Outside-time in the warmth and breezes is essential, soul-saving freedom during this strange Chicago summer. To help you enjoy that in the easiest-breeziest way, we asked Chef Tommy Van Lente of TVL Culinary what he’d put in his perfect picnic basket for two.
“First off,” Van Lente says, “with so many great restaurants switching to grab-and-go this summer, that’s all going to be elevated like never before, so check those options. But when you get the chance to play in the day outside, you want to keep it simple. So, if it were me, I’d go with good bread, cured meats, good wine, some nice soft cheeses and fruits. That’s simplicity at its finest.
“For the wine, I’m going rosé, all day, with something from Red & White Wines on Milwaukee, or Craig Perman from Perman Wine Selections. I’d get a baguette, or any bread they have available, from Floriole Café and Bakery. For some good, soft cheeses, I’d go to the French Market, or any of Chicago’s great farmers markets. When you’re walking through any one of those markets, pick up good pickles and a handful of fresh fruit. And for the cured meats, pâtés and charcuterie—anything from Salumi Chicago or whatever Rob Levitt’s doing at Publican Quality Meats. We are spoiled rotten with the offerings all of these people give the city every day!”