But how to assemble a memorable meal that’s equally fuss free and palate pleasing? We turned to three local chefs—Dennis Friedman of Newton’s Table, 8407 Kitchen Bar’s Ed Witt and Michael Harr of Food Wine & Co.—and asked them to create the ultimate picnic lunch to feed four for under $100.
Our trio of toques stocked up on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients at area markets and devised menus that require little or no preparation. Keeping it simple was key for the chefs, who say they’d rather stay out of the kitchen on a day off and spend the time noshing and relaxing outdoors with family and friends.
Chef-owner of Newton’s Table, Bethesda
Market: Whole Foods in Friendship Heights
Prep: Take 10 minutes to make everything ahead of time at home, so you can be present with your guests and enjoy the moment.
Prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe: Cut lengthwise strips of melon; top each with a couple of fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of honey and some Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings; and wrap each strip and toppings in a thin slice of the cured meat.
Mediterranean crostini: Cut a baguette lengthwise, rub the halves with a raw clove of garlic and then slice the bread into 2- to 3-inch sections. Rough-chop black olives and piquillo peppers to make a simple tapenade to spread on the bread.
Shrimp ceviche: Shell one dozen raw shrimp (of the size that would provide 31 to 35 shrimp per pound), cut them lengthwise down the spine and discard the black vein that runs down their backs. Squeeze two fresh lemons and one orange into a bowl, and add one minced shallot to the liquid. Let the shellfish sit in the marinade in the fridge or an ice-packed cooler for about 30 minutes before serving.
Beverage: A couple bottles of GT’s Classic Kombucha, a fermented tea
Dessert: Whole Foods Two-Bite Brownies
Favorite picnic spot: The C&O Canal in Potomac, right off the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Falls Road. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into the middle of the wilderness and forget that you’re anywhere near Washington, D.C.
Best picnic memory: One time at summer camp we went out for a picnic and got caught in a torrential downpour. We turned lemons into lemonade by spending the whole afternoon doing mudslides.
Photo courtesy of flickr/beL0VED.