So we decided to take a picnic this weekend that did not involve the cutting and eating of smelly exotic fruits. Here in Raleigh we go the first glimpses of Fall last week with 2 or 3 days in the 70s and we figured a picnic to a local park would be an a great way to go out and enjoy it. Unfortunately the heat was back and the mercury rose to the upper 80’s. Still, it turned out to be a great day to go out and have a little picnic.
We quickly decided that we would go with our cheese, fruit, summer sausage, and bread combo, a combination that we have indulged in many a night (have I mentioned that I like cheese lately?). So we headed out to Harris Teeter and choose some goodies to fill our picnic basket which in this case was a colorful reusable Trader Joe’s shopping bag.
Now normally we go with Gruyere, smoked Gouda, drunken goat, or Monchego. Unhappy with the prices on this particular day, we chose a couple of new cheeses we hadn’t tasted before;Emmentaler from Switzerland and the French Fol-Epi. We also picked up some fresh raspberries, a baguette, and some Pinot Noir dry salami.
One of our favorite parks in the city is Shelley Lake Sertoma Park (1400 West Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC) which has a two mile paved hiking trail around a lake along with paddle boats and canoes that can be rented. Naturally we had an area picked out that we figured would be shady on this quite bright somewhat hot day. About halfway there, not far from the trail, we noticed that someone had created a sculpture out of what looked like mostly branches from the park. Also, they had a sketch book that was chained to it and included a place to write your impressions of the sculpture. This was a really nice unexpected surprise.
After gawking at the sculpture, we walked the rest of the way to our little picnic site in a grassy field in the shade. So, we sat in the park for a little while and listened to some This American Life on our Ipod while we munched on our cheese and fruit. Unfortunately, the cheese did not turn out to have the character and richness of the cheeses that we normally but, in my opinion, the Emmenatler did have some of the sweet nutty flavors that I like about Gruyere. I would liken the Fol-Epi to the Dutch Smoked Gouda as it had that same soft somewhat waxy character without the sweet smokey taste of a gouda. This was Julia’s first time eating fresh raspberries, and I was happy to find that they turned out to be as refreshing and sweet as I remember them. The Pinot Noir added a great tartness to the sausage and the rich crusty bread finished it off nicely.
The combination of the food with a nice sunny day at the park made this a great addition to our Labor Day weekend. Perhaps next time we will stick with the cheeses we know and love, but it was definitely still a treat to sit outside and picnic on some very flavorful morsels.