Picnic Booze!
August 5, 2011 7:19 AM   Subscribe

What are some tasty, pack-able, maybe a little bit special meal-ish type things I could take along for an after-hike picnic in the woods? This is obviously for a date.

It'll be about a hour and half hike and the temperature will be some where in the high 70s, low 80s.

This is question is silly, sorry. I think simpler might be better but I'm a pretty good cook, so moderately fancy or complicated things are fine so long as they can take jostling and we don't get horrible food poisoning and die when we break into them after the hike. We're both open to eating pretty much anything so no dietary restrictions to keep in mind. Any suggestions?

Bonus question: Is there any possible alcoholic beverage that won't taste awful after sitting in a backpack warming up for a few hours?
posted by chichimimizu to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
To your bonus question: there's a number of very delicious wines that are sold in picnic-friendly containers (don't call them boxes!), Bandit is one.
posted by crookedneighbor at 7:24 AM on August 5, 2011

Brie, a baguette, and a couple pieces of fruit! Wrap the brie (which has its own wrapper) inside several sheets of newspaper to insulate it a little bit.

If you decide to go with wine, class it up with some glasses.
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 AM on August 5, 2011

I know you probably don't want to add more weight, but an ice pack can't be THAT heavy.

How about a nicer pasta salad, or something else that might actually benefit from getting jostled around (e.g. the dressing goes all over the place and covers everything nicely)? You could fancy it up by substituting orzo or something less ubiquitous for the rotini, and add any sort of cheese, dressing, whatever.

And crookedneighbor, I was thinking exactly that.
posted by Madamina at 7:26 AM on August 5, 2011

We like to mix up some little balls of mozzarella cheese and cherry or grape tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and Italian spices and a little drizzle of olive oil.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:35 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

We take beer and pomegranates on hikes! If you have to drive to the hike, keep the beers cool in an esky in the car. Even if you carry them in a backpack they will still be cool-ish at the end of a 1.5 hour hike. Just let them settle a bit before opening the can!
posted by unlaced at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2011

Camembert, water crackers, 2 oz of top grade black caviar, and vodka. Vodka is great when icy, but it is a clean enough spirit that it doesn't change taste much with temperature, and is perfect for washing down salty caviar.
posted by paulsc at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2011

Cheese is much more stable not refrigerated than people think and most of it tastes better not served cold. I'd do an array of cheese, breads/flatbreads/crackers, nuts, fruits, maybe some fig jam, dried meat and very good dark chocolate. It's easily eaten with your fingers, picnic style and will go nicely with the wine in a picnic-friendly container. Plus, I think communal plate meals are great for dates because they up the intimacy of the meal.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:39 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I once went on a hike that included a baguette and olive tapenade. Yum.
posted by cider at 7:39 AM on August 5, 2011

Do a Greek theme: olives, taboule, hummus, baba ganoush, dolmades, feta, tomatoes, pita. Room-temp white wine would work well.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:40 AM on August 5, 2011

go mediterranean: couscous salad, pita, olives, feta cheese, slide cucumber, baba ganoush, hummus, baklava, zatar, olive oil. i bring this type of stuff to work all the time and it is out of a fridge for at least 1.5-2 hours. i do keep it in a "cold" lunch bag. you could do the same and sneak in a small ice pack if you want.

i have tried to include my favorite recipes 3 times but for some reason my computer keeps crashing! go to 101 Cookbooks for a few great recipes. sorry i can't share more!
posted by anya32 at 7:41 AM on August 5, 2011

If you're considering pasta salad, or otherwise bringing utensils, may I suggest a grain salad? Myself, I like pearled barley, but you could do quinoa, brown rice or a number of others.

Cook the grain as usual, add a selection of vegetables that you like/find in season.

I go with roasted red peppers, green onions, cucumber, as well as some fresh herbs. It's great cold, but also fine at room temperature.
posted by bilabial at 7:50 AM on August 5, 2011

I had a successful picnic with home-made calzone, once.
posted by Frowner at 8:15 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

As others have hinted at, the most simple-yet-elegant solution is something like an assortment of small amounts of fancy cheeses acquired from a fancy cheese shop or the Whole Foods cheese counter or the equivalent. Personally, I like to go with a variety of textures (soft, semisoft, firm) but all somehow related-- as in all Spanish cheeses, or all sheepsmilk cheeses, or all local cheeses-- but there's no reason not to go with whatever your preferences are.

Add in a little fruit, some nuts (marcona almonds!), some good sausage or pate, and maybe if you want to get really fancy, a froufy condiment or two intended to be paired with one of the cheeses: fig compote, truffled honey, something like that. Ask the person at the cheese counter for suggestions-- at a good cheese counter, that's what they're there for.

Serve it with fancy crackers or a loaf of good bread (bonus points for making the bread or crackers yourself) and accompanied by a bottle of decent wine. The Bandit wines mentioned above are... drinkable... mostly, but really it's only an hour or two hike, so get a decent bottle instead. For (mostly) aesthetic reasons, get one with a cork not a screwcap. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against wines with screwcaps-- there are some really great ones out there-- but if you want a meal to feel special, a nice wine and a nice wine-opener can go a long way toward making even the simplest meal feel like an occasion.

A picnic blanket / table cloth, cloth napkins, a board for cutting and serving, and a nice folding knife (cute and dirt cheap!) and you're good to go. Oh, and wine glasses. I'd stay away from stemware-- it's just a little too fussy-seeming for picnicware. Mayb some simple tumblers like these. Or their plastic equivalent-- there's no shame in leaving the fragile glassware at home.

Don't be concerned about spoilage on any of these things. As long as they're kept out of the direct sun, a couple of hours in your pack shouldn't do any harm. Harder cheeses and sausages could be just wrapped in wax paper and taped shut. Softer or more fragile items (soft cheeses, pate, crackers, etc.) you probably want to put in rigid plastic / tupperware containers so they don't get smushed or smashed.

So, uh, yeah. That's my suggestion.
posted by dersins at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cold baked/fried chicken, mayo-free potato salad and oranges. Don't forget baby wipes since your hands will probably be icky.
posted by jacindahb at 9:02 AM on August 5, 2011

Is there any possible alcoholic beverage that won't taste awful after sitting in a backpack warming up for a few hours?

Red wine.

That said, you can sort of insulate a chilled white by putting it in the freezer for a while, then wrapping in tinfoil and newspaper.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2011

Never bring anything on a picnic what you would not want to kiss or lick later.

Thermos makes nice equipment that will keep things chilled for you and I agree that an ice pack is not that heavy.

If your honey is gluten intolerant you could do bento recipes such as found here. All the recipes work with room temperature or easily maintained temp food.

Also, you can chill vodka in the freezer if you go the caviar route.
posted by jadepearl at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2011

Can you partially freeze any of your eats or beverage(s) the night before?

Also, sandwiches made ahead and pressed (or tightly wrapped overnight) are awesome.

Pack stuff in big ZipLoc bags to deal with leaks on the way in, and to pack up your trash & left-overs so the walk home isn't stinky.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:51 AM on August 5, 2011

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