Pack the perfect picnic in Eagle County |

Pack the perfect picnic in Eagle County

Caramie Schnell
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Picnic 03 TS 06-15-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Forget smashed white bread bleeding grape jelly and peanut butter. Don’t even think about taking the easy way out and buying bright yellow, carton-ready potato salad. Picnics have the potential to be so much more ” pretty, palate pleasing and darn easy (depending on who you ask).

If you’ve ever been curious about what local chefs pack in their picnic baskets, read on. We cornered six local foodies from restaurants in all corners of the valley to ask them about their prized picnic plans for the summer. Their answers just might surprise you.

Who: Marshall Blanchard, executive chef at Golden Eagle Inn in Beaver Creek.

In the basket: “I would go for the wine first ” I’m about to go pick up a bottle of sauvignon blanc, a good wine for a hot day. I like the Spanish meats like jamon serrano ham, and sharper cheeses, maybe some goat cheese and some bread. I make my own bread, so a baguette would be nice. I’d have to include my wife’s pasta salad so I don’t get in too much trouble. She makes a Greek pasta salad with kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes and vinagrette. It’s nice and light.”

Dessert: “Yes, fresh berries. I’m a fruit kind of guy.”

Favorite spot: “We like to go out by State Bridge a lot. Spread out a blanket, watch the river flow by and do nothing.”

Soundtrack: Widespread Panic.

Who: Jenna Johansen, executive chef and co-owner of Dish restaurant in Edwards.

In the basket: “Sunscreen, blanket, wine, a water bottle (I am not drinking bottled water anymore … too much waste! So a Nalgene from home), a loaf of bread, salami, some fruit from the farmer’s market, cheese, cheese and more cheese!”

Blanket or table: “Blanket … always!”

Wash it down with: Rose or champage. “Anything with a screw top or a cork that pops … I don’t risk losing or forgetting a corkscrew.”

Favorite spot: “Ford park is my favorite … music, wine, sunshine and cheese!”

Who: Paul Ferzacca, owner of ZaccaZa! in Avon and La Tour in Vail.

In the basket: “My perfect picnic basket would actually be a picnic cooler and would include Kumomoto oysters with La Tour’s 30-year-old sherry mignonette, an assortment of sushi and uni sashimi, split king crab legs with cocktail sauce, cold sesame spinach gomae, a half bottle of Krug Champagne and a bottle of Tentaka Silent Stream Saki.”

Favorite spot: “I can’t tell you my secret spot, but I do like having picnics at Sylvan Lake and at Gerald Ford Amphitheater on the lawn at an awesome concert.”

Picnic allure: “Having a moment with the one you love, being outside enjoying our beautiful planet.”

Who: Anthony Kueper, executive chef at Paradigms restaurant in Eagle.

In the basket: “First off you have to have good bread and good cheese ” I prefer a good blue like Roaring 40’s or Stilton, some niceley sliced Serrano and some fresh cantaloupe. Marinated olives, artichokes, peppers and some white anchovies ” basically a Tapas bar in a back pack. I enjoy grilling out but where not acheivable I would have on hand a well-marinated flank steak sliced out before hand. An arugula salad with some red wine and honey vinagrette, soft boiled eggs and sliced tomatoes. For dessert, a fruit salad tossed in creme fraiche, honey, lavender and a spot of truffle oil. Put that on some genoise or angel food cake and you’re in heaven.”

Wash it down with: “I am a friend of red wine and I chose a ’97 Casillero del Diablo Cab-Sav from Chile; my wife likes Doctor Loosen of any Vintage.”

Favorite spot: “With our dog, Kona, at Browns Lake in the Pingree Park Wilderness close to Grand Lake.”

Who: Nick Maxwell, sous chef at Vin 48 in Avon

In the basket: “I’d say probably some pork rillettes, which is braised pork that’s paddled with fat. You spread it on bread and eat it with mustard. A nice baguette, Dijon mustard, probably some kind of triple cream cheese. I’d buy a bottle of red wine, probably a Rhone varietal.”

If that didn’t work out: “I’d probably settle for a ham sandwich and a six pack of beer.”

Don’t bring: “Definitely not champagne.”

Who: Bratzo Horruitiner, co-owner and sous chef at Cotton Ranch Club in Gypsum.

In the basket: “Get a piece of gorgonzola cheese ” that goes really well with green grapes, the sweeter the better. Also some crackers. Bring a bottle of chardonnay, or a pinot grigio, something sweet, also. Some nuts like almonds and pecans. Start with that. Then have a club sandwich on a croissant. I would put turkey, ham, bacon, tomatoes and mayonnaise. Pretty simple and yummy. For dessert, I would do a lemon bar or a brownie.”

Relaxing recommendation: “I would take the gondola up the mountain and find a picnic spot. Or find a place near a river or a lake. It’ll calm you down and have a nice atmosphere.”

Tip: “Always bring a few bottles of water. No soda, nothing like that, it’ll ruin the flavors. Travel light and have everything pre-made at home so you don’t have to make it there.”

High Life editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User