Cotton-linen blend napkins, stainless steel spreader, melamine plates, acrylic double old fashioned glass, wineglasses, Natual polished horn spoon, stainless steel cheese plane, slate tray, and melamine divided tray

Photo: Tyllie Barbosa; Food Styling: Carol Smoler; Styling: Barri Leiner Grant

GET THE LOOK Clockwise from top: Cotton-linen blend napkins, $15 each, Jonathan Adler, 676 N. Wabash Ave. Stainless steel spreader, $22, Jayson Home. Melamine plates, $10, Elements, 741 N. Wells St. Acrylic double old fashioned glass, $20 for set of four, and wineglasses, $24 for set of four, West Elm. Natual polished horn spoon, $10, stainless steel cheese plane, $22, and slate tray, $22, Jayson Home. Melamine divided tray, $48, Jonathan Adler.

The all-important first course sets the bar for the ensuing spread. Cristi Menard, the senior buyer at artisanal food shop Pastoral ( for locations), says you’ll need some piquant cheeses (that travel well), a crusty baguette, crackers, fruity jams, and perhaps some nuts. Here are her picks. Make sure to toss a few bottles of wine, (these all cost less than $20 each!) and hard cider, de rigueur this summer, in your basket too. Pick the perfect patch of grass, spread your blanket, and let the feast begin.

Clockwise from top left:

Lille ($21.99 a pound), a creamy and spreadable cousin of Brie, and Sheridans Irish Brown-Bread Crackers ($6.99 a box) paired with Uncle John’s Cider Mill Draught Hard Cider ($3.99 a can)

Classico, an aged goat cheese ($30.99 a pound), and the Gracious Gourmet’s spiced sour cherry spread ($5.99 for three ounces) paired with Elk Cove Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé ($19.99)

Montasio Vino Rosso, a semifirm Italian cheese ($24.99 a pound), and Casalingo salame ($31.99 a pound) paired with Andrew Murray Vineyards 2010 ‘Tous Les Jours’ Syrah ($19.99)

Chiriboga Blue, a German buttermilk blue cheese ($28.99 a pound), and Pastoral’s house-roasted spiced almonds ($14.99 a pound) paired with Cattin Freres 2011 Riesling ($13.99)

Feeling lazy? Buy Pastoral’s premade themed picnics (each serves two). The Locavore features spreadable quark from Wisconsin, smoked duck sausage from Indiana, and other Midwestern delights (24-hour advance order required; $39.99).


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More picnic goodies:
Starters: Wine & Cheese | The Main Event: Fried Chicken & Picnic Punch | The Side Show: Salads | Sweet Endings: Brownies & Lemon Cream Pie