We were in the middle of a heat-wave here in Oregon right now. It reached 105*F last week, seriously *HOT* for those of us who are used to living in our generally cool, temperate rain forest here in the Oregon Coast. And anytime the thermometer even gets into the 90’s I go into summer picnic mode! This means easy to prepare, satisfying meals, that don’t require heating up the oven, or slaving away in a hot kitchen. And a good picnic basket also includes a fabulous bottle of wine (or two!).
The picnic I have shared with you in this post is one that anyone on a gluten-free, grain-free, or Paleo diet is sure to love too! And shhh, if some of your guests are Not gluten-free, if you don’t mention it, they won’t even notice this picnic was packed sans wheat.
A good picnic includes all of these basic “Food Groups”:
- Meat: a good salami, prosciutto, or smoked salmon
- Cheese: I love a good selection of goat cheeses, both hard aged, and soft fresh chevre. For a dairy-free option I like cashew “cheese”.
- Fruit: in the summer I pile in the peaches, apricots, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, wild thimbleberries, and/or huckleberries, well you get the idea! When summer fruits are not in season I like to pack along jams like apricot and fig.
- Chocolate: I go for the darkest pure chocolate, like these homemade chocolate chips (which can also be poured into chocolate bars).
- Bread or Crackers: I like to make my favorite Paleo walnut & hazelnut bread using all local ingredients grown around my hometown of Willamina, including the nuts, eggs, honey, and dried cherries (this grain-free bread recipe will be in my new cookbook!) Or I pick up a pack of grain-free crackers, or make these homemade cheese crisps.
- Nibbles: toasted hazelnuts, castelvetrano olives, candied pecans, pepitas, and/or dried fruits
- Wine: red, white, rose, or bubbly. This summer we’ve really been enjoying a few varietals from Charles Smith, including his Boom Boom! Syrah and Kung Fu Girl Riesling.
My Favorite NW Picnic Locations
- In the Backyard: this is where I “picnic” the most. Our dogs and chickens are usually nearby when we relax with our food and wine under our big oak trees.
- By the Pool: I am always down for snacks and refreshments served poolside, especially during a heatwave!
- The Oregon Coast – bring a blanket and layers! Often times when it’s in the 90’s here in the Coast Mountain Range, the actual Oregon coastline will be 20 to 30 degrees cooler! So I always bring extra warm clothes, and a hat & sunglasses just in case we aren’t fogged in.
- Forest Service Cabins and Fire Lookout Towers – we love to explore remote areas of the wilderness around the NW each summer and often rent forest service cabins for around $45 per night. Sometimes they come with a small propane oven, but usually we go into picnic mode on these cabin adventures too!
- Camping Trips – A picnic bench at a campsite is the perfect place for an easily assembled and shared feast.
- Oregon State Parks – It’s legal to enjoy your wine in an Oregon State Park, except where specifically banned. But be sure to check with any local city parks before popping the cork, because in Portland City Parks you need a permit to consume alcohol.
- On a Hike: The foods I’ve featured below are sure to please the palate and appetite of any hungry hiker!
- At a friend’s house: I often bring my favorite fully loaded picnic basket with me when I visit friends.
- At a Winery: There are hundreds of wineries in Oregon and Washington with beautiful views to enjoy while you sip d’vine and dine al fresco.
So let’s get down to business with building the Perfect Paleo Foods Picnic Basket and Wine Pairings. Pictured below, I’ve got the salami, goat cheese, apricots, toasted hazelnuts, etc, etc.
And below is the bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling paired with our picnic basket.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling was inspired by Charles’ personal love of Riesling, but he felt that German Rieslings were intimidating because the labels are so hard to understand. We found this wine really approachable, medium bodied, with flavor notes of citrus blossom, lime leaf, and white peach. This wine has earned consistent 90+ points scores, and named Top 100 Wines by Wine Spectator. 100% Riesling.
We also popped open a bottle of Boom Boom! Syrah last week which we enjoyed with our poolside picnic, as pictured above.
Boom Boom! Syrah comes from Charles’ first love lost. Her name was Elizabeth “Boom Boom” O’Brien. She was as spicy as this Syrah, and the bomb icon hints that you are in for something big and bold in the bottle. This wine is full bodied, and carries the complex flavors of blackberry, and boysenberry with notes of white pepper and savory herbs. It’s a top selling Syrah backed by top wine publication. 97% Syrah, 3% Viognier.
I used to work for a winery here in Oregon, and I have to say, getting a chance to meet the winemaker at any winery you visit is always a treat. It takes the perfect combination of mad scientist, creative genius, blended with hard work and passion to make great wines. And from what I have learned about Charles Smith while researching him to write this post, I have to say, he sounds like a winemaker I’d love to drink a glass of vino with someday!
Charles Smith has done everything from managing a rock band and touring Europe for 9 years, to becoming one of the major players in the wine scene. When he first arrived in Walla Walla in 1999, there were only 17 wineries in the valley, and now almost 2 decades later that number has grown to over 140 wineries. He debuted his first wine in 2001. Charles Smith is a two time winemaker of the year, Wine Enthusiast in 2014, and Food & Wine in 2009. Simply put, Charles Smith makes great wine. And as he said with this quote, “It’s just wine… drink it.” I intend to do just that.
Photo of Charles Smith from Charles Smith Wines
Washington Wine Month: Welcome to Washington: Home of the Charles Smith Wine collection. Washington state has more than 900 wineries and 350 vineyards. #WAWineMonth calls on you to explore and support local award-winning brands that put Washington winemaking on the map. To learn more, visit www.WaWineMonth.com
Where is your favorite place for a picnic? And what foods are must haves in your picnic basket?