Tips for Picnicing the Italian Way
Here, tips from the experts on how to pack the perfect aperitivo picnic spread.
Keep It Simple: Ashley Morton, aka Brieyoncé the Cheese Maven, says that simplicity is her preferred to-go style. “Pick one topping that will complement all of your cheeses, rather than worrying about having a different one for each aspect of your board,” she says. “Hot pepper jelly is a surefire hit to go with all of your Italian cheeses.” Similarly, Osman recommends not aiming for a too-ambitious, varied spread and instead making one satisfying item, such as cheese, the star.
The Essentials: Something bubbly is always necessary, Raffaelli insists. Bring along a container of ice, a pre-batched Americano base (i.e., equal parts MARTINI & ROSSI Speciale Riserva and Fiero vermouths) in a canteen, and top with soda water. Swap in MARTINI & ROSSI Prosecco for the perfect Sbagliato, or go rogue and skip the bubbly in favor of something more forward and stirred, with an entirely pre-batched Negroni. Pre-chilled insulated tumblers are a great way to keep drinks cold in warm weather.
The Centerpiece: Potato chips and olives are an easy picnic go-to, but, for Raffaelli, Italian charcuterie is a must-have addition—prosciutto and salami, every time. Osman always includes a firm cheese, like pecorino (not Romano). Morton goes for an Italian trio and matches each with a drink: La Tur, a “tangy little cream puff [that] is sure to start the mood off right,” which she pairs with Martini & Rossi rosé; Quadrello di Bufala, “a savory, earthy, and oh so fudgy” cheese that goes with Rossi & Tonic; and aged provolone for its “sharp, zesty bite followed by a caramelized mellowed sweetness,” which does well with a Negroni.
Don’t Forget the Accoutrements: Osman loves bringing mostarda, “an underrated condiment,” as well as farmers market fruit, which she calls “nature’s candy.” As far as crackers, she prefers the fennel flavor of taralli, while Morton does Rustic Bakery’s Olive Oil and Sel Gris organic sourdough flatbread crackers: They’re “already perfectly sized, and [there’s] no hassle with portioning up large loaves of bread,” she notes. Morton also likes to add in Castelvetrano olives, pistachios and peaches, and she recommends organizing everything by texture to keep it fresh. “Have separate containers for dry food and wet food. Pack your crackers and nuts in one and your salami, olives and fruit in another.”
It’s in the Details: Aperitivo to-go still warrants a celebratory touch. If building spritzes à la minute, pack olives and orange slices to garnish each drink. For a special snack you can prep well ahead of time, mix together nuts with fresh herbs and spiced salt, or olives with lemon or orange zest, for a hit of unexpected flavor. Osman recommends bringing something unexpectedly special; for her, that’s Robiola Incavolata, “a beautiful three-milk creamy cheese from Piedmont,” which is wrapped in cabbage leaves and “wins points for presentation.” Don’t forget an all-purpose tool, like a camping utensil with corkscrew and knife attachments, plus linen napkins if you want to up the elegance.