Ngoc Minh Ngo

Pack it up in a picnic with spring salads, great wines, and buttery cookies

Amy Traverso,  – March 24, 2006

California Niçoise Sandwich

Potato Salad with Artichokes and Asparagus

Green Bean, Hazelnut, and Mint Salad with Lemon Dressing

Coconut Cookies with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Just in time for Mother’s Day and bridal-shower season, we’ve created a menu that’s a little bit French, a little bit girly, and incredibly easy to put together. Make the components of our pretty, tartlike coconut cookies up to two days ahead, then fix the salads and the sandwiches on the morning of your picnic. Bring along flowers, a blanket, and some crisp wines, and you’ve got an alfresco party.

Wine picks

A wine that works well with the green veggies and tangy vinaigrettes of this picnic is tough to come by. A fresh, lively dry rosé – preferably a Grenache – is great with our Niçoise sandwich; licorice in the wine can echo the tarragon in the sandwich. With the salads, though, Sauvignon Blanc edges out rosé; a slightly oaked version is a bridge to the tuna in the sandwich and the hazelnut oil on the green beans. So pack a bottle of each.

Copain Le Printemps Dry Rosé 2004 (Mendocino County; $14). Earthy aromas followed by delicate strawberry and mineral flavors.

Syncline Grenache Rosé 2004 (Columbia Valley, WA; $14). Smoky nose, plus beautiful berries and cherries.

Quivira Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (Dry Creek Valley, CA; $16). Elegant blend of lemons, grass, and minerals. 

Robert Pecota L’Artiste Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Napa Valley; $15). Flowers and tropical flavors mixed with citrus and minerals.

Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Napa Valley; $15). Creamy lemon-lime, with melons and grass.

Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière Muscat 2004 (California; $17, 375 ml.). Fresh but honeyed apricots.
-Sara Schneider 

Picnic tips

Here’s how to keep your picnic safe and stress-free.

Wrap it right. Set a wooden cutting board on a big sheet of plastic wrap and place the sandwich (which you can cut in half to fit) on the board. Wrap it and the board snugly lengthwise with a double layer of the plastic, then widthwise with another double layer, then with a layer of aluminum foil (for insulation). Unwrap on-site for a nice presentation and easier serving.

Pack smart. Layer the food cooler’s bottom with cold packs or ice in heavy plastic bags, then top with the most perishable food (the sandwich, lemon curd, and potato salad). Top with more cold packs or ice, then add less perishable food (raspberries, green bean salad) if there’s room.

Keep it cool. Below 40° is the rule for safety. Make sure your food is cold before it goes into the cooler. Return leftovers to the cooler immediately and bring a separate container for drinks to keep people from constantly opening the food cooler. Perishable food left out for more than an hour in temperatures 90° or higher should be thrown away; if the temperature is lower than 90°, the food can stay out for up to 2 hours.

Stay dry. Use plastic sheeting under your blanket.