Picnic Perfect: 2010 Upperville Grand Prix

Posted by  | June 15, 2010  at 5:49 PM  

"Baby there's no other superstar, you know that I'll be your paparazzi"--Aaron Vale and Paparazzi were both superstars this weekend when they won the 2010 Upperville Jumper Classic on Sunday, June 13, at the 157th Upperville Colt & Horse Show.

Not only did the jumps reach record highs, but the temperatures were up there as well. Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, the hillside adjacent to the jumper ring was packed with people, puppies, and lots of picnic baskets.

For this year's Grand Prix, I decided to go for a Mediterranean feel with a local touch. I also wanted foods that required little prep and were easy to eat. Packing the perfect picnic basket requires careful planning, occasional baking, and is best enjoyed with good friends. What I have yet to master, though, is having a picnic basket that weighs less than 25lbs.

So what did I pack?

Cheese: Valencay, several flavored chevres, smoked cheddar--most of my cheeses were from Spriggs Delight Farm, and I picked up the cheddar from Sunny Meadows Market (both near Sharpsburg, MD). I bought a baguette to accompany the valencay, some bite-sized wheat crackers for the flavored chevres, and water crackers for the cheddar.

Hummus: Yes, hummus is very easy to make, but there is also no shame in opting for store-bought. If you're looking to jazz up your grocery store hummus, just drizzle some olive or sesame oil on top and add a few flakes of parsley. I wanted this to be a somewhat healthy basket, so I sliced cucumbers, carrots, and celery to go with the hummus.

Lavender Cookies: Every picnic basket needs something sweet. After lots of Googling I found the recipe for these cookies on the website for a Lavender Fair in Alum Bridge, West Virginia. The recipe I used was the 2003 winning recipe, and they were simply divine! They come across as a prim & proper cookie, but they're very easy to make.

Beverages: I packed a pinot noir from the sale bin at Grapes & Grains and several frozen Capri Suns. True, my picnic pals were all over 21, but don't laugh about the Capri Suns--they were life-saving at the end of the day!

Necessities: Nothing is worse than sitting down to enjoy your lovely picnic and realizing that you forgot something really important like cheese knives or a corkscrew! Always be sure that you have everything you need to open and enjoy your food, as well as clean it up: this includes, but is not limited to, trash bags, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. Also take the weather and location into consideration, since no one is happy with post-picnic bug bites and sunburn.

Picnic Blanket: I failed in this department. On Sunday there was a 40% chance of T-storms, so I had the bright idea to pack a blanket that could double as a rain cover. This was a terrible plan. I had a cute, plastic tablecloth that I thought was practically perfect in every way. Sure, if it had rained it may have helped keep us dry, but it didn't rain and  hot plastic + sweaty sundress-exposed legs = a slippery, hot mess. When selecting a picnic blanket, I recommend something cotton, possibly a cotton blend, but NEVER plastic.


Picnic Perfect will be a recurring feature on Pretty in the Panhandle throughout the summer. If you'd like to share your favorite picnic spot or picnic basket essential, email me (richele@prettyinthepanhandle.com) or leave a comment below!

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