Thousands will gather near SEPTA terminals next Thursday, Aug. 22, waiting for organizers to reveal the location of the eighth edition of Philadelphia’s Diner en Blanc — the massive outdoor dinner party where you bring your own tables, chairs, and food. If you scored tickets to the sold-out event, it’s time to start planning not only your all-white getup but also what to pack.
But even if you’re not attending, mid-August marks the start of prime picnic season: As summer bleeds into fall, the humidity settles down, cool breezes start up, and a blanket in the park becomes an unbeatable backdrop for dinner. You can’t go wrong with a spread of cheese, meat, nuts, olives, jams, and dips, and some good bread or crackers.
For one-stop shopping, visit a specialty grocer, like Di Bruno Bros. (which sells ready-made cheeseboards), or a supermarket with robust prepared food selections like Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic Market, or Sprouts Farmers Market. Or head to a cafe/market, such as Tela’s on Fairmount Avenue, Talula’s Daily on Washington Square, and Milk and Honey by Clark Park. Besides extensive beer options, the Foodery’s four locations also sell sandwiches and snacks; the Northern Liberties outpost is three blocks from Liberty Lands park.
Or assemble a complete meal over a handful of stops in Reading Terminal Market. Get sandwiches at Hershel’s, fruit at Iovine Brothers, cheese and charcuterie at Downtown Cheese, bread from Metropolitan Bakery, plus chocolates, pastries, or cookies for dessert.
Want to prepare your own picnic fare? Here are five recipes from Philly chefs that are designed to travel well.