At this stage of the COVID-19 crisis, my husband Mark and I are devising as many plans as possible to safely increase our time outdoors. Our daily walks or bike rides and frequent porch sits are getting longer and longer. We jump at the chance to walk to do curbside pickup at Martin Wine Cellar, with the proper physical distancing and masks, of course, and when friends pop by out on their walks, we drop everything run to the porch or stoop to chat from six-to-10 feet apart. As a rule, we love spending time at the park, but that has been limited to biking drive-bys, due to the sheer number of people inhabiting the city’s greenspaces these days. On one of our rides however, we spied a spot in the park that was seemingly always vacant. After keeping an eye on it each time we rode past while out on a ride, we confirmed that most people didn’t hang out that deeply into the grounds, so we felt good about claiming it soon for some park time. A few days later, our chicken and champagne picnic was born.
The beauty of a chicken and champagne picnic, or meal at home if you aren’t the outdoorsy type, is that it can be as elaborate or easy as you see fit. For our excursion, we opted for simplicity. Curbside champagne pickup at the aforementioned Martin, plus the Popeye’s drive through and we were more than halfway to the finish line.
The first order of business was transferring the food from its Popeye’s packaging into our own containers to minimize potential exposure (get instructions for this process here) and sanitizing the champagne bottles.
Next, to make everything a little more elegant, we packed our plasticware and food in an adorable wicker picnic basket and grabbed the picnic blanket that we bought years ago at Target. Mark filled the soft-sided, insulated cooler bag with ice, added the champagne, slung it over his shoulder and we were off with only one bag, a basket and a blanket.
We spent the afternoon noshing and sipping amid towering pine trees in a secluded area where for at least a few hours, we were able to break up the monotony and let our COVID cares melt away. It was good for the mind, body and soul — OK, maybe fried chicken and booze aren’t great for the body, but I digress.
If you aren’t able to find an unpopulated area in a park near you, set up your picnic in the yard on the porch or patio or even the living room. If you have children, they are sure to love the novelty of a living room picnic. For the kids, you can make fizzy mocktails as their “fancy” drink. Garnish with their favorite fruit.
For the food, pick your favorite chicken joint, elevate the affair with chicken from Picnic Provisions & Whiskey when it opens back up or fry up your own with all of the fixins. I do highly recommend having it with sparkling however, because its an unbeatable combo. Teetotalers can of course do fizzy water, but if you think ahead, there are several non-alcoholic sparkling wines on the market these days. Élivo Zero’s Zero Deluxe Sparkling Non-Alcoholic Sparkling White Wine is bright, smooth and acidic, which pairs perfectly with salty, savory, crispy chicken.
Whatever you decide, whether ordering takeout and picnicking in the park or in your yard, be sure to take all of the precautions with your food, beverages, yourselves and others for a safe and joyful respite.