Picnic perfection: Add local flavor to your Fourth of July party

Shop local for your backyard parties this weekend, whether you’re looking for brats, soda or more

Summer is here, restrictions are lifting, and we’re all itching to get together with family and friends to once again celebrate the great outdoors. Whether your soiree is just a handful, or a yardful, there’s no better way to do it than with food: the universal ingredient to a successful picnic or barbecue. Here we share a few tips from local sources on how to pull it off.

PICNIC BASKET

More and more, people are looking to nostalgia to recall simpler times. Find a variety of vintage picnic baskets and blankets at Trend + Relic, in St. Charles. Try a woven grass satchel-type basket with leather handles and traditional twist closure, or a flip-top wicker basket with two wine bottle holders on the side to carry your favorite red. Prices vary.

WINE

Speaking of wine, the Royal Wren, in Geneva, suggests three.

  • French Viognier, from Domaine de L’Ostal winery. Says Royal Wren owner Tom Feltes: “Delicious white wine, crisp, excellent on a summer’s day, pairs really well with anything from salads to fish, and seafood.” $26.
  • Rosé of Pinot Noir, from Bruliam Wines. “Very smooth rosé, light in color, pairs very well with salads, grilled chicken and seafood. Nice summertime fare.” $35.
  • Chardonnay, by Taft Street Winery. “Nice, well-balanced chardonnay, goes with anything from cheeses and charcuterie, to just a nice pasta salad.” $29.

SODA POP

For teetotalers and the younger set, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, in St. Charles, offers more than 300 flavors of specialty sodas, all made in small batches with cane sugar. Most popular:

  • Root beer. Doesn’t matter which brand. Need we say more?
  • Rocket Fizz Blue Cream. Cream soda, heavier on the berry than the vanilla.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try Lester’s Fixins’ Peanut Butter and Jelly soda. Tastes just like it sounds. Most bottles $2.39, with discounts for quantities.

BRATS

Stew Ream, co-owner of Ream’s Meat Market in Elburn, recommends its basic bratwurst (although you can get fancy with its cheese curd, bacon and blue, and “about a hundred more”). A tip from Stew: “Don’t broil it before putting it on the grill. You’re going to lose a lot of the flavor and seasoning. Just throw it on the grill for 10 minutes, get it brown and cook it through.” If you need sides, Ream’s has a full in-house line of original recipe offerings. Prices vary.

BARBECUE SAUCE

On the lookout for the perfect barbecue sauce? Whiteford’s Sweet & Spicy was created by award-winning, Geneva-based barbecue connoisseur Matthew Whiteford. “It’s a thicker type of barbecue sauce with a ketchup base with just a little bit of heat. You pick up the sweet on the front of your palate, and it finishes with a little bit of spice. It’s family-friendly and not overly spicy,” says Whiteford. $6. (None of Whiteford’s sauces contain high fructose corn syrup. “It coats your palate and deadens your flavor sensors.”) For locations stocking Whiteford’s sauces, visit www.loveyourbbq.com.

BEER

What’s a picnic without beer, right? Head to P. 20 of the July issue of Kane County Magazine for 8 local spots.


Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the July issue of Kane County Magazine.