You Pick, I Pick, We All Pick The Perfect Picnic, A Rogue Valley Picnic Guide: Part I
When I was a child, every time we went on a picnic, it was a special, magical adventure. We always had the same meal. My mom prepared her traditional chicken (coated in crushed corn flakes), hard-boiled eggs, potato salad and cookies. Nothing too extraordinary, but taking it on the road to a new destination was enchanting and by the time we found the perfect spot, the food was a glorious reward. Especially because my folks can bicker—over the right spot, best view, and who forgot to bring what to the outdoor soiree. While they were picking things apart, I was enjoying the food and the view. A picnic meant nature, fun, and sampling the food for as long as it lasted.
Whether you are a picky eater, a nibbler, or a full buffet on the road kind of person, picnics work. And picnicking can be an art. What do you bring? Where do you go? Do you bring booze or not? Will it be elegant or rustic? The possibilities for picnic baskets filled with Rogue Valley treats are bountiful. To build a basket I reached out to friends, family and Oregonians.
“There must be cheese,” says Melynda Cordes, from the Hungry Hustle, a Medford and Grants Pass food tour extraordinaire. She recommended anything from the Oregon Cheese Cave which also hand-selects assorted picnic-to-go plates you can get curb-side. Just recently, Hungry Hustle began offering a Coffee & Nosh box on her Facebook page. Prepare the coffee first and then go on a morning outing.
Tracy Finklang, who spent twenty plus years as a food and beverage manager in Colorado suggests “easy-peasy” picnics. She recommends a combination of store bought foods, along with homemade family favorites.
“I like to buy sliced cheeses, meats, pre-cut watermelon, bread & crackers, grapes, and I usually scale up to nice, artisanal brands, then make a few specialties. For me, that’s potato salad, a fancy slaw, and fruit salad.”
She also has advice about getting prepared and packing a picnic. “Get an inexpensive rubber backed rug because it is easy to roll up and lay out in case the ground is damp, and heavier, so it doesn’t blow around or have to be weighted on the corners. Several large floor pillows, and a flat tabletop… could be painted particle board… just so there’s a hard surface if on the ground for cutting or drinks. Bring a patio umbrella and an actual stand for shade. If at a picnic table, I bungee the pole to the table for better stability. But shade is essential—roasting in the sun equals no fun. And don’t forget a few large trash bags—both for instant rain protection, and for cleaning up after yourself. I bring it home, to recycle and not to leave a mess at the picnic spot or food waste that could attract wildlife.”
And with so many fantastic suggestions in what to pack in your picnic basket, it occurred to me that this topic was more than one picnic basket worthy. So, there will be several more. Now, drum roll, please—I would like to unveil the inaugural Rogue Valley Messenger first picnic basket selected for its pairings and popularity (some Facebook folk helped me decide. Here you go:
Perfect Picnic Basket #1
Mama Terra Goat Cheese and crackers from Medford Co-Op