The idea is simple, says chef David Blaine, who is known in the Spokane culinary community for, among other things, his food blog and his pop-up restaurant events.
“I’m going to have a picnic at the park and it would be great to see people I know and meet some people I don’t know, too,” he says.
Really, that’s it. He’s letting you know that there’s a big public picnic at Finch Arboretum on Sunday and you need to do the rest, because it’s a picnic and you’re supposed to bring your own food to a picnic.
“There’s something simple about picnics. If you have kids, it’s not a problem. If you have special needs for your diet, it doesn’t matter, if you’re bringing your own food,” says Blaine, who got the idea for the DIY event after reading about a 20,000-person picnic in Finland.
SPOKANE PICNIC • Sunday, May 20th Noon • Finch Arboretum • 3404 W. Woodland Blvd • No Dogs, No Alcohol
“I’ve figured out that the secret is to get out of the way and let people turn it into what they want it to be,” says Blaine.
Well, whatever you want it to be, here are some ideas from local businesses as to what can go inside your picnic basket on Sunday afternoon.
Egg Salad Sammy
The classic egg salad sandwich can be dressed up in capers, chipotle seasonings, chives and cream cheese, but the folks at the Flying Pig on East Sprague say to keep it simple. Their sandwich ($5.75) is a fluffy combination of heavy mayonnaise, a little more than two eggs per sandwich and salt and pepper on sourdough bread. Adventurous eaters can add fixin’s like pickles, onion, lettuce, more spices and tomato.
“We really believe the simpler the things are, the better,” says Owner Marsha Loiacono. “We try to keep the sandwich filling tasty yet basic, so people have options on their condiments.”
Loiacono says the trick to making the sandwich is fresh eggs, heavy mayonnaise, which “holds it all together” and grated — not mashed or blended — eggs to give it a creamy/chunky texture. She says the sandwich takes “a commitment to eat” the generous portion and recommends picnic-goers use a plate and fork (or potato chips) to scoop up and eat the eggy goodness that will inevitably spill over the sides of your bread.
Although egg salad requires refrigeration within a two-hour window of making it, and it’s one of the messiest sandwiches to take along to a picnic – it’s always a crowd pleaser.
“Egg salad takes you back,” Loiacono says. “It takes you back to a place when mom made sandwiches for you, and for that, it’s one of our best sellers.”
— JORDY BYRD
The Flying Pig • 1822 E. Sprague Ave. • Mon-Fri 8 am-4 pm; Sat 10 am-2 pm • flyingpigspokane.com (863-9591)
Think twice before you start boiling up that giant bag of potatoes and tossing them in some kind of mayo dressing. If you’re planning a picnic that’s going to last all day, you’re going to need some ice packs to keep your potato or macaroni salad from getting all nastified.
Shilo Pierce, the all-around “deli dude” at the Rocket Market on Spokane’s South Hill, says you might want to consider something a little more warm-weather friendly (like a green salad), or be sure to make sure you’ve got the proper equipment to keep your food from spoiling.
“Avoid potato salad,” he says, which has the potential for food-borne illness, with its traditionally heavy mayo dressing.
The Rocket Market sells lots of great fresh dishes in its deli case that would be great sides for any picnic, but Pierce was kind enough to let us in on the recipe for their amazing World Peas Salad. The combination of curry and cheese pairs well with the freshness of green peas — great on its own, or riding alongside your main dishes. There’s no exact measurements — just kinda eyeball it.
Or, you know, if you’re feeling lazy, you could just stop at the Rocket Market and get some without having to turn on the stove.
Frozen organic peas
Sharp and medium cheddar cheeses
Dry curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook frozen peas in boiling water until done. Combine with chopped scallions, chopped almonds and cubes of cheddar cheese. In a separate bowl, combine nine parts yogurt to one part mayonnaise (“For every nine tablespoons yogurt, use one tablespoon mayo,” Pierce says), add curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Combine with pea mixture and serve.
— LEAH SOTTILE
The Rocket Market • 726 E. 43rd Ave. • Daily 6 am-11 pm rocketmarket.com (343-2253)
Wicker baskets and finger foods are outdated. For the ultimate picnic experience, get technical with your gadgets, stemware and glasses. Diane Johnson, assistant manager at the Kitchen Engine, recommends the Fyrkat mini picnic charcoal grill barbecue ($50) by Bodum. With its 30-centimeter-diameter size, it’s small enough to fit on a bike, but big enough to fit two steaks, some sausages and a healthy dose of vegetables.
Keep your ice tea and punch cold with a Hydro Flask ($40+).
The double-wall, vacuum-insulated stainless-steel water bottles are BPA-free, freeze-proof, lightweight and come with a lifetime warranty. These 12- to 64-ounce containers pledge to keep hot liquids hot for 12 hours and cold liquids cold for 24 hours.
Stronger drinks are best served with the True Fabrications Picnic Stix Set ($13). While The Inlander does not advocate illegally drinking in public, we do encourage picnic technology. The set includes three lightweight wine stakes. One stake is designed to keep a wine bottle steady while two other matching stakes are made to hold glasses. Stick the stake in the ground, pour, and enjoy without thinking about lumpy picnic blankets, spilled wine and broken glasses.
— JORDY BYRD
Fyrkat Barbecue • The Kitchen Engine • 621 W. Mallon Ave., Suite 416 • Mon-Fri 9 am-8 pm; Sun 11 am-5 pm thekitchenengine.com (328-3335)
Unless you plan on packing in the aforementioned grill, bringing meat to your picnic could be tricky. Also, just to clarify, at that point you’re essentially throwing a barbecue, not a picnic.
You could go the pre-prepared-fried-chicken route, but Blaine says you can put a little more effort in, people.
“I don’t actually like main courses at picnics because it’s supposed to be this kind of long, ambling eating session. Sometimes I see people at a picnic table at Manito [Park] and they pull out the chicken and just go to town,” says Blaine.
Rather, he recommends you stop by Sante and pick up one of their charcuterie boards ($14), which the restaurant will gladly prepare to-go. The board includes an assortment of Sante’s cured meats and cheeses, in addition to mustard and jam for your bread.
— MIKE BOOKEY
Sante • 404 W. Main Ave. • Wed-Mon 9 am to close, Tue 9 am-4 pm • (315-4613)