On most warm weekends in New York City, the closest I get to a picnic is a sidewalk table at Cafe Gitane , but for Memorial Day I'm heading to Los Angeles and CANNOT wait for some quality outdoor eating and drinking. (The last time I visited this particular friend on a patriotic holiday-Fourth of July five years back-I ended up on a sailboat in Marina del Ray with Valerie Harper, a.k.a. Rhoda Morgenstern . Expectations are understandably high.)
Some general questions: Picnics only require baskets and maybe a cooler, but who among us will attempt to grill this weekend? Is a "barbecue" different from a "cookout"? I know the former connotes meat, but what does one cook outdoors besides burgers and hot dogs, even of the veggie and tofu variety? Not a big carnivore here (red meat takes two weeks to digest, they say) but I'm positively OBSESSED with the design of a classic Weber Grill (at right), $10 off the list price at $69.99. Just screams cul-de-sacs and above-ground swimming pools, right? For coolers I love this Cheney-grade icebox in rigid aluminum ($149.99). The folks I'm visiting actually bought a similar truck box to use as a coffee table which I think is a great idea!
Other classic outdoor eating accessories include this gingham round tablecloth from Lillian Vernon for $12.99 (which apparently hasn't gone bankrupt YET, thank goodness), splurge-worthy matching napkins from Williams-Sonoma ($20 for a set of four but c'mon, they're "green"!) and an L.L. Bean insulated tote ($49.95) if there's no room left in the Prius for an ice chest. This red tartan picnic blanket with carrying case is pretty charming, and if I wind up at the Hollywood Bowl, a stadium seat that looks like T. Anthony luggage could come in handy. But back to meat. So far this forged barbecue set from Target has the simplest, sturdiest design I've found. Still searching for that perfect "S'MORES ARE MY HEROIN" apron ...
Have a good one, folks!