have them cooked to order, and while they’re doing that you can grab other items such as artisan cheeses or bread or desserts.”

O’Shea said that people who don’t have time to come in and select their own picnic items can order online (www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering) and then pick up the complete picnic at a predetermined time.

Bristol Farms in Corona del Mar Plaza also offers an array of made-to-order sandwiches as well as gourmet meats and cheeses, making it easy to put together your own picnic. They also carry collapsible picnic baskets that range from $45 to $85, but a less-glamorous cooler is also ideal for carrying cold sandwiches and beverages.

Gelson’s in Newport Beach offers gourmet picnic meals and lunch bags. Just stop by the Service Deli where you will find a variety of options, available with just 48 hours’ notice. Gourmet Picnic Meals are filled with your choice of entrée, fresh fruit, mesclun salad greens with shallot vinaigrette, seasonal vegetables, dinner roll with butter, the chef’s choice of pasta, rice or potatoes, cheesecake with berries, and an after-dinner mint.

A Market on Coast Highway has a catering menu that’s perfect for picnics. You can order everything from boxed lunches to sandwich or charcuterie platters. They prefer 24 hour notice but can usually accommodate same day orders.

Vin Goat is another terrific place to purchase picnic items. They have more than 200 cheeses available, and have a summer menu of artisan sandwiches, sides and desserts, plus cheese boards and charcuterie platters. They usually need 24 hour notice for larger orders, but it’s fun to come into their shop in Corona del Mar, peruse the myriad cheese options, and select ones that suit your taste buds, and your picnic.

When putting together your perfect picnic, in addition to staples such as breads, cheeses, sliced meats and fresh fruit or veggies, don’t forget napkins, plastic glasses, utensils, and of course chilled drinks.

Speaking of beverages, this is the time of year for lighter-style wines, such as sauvignon blanc, viognier or rose.

All of the places we’ve mentioned carry an assortment of wines, but think of where you’re planning to hold your picnic. Most outdoor locations in Newport Beach, from beaches to parks, do not allow alcohol, but wine is welcome on electric boats in Newport Harbor.

And if you’re bringing wine on board, remember to use cups that won’t tip easily. And bring a wine opener!

Written by Christopher Trela

For more articles on dining out in Newport Beach, see the Off the Menu column in the Newport Beach Independent at NewportBeachIndy.com

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