Hollywood's always known a good picnic when it's seen it. No matter how old you are, what your gender is or where you come from, you probably have plenty of romantic movie-montage moments in your head already. But maybe you're too uncoordinated to ride a tandem bicycle, or too concerned with your hair to frolic with your beau in a warm summer storm. No need to fret, rom-com re-enactments need not totally elude you.
Summer transforms the mundane into the sublime, and a summertime picnic for two can turn an average meal into an occasion. After all, few things say "we're still riding high in this new relationship" better than outdoor breaking of bread.
Fancy yourself too hip to whip out the strawberries and champagne? A picnic for two may seem like an anachronism, but some things are timeless. To help prepare you for your checkered tablecloth moment, here are three shopping destinations that can fill your basket with some deliciously sumptuous items that don't require refrigeration. Show up with food from these places and you'll have your sweety swooning.
Super G Mart
7323 E. Independence Blvd.
Aisle 8 of this Asian-based market will keep you busy. Baked squid, Taiwanese sesame puffs, Vietnamese banana candy and all the shrimp-flavored chips your sodium intake can handle are just a few of the snacks you can stock up on here. But Super G is not all Asian products — it is a full-blown international store, and on aisle 12 you'll find European specialties such as Slovenian soft drinks, Bulgarian vegetable spread and Macedonian fire-roasted peppers. Need an alternative to the run-of-the-mill Nutella? Try Serbian eurocrem, a hazelnut milk and cocoa spread. As for drinks, green tea jelly drink cans come in flavors from tamarind to lychee. If it's alcohol you're after, pick up some plum wine and pour with tonic water over ice for a tasty twist on the G&T.
4300 N. Tryon St.
Interactive food is always more fun, and Compare has all the ingredients you'll need to build your own Mexican-style tostadas. Every tostada starts with a tortilla base, but the rest is up to you. How about canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or pickled jalapeño peppers? Queso fresco or cotija cheese? Valentina or Tapatio hot sauce? Crema Mexicana or crema salvadoreña? Or maybe something else completely. The choice is yours. Cool the spice with tamarind, passion fruit or guava juice, maybe a couple of the drinkable yogurts if you're feeling more adventurous. Don't forget to indulge yourself with the several styles of pastries in the bakery. Crema de leche and crema de guayaba also make for sweet, sticky desserts.
Reid's Fine Foods
2823 Selwyn Ave.
If gourmet is the only way you play, this is your one-stop shop. Mostly everything in the store screams "pack me in your picnic basket!" Petit toasts pair well with pimento cheese or tapenades. You'll find a wide selection of breads ranging from sweet (cranberry pecan) to savory (garlic focaccia). And don't forget the cheese. There's plenty of it at Reid's, including one local item, Cheval Farmstead Dairy Goat Cheese Medley, that comes jarred and ready to smear on the carb base of your liking. And how about these novel flavors to share with your sweetheart: truffle mousse, cane juice and sea salt kettlecorn, raspberry and mango salsa. Also check the prepared foods section, with options ranging from the health-conscious (quinoa salad, tabbouleh) to a gleaming mac 'n' cheese casserole. Grab a couple of newly available smoothies (sold from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) if you're in a rush, or take the time to meander through the wines until you find the perfect bottle to satisfy your palette, your wallet and your loved one. or go for the small but notable selection of craft beers. Currently in stock: Bells Oberon, a wheat ale primed for summer sipping.
There you have it, lovebirds. Eat up, make out and enjoy those summer nights.