Alameda Cheese and Goods Purveyors Give Picnic-Packing Tips

Jeff Diamond of Farmstead suggests food, and Patricia's Pantry has the perfect containers to carry it all.


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Must-haves: wine and cheese

Chris Duffey

When the air gets warmer and the sun dips into the sky a little later, many East Bayers get an itching for dining al fresco. Folks are drawn outside to toast under the stars or nibble bites beneath a canopy of redwoods. Few would argue that there is a trick to packing smart for a picnic.

1. Keep it simple. Skip complicated dishes that require lots of sauce, dressing, or extras. Finger foods such as fruit, fresh French baguettes, cheese, and sandwiches don’t require utensils, plus don’t run the risk of spillage.

2. Pair complementary foods and drinks. Jeff Diamond, owner of Farmstead Cheeses and Wines, recommends light and tasty cheeses, such as a creamy goat cheese like Sainte Maure-Belgique ($8.50 for 4.8 ounces), or one of his favorites Brescianella Stagionata ($32.50 per pound), a cow’s milk cheese that is easily spreadable and goes well with fruit. A bottle of sparkling wine such as Dibon Cava ($9.25), a staple in Diamond’s fridge, or a Rosé such as Sorin Rosé 2013 ($13), pairs perfectly with these types of cheese. If an all-around sturdier and mild cheese gets your goat, Diamond recommends Prima Donna Dutch Gouda ($18 per pound), great on sandwiches and burgers or eaten plain and paired with fruits.

3. Use lightweight, collapsible, and reusable containers. Less bulky than a cooler, the collapsible Picnic Bag by Tote + Able (Patricia’s Pantry, $28.99) keeps food cool for 10 hours using gel packets from the freezer and folds flat for storage. Be sure to discard anything that has been out of the cooler for more than two hours and, transport the tote in the back seat of the car as opposed to hotter areas like the trunk. Use multipurpose utensils to save space, like the flexible silicone cheese spreader that scoops, spreads, and cuts by Tovolo (Patricia’s Pantry, $5.99–$6.99).


Jeff’s Diamond’s Picks for a Perfect Picnic

French baguette, Feel Good Bakery

Variety of cheeses, Farmstead Cheeses and Wine

Country paté with pistachios, Baron’s Meat and Poultry

Red quinoa and kale salad with ginger vinaigrette, Greens and Grains

Macaroons in salted caramel, vanilla rose, or mango flavors, Feel Good Bakery

Sparkling wine, Rosé or red wine, such as Monte Oton ($10.50), Farmstead Cheeses and Wines