The temperature's rising, so it isn't surprising that New Yorkers are setting up camp at Central Park and Prospect Park on lazy weekend afternoons. But don't just pack your book and a Subway Footlong - take a gourmet picnic basket (plus some iced coffee) to share with your friends.
We asked three New York chefs of very different cuisines what they would bring along in their picnic baskets; they gave us their dream picnic menus for your inspiration and even threw in a few recipes.
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Chef Manuel Trevino of Horchata's menu
Guacamole, chips and salsa (recipe)
Grilled skirt steak salad with watercress, radishes, crunchy jacana and grapefruit
A "nice reposado tequila" to sip
When packing for a picnic, it's important to bring dishes that aren't too cumbersome to eat. Trevino, who is the head chef at new Mexican hotspot Horchata in the West Village, suggests bringing guacamole to start. "This is an especially good addition to a picnic because it's fairly light, lasts long and travels easily," he explains. Trevino says leaving the avocado pit in the guacamole container will keep it from browning.
Trevino advises bringing a small grill for the skirt steak, though you can cook in advance. He says of the summer salad: "It's got enough protein to keep you full all day, but [it's] not too heavy." Finish off the meal with one big flan to share.
Chef Jeff Kreisel of The Derby's menu
Deviled eggs (recipe)
Southern buttermilk fried chicken
Sandwiches with pimento cheese (recipe)
Buttermilk biscuits with maple jalapeno butter
Carolina Chopped Salad with romaine lettuce, palm hearts, pancetta and herbs
Watermelon and peaches
Honey juleps with Jack Daniels, honey, mint and Angostura bitters
Kreisel might be a Yankee, but his picnic menu is Southern all the way. We can't disagree with him when he says, "There's nothing like delicious fried chicken while relaxing with family and friends" - nothing except for maybe deviled eggs and biscuits, that is.
"They're refreshing, light and absolutely delicious to snack on during a lazy day in the park," says Kreisel of his pickled jalapeno and smoked paprika studded eggs. You'll feel a little less guilty by packing a chopped salad and peaches and watermelon - Kreisel even suggests adding the fruit to the salad.
Chef Dale Talde of Talde, Thistle Hill Tavern and Pork Slope
Korean fried chicken (recipe)
White cheddar biscuits (recipe)
It's no surprise the barbecue king of Park Slope went with a spread of comfort dishes, but naturally, Talde added an Asian twist: Korean fried chicken. White cheddar biscuits might not seem like an obvious companion to this kind of KFC, but Talde assures us of the pair, "They are easy to make ahead of time and great to eat at room temperature - plus, it's something a little different than normal sandwiches and chips."
Korean fried chicken certainly is more labor intensive than making sandwiches, but Talde makes the rest of the menu simple with standbys you can pick up from the store. "Potato salad and coleslaw are the perfect accompaniments," he says.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark