During our stay in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, we checked out some picnic dishes provided by local restaurants in the area.
Chef Phillip Lopez of Root restaurant in New Orleans contributed a charcuterie board with bacon, crackers, and pickled vegetables, and his famous dessert The Yorkie, a riff on eating cereal and ice cream updated with mint chocolate chip ice cream, cocoa puffs, minted milk, micro herbs, and chocolate coated peppermint fondant.
Chef Ryan Ware of 7 on Fulton also made two dishes, a pancetta-wrapped prawn and avocado salad, and a gargantuan roast beef sandwich with jus as a dipping sauce.
While this is an epic spread for two, you can definitely use this and the Audubon Cottages as inspiration for having your own picnic.
Use local Farmer’s Markets and specialty stores as inspiration. In Seattle, the University District Farmer’s Market is a great place to pick up cheese, bread, smoked salmon, and even dessert. A quick trip around your neighborhood may help you find treasures you didn’t know existed.
Make The Yorkie (or a restaurant inspired dessert). If you don’t want to make the entire recipe from scratch, you can make or buy what components work for you.
To make the peppermint patty, buy premade peppermint fondant, roll it out in sheets, cut out circles, and dip in melted chocolate chips. Allow to cool, then plate with store bought mint chocolate ice cream and puffed grain cereal coated in cocoa powder.
Garnish with fresh mint, and serve with milk steeped with mint. Don’t be afraid to try variations – the fondant could work great for puffed grain cereal coated ice cream sandwiches, too!
Bring sandwich making kits. For actual picnics, sandwiches can get soggy fast. Prepare meats, cheeses, and vegetables separately from your bread, and take it all along with you. Grill steak and bring cold cuts so people can make their own giant sandwiches. Also, if you’re hankering for a good baguette, find a bakery that will cut your bread to order so you don’t need to bring a knife and cutting board along.
Grill prawns wrapped with pancetta the day before, and make a salad with avocado and fresh greens. If you can’t find pancetta, bacon works great, and some grocery stores sell prawns pre-wrapped so you don’t have to do anything besides fire up the grill.
Ask the hotel’s concierge team to create a picnic for you. The Audubon Cottages have Roderick, their French Quarter butler, who would gladly help you create a New Orleans picnic.
Don’t forget the decor! A fresh bouquet of wildflowers can add just the right touch to even the simplest of picnic spreads. Pick up a white or plaid blanket for ground cover, and add a simple jar or white pitcher for a vase, and you’re done.
Whatever works for your picnic, try to enjoy it in the spirit of the moment and the season, and that will always make for a New Orleans-inspired picnic.