Food & Drink

Inspired Entertaining: Create the Perfect Summer Picnic

Pack a proper picnic and revel in Kansas City’s idyllic summer.

Story by Lon Lane and Stewart Lane  |  Photographs by Jason Dailey

In the days of English classics and storybooks, the picnic was an all-day, sumptuous (and often romantic) affair. A holiday of sorts—a delicious combination of leisure and fellowship and family and friends, and of course, food—the picnic itself was cause for celebration and revelry. Games were played; people lounged on blankets in the shade, engaged in intellectual conversations and dined in that special way that only comes when surrounded and inspired by nature’s beauty.

We want to return to that time when a picnic in the park happily consumed an entire afternoon; when drink and food and talk converged into an innocent aphrodisiac. Forget the fact that we are citizens of the 21st century, harried, stressed, driven and always dogged by our personal technology devices. It’s that genteel tradition, influenced by European flair and enhanced by modern tastes, that beckons us to slow down and sit down on a fluffy blanket in the green grass to enjoy a traditional French country picnic.

And instead of the English or French countryside, our inspired entertaining setting is the public Rose Garden in the Jacob Loose Memorial Park, one of Kansas City’s most lovely historic civic treasures.

Our al fresco summer dining experience is about distilling our knowledge of elegant entertaining into the picture-perfect picnic. We begin with a beautiful selection of local cheese featuring Green Dirt Farm and other domestic and imported cheeses. A crusty baguette from Farm to Market torn by hand and surrounded by the ideal companions of fresh, plump cherries and juicy apricots. Incorporated into our menu: a classic starter of French breakfast radishes plucked straight from our Morningside garden in Brookside, served with lightly salted and peppered butter. To heighten the outdoor dining experience, we pair the spicy sweet bite with chilled Prosecco and French 75 cocktails, poured into cut-crystal Champagne flutes.

Today’s Loose Park picnic is elevated by the culinary delight found in petite smoked Cornish game hens brushed with an apricot brandy glaze and garnished with an herbal bouquet of mint and bok choy flowers with fresh flat leaf parsley.

The spread includes two side salads guaranteed to transport you to the rolling hills of Provence.

First, a twist on the customary potato salad: a French baby red potato salad tossed with white wine, dill, fresh garden tomatoes, black olives and green onions splashed with a classic Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Finally, is crunchy blanched haricot vert salad, with toasted walnuts, julienned pear, shaved parmesan, parsley, opal basil and shallots marinated in a sherry wine vinegar and fruity extra virgin olive oil.

And no picnic is complete without an exceptional dessert—when in France, do as the French do. Cap off the day with a customary French almond tart adorned with mixed berries. A soft yet dense almond crust is baked with fresh seasonal berries and topped with succulent strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. A light apricot glaze makes the berries glisten in the sun. Chocolate truffles are served—no meal is complete without a bit of chocolate.

Enjoy summer and recapture the days of leisure in the great outdoors. Set aside an entire afternoon and early evening in the park to unplug unwind and dine like the great gourmands of the past in the serenity of Kansas City’s parks and greens.

Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions French Country Picnic in the Park

Cocktail: French 75

Nibbles: Crusty baguette, assorted cheeses, fresh fruit, radishes

Entrée: Smoke Cornish Game Hens

Salads: French Potato Salad,  French Green Bean Salad with Pears and Shaved Parmesan

Dessert: French Mixed Berry Almond Tart,  Chocolate Truffles


About KC Magazine’s Inspired Entertaining Experts

 Lon Lane co-founded award-winning Inspired Occasions as The Catering Company in 1991 with his wife, Marcia, and has been serving and dazzling clients in Kansas City and nationwide with his innovative and creative style ever since. The Lanes’ youngest son, Stewart, joined Inspired Occasions as research and development chef in 2012 after earning a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Kansas State University. Together the father-and-son team, produce events for private, social and corporate functions, and educate professional organizations on the finer points of well-executed catering. For more information about Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions, visit inspiredoccasionskc.com.