The weather outside is still often frightfuland you're already suffering from advanced spring fever. What to do? Surprise your favorite person with an impromptu indoor picnic. Choose a theme, gather the goodies, and off you go. Think of these meals as mini-vacationssans passports, luggage, and worrisome customs officials.
For a proper tea party (left), begin with a sturdy, fully outfitted basket from THE GIFTED ONES [150 West 10th Street, 212-627-4050], then visit CARRY ON [110 Greenwich Avenue, 212-989-9735], A SALT AND BATTERY [80 Second Avenue, 212-254-6610], and MEYERS OF KESWICK [634 Hudson Street, 212-691-4194]. Trad British foods such as cod and chips, pork pies, pasties, Scotch eggs, scones with jam and cream, and ginger tea cake are all delectable and highly portable. Pop in an Alan Partridge DVD or read Alice or Jane Austen aloud for extra points.
Or simply dash out to your favorite neighborhood gourmet grocer: Zabar's for bagels and smoked salmon; Garden of Eden for exquisite roast chicken, crusty wholemeal bread, heavenly olives, and jars of real taramasalata; or Citarella to Go for luscious prepared foods of all sorts. The newly opened PICNIC [2665 Broadway, 212-222-8222], sister to Silver Moon Bakery, offers a full range of hamper-ready treats. Its hearty pâté sandwiches (below) and quichesboth the classic Lorraine and toothsome vegetarian versionsare very grand.
For a romantic nibble that's just as delicious under the covers as under the stars, create a decadent feast à deux from Parisian confectioner FAUCHON [442 Park Avenue, 212-308-5919]. Shown at top is a selection of glacé cherries, peaches, kumquats, figs, and gingerFauchon's adorable prickly pear is almost too popular to keep in stock. Add some chocolates (these come in signature ribbon-tied pink boxes) and trompe l'oeil marzipan, then pick up a bottle of bubbly as you waltz home.
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