The summer concert season is in full swing, and packing up a portable repast to nibble during the show can make the experience even more fun. You can prepare your favorites, or even pick up things at the deli in your local market. Just keep it simple, easy to serve and eat.
concert picnic essentials
When you put together a picnic, you are creating a portable feast. Use your ingenuity and creativity in the selection and arrangement of your foods. Foods that may be prepared ahead tend to pack and travel more easily, make picnic day less hectic. When planning your menu, keep in mind the idea of hot things hot, cold things cold. And remember that eggs and dairy foods are particularly susceptible to spoilage. The elegance or casual nature of your menu should reflect the event. For example, a romantic picnic would be much more elaborate and fussy than a family outing.
packing tips and techniques to transport your meal with ease
Preparing foods in advance will allow all cold foods to be thoroughly chilled before packing in the cooler. In coolers, always pack plenty of ice and ice packs to keep things COLD. Hot foods must be kept hot, at least 145°F until served. For short periods of transport you might wrap in layers of newspapers and towels, or pack heated foods in warmed vacuum bottles for as long as four hours. Keep in mind that the time heated or cooled food is in the “danger zone” between 45°F and 140°F can be no more than 2 hours cumulative. After that, dispose of it.
As you pack you cooler and picnic basket, try to arrange the foods in the order that you plan to serve, with those items required last at the bottom, delicate foods on the top.
Be sure to slice meats, cheeses & bread before packing for easy serving.
For the dips or spreads: spoon into a small, wide-mouthed container with a lid. Nestle in a larger, shallow container, arrange vegetables alongside and snap lid over everything. Seal crackers or bread into a zip-lock bag. Transport dip and vegetables in a cooler. To serve, just remove lids and tuck the bag of bread alongside the vegetables.
- Glassware – acrylic wine glasses pack and transport well
- Napkins (roll each place setting in a napkin to pack; I like to provide 2 napkins per person)
- Serving spoons, spreaders, extra serving plates
- Corkscrew and bottle/can opener
- Knife and small cutting board
- Tablecloth, if appropriate
- Candles (if allowed at the venue)
- Small flashlight
- Moistened paper towels or hand towels in a plastic bag, for washing up
- Extra towels
- Extra plastic bags for packing dirty dishes
- Rubbish bag
- Cooler: I like to use a cooler with a flat top, and then place a large tray on top. This serves as a tabletop, with easy access to the cooler. Plenty of ICE and ice packs (frozen water bottles work well). Be sure to check with your concert venue about bring in drinks. Some allow it; others do not. Don’t forget to pack non-alcoholic drinks. I would suggest a cold, crisp white wine with this menu, possibly Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.
- Chairs or a blanket
- First aid kit
- Insect spray
- Umbrella – a large golf umbrella is great for picnics. You may be forced to put it down during the performance, but it can be a lifesaver during a pre-concert storm.
For a late evening picnic, you might include a thermos of hot drinks for the cool night air.
Don’t forget the cups to serve!