Create Your Own Luxury Picnic Experience

by | Jun 2024

Luxury Picnic St. Croix Valley

Photos: Chris Emeott

Elevate your beach and boating excursions with a sustainable picnic spread.

This issue is devoted to highlighting the best of the best in the St. Croix Valley—from restaurants and service providers to local destinations and experiences. And, really, what better way to spend a summer day than enjoying the thing that has defined the history of our region and remains steady through the year? Our greatest asset—the St. Croix River.

We encourage you to spend a day (or many) this season enjoying time on the river. Whether you plan to jet off on a boat or lounge on a sandy beach, we have inspiration for you to plan your perfect outing. Dive into a collection of picnic-friendly recipes, courtesy of Toxyfree and Hudson Grocery Cooperative; a curated assortment of luxury sustainable goods from Toxyfree; and an insightful look into summer wine and nonalcoholic beverage offerings from Ashley Hausman of So What Wine.

Accessorize Your Outing

Toxyfree offers oodles of items perfect for picnics.

  • Plant-dyed yoga mat. $150.
  • Artisanal olive wood kitchen utensils. $9–$45.
  • Elevated Access Shopper. $320.
  • Raw, locally sourced and crafted wood cutting board. $80–$100.

208 Main St. S., Stillwater; 651.214.2040
Facebook: ToxyFree
Instagram: @toxyfree

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

Fruit and cheese are classic picnic provisions. Take it up a notch with a tasty display of your family’s favorites, assembled on skewers for easy portioning. This recipe makes 15–20 skewers. Contributed by Michelle Hanson, dietitian at Hudson Grocery Co-op.

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

  • 1 cup cheese, cubed (e.g. mozzarella, colby jack, sharp white cheddar and gouda)
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ½ cup melon, like honeydew or watermelon
  • ¼ cup green grapes
  • handful mint leaves, optional
  • crusty bread, cubed, optional
  • balsamic glaze, whipped cream or honey, optional for drizzling

Prepare fruit and cheese, and assemble as desired. For adults, use larger skewers, and add mint leaves; toothpicks are great for kids—but be wary of the pointy ends, especially on a boat. These can be refrigerated, but won’t last long. Before serving, drizzle with honey or balsamic, and add a few cubes of crusty bread if desired. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Grilled Veggie Salad

This is a filling, light option that can be pre-prepared and enjoyed by a crowd. (This recipe serves 4–6.) Select your favorite seasonal veggies and dressing to make it your own. Contributed by Michelle Hanson, dietitian at Hudson Grocery Co-op.

  • 3 small or medium zucchini or summer squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 medium ears of sweet corn, shucked
  • 2 bell peppers, cut in a few large pieces
  • 1 red onion, quartered or sliced in wide rings
  • 8 oz. asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, skewered for grilling
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • fresh herbs, optional
  • goat cheese or feta, optional

Prepare your grill for medium-high heat direct grilling. Prepare vegetables on a platter; drizzle with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Grill vegetables directly on the grate, making sure to skewer the smaller veggies (like tomatoes). Watch the grill, and char each vegetable to your liking. Tomatoes take about 2 minutes per side. Onions require 4–5 minutes per side. Corn will need about 8–10 minutes total (turn regularly). All other listed vegetables take about 3 minutes per side. After grilling is complete and veggies are cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss in a dressing of your choice (a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar/lemon juice works too) with fresh herbs, a dash of salt and cooked garbanzo beans. Eat immediately or refrigerate as this makes a delicious chilled meal. For a tasty addition, incorporate goat cheese or feta when serving.

Hudson Grocery Co-op
1701 Ward Ave. #200, Hudson, Wisconsin; 715.377.9913
Facebook: Hudson Grocery Co-op
Instagram: @hudsongrocerycoop
YouTube: Hudson Grocery Cooperative

A Sommelier’s Summer Bucket List

As soon as I feel the sun on my shoulders, my taste for wine begins to shift toward brighter, lighter offerings that can benefit from a chill and go with a wide array of summertime food. I also look for wines that aren’t too high in alcohol, as I might be doing a little day drinking. It’s also why I recommend a few nonalcoholic (NA) options as well.

If you’re seeking a little carbonation in your sip, you can’t go wrong with the sparkling Gomes Vineyard Albariño Extra Brut from Carboniste ($30). It’s buzzy, with a tangerine nose and notes of white peach on the palate. Fancy cider? Le Pere Jules ($19) comes from one of the oldest family-run cideries in Normandy, France. It’s purely pear and only 4 percent ABV. If you need to go no-booze, try the riveting Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company BLÅ ($29). This was a favorite this year in the NA category.

Collection of Summer Wines

Not in the mood for bubbles? Try a Gruner Veltliner ($19) from one of Austria’s oldest continuously run wineries, Salomon Undhof. It will appease the sauvignon blanc fans with its fresh, focused fruit and citrus edge. Ideal with salads and goat cheeses. Pining for pink? Go with one of our newest go-tos: Division Winemaking Co Ouest Rosé. Dry like the ones we love from Provence, but a refreshing alternative well suited to a charcuterie spread.

And yes, you can drink reds in the summer! We just recommend you put a chill on them. In order to pull this off well, you will want lighter reds that aren’t too tannic. One of our favorites has been Martha Stoumen’s Post-Flirtation ($34), a blend of old vine zinfandel, carignan, pinot noir and petite sirah, which offers up juicy vibrant red fruits, pomegranate, hibiscus and a hint of spice. It’s flirty, fun and uber food friendly. For something only a little bolder that maybe just needs a half chill (20 minutes in the fridge), we recommend the Cirelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($22). It has all the makings of a serious red but doesn’t take itself too seriously. A medley of crushed berries, cherries and violets make this perfect for grilling, flatbreads and cheese plates.

Finally, for a couple more NA picks, you cannot go wrong with any of the St. Agrestis products (Phony Negroni, Phony Mezcal Negroni and Amaro Falso, $5 each). With a little sparkling soda and ice, you are ready to rock. We have also been digging the Dr. Lo Alcohol-Removed Riesling ($20), which expresses itself pretty dry with its racy acidity, but there is a touch of sweet to get it balanced. It remarkably resembles the real deal and is utterly refreshing.

Ashley Hausman is the owner of So What Wine in Stillwater. Hausman is one of 400 Masters of Wine (through the Institute of Masters of Wine) in the world—and the only one in Minnesota. Learn more about So What Wine’s offerings, wine club and classes at

So What Wine
823 Fourth St. S. Unit 200, Stillwater; 651.551.1677
Instagram: @sowhatwine


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