Picnic the Italian Way

Nov 16, 2021Story: MARTINI & ROSSI® Art: Frederic Pinet

Aperitivo has always gone hand in hand with the outdoors. Whether in a piazza, on a patio or at the park, it’s a moment that’s practically meant to be experienced al fresco. Fortunately, the occasion is also one that’s entirely portable, easily packed in picnic form and taken to the beach, a tailgate, a stoop, a city fire escape. No matter the locale, as long as there is a cocktail, a salty snack and good company, there is aperitivo.

When planning her own aperitivo picnics, chef and Formaggio Essex cheesemonger Safia Osman likes to celebrate seasonal elements: “What grows together, goes together,” she says, recommending a stop through a farmers market or farm stand to pick up impromptu local supplies.

Meanwhile, Fabio Raffaelli, North American MARTINI & ROSSI brand ambassador, focuses on the bubbles. “Italians always bring prosecco,” he says. Combined with a split-base, pre-batched dose of MARTINI & ROSSI Riserva Speciale and Fiero vermouths, plus an easy, breezy pack-and-go bag of salty potato chips and bowl of olives, you can construct the perfect Negroni Sbagliato da portare anywhere you please.

Aperitivo to-go still warrants a celebratory touch.

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.


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