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The Formula for a Perfect Late Summer (or Early Fall) Picnic

There's an Art to Everything

BY // 09.17.20

It’s the time of year when you might be able to turn your air conditioning off on certain evenings and sleep with the windows open. Fresh air that’s not hot and muggy since the daily temps seem to fluctuate between 60 or 80 degrees. It’s my favorite time of the year. Though fall activities might look a bit different this year, one excursion remains largely accessible: the seasonal picnic.

Dallas has plenty of fabulous venues for dining al fresco. There’s Klyde Warren Park or White Rock Lake to name just two. Hey, if you happen to have some green space behind your home, just venture a few steps out your back door, but treat it like a true trip by bringing all of the below and dressing for the occasion.

Once you’ve rounded up a group of three or four from your crew, here are a few of my suggestions for planning a perfect picnic.

East Hampton Sandwich Company’s Connecticut lobster roll and spicy lobster roll
East Hampton Sandwich Company’s Connecticut lobster roll and spicy lobster roll

Food: Savor the remnants of summer and envision New England by ordering an assortment of lobster sandwiches from East Hampton Sandwich company. Call ahead and order their full assortment of those delicacies from the sea: Maine lobster roll (chilled N.E. Atlantic lobster knuckle and claw meat tossed in a light herb aioli, celery, and herbs),  spicy lobster roll (same as the previous meat but tossed in a spicy chipotle pepper aioli, and cherry peppers), Connecticut lobster roll (hot butter-grilled N.E. Atlantic lobster knuckle and claw meat, Old Bay seasoning, and green onion) and finally a twist on a classic — the lobster grilled cheese (hot butter-grilled N.E. Atlantic lobster knuckle and claw meat, Old Bay seasoning, Cooper white and orange American cheese). Best to have them cut in sections of four so everyone can sample each.

Cocktails: I like going the prepackaged route for a picnic. Try out the Old Fashioned and Negroni from Tip Top cocktails. The little cans have recently arrived in Texas and are quite tasty (I’m not much of a liquor drinker but I had some friends over for a taste test and it got rave reviews).

Tip Top’s Negroni, available at Total Wine & More locations or search tiptop cocktails.com
Tip Top’s Negroni, available at Total Wine & More locations or search tiptop cocktails.com

Another premade option are the myriad cocktails from On The Rocks. Their Cosmopolitan generally is the fastest way to bring a smile to my face and after a few I’ve been known to spill some fun gossip. Perfect for an afternoon spent on a blanket with some friends.

FERN FREEMAN

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If you are steering clear of alcohol then consider the Kin Spritz. It’s a sparkling euphoric crafted with fresh citrus, warm spice, hibiscus, and ginger.Fabulous Lisa Robison, who founded Dwell with Dignity, introduced me to the drink when I visited her lovely lakeside home in Long Cove one evening.

Also, for drinks I suggest bringing some Rifle Paper Co. stemless wine glasses (I adore the floral printed ones I discovered at Favor the Kind). They are perfect for outdoors — triple insulated to keep warm drinks hot and cool drinks chilled, they also come with a shatter-proof lid and a flat bottom to avoid spills.

Blanket: Claudia Pearson plant pattern ebb and flow blanket from West Elm. It looks like it might be a leftover from your college days as it has a slight weathered quality to the material and design. Like any good WASP knows, something that seems aged from a bygone era in New England is always worth its weight in gold.

Picnic Basket: So many options now that the marketplace has pivoted to accommodate everyone wanting to now eat outdoors. You can find many options that provide all that you’ll need: basket, blanket, plates, cutlery … I saw quite a few I liked at Scully & Scully. However, I prefer using something that seems worn in and a somewhat whimsical and perhaps haphazard mashup of what’s in your kitchen. Might I suggest a vintage looking piece like a Chinese tiered rattan version of the classic basket weave.

Perhaps you might have some Jonathan Adler plastic dinner ware or even go the route of some of your grandmother’s hand-me-down wedding china that’s been chipped from decades of use. Oh-so glamorous. To finish it off, grab some Leontine Linens monogrammed napkins and you’re all set.

Outfits for the boys: It’s a jeans kind of day. Throw on a nice pair that fits well (might as well show off any squats you’re doing at the gym) and elevate the rest of the outfit. A classic polo is always a smart choice, but be sure to wear one that is fitted and doesn’t look like a schlubby golfer. Eleventy offers some great options in fine knits. Go with a sharp pair of leather drivers (Prada is always a smart choice) which are equal parts comfortable and sophisticated and you’ll look like a hedge funder who’s taking the day-off to be with his lovely partner.

For Restless Sleepers Clizio dress, $1,605, available at Cabana boutique and online at cabanacanary.com
For Restless Sleepers Clizio dress, $1,605, available at Cabana boutique and online at cabanacanary.com

Outfits for the girls: You must remember you’ll be seated on the ground so it’s best to go with pants or a longer, flowy dress. I would suggest For Restless Sleepers (yes, that’s the line’s name — so charming) Clizio Dress. The playful floral is perfect for an afternoon picnic and likely would look great on all body types. To tone it down and make it more casual throw on a pair of what I think should be every girl’s sneakers-go-to: Adidas Stan Smiths (definitely white and green with this dress). Classic, chic and unassuming. Go with simple hair and makeup. Then throw on some fabulous Lele Sadoughi pearl hoop earrings. Finish it all off with a Chloé Marcie mini grained leather crossbody bag.

Have a fabulous last days of summer picnic (remember Autumn officially starts on September 22) and take some Insta worthy shots and be sure to send them our way @reallywrongfong and @papercitydallas.

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