Once the heat mellows, late summer and early fall weather creates perfect picnic conditions. These local businesses offer stellar provisions to fill your basket and spread upon a blanket in the sun or shade.
The two best places to load up on a bit of everything are C’est La Vie, 1307 N.E. 78th St., No. 10, in Hazel Dell and La Bottega, 1905 Main St., in Vancouver’s Uptown Village. Parisian-inspired C’est La Vie offers a refrigerator case loaded with salads, galettes, frittatas, smoked salmon mousse, tart and tangy house-made pickles, and elegant brie and ham sandwiches wedged into small baguettes from Grand Central Bakery in Portland.
Another chiller holds more than 50 kinds of cow, goat, sheep, and mixed milk cheeses like Sage Derby from England and Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam (an organic triple-cream cheese) as well as aged meats from Il Porcellino Salumi and Elevation Artisan Meats, and Gilbert and Bernard sustainably raised meat pates.
C’est La Vie’s shelves of jars and dry goods contain more treasure like Ortiz anchovies, Matiz wild sardines, quince paste, crackers and a variety of mustards.
Moving from France to Italy, La Bottega contains a massive deli case filled with house-made meats such as roasted turkey and pastrami as well as Boar’s Head smoked ham, mortadella and sopressata to be combined with Boar’s Head cheeses such as fontina, asiago, and provolone on a variety Grand Central Bakery breads.
A rainbow of olives and pickled peppers sits nearby, as does a dessert case laden with picnic-friendly sweets including La Bottega’s own truffles, cannoli, and lemon bars. The fridge to the side has fresh salad dressings like creamy tarragon and lemon herb vinaigrette, fancy cheese like chevre with fresh herbs, and salami from Tails & Trotters in Portland and Molinari Salame in San Francisco. Cold beverages including San Pellegrino flavored sparkling waters and Relevant Cold Brew rounds out the picnic selection.
Lisa Dougherty, who owns La Bottega with her husband, Peter, recommends building your own antipasto or an assortment of sandwiches from La Bottega’s extensive selection of meats, cheeses, and spreads. If you don’t feel like making any decisions, La Bottega offers an antipasto with pre-selected cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, olives, baby octopus and crostini.
Dorothy Golson’s food from her Hazel Dell truck, Southern Girl Delights, travels well and tastes even better when eaten outdoors. She offers a short but varied menu of picnic-perfect Southern classics such as wings, pimento cheese in a sandwich or as a dip, pickle chips, hush puppies, and her highly addictive fried okra. The truck is usually at the food cart pod on Northeast 78th Street, a block or so east of Northeast Highway 99.
Salad and sandwiches
Rally Pizza, in The Mill shopping center off Mill Plain Boulevard, recently added a lunch menu of muffuletta sandwiches like The Capo with roasted eggplant in a sweet-and-sour tomato-olive caponata, Hot Meatball with spicy garlic-tomato sauce, and the Rally Cap with Olympia Provisions capicola, aged provolone, roasted pepper and onion sauce, salsa verde, and giardiniera. All sandwiches are served on Chef Alan Maniscalco’s house-made toasted sesame-semolina buns. The lunch sandwich menu can be ordered boxed for takeout and includes sides like Caesar salad and market salad, crispy potatoes with warm prosciutto cracklings, and fried mozzarella sticks with a spicy tomato sauce.
If your picnic goal is to impress your invited friends and create envy among the uninvited who are scrolling through your social media posts, local charcuterie board artist Tara Archer, of Boards and Bubbles, can create Instagram-worthy picnic spreads. Archer has assembled a number of picture-perfect picnics in her bubble tent at local spots like Windy Hills Winery and Confluence Winery, both in Ridgefield.
Alcohol consumption isn’t allowed at public parks, so the picnic must be held at a private place to indulge in the bubbles. Due to her busy summer schedule, picnics are on hold until October. Archer promises that her bubble tent stays warm and cozy, rain or shine, and is perfect for outdoor eating in fall.
Picnics can be set up for two to six people. Prices range from $250 – $350. Each picnic includes set up and cleanup as well as charcuterie boards and accompaniments like macarons, fruit, crackers, and sparkling water, a bottle of bubbly or wine, a photo tripod for your phone, a bluetooth speaker to play music, cards and games, styled table and decor, custom event sign, and hand warmers or fan depending on the weather. Past picnic themes have included a ladies brunch and an elegant birthday spread.
If you can’t wait until fall, Archer sells charcuterie boxes ($35 per box, four-box minimum) or classic charcuterie boards ($50 – $140) that you can take to your picnic. You can find her business on social media.