Few things say “Spring!” like picnicking in dappled sunlight on a grassy hill. The setting could be a trip to Kensington Metropark, with paddleboards, disc golf, and lake tours. It could be a stroll through the Arb or Matthaei. Or it could be as simple as a tablecloth laid out in a backyard on a warm day. We asked two great local businesses to help us assemble the perfect picnic—Morgan & York, for the classic European spread, and El Harissa for a North African alternative.
Morgan & York
1928 Packard St, Ann Arbor
Morgan & York has everything you need for a classic picnic. Fine cured meats, artisan cheeses, condiments, breads, and an impressive wine and beer selection (or soda, depending on your preferences and your site’s legalities). Add in a salad. Cap it off with a few truffles or selections from their bulk candy bins.
We started with a baguette, accompanied by:
Clementine salad — arugula, clementine sections, fennel, and chopped Marcona almonds, with a Balsamic dressing
Sliced meats — Serrano ham (slightly sweet and nutty, the next best thing to Iberico, which would obliterate the budget); Rosette de Lyon (a mild, chunky salami)
Cheeses — two contrasting options that pair well with the meats or work alone, Piave (a dense, flavorful Italian cheese) and Brillat-Savarin (essentially a triple-cream Brie, very spreadable, almost like mild cheesy butter)
Miscellaneous — Marcona almonds, and an assortment of olives starring mild, meaty green Castelveltranos
For dessert – locally-made truffles and seafoam candies
If you want Morgan & York to do the work for you, you can also order from their menu of sandwiches on baguette.
1516 N Maple Rd, Ann Arbor
El Harissa focuses on North African dishes. They’re very conscious of the needs of vegetarians, vegans, and those with food allergies (items are labeled as to whether they contain dairy or eggs too). They have hot meals, salads, and a very extensive gelato section. Start with a couple main dishes that are good cold (they’re happy to help you pick, and this is not their first picnic), add some salads and hummus (they make their own), pita bread, and you’re good to go.
Here’s how they put together a picnic for us:
Chermoula chicken — sliced chicken with a lemony herbaceous sauce, lovely cold
Tunisian Egg Tagine — elsewhere in North Africa, “tagine” means a stew (or the vessel it’s cooked in), but in Tunisia it’s a frittata, here with potatoes, feta, leeks, spinach and herbs bound together with egg
Carthage salad — a surprisingly harmonious combination of chickpeas, figs, olives, and pomegranate seeds over lettuce
Lablabi — chickpea stew, good cold or hot
Olives — a must with North African cuisine, including harissa-cured black olives
Dips — various things to dip pita bread into, including whipped feta cheese, spiced hummus, and their eponymous harissa sauce (here “diluted” as a red pepper-based dipping sauce)
Spice-roasted mushrooms — coated with a fried chickpea batter and spice crust
Other great options for putting together a picnic:
The Biercamp and Produce Station Combo
1643 and 1629 S State St, Ann Arbor
Pick up some smoked salmon, sausage, or ready-to-eat wings at Biercamp along with some pickles, and then put together an amazing set of sides at the Produce Station.
The Kerrytown Tour
407 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor
Pick up smoked fish from Monahan’s Seafood Market or Durham’s Tracklements, then head to Sparrow Market for chicken liver pate, cheese, condiments, and bread. Let Everyday Wines recommend a picnic-perfect wine. Feeling extravagant? Hop over to Zingerman’s for dessert…