6 Perfect Picnic Spots Around BostonBy Scott Kearnan
April 24, 2014
Yesterday was National Picnic Day, but the dreary and dripping skies didn't allow for much outdoor eating. (Today's forecast is substantially nicer!) However, the "holiday" did inspire us to plan ahead for sunny days with this quick guide to gourmet markets, delis and fromageries that are near popular picnic spots - and therefore make perfect sense as a place to stock up your basket (or backpack) before a leisurely lunch.
1. Destination: Clement G Morgan Park. It's small, but this grassy patch of park is one of the few options for sprawling out in Cambridge's mostly lawn-less Central Square neighborhood.
Pack a basket from: Central Bottle Wine + Provisions. Sure, you can snag your own bottle of vino and tasty morsels from this nearby shop - or you can let them do the work. For $75 and with 24-hours' notice, Central Bottle will assemble you a full basket with choice of wine or beer, cheeses, jams, chocolates, and more. They even include the plates, cutting board, glasses and corkscrews, and other cutlery items.
2. Destination: Castle Island. Soak up the rays, water views of Dorchester Bay, and plenty of walking trails (past landmarks like Fort Independence) on this 22-acre park in South Boston. (If you're feeling lazy, just grab famous fried food from Sullivan's.)
Pack a basket from: American Provisions. The gourmet market brings a slight Brooklyn vibe to Southie, offering an A-plus selections of farmstead cheese, artisanal charcuterie, craft beers, small batch foodstuffs and plenty of prepared sandwiches and other eats
3. Destination: Blackstone Square. The South End owes part of its popularity with young families and pet owners to the many well-maintained parks that dot the blocks. We picked this patch; if you forgot dessert, Blackstone Square is right near chef Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery. (Just prepare to guard your grub from dogs.)
Pack a basket from: Formaggio Kitchen. It looks small, but this South End gem is stocked to the hilt with one of Boston's best selections of gourmet cheeses. Throw in some charcuterie and small-batch candies to round out your basket, and come back later for some of the spot's many cheese-related classes.
4. Destination: Jamaica Pond. Unfortunately Jamaica Plain's Arnold Arboretum only allows picnics on designed event days. No problem; the grassy knolls surrounding Jamaica Pond are the perfect place to take in a gorgeous view - or unwind after you've paddled your kayak to and fro the boathouse.
Pack a basket from: City Feed & Supply. The JP market (which also has a smaller sibling at 66 Boylston Street) prepares stellar take-away salads and sandwiches using ingredients sourced from local farms. There are plenty of cheeses, meats, fruits and veggies for you to pack your own lunch too.
5. Destination: Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. Ride the Swan Boats and share a snack on a park bench in the Garden, or sprawl on the grassy Common and soak up the sun.
Pack a basket from: Bacco's Wine & Cheese. Just around the corner is this swanky Back Bay repository of gourmet cheese and charcuterie. It has some fabulously high-end selections, but there are also budget buys with some wine bottles starting at under $10.
6. Destination: Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The long, thin stretch of Downtown park already hosts daily-visiting food trucks. But it's also a nice spot to bring your own eats, as is the nearby Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.
Pack a basket from: Bricco Salumeria & Pasta Shoppe. This just-opened North End offshoot of the restaurant Bricco is filled with fabulous Italian offerings: cured meats, delicious cheeses (including house-made mozzarella), fresh baked breads, take-away sandwiches and savory Italian pies.