Pack some delectable snacks and get outdoors

Picnic. That iconic ritual of warm days, involving food with friends and family, a breath of fresh air and a break from life’s hectic pace. Central Oregon lays out a wide blanket of options for picnickers, from public parks to wild rivers to hiking and biking trails to an outdoor concert. In terms of picnic style, some folks go fancy by packing a tablecloth, napkins, cutlery, wine glasses and folding chairs. Others tuck salami and cheese in a backpack and head out.

Regardless of how or where you choose to enjoy the ritual, you’ll want to bring along the best food for feasting. Here, a few local food experts weigh in with their outdoor-noshable suggestions, alongside their favorite picnic destinations. Don’t forget nibbles for the pooch—if you don’t, she’ll snatch food right out of the baby’s hands.

Randy Yochum – perishables department supervisor, Newport Avenue Market

A Bend favorite, Newport Avenue Market is the go-to for high quality food and difficult-to-find items. Randy Yochum rounded up a delicious collection of items with a decidedly Mediterranean flavor that are perfect for picnicking.

  • Seeded baguette by Bend’s Village Baker
  • Greek peasant salad with vinegar and oil dressing made at Newport Avenue Market’s deli
  • Molinari finocchiona (fennel) salami or Columbus dry Genoa salami
  • Marcona almonds or trail mixes packaged by Newport Avenue Market
  • Red seedless grapes
  • Castelvetrano olives
  • Montasio, Manchego or Asiago aged cheeses (which hold up well to temperature changes, but will require a knife)
  • Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, a fine Italian red wine from La Quercia
  • Rogue sodas or Silk Road Sodas—particularly cucumber, pear or pomegranate

His suggestions for where to enjoy this bounty? Smith Rock near Terrebonne, Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville, Tumalo State Park north of Bend, Tumalo Falls out Skyliners Road west of Bend or Drake Park and Farewell Bend Park in Bend.

George Tate – co-owner, Tate and Tate Catering

George Tate and his wife Barbara started Tate and Tate Catering in 1999, growing the business to include catering around the high desert as well as two Grab and Go retail outlets—one in downtown Redmond and the other in NorthWest Crossing in Bend. He chose this classic, simple menu, and suggests pre-ordering food for the best selection of items.

  • Cold roasted half chicken with rosemary-lemon gremolata
  • Home-style dill pickle potato salad
  • Roasted veggie salad tossed with fresh basil vinaigrette
  • Seasonal fresh fruit or strawberry shortcake with Oregon berries
  • House-made lemonade, including wild berry and mango

For his picnic, Tate says he is partial to waterfalls along the Deschutes River Trail—Dillon Falls off Forest Road 41 from Cascade Lakes Highway west of Bend or Benham Falls near Sunriver are both magical.

Rae Morena – meat and deli manager, Sunriver Country Store

The Sunriver Country Store, a fixture since the 1970s, features a large selection of food, upscale items and a liquor store. Rae Morena, who’s worked there for 23 years, is proud of Oregon-grown and -produced foods. She sourced many items for her picnic basket from Central Oregon producers, as well as others from the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon.

  • Cada Dia smoked cheddar, made in Prineville from raw cow’s milk (other flavors include garlic cheddar, dill cheddar and pepper jack)
  • Seattle French baguette, made in Portland
  • Justy’s Jelly, made in Redmond—delicious on bread with cheese
  • Oregon Trailbuster smoked beef-strip jerky by Taylor’s Sausage in Cave Junction
  • Smoked salmon lox, Nova-style (good on bread with cream cheese), or smoked Chinook salmon, both by Tony’s Smokehouse in Oregon City
  • White table wine by Season Cellars in Ashland—try either the Transparency or Viognier
  • Pinot Noir, Jacob Hart Vineyard, by Rex Hill in Newberg
  • Oregon-Style Hazelnut Toffee with sea salt, made by Holm Made Toffee Co. in Bend

After you fill your basket, Morena says to take the family to Fort Rock Park in the heart of Sunriver or to the Sunriver Marina. Or find a spot along the river at the Crosswater Bridge and see if you can spot a baby bald eagle, one of Morena’s favorite sightings.

Pam and Chris Wavrin – owners, The Depot Café in Sisters

This sweet little café on Highway 20 has been serving food since 1976, and has been in the hands of owners Pam and Chris Wavrin since 2007. Everything is made from scratch, according to Pam, who says, “We avoid processed foods and buy meat and produce locally.” The pies especially have a devoted following. “A slice would make a sweet treat at the end of a picnic.”

  • Smoked turkey and pepper jelly sandwich or vegetarian sandwiches
  • Flourless monster cookies—made from almond butter, M&Ms, peanuts and oats
  • A seasonal salad or the Greek, spinach or Cobb salad
  • Fresh-squeezed lemonade
  • Hand-cut fries (for munching in the car)

Select a few items off the menu and hike the five-mile round-trip along the Metolius River from Canyon Creek Campground to Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery near Camp Sherman, suggests Pam.

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