A Picnic on the Beach
Sunshine, relaxation with friends, good food, and a salty breeze to make you feel alive. It may, in fact, be the perfect day.
BY ELLEN HIATT
From one end of Snohomish County to the other, north to south, of course, you will find the sandy beaches with grassy slopes for spreading a blanket, staking a shade umbrella, or claiming a picnic table.
Camano Island, just a bridge away from Stanwood in the north of the county, is replete with parks on Admiralty Inlet on one side and Port Susan on the other.
Camano Island State Park, Cama Beach State Park, and the many smaller options (English Boom, Iverson Spit, et. al.), give a waterside view of crabbers, clammers and beachcombers for your sunshine-filled day.
If you find yourself in Everett, you’ll be in luck. As the Port of Everett continues to redevelop into an economic powerhouse of a working waterfront for shipping, light industrial, and commercial and housing options, the public access points continue to expand. Head to Boxcar Park, where movies are projected onto a blow-up screen for Sail-In Cinema during the summer months. Kite-style shelters provide respite from the sun. Here you can also see a waterfront concert, a car show, or stroll around the historic Weyerhaeuser Building, once a showcase for the various trim and siding Weyerhaeuser offered in its early heyday.
Check out the picnic tables and art installations at Jetty Landing Park just south of the 10th Street Boat Launch. Jetty Island is the perfect getaway. Take a City of Everett ferry (get a reservation online) to get to Jetty Island during the summer months. Bring a shade umbrella and a blanket… while there is plenty of sandy beaches with views of competitive kite-boarders in action, there are no tables or shady picnic shelters to be found here.
Head south and Mukilteo will treat you to a historic lighthouse.
Lighthouse Park sits on the outer bend of land reaching into Possession Sound, the state ferry landing to its northeast, and a driftwood strewn shore to its south. Schedule a tour of the lighthouse or just bring that picnic basket and chill. It’s your day — do with it what you want. Park yourself on some driftwood and enjoy the meal.
Fewer than 20 miles south of Mukilteo is Edmonds, your go-to for miles of sandy beaches, a fishing pier, and a walkable, shoppable downtown with boutiques and plenty of restaurants for filling your picnic basket the easy way. Find the Bubble Man at Sunset on Olympic Beach, blowing ginormous bubbles that glow luminescent, lighting up the state ferry like a funhouse mirror. Grab a whale watching cruise from the marina, or drop a crab pot off the fishing pier. Whatever you do with your day, there are miles of sandy beach, plenty of grassy slopes and picnic tables to lay out your spread.
CREATE YOUR PERFECT PICNIC
What you bring for noshing on varies by culture. Finger food comes in the form of sandwiches and Thai fresh wraps with a little peanut sauce. Or how about a mezze platter, with some baba ghanoush, hummus and olives with pita bread. A little spread of salamis, cheese and fruit is always a hit. After talking to some local chefs and store owners, we have some suggestions. But one thing that’s agreed upon — the one, non-negotiable must-have for your picnic— it’s all about the company.
Take some time off first, and then bring some good friends,” says PicNic Table Cafe ́ chef Danilo Amato. Because the time you spend with friends is love, and when you make your own food, it’s made with love.
At the PicNic Table in Woodinville, everything is made in-house and by hand, including the carry-out “picnic baskets.” He named his restaurant around the concept of spending good time with good friends over delicious food — like having a picnic in the South of France.
Traci Smith had time with friends in mind when she opened The Picnic Pantry and Parlour in Stanwood.
“The Parlour part is the wine bar, and I wanted a comfortable place where people could come where it wasn’t loud, and enjoy a glass of wine. Like an old time tea parlour. I wanted to offer everything you would need to create a picnic or stock a pantry.”
Smith offers all the fixings: sausages, wine, spreads, crackers, and nuts to make your own charcuterie board. You can also buy a board prepared by Smith — why not make it easy on yourself? While you’re there, pick out a bottle of wine and even a game to share with your friends. She carries quite a few, including “Cover Your Kingdom,” part of a series created by a Camano Island game company.
Be creative and get people together and share food over conversation and the outdoors. Whether it’s friendship or romance, I feel like food brings people together, Smith said.
If anybody knows what it’s like to picnic on a beach, it’s Russell Lowell, the chef/owner of Russell’s Restaurant and Loft in Woodinville. This California surfer, with time spent in the coral reefs of Cuba, says you could bring a tuna sandwich, but meh! Prep some meat for the grill and show up to the shore.
“Carry a little pan and wherever you happen to go, throw it on a grill and put some meat on it,” Lowell said, adding with true surfer-dude enthusiasm:
All you really need is a hubcap and a flame!
Recipes for your picnic
The most straightforward picnic is a sandwich. But it doesn’t have to be boring. Just ask Christa Lorrigan, owner of Christa’s Sandwichboard, where the potato and macaroni salads are made fresh daily, and the sandwiches draw a crowd. Stop in for take-out, a charcuterie board, and a bottle of wine. Or make your own. Here, she provides her potato salad recipe.
CHRISTA’S POTATO SALAD
A truly delicious potato salad is simple in ingredients and big on comfort. A homemade version doesn’t resemble the grocery store deli tub of goo in the slightest. Christa’s Sandwichboard nails it with a tasty blend.
Boil Red B Potatoes till just tender, cool, then chop. Add in diced, raw, red and green peppers, a little whole grain mustard, and a quality mayonnaise, like Best Foods brand. Season it to taste with a little Spike seasoning (Haggen’s grocery carries it).
Experiment with the volume, but start with a bowl of potatoes, add enough mayo to hold it together and keep it from being dry, and add a little of everything else till you get the texture and taste you like.
Cook’s Tip: Bring a nice bottle of prosecco, or a red blend; add some sweet cherry peppers and a wedge pickle, and you have yourself a meal.
Throw a little meat on the grill and you have yourself a picnic on the beach. Russell Lowell provides his lamb kebab recipe, “an easy way to wow” your friends. Soak wood skewers for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.
Cut lamb roast into 1” chunks. Cut 1” cubes out of red onion, yellow bell pepper and red bell peppers. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Blanch the vegetables in salted water for two to three minutes. Skewer the meat and vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and grill over a high heat for three to five minutes. Baste with unsalted butter and serve immediately.
THE PICNIC TABLE CAFE
Chef Danilo Amato shares a class, rustic terrine, made ahead, sliced and served cold. Enjoy with some almond biscotti to dip into your wine (Italians dip biscotti into their wine, not their coffee, don’t you know?!). Add some marinated olives, roasted nuts and a salad and you have a meal.
COUNTRY STYLE PORK TERRINE
- 10 gr 5 spices mix
- 12 gr salt
- 3 gr curing salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/8 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp minced fresh thyme
- 3 lb fine ground pork
- Enough cured pancetta slices to line a terrine mold
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees, mix well all the ingredients, line the terrine mold with plastic wrap and the pancetta, fill the terrine mold with the pork, fold the pancetta over the pork mixture and enclose with the plastic wrap. Seal the terrine dish with the proper lid and place the terrine in an oven dish filled halfway with hot water (bain marie) cook for 90 minutes, refrigerate overnight.
For serving, carve a 1.5″ slice, serve with fresh baked crostini, cornichons, stone ground mustard and a side of fresh field greens salad.
Chef’s Tip: Enjoy with a good crisp 2021 unoaked chardonnay from my friend Sean, winemaker of Sightglass Cellar in Woodinville.
Writer’s Tip: Look up some YouTube videos for water bathing a terrine! And enjoy whatever deliciousness and good company you bring to your picnic.