If ever there was a day to muster up your best fake cough and “I’m siiiiick” voice, it’s today. Time to play hookie from work. The cherry blossoms are in bloom. The weather is glorious. And dammit, you’ve worked hard all winter for The Man and I bet he doesn’t give a crap about your commute or how you managed to show up on time during the 19 blizzards since your office didn’t choose to close, despite the arctic conditions.
But I digress. Spring is the season of new and fresh. Daffodils have been waving to us for weeks and anyone who hasn’t flung open their windows to let the stale winter air out is a fool. A FOOL. Or lives in a rental where the windows are painted shut. Sucky.
Of course, being a DC resident you would never dream of showing up unprepared, even for a picnic. So where should you stop to build the ultimate DC picnic basket? We’ve got your back.
Our tips on building the best picnic basket with food, beverages, and reading material after the jump.
Taylor – If your idea of the perfect picnic basket isn’t complete without a sandwich, your first stop needs to be Taylor. Our favorite sandwich haunt in the city, Taylor I and Taylor II continue to push out some of the best sandwiches around. Bottled sodas are also available for travel. A major honorable mention goes out to A. Litteri for their liberal use of freshly sliced prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.
Cheestique – I cannot fathom a good picnic without hunks – or oozing spreads – of cheese. Pack a variety for your palate – some of our favorites are a creamy brie, a sharp cheddar and chive, and a nutty Parrano. But you don’t need to stick to a list of tried and true favorites. The mongers at Cheesetique will lead you around their glorious counter with healthy samples and recommendations. You can make it a one stop shop by picking up crackers, a picnic knife, and even libations all in one spot.
Sticky Fingers Bakery – Add a trip to Sticky Fingers Bakery on your picnic to-do list and you can munch on chewy, flavorful cookies without worrying about the looming beach season. This vegan bakery, a unique offering in DC, doles out classic sweet favorites with all natural ingredients. Gluten free is available for those so inclined but you may want to call ahead – they sell out quickly.
Schneider’s of Capitol Hill – Being law-abiding citizens we should note that the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public spaces is like, totally not legal. And stuff. PSA’s aside, if you need reserves for your flask or solo cups, Schneider’s is the place. Conveniently located on Mass Ave near the Capitol, Schneider’s packs an impressive variety of wine, beer, and spirits into their compact space. Service is knowledgeable and friendly. Beer can be purchased cold out of the fridge. Before leaving the store, be sure you have all the elements you need. A gorgeous bottle of wine won’t do you much good in the middle of Rock Creek Park if you don’t have a bottle opener. Want to completely take out the middleman? Make the drive to a vineyard and let them do the corking and pouring for you.
Trader Joe’s – Yes, I recognize it is a chain. But it is a lifesaver for all the miscellaneous items you may want in your picnic spread. Sparkling Italian soda? Check. Bottles of water? Check. Mixers for the booze? Got it. Sodas for the teetotalers? They’re on it.
Kramerbooks – I think there is no faster cure to lowering one’s blood pressure that to lay outside with some sunshine, a good book, and only chirping birds as a soundtrack. Mike has found it is bad for our marriage to even consider a Sunday morning trip to the DuPont farmers market without a detour to Kramer’s. It’s nice that the store perpetually smells like pancake batter but the real draw is the selection. Since Kramer’s is an independent store, it is not as beholden to publishers demanding specific shelf placement of their wannabe bestsellers. Instead, visitors can browse staff picks. The first shelf by the front door is my reading goldmine but the well-edited travel essay section always deserves a visit.
So get your ass out of the house or office or wherever and get outside. Stake off some space under the cherry blossoms and pretend to be annoyed when tourists take pictures of your perfect set up (though you know it’s because you are awesome and you are 100% smug about this). Take advantage of the rest of the DC workforce being stuck indoors and strike out to one of the many beautiful wineries in the Virginia countryside – Chrysalis and Three Fox Vineyards are two of our favorites. Enjoy the view of the Potomac just as George Washington did from his backyard at Mt. Vernon. Be an urban adventurer and check out the National Arboretum which is huge and quiet, despite its proximity to New York Ave NE. Just GO.