The perfect local picnic

J.M. Stock’s ham biscuits are served seven days a week until noon—or when they sell out. The Happy Cook has an excellent selection of classic picnic baskets. In addition to picnicking, Beaver Creek Lake is a good place for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.  
Photos: Tom McGovern, Morgan Sayler, Jack Looney J.M. Stock’s ham biscuits are served seven days a week until noon—or when they sell out. The Happy Cook has an excellent selection of classic picnic baskets. In addition to picnicking, Beaver Creek Lake is a good place for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Photos: Tom McGovern, Morgan Sayler, Jack Looney

Take advantage of the last few days of summer and take your meal outside! We put together an arrangement of local goodies to stock your basket, plus some favorite spots to spread a blanket and while away the afternoon.

Bread ends with house dressing from Take It Away

Tucked into the Corner’s Elliewood Avenue, Take It Away is best-known for its sandwiches. But the shop also sells (equally delicious) bread ends, a byproduct of sandwich-making. “I’ve had many returning UVA alums tell me they got them through college,” says owner Tom Bowe.

Tasting notes: Sold by the bag, bread ends are best paired with a container of Take It Away’s special house dressing—a secret sauce that may include mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, sugar, and pepper.

Caromont Farm artisanal goat cheese

The fresh chevre made from Caromont Farm goat’s milk was the first cheese produced on the Esmont farm back in 2007, and it’s a bestseller to this day. Mild, soft, and smoothly textured, it’s available online and around town at locations including Feast!, the Charlottesville City Market, and the Nelson Farmers Market, in Nellysford.

Tasting notes: Delicious enough to eat unaccompanied from the tip of your finger. But if you’re looking for a pairing, try the chevre with a fresh white wine— a Jefferson Vineyards viognier, perhaps— a salad with grapefruit and arugula, or use it as a spread for a gingersnap cookie. This cheese knows no bounds.

Green Goddess dressing and dip from Feast!

This magical condiment gets its creaminess from a combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, plus a little zip from rice wine vinegar, but the basil and parsley are the stars of the show.

Tasting notes: Addictive and versatile, this concoction goes well with tortilla chips or crudité. It could also be used as a sandwich spread, or dressing for a chilled pasta salad. Or you just might find yourself eating it by the spoonful.

Ham biscuits from J.M. Stock Provisions

Run, don’t walk, to J.M. Stock, where ham biscuits are served seven days until noon or when they sell out, whichever comes first.

Tasting notes: Dressed with honey and hot sauce, the biscuits certainly have a kick, but the combination of smoke, sweet, salt, and spice is just right. “They’re freaking delicious—they hit all the flavor profiles you want,” manager Ben Moore-Coll says. “They go great with a cider like the Potter’s Craft Farmhouse Dry.” One is a snack, two make a meal. Just don’t forget napkins.

JAM According to Daniel

Local jam maker Daniel Perry adds one pound of fresh local fruit to every jar of jam he makes. It’s available at a number of area retailers including Albemarle Baking Company and Charlottesville City Market, where Perry samples about a dozen different varieties every Saturday.

Tasting notes: The bestselling jam can change from month to month along with the seasons, but the strawberry rhubarb is a year-round favorite. “It’s great with a slice of baguette and a soft spreadable cheese,” Perry says. If you’re torn between a long loaf from ABC or MarieBette, you can sidestep the issue and just use good ol’ water crackers.

The lazy person’s picnic

Short on time? Don’t fret. In addition to Take It Away, a mean sandwich can be found at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery, Ivy Provisions, Keevil & Keevil, and Bellair Market. Or try Tilman’s on the Downtown Mall, which offers a picnic menu featuring cheese, charcuterie, dips, and spreads.—Meg Irvin

No basket? No problem.

Sure, you could use that beat-up old grocery bag to haul your stuff, but to really picnic in style, go for a classic basket. Stop by the The Happy Cook, in Barracks Road Shopping Center, where there’s a great selection.


Where to lay your blanket

Beaver Creek Lake: This gem out towards Crozet is a great place to boat, kayak or canoe. There are several picnic tables available for lunch on the water.

Greenleaf Park: A great option for families, Greenleaf Park offers a picnic area, a spray ground, and a half-basketball court.

The Lawn: Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy a more serene experience on Grounds at UVA. If you’re lucky, you might even find a spot in one of the pavilion gardens.

Jefferson, Pollack, and King Family vineyards are three of a number of vineyards that allow guests to bring their own food. At any of these spots, there are striking views and—of course—plenty of wine to go with your sun-drenched snacking.

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Stephanie Henderson
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Great article. I am making a note to seek out those ham biscuits ASAP! Those vineyard suggestions are perfect for a picnic.