Pack Your Picnic with Champagne and Cheese

A couple at Mayfield Park enjoys a picnic. A picnic can be a low-cost and romantic Valentine's Day date that many students should consider.

Photo Credit: Silvana Di Ravenna

With Valentine's Day approaching and love having firmly established itself in the air, one of the biggest questions facing many young couples will be how they should go about celebrating the day. Should they pack into a crowded restaurant or movie theater like a pair of sardines? Or should they consider an alternative that will take them out into nature and away from the Valentine's throngs? A pleasant picnic may be just the answer.

A key component in any picnic is that of the picnic basket. While women might find the baskets themselves to be lovely accessories on a day out at the park, the ostensible purpose of the basket is to fill it with food and drink to consume at your location of choice. But where does one start in packing for their picnic?

One potential option would be Antonelli's Cheese Shop. This local business specializes in cheeses, but also sells spirits and a variety of foods including fresh bread and chocolate. They even offer a picnic rental service in which they handle the packing of the provided basket for you. But what if you're wanting to do the packing yourself?

“If the weather is nice, I'd start with a bottle of champagne,” said Brad Anderson, manager at Antonelli's Cheese Shop. “It goes with all types of cheeses, especially soft cheeses, as the bubbles cut right through the cheese.”

Picking out the right cheese might sound like a difficult prospect for those unfamiliar, but Antonelli's is there to help.

“If you're unsure then we'll take you through a tasting and see what you like,” Anderson said.

For those of age, picking out an appropriate accompanying champagne might also seem a daunting task. Nikki Lafleche works with wine and spirits at H-E-B, and has noticed that students tend to opt for cheaper brands of champagne. Though, Lafleche indicated that it wouldn't cost much to raise the quality of their selections.

“Students tend to buy the fire out of Andre because it's cheap, but Tott's is a step up, it's very nice and doesn't cost much more,” Lafleche said.

Conversely, those who are willing to shell out a few more dollars may be spending too much in their quest to find the perfect bottle.

“You don't need to spend $80 or even $40 for something on the higher end. Brands like JCB are comparable to the more expensive Moet & Chandon, which everybody buys because of its prominence in hip-hop culture,” Lafleche said.

The next step is finding an appropriate location. The City of Austin is littered with parks and recreational areas. One of the most prominent is Zilker Metropolitan Park, which the Austin Parks Foundation describes as, “Austin's premier park.”

But students could also stick closer to campus by visiting a smaller park such as Pease District Park, located just south and west of the West Campus area.

And for the finishing touch, don't forget the dessert. Chocolate may seem too obvious a choice, but as Anderson said, “Valentine's Day and chocolate go hand-in-hand.”