Food + Dining Main

Hot Dish: Picnic Confidential

Our summer special: what to pack for a meal out

BY July 27, 2015


The beach crowds have thinned, just in time to enjoy the warm Gulf water and longer days. And what could be better than topping off a magical summer day with a sunset picnic at, say, the Naples Pier or Sanibel Island? Here’s how to pack for the tastiest results.

Antipasto: From bruschettas and olive salads (more than 20 medleys on offer) to balsamic-glazed carrots and stuffed peppadews, there’s a plethora of nibbles at DeRomo’s Gourmet Market (Bonita Springs, 325-3583). Grab freshly baked bread and nifty single-serve wine goblets as well. The tiny, almost-hidden Dolce & Salato (Naples, 300-0444) focuses on imported Italian cold cuts and can prepare a tray with prosciutto, speck, Pecorino, Parmesan, olives and fruit. Throw in a hot baguette or two, and buon appetito.

Sides: At Nature’s Garden (Naples, 643-4959), a healthful emporium, opt for “angel eggs,” the shop’s endearing name for organic deviled eggs—or the roasted-veggie, chickpea or beet salads. The just-opened Earth Origins Market (Fort Myers, 210-3256) has similar appeal, also serving organic produce in standards like potato salad and coleslaw, plus fun stuff incorporating quinoa, kale, wheatberries and more.

Seafood: Even though stone crab season is over, Captain & Krewe (Naples, 263-1976) has hundreds of pounds of flash-frozen claws to tide cravings until fishing resumes. Smoked salmon spread, seafood dips and ceviche starring Gulf favorites are whipped up daily. Merrick Seafood’s (Cape Coral, 542-8080) seasoned shrimp with house-made cocktail sauce, among others, also hit the spot.

Meat: The emphasis on from-scratch food couldn’t be felt more than at Crave Market (Fort Myers, 466-4663). While there’s a little bit of everything, the house-cured meats, turkey wings and “wicked” sandwiches are too good to pass up. Jimmy P’s Butcher Shop & Deli (Naples, 643-6328) is on fire with its brand-new Charred restaurant next door, but an upgraded smoker at the original is adding sizzle to the hot sliced wagyu brisket and pastrami by the pound.

Dessert: Locals have sworn by the sweet endings at European American Bakery Café (Fort Myers, 225-0450)—the cupcakes, cookies and cakes are enough to make the most die-hard low-carbers surrender. Wynn’s Market (Naples, 261-7157) has a similar cult following. Don’t miss the rich, nut-less truffle brownies and Key lime pie. For that quintessential taste of Florida, people also flock to Randy’s Fishmarket (Naples, 593-5555), now with a second location in Bonita Springs
(949-6001), and the new Fish Crazy (Naples, 260-1070).

Beer: If Gov. Scott upholds his promise to the state’s microbreweries, by July 1 taprooms should be selling 64-ounce growlers. Pick up a few from places like Fort Myers Brewing Company (313-6576) and Naples Beach Brewery (304-8795)—or make your own suds.

Wine: Naples Wine Collection (513-0095) bills itself as a concierge retailer, which means racks are lined with unique bottles and the store will often deliver. En route to the beach? Tony’s Off Third (Naples, 262-7999), Sukie’s Wine Shop (Naples, 228-5823) and Among the Flowers (Sanibel Island, 312-4085) are minutes from the sand. 

Baskets: The Good Life (Naples, 514-4663), a family-owned cookware store, carries deluxe insulated backpacks—sold alone or filled with plates, flatware and glasses. For classic wicker, if Williams-Sonoma at Waterside Shops (Naples, 514-2213) or Bell Tower Shops (Fort Myers, 415-4222) doesn’t have one in stock, they’ll ship it to you. 


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