If you’re like me… and probably like the millions of Americans who got hammered by the wrath of Mother Nature last week… picnic season can’t arrive soon enough.
Whereas most people like to prepare a picnic lunch at home to take to a park or other outdoor setting, I’m more inclined to embrace the Great Outdoors when I’m on the road, far from home. I love to stop by a local dining destination, pick up whatever the specialty of the house may be, and then grab a complementary bottle of wine to have with it.
Last year, I had two very different — but equally satisfying — picnic experiences while traveling, one in Seattle and one in Kansas City.
Seattle has an abundance of Sound-side nooks and crannies that are perfect for picnics, so I stopped by Pike Place Chowder at the city’s famous Pike Place Market, and ordered a bowl of bacon-laced chowder to go.
My wine selection? A bottle of Rosé.
Normally, I’d opt for a creamy, California-style Chardonnay to accompany creamy clam chowder. But at Pike Place Chowder, the thick New England-style chowder is laced with bacon, and the fruitful quality of the wine provided the perfect balance for the saltiness of the bacon.
In Kansas City, I went to the legendary Arthur Bryant’s, where the long line proved to be a sign that the food would be worth the wait. There are many styles of barbecue; at Arthur Bryant’s, it’s all about the sauce.
My dilemma: Should I choose the sweet sauce or the spicy sauce?
Ultimately, I decided on the spicy, and just to tame it a tad, I ordered a side of crispy brisket ends that are called “burnt ends.” By eating a bite of barbecued beef and a bite of burnt ends together, the perfect “chaser” proved to be a California Zinfandel.
Those picnics alongside Puget Sound and in a neighborhood Kansas City park — with nothing but some good food, some good wine and a couple of magazines — made for two of the best days I had all year.