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The Great Lodi Picnic

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 7:33 am

With warm days and long nights, it’s time to dust off that wicker picnic basket and pack it tight with Lodi favorites, from good ol’ PB&J or gourmet cheese, spreads and wine. Here are ways to get inspired to create your own series of summer picnics close to home, with places to go, songs to listen to, picnic gadgets and, of course, the best packable eats.

Think outside the picnic basket: Spread a blanket and enjoy local eats

The sweet tooth — Marich Chocolate Cherries ($10.95, Taste of Heaven; 216 S. School St.). They are great with local fruit and red wine.

Dip it — Robert Rothschild Blue Cheese & Chive Dip ($11.95. Other tasty treats from Robert Rothschild: mango salsa and natural chips; available at Taste of Heaven).

Olive oil on your fruit — Delta Barrel Frantoio Olive Oil ($10.95, Taste of Heaven); fantastic drizzled over sliced apples with a squeeze of lemon and fresh chopped parsley.

Hydrate — Popular Cadia Coconut Water ($1.99 for 17.5 ounces; Sheri’s Sonshine Nutrition, 6 N. School St.) is supposed to replace electrolytes and is all the rage.

Go nuts — Raw Energy trail mix ($7.99 for a pound at Sheri’s Sonshine) is great for those who can’t eat peanuts. The trail mix has raisins, walnuts, pecans, almonds and cashews.

Vibrant juice — Sip on Perfectly Pomegranate, a locally made pomegranate juice ($2.99 for 16 ounces at Sheri’s Sonshine).

No gluten, please — Gluten free? There’s a granola for you, and it’s available in vanilla, original and cranberry (Udi’s Gluten Free Granola, $7.99 for 12 ounces; Sheri’s Sonshine).

Devilish snack — Add a little protein to your picnic with deviled eggs from Apple Market on Ham Lane (3 deviled eggs for $1).

Sweet stuff — Splurge on a decadent dessert with a cupcake from the Frosted Flour Cakery (904 W. Lodi Ave; $1.75 each). The most popular is salted caramel, but Lodi Lemon is nice and fresh for a picnic. Other flavors include banana cream pie, peanut butter cup, Oreo, red velvet and strawberry.

A little brew on the blankie — If you want to get away from your average beer, try something fun, like Little Sumpin’ from Lagunitas in Petaluma or Smith’s India Ale from England. ($2.99-$6.99; Cheese Central, 11 N. School St.).

Fishy, fish, fish — Treat yourself with smoked trout in plain or lemon pepper flavors ($10.99 for 9 ounces; Cheese Central), which is great spread on crackers).

Spanish influence — Spanish boquerones — Spanish white anchovies — are wonderful with everything from aioli to roasted red peppers and pickled vegetables (Cheese Central).

Everyone loves Cheddar — Cheese Central has 10 cheddar choices from sharp, sharper, smoked and flavored. Cougar Gold, the aged white cheddar (packaged in the distinctive striped can) is made at Washington State University. All of these cheddars go well with salami and picnic meats.

Where do I go? Some of Lodi’s favorite picnic spots

The obvious choice

Lodi Lake — It may be everyone’s favorite place to picnic, but it is for good reason. Lodi Lake is beautiful in summertime and has various spots and coves, whether you want to watch geese on the lake, birds in the nature area or your children at the swings or on the public beach.

Go where the wine is

Your favorite Lodi winery — Many Lodi wineries have beautiful sprawling grounds that are perfect for picnics. Some wineries invite guests to enjoy their lawns, while others simply request you let them know with a phone call. At Heritage Oak Winery, you can buy a glass or bottle, then walk to the Mokelumne. Harney Lane Winery also has a beautiful shaded picnic area that guests can enjoy after a little wine tasting. If you’re not sure if your favorite winery allows picnics? Just give them a call.

For the dogs

Lodi Dog Park(Vinewood Park, 946 Virgina Ave.)  — Whether you have your own dog or you just want to enjoy watching other people with their pooches, the Lodi Dog Park  might be a great place for you to picnic. The dog park is large, with shade trees on one end and a grassy hill on the other.

For the Downtown dweller

Emerson Park — Do you work Downtown and have an hour for lunch? Sneak down the  street to Emerson Park. You can drive there in a minute or walk in a few. Pack a lunch and dine solo or with coworkers at the shaded tables or lounge on the lawn in the sun.

The park with it all

Micke Grove Park with it all — If you think the kids will get antsy at a picnic, think about going to Micke Grove, where you can pack your own feast and let the kids run wild at the park’s midway, Micke Grove Zoo or Japanese Garden.

Gadgets to go

There are few things more fun than trendy kitchen gadgets. Luckily for us, picnics combine the best of the outdoors and the kitchen. For the best of picnic gadgets, we asked Lodi Cooks in Downtown to share their most popular items for the picnic-loving crowd.

Buffet on ice

Cold Bowls are big this year. An iced tray on the bottom keeps foods from shrimp to pastas to salads, cold for  hours. $29.99-$37.99.

Never, ever have warm wine again

The Corkcicle is a frozen cork that keeps white wines cool without

having to sit in an ice bucket. $24.99

Trudeau Bottle Cap Catcher

This little gadget catches and stores your bottle caps so you don’t leave  them lying around your backyard or picnic spot. $11.99.

Ditch the paper plates

Instead, use melamine outdoor plates by

KellerCharles. They’re light, and don’t create the waste that paper plates do.

Don’t spill the wine

Catching a summer concert and packing a picnic? Take Picnic Stix, a set that comes with stakes that hold your bottle of wine and wine glasses so they don’t get tipped over. $14.99 for the set.

Free flowing refreshment

Tote an easy-to-use iced tea or lemonade jug that has a spigot, which is great for keeping on the end of your

picnic table. $13.99-$40.

Other favorites

No flying table cloths allowed — Keep your tablecloth secure with clips that stick to the table. 75 cents.

Flowers all the time — With a Vazu portable plastic vase, you can have fresh flowers all the time. They expand when you fill them with water, and pack away easily. $6.99.

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