Summer Essentials for the Perfect Picnic

Thursday, July 21, 2016 | 7:55 pm

Although we enjoy sunshine all year long this is Pasadena, after all), summer remains the most popular season for eating outdoors. Pack your picnic basket and take your next meal outdoors. From gourmet fare to comfort food, there’s no wrong way to picnic. Follow these tips from Lisa Grabow, Owner of The Bea’s Knees in Old Pasadena and Amy Vigouroux, General Manager of The Kitchen for Exploring Foods.

Baskets and Bags


Packing a picnic is half the battle, luckily, The Bea’s Knees offers an array of picnic baskets from a wine and cheese-centric case to a large 4-person kit complete with a throw blanket. These wicker wonders come stocked with plates, utensils and cutting boards; many also have special compartments for wine or beer. Grabow adds that The Bea’s Knees packs custom picnics if you drop off your basket and give 24 advance notice.

For toting wine or beer, try a bag instead of a bottle. These collapsible flasks and bags make it easy to bring your favorite beverage without lugging around a bottle. In addition to wine and growler bags, Grabow also stocks stylish wine cases and carriers.

Sandwiches, Salads and Small Bites


Seasonal produce reigns supreme all summer. From citrus-infused salads to peach cobblers, the best place to draw inspiration is from the Farmer’s Market. The Kitchen for Exploring Foods has a daily selection of sandwiches and salads that can easily turn into a picnic. They also offer pre-order picnic boxes which come with a sandwich, salad and small dessert. Grab a nostalgic soda, like Bubble Up, when you pick up your food.

Sandwiches and salads are just the beginning. A picnic can also include fun items like chips, dips and charcuterie or cheese plates.

“A great cheese plate has something that will please everyone. It can cleanse and reinvigorate the palate,” Grabow.

She offers a rotating selection of cheeses – each with its own mini-history – and creates custom cheese plates with fresh fruit and nuts. She adds that cheese is ideal for a picnic because the flavor gets better with age.

Wine, Beer and Cider


Grabow adds that hard ciders are very popular in the summer because they are dry, bubbly and refreshing. The Bea’s Knees offers apple, cherry and oak barrel aged ciders. Grabow recommends pairing cider with creamier cheeses because the evanescence helps cut through the fat.

She also suggests a summer wine that cools the palate.

“Roses are the most popular because of their short shelf life – you wouldn’t want to go older than 2014 – and their nice fruitiness,” said Grabow.

Still, she doesn’t shy away from white, bubbly or even reds. In particular, she suggests Escudo Real’s Vinho Verde for its low alcohol content, so you can enjoy it without regret the next morning.

Don’t Forget Dessert!


Keep it simple with mess-free desserts like cookies and brownies. The Kitchen for Exploring Foods retails their ginger cream cookie sandwiches and has a selection of freshly baked goods on hand daily. Call ahead if you have your heart set on a sweet treat – otherwise stop by and be pleasantly surprised by mini-pies and cookie bars.

Stop by The Bea’s Knees for nostalgic jam thumbprint cookies filled with their homemade jam or chewy chocolate brownies and peanut butter cookies.

Expert Tips


“Sometimes a picnic is just for the sake of a picnic,” said Grabow.

While summer concerts and outdoor events are popular picnic times, there’s no need to have a reason to enjoy a picnic. Grabow adds that Pasadena is filled with picnic spots like Memorial Park, the Arroyo, the Rose Bowl and Laurel Canyon.

Vigouroux adds that food safety is important to remember, especially in the hot weather. Keep food chilled with ice packs or in a cooler and consume your picnic within two hours.

Happy picnicking!

The Kitchen for Exploring Foods is located at 1434 West Colorado Boulevard. Call Gourmet to Go at (626) 793-7234 or Catering at (626) 793-7218 or visit

The Bea’s Knees is located at 120 South Raymond Avenue. Call 626) 795-9308 or visit for more information.



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