Don't Forget the Ants: 5 Picnic Essentials

picnic.jpgWith the temps being on the chillier side these days, I was about to get all Dylan on yo' ass and announce, "If you wanta have a picnic, that's up t' you. But don't tell me about it, I don't wanta hear it, 'Cause, see, I just lost all m' picnic spirit. Stay in m' kitchen, have m' own picnic!" However, starting tomorrow the Bay Area mercury is going to fever up to the 80s, so it's finally time to slap on the SPF 30, grab some grub and a stadium blanket, and leave the San Franciscan layers at home.

Now, whether you pack cold fried chicken or lentil salad, whether you opt for a market-worn canvas tote or a full-loaded picnic basket, or whether you go to the beach or spread out in Golden Gate Park, I'm here to tell you about five indispensable picnic tools I can't do without.

Opinel No. 9 carbon steel pocket knife: I used to bring my trusty, fifteen-year-old Swiss Army knife on picnics, but as much as I loved the cunningly stored plastic toothpick, my old backpacking tool just wasn't picnic practical. Gunk and crumbs got jammed in every crevice, and I never seemed to use any tool other than the corkscrew. Furthermore, both blades dulled quickly and I bent back way too many nails just trying to pull the bottle opener out!

Once my husband got this classic, French folding knife for Christmas, we realized it was just what we needed for any and all of our cheese slicing, sausage cutting, or radish slivering. The carbon steel blade takes eons to dull and the entire knife wonderfully lightweight. Over one hundred years old, these knives are as brilliant as they are beautiful. ($12.55) (I might have to take up foraging just to have an excuse to buy the super special mushroom knife. But that's another post.)

GSI Lexan® Wineglasses: Elegant, stackable, and lightweight, I simply adore these wineglasses. I stumbled upon them at REI and couldn't get over their brilliance. In fact, I might have to go back for the corresponding Champagne flutes. ($5.95 per glass)


Small Wooden Cutting Board: Lightweight and packable, mine measures 10x10, but Crate and Barrel has some even smaller than that. ($8.95)

L'Occitane Verbena Towelettes: Isn't progress a wonderful thing? I remember when the only choice we had for après picnic clean-up reminded me way too much of changing my little sister's diapers. Thank god L'Occitane stepped in with their version of wipes, which they call "towelettes," thus elevating the product even further. French and herbalicious, the towelettes clean, refresh, and aromatherapize you as you lie in the sun and digest your wine and cheese. You can also get lavender flavored ones and they even repel mosquitoes! ($8.00 for a pack of fifteen densely packed towelettes.)

Swiss Spice salt and pepper shaker: Sleek, refillable, and humid-proof, this combined salt and pepper shaker is as adorable as it is useful. It packs flat -- unlike my old Morton favorites, which are decidedly not moisture resistant -- and is just so darn adorable. ($16.00)