“The proper attitude toward a picnic is somewhat devil-may-care. You do not have to stand in the kitchen cutting perfect sandwiches and making perfect potato salad or frying chicken (although every once in a while an old-fashioned picnic is just the right thing). So what if all you have in the fridge is leftover rice, a couple of scallions, and a jar of almonds? You may have invented a lovely new rice salad, and no one will care if it is not their usual, because you are on a picnic.” — Laurie Colwin, More Home Cooking
If there’s anything better than spending a summer night outdoors, it’s spending a summer night outdoors, in a vineyard, with a bag full of picnic food and blankets. Around here, our typical version of Colwin’s “rice salad,” tends to look like bread, fruit, cheese and chocolate, along with whatever leftovers or sauces or sides we can drum up on our way out the door. Let me tell you, nothing tastes better than that humble spread, set out in the fresh air and golden daylight, while you wave off gnats and listen to kids playing tag on the hill below. Picnics like these, to me, are summer—the very essence of longer days and freer schedules and warm air on your cheeks. You could eat grapes and bread in the car or or on the sofa or at the kitchen table, but taking them to grassy fields reminds you of the season you are in, of the time that’s moving ever forward, of the need to stop and savor it and drink it in.