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Amelia Islander

The Picnic Basket

May 03, 2016 10:46AM
The Picnic Basket, located on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach, is a joyful place to grab a bite with friends. I say joyful because the atmosphere is friendly and fun, and everyone has a smile on their face. Chef Lisa Langshaw is all about preparing and serving fresh, creative foods. Recently, I asked her to prepare a picnic basket to share with my friends at the beach. She was happy to oblige, and when I arrived to pick up my basket, I knew we were in for a treat. My friends, Sherry and Sonia, joined me at the beach for a casual, yet elegant lunch, which consisted of many of The Picnic Basket’s most popular offerings. Everything was packed in a returnable basket, complete with a beautiful blanket, silverware, napkins, and glasses. The basket also included a bottle of Aqua Panna Spring Water and a bottle of Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water. It was fun to unpack the basket and see what surprises Lisa had created for us. First up was House Tuna Salad, made with line-caught tuna, eggs, freshly-cracked pepper, and dill. I really loved this salad, which was very fresh and tangy. We also enjoyed House Chicken Salad, made with all-natural Cajun-spiced chicken tossed with dried fruits and seeds, and flavored with candied ginger. These were served with Black-Eyed Pea Pasta Salad with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise. Also included was a distinctive Red Wheat Berry Salad, flavored with dried fruit and ginger. Wheat Berries are the entire wheat kernels, and they have a crunchy, nutty taste. All these delicious salads are unique because they are not overly dressed, yet they are moist and full of fresh flavors. Also in our basket, we discovered sliced Cremenelli Whiskey Salami and a wedge of Mimolette Cheese. Cremenelli is an artisan, handcrafted salami that gets its distinctive flavor from being marinated in fine whiskey, truly a gourmet treat. Mimolette is a hard, cow’s milk cheese from France, with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. We nibbled on baby French baguettes with our cheese and salami, and then, voila, Sonia discovered another cheese in our basket: a Saint-André, which is soft and buttery, and tastes like an intense Brie. Just fabulous! Along with our savory picnic items, Lisa packed some lovely nibbles to keep us munching throughout the afternoon: Herbed Marcona Almonds from Spain, which have a softer and more delicate flavor than traditional almonds (we fought over these goodies!), plus Dried Tart Cherries, Peaches, and Apricots, and Mini Salted Caramel Cheesecakes. This was truly a picnic basket to be savored over conversation with good friends, and since we were at the beach, we didn’t want our picnic to end! One of The Picnic Basket’s favorite quotes is by Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I definitely agree with that! The Picnic Basket offers breakfast and lunch. Their hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, including dinner specials. They offer fresh baked goods, catering for any and all occasions, and a full market of gourmet goodies. For more information, call (904) 277-9779 or visit