One of the best parts of summer is ditching the kitchen and dining al fresco — at an outdoor concert, a park, a beach, or maybe just as part of an imagined getaway on the roof of your pre-war walkup.
Luckily, what the city lacks in rolling green spaces, it makes up in prime spots to pack a killer basket of eclectic goodies — whether your taste runs to sheep’s milk cheese, artisan chocolate and local honey, or pickled okra, chicken kiev, and babaganoush.
This Brooklyn-centric gourmet shop boasts over 100 different selections of beer (plus six on tap for growler fills), and a slamming sandwich menu — we love the prosciutto and fresh ricotta, sided with a bag of Route 11 potato chips and a Fentiman’s rose lemonade. Of course, you can always leave the picking and choosing up to the pros — $50 buys an Eastern District tote stuffed with ½ lb of NY State cheese, Z crackers, Anarchy in a Jar jam, Brooklyn Brine pickles, Tumbador chocolates, and Ovenly spiced nuts.1053 Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, (718) 349-1432
It’s all about the cheese at this spacious Smith St. store — so don’t even think about leaving without a wheel of Hudson Valley camembert, a log of Lively Run chevre, or a fragrant hunk of 300-day gorgonzola. $80 is the asking price on a ready-to-roll Insta-Party Basket, packed to the brim with three cheeses, sopressata, nuts, fig cake, crackers and chocolate. Supa-size with an extra $20 to add a few bottles of beer or wine!215 Smith St in Cobble Hill, (718) 522-7425
Court Street Grocers:
This shop carries the usual picnic-friendly fare (farmstead cheese, cured meat, and excellent loaves of Orwashers bread), but it would be a shame to miss out on its real calling card — namely shelves of quirky groceries and seldom seen hyper-regional brands. Cane-sugar sodas are a particular delight…look for cans of Vernors Ginger Ale, bottles of Bubble Up, and cases of cherry-flavored North Carolina Cheerwine. 485 Court St in Carroll Gardens, (718) 722-7229
Cherry Hill Gourmet Market:
This Emmons Ave. superstore is an Eastern European wonderland — with an eye-catching array of gleaming, fresh produce to boot. Stock up on chewy pumpernickel bread, farmer’s cheese and creamy smoked sturgeon, composed salads, blintzes, and a variety of astringent veggies from the well stocked pickle bar. 1901 Emmons Ave in Sheepshead Bay (718) 616-1900
This Fort Greene staple has everything you’ll ever need to pack a super luxe picnic basket — from rabbit terrines, bacon jam, and beer-soused pickles, to raw milk cheese, local (think South Bronx rooftop) grown honey, and miniature pies. And talk about one stop shopping — the accurately named Grape packs a stellar selection of reds, whites, bubbly’s and roses. 765 Fulton St in Fort Greene, (718) 797-9463
The Family Store: Don’t walk into this Mediterranean specialty shop knowing what you want — let owner Sammy direct you to what’s best in the freshly prepared foods case that day, and you’ll leave happy with what you got. Think fire roasted eggplant salad and chicory greens with onions and garlic, meat pies, baked lamb and macaroni casserole, and silky nobs of homemade string cheese. Round out your Middle Eastern feast with a slice or two of the famous house semolina cheesecake, accompanied by fistfuls of jeweled dried fruits, nuts, and Lebanese marzipan.
6905 3rd Ave in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-0207