It’s an incontrovertible fact that the French have mastered the art of le pique-nique, whether it’s a simple repast of bread and cheese or a more elaborate feast.
Just add a few good friends, a bottle of dry rosé and some fresh, seasonal fruit, and you’ve got all you need for a veritable “déjeuner sur l’herbe” this spring in Wine Country.
At Frenchie Picnics and Provisions, opening soon on Broadway just south of the Sonoma Plaza, chef/owners Sarah Pinkin and Elizabeth Payne are hoping to lure both locals and tourists alike with a menu of delicious French picnic fare to go, from cheese and meat platters to salads, sandwiches and dinner entrees.
“The French have really perfected the art of picnics in keeping it simple yet really delicious,” Pinkin said. “In our cooking, we stick to the basics — to what’s in season — and not overdoing it.”
Customers will also be able to stock up on beverages like beer and wine, fresh bouquets from Tesoro Flowers and all kinds of picnic supplies, from wine openers to picnic blankets. It’s one-stop shopping for those who want to maximize their time à table, with friends.
“You can grab snacks, lunch, dinner, wine and flowers for somebody,” Pinkin said. “You can even build a picnic gift basket as a hostess gift.”
Decorated in modern hues of navy blue and gold, the shop will offer a stand-up bar for a quick bite and open-air refrigerators to store the prepared foods to go, which the women will cook at their off-site catering kitchen.
“We’re trying to get people excited about picnics again,” Pinkin said. “We want to encourage people to go outside, bring your blanket and go sit down and enjoy nature.”
The business partners — both busy moms who have lived in Sonoma for nearly a decade — also plan to stock kids’ sandwiches and veggie cups, plus all kinds of yummy snacks.
For desserts, they plan on carrying two of their favorite cookies from Crisp Bakeshop — the blueberry oatmeal and chocolate chunk sea salt.
For those yearning to go on a warm-weather picnic this spring, the chefs came up with an appetizer and a couple of menus that include two tasty salads and two sandwiches.
To kick off the munching and crunching, the chefs chose a vibrant, spring option: a Golden Beet Dip with fresh crudités.
“The dip is gorgeous, and it’s vegan,” Pinkin said. “This time of year, we’ll do blanched asparagus and beautiful spring carrots, snap peas and radishes.”
The women also shared their healthy recipe for a simple Salmon Nicoise with haricots verts, hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes and potatoes dressed with a simple Champagne vinaigrette.
“It’s a classic salad from France,” Pinkin said. “Here, we can source better salmon than tuna, so we went with salmon.”
If you’re looking for something more exotic, they suggested heading to North Africa for their Moroccan Salad With Turkey-Quinoa Meatballs, sweet potatoes and a Cumin-Orange Vinaigrette.
“Moroccan food is so flavorful and amazing,” Pinkin said. “The meatballs are gluten-free, with quinoa instead of bread ... it’s the perfect lunch.”
For sandwiches, you can go stupidly simple with a French Ham Baguette Sandwich, made with high-quality ham, brie cheese, mustard, butter and lettuce on a baguette. The popular street food fills the tummies of tourists on every street corner in Paris.
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