As you head out to enjoy a picnic, whether at a downtown park or in the wilds of the Blue Ridge Mountains, why not designate some of the packing duty to one of Asheville’s local chefs? Grocery stores such as Katuah Market, Green Life, Earth Fare and the French Broad Food Co-op offer pre-made, wrapped sandwiches and packaged salads that can be picked up quickly en route to your favorite picnic spot or packed away as you head out for a hike, but many restaurants also offer boxed or easy-to-grab lunch options.
Louise’s Kitchen in downtown Black Mountain offers customers a picnic lunch package that goes well beyond brown bagging it. “They get two wine glasses, a bottle of wine, a blanket and lunch for two for $65,” says owner Bud Rainey. Customers are given their choice of two sandwiches and a side of fruit. No need to worry about returning the picnic basket, wine glasses or the blanket — they are intended to be taken home and enjoyed again. But where to go with this elegant picnic package? “There are some great places to picnic here in Black Mountain,” Rainey says. “Lake Tomahawk is a great spot to have a picnic, as well as the Montreat Park area along the river.”
Laurey’s on Biltmore Avenue is known for making a wide variety of foods with fresh, local ingredients. “Our deli case is always stocked with a lot of seasonal fresh salads. Sweet potato salad is always really popular and it’s great for a picnic,” says Adam Thome, general manager and chef.
For a refreshing alternative to the traditional sandwich and side, Thome recommends gazpacho. “We sell gallons of it all summer long,” he says. For groups of 10 or more, Laurey’s offers a boxed lunch that consists of a sandwich or wrap, pasta salad and a cookie.
If you don’t have a large group, or are looking for a last-minute picnic lunch, Laurey’s kitchen manager Andrew Hauet recommends just stopping by. “We are always happy to just pack up what we have in the case, or if people drop in we can have a sandwich ready to go for them in two to three minutes,” he says.
Roman Braverman, owner of the downtown lunch spot Roman’s, says making food that travels well is a focus of his restaurant, which is known for its delivery service. “We do more to-gos than we do in-house around here, so customers kind of know us for that. We do boxed lunches and salads and everything else like that to go,” he says. “Our food also holds up really well to go. I think this is why we do the amount of to-go orders that we do. We put it in compostable containers and it will hold up for a few hours, so you don’t need to worry about eating it right away.”
Other local spots that can swiftly put together a picnic-friendly to-go order include Asheville Sandwich Company, Two Guys Hoagies, Tod’s Tasties, all in Asheville, and Dark City Deli & Pub in Black Mountain.
Adding a bottle of vino to the basket makes any picnic extra special. Eberhard Heide of the Asheville Wine Market recommends the following wines to complement a picnic meal, all of which fall nicely within the $8-15 range:
Kerisac Cuvée Spéciale Cider; Normandy, France ($7.99 per bottle)
2013 Cortenova Pinot Grigio; IGT Puglia, Italy ($9.99 per bottle)
2013 Weingut Liegenfeld Hüber Grüner Veltliner; Burgenland, Austria ($14.99 per liter bottle)
2012 El Cortijillo; La Mancha, Spain (Summer Special $8.49 per bottle)
2013 Weingut Martinshof Zweigelt; Weinland, Austria ($14.99 per liter bottle)
Roman’s Deli & Catering, 75A Haywood St., 505-1552
Laurey’s, 67 Biltmore Ave., 252-1500
Louise’s Kitchen, 115 Black Mountain Ave.. Black Mountain, 357-8088
Asheville Wine Market, 65 Biltmore Ave., 253-0060