August 5, 2015 | Home & Happiness Team | Comments Off on Tanglewood Picnics: Fanciful Outdoor Feasts, Berkshire Style
In our neighborhood, Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) is the site of glamorous, grownup picnics all summer long. And its popularity has spawned a virtual competition of elevated, fashionable ways to display portable feasts.
In fact, aside from the amazing music of the BSO, some of the more flamboyant performances in the season are regularly found on the lawn. From simple finger foods to five-course meals, Tanglewood picnics arrive early and equipped with just about everything for a portable feast. And really, there is no limit beyond your imagination, and perhaps some potential storage issues.
For those of us at Country Curtains, however, it’s the decor that takes center stage. Inspired by the recent release of The Tanglewood Picnic: Music and Outdoor Feasts in the Berkshires by Gina Hyams, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite tips for setting an imaginative, whimsical picnic using some less casual items.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but there’s definite glamour in bringing the indoors outside whenever possible. Not only can a well-supplied picnic benefit from a little structure for serving, but also for a touch of fancy.
Breakfasts trays translate beautifully into reachable platforms from blanket or chair – plus look amazing with a floral centerpiece. And yes, we advocate floral arrangements – and candles! Although many have found votives to be more sustainable in a breeze, a candelabra always looks impressive. Are you catching on to the theme yet? The goal is to have fun and show a little style as much as it is about enjoying the food – both of which can raise the bar with a little attention.
One trade secret of the Berkshires worth borrowing is the traditional red wagon. It’s the classic vehicle of choice for transporting a formal bounty and accessories from car to lawn. The classic blanket still reigns supreme as a claim to property rights for the evening, but some people have been known to bring tablecloths instead of blankets, and layering a shower curtain liner or tarp underneath will keep damp grass at bay for either.
A Touch of Glass?
When possible, real utensils and china are not only a touch of graceful formality to an outdoor celebration – but are environmentally sound. Should you bring out your treasured heirlooms? Probably not. And there are some very nice, dressier plastic items out today that bridge the gap from flimsy to more realistic. But save the plastic forks for the kids’ birthday parties.
Depending on the size of your party, give glassware a try! For easily handled groups of six and under, there’s no reason not to bring along hardy stemware, inexpensive china and highball glasses, space allowing.
After all, we’re all adults. And everything tastes better when it’s presented well. Some folks in this area have been known to keep a set of mismatched china just for picnics (did we mention it’s a little competitive here?) and another favorite for larger groups is the surprise of a formal punch bowl! It sounds a little crazy, but doesn’t it make you want to don tennis whites and make a toast?
Here’s a drink recipe that’s always worked for us!
Your Just Desserts
That brings us to the delectable finale and some ideas for on-the-lawn desserts. Not every treat holds up well enough to transport, heat and serve outdoors, but a little planning can convert many favorites into easily handled finger food. Cupcakes win over cakes, for example, and are another way to bring in a fanciful setting. Wire teacake display stands will win the day when stocked with perfectly proportioned cakes, cookies, mini tarts, pies and other delicacies, creating a sweet centerpiece without commanding too much room on the picnic blanket. Plus, there’s nothing at all wrong with a basket of gourmet cookies, especially with a piece of lace or a linen cloth underneath.
Whether you opt to go all-out formal or simply carry in a bottle of wine with some cheeses – we encourage you to join us in celebrating outside while there’s an opportunity and to bring some inside decor out with you for a touch of lighthearted fun. In fact, we’ve just celebrated our own picnic tradition at Tanglewood; launched by our founders Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick, ‘Christmas in July’ parties have been held for our employees for 47 years and counting!
Have a favorite over-the-top item you like to bring outdoors in summer? Did you try your hand at one of the many versions of Tanglewood picnics on the lawn this year? Share your photos with us! You might see your name in lights on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Follow us this week on social media for even more picnicking ideas.