Picture Perfect Picnics

July is a month filled with backyard barbeques, concert picnics on the grass and impromptu cruises around the Newport Harbor in a Duffy Electric Boat. No matter what we are doing, if great food and wine are on the menu, I am one happy lady!

Here are some of my favorite spots to grab some grub without breaking a sweat or spending hours in the kitchen. I cook quite a bit, but when it is time for a picnic, I am looking for an easy-peasy solution.

For the perfect “picnic pick-up” I turn to the following three spots. First up is Stonefire Grill in Irvine. I actually have their menu in my car, and I can call them up and lickety-split they have my order ready. The food is excellent–from ribs to salads and sandwiches. They can do ginormous trays (or half trays) and their containers are so well made. Next up is Bristol Farms in Newport Beach. If I can plan a few days ahead, that is better for how they organize their staff and prepare the catered platters. There are many items in the case that are easy for “grab-and-go.” However, if I want a platter to present, a little planning ahead is best. They also have a wide selection of wines and beers. Another favorite of mine is A Market in Newport Beach. The original buildings date back to 1926 when Pacific Coast Highway expanded from Huntington Beach to Newport and south to Corona del Mar. At that time it was called The Arches (due to the architecture at that time). It began as a gas station and a convenience store. In any event, fast-forward to today and it is a wonderful deli of sorts, but it is so much more. They have exceptional desserts, breakfast fare, sandwiches, lots of sides and along the far side is a wall of wines.

If we are going to be on the water, we will often call in an order to one of our favorite spots about 30 minutes ahead of our arrival. We just pull up dockside and pick up our order. On the boat I bring a pre-packed basket chock full with beverages, wine, plastic wine glasses, openers, utensils, plates, a vase to put flowers in and the whole sha-bang. Here are a couple of our favorite spots (with their own docks) for easy dockside parking and quick departures. Pizza Nova has delicious wood-fired pizzas and a number of items that are just perfect for sharing, such as fried calamari, Korean sweet and spicy wings and salads galore. Bluewater Grill is another favorite and be sure to ask for their delicious sourdough bread and butter. I could make a meal out of that, but don’t do that because their seafood-centric menu is amazing. They can even prepare their delicious New England clam chowder to go! If your crowd is in the mood for sushi, The Cannery is perfect. They also have delicious burgers, salads, shrimp and tiny tacos.

So, there you have it–lots of ideas to help make your next concert in the park, backyard barbeque or cruise around the harbor a simple assignment. You will be the hero of any outdoor dining adventure!