Dinner with Mei-Ling: The Perfect Picnic Date

By Mei-Ling Lam

Playmate Mei-Ling Lam gives you start-to-finish instructions for a romantic picnic.

The perfect date can be stressful on many levels! You want it to be simple yet just elaborate enough to land the next date! We women always say it’s the small things that matter (until we unzip your pants). So why not a picnic? It’s easy, it shows off your creative side and it’s intimate. Perfect for the first kiss too!

A few points to keep in mind when preparing for the date.

Fingers or forks? There is no rule that says you have to eat with your fingers, but there are some pros to it. I would love to have a man feed fresh fruit to me! It’s juicy, wet and probably going to lead to something else.

Hot or cold? If you’re planning a picnic, I’m sure you have checked the weather. Don’t pack foods that can’t stand the heat, like sushi and prepared sandwiches — they will spoil! Be sure to bring cold packs if it’s hot out.

Impress with creativity. A picnic is not the place for a fancy dinner. Stick with simple ingredients and keep it affordable!

Sandwich bar? Perfect idea for many reasons! Give your date a choice of meat (roast turkey breast or smoked salmon) along with toppers like tomatoes, onions, pickles and even grilled portobello mushrooms. Instead of the usual iceberg lettuce, step it up with spinach, watercress or arugula. If you want mayonnaise, pack it in a small container and place over a bigger container full of ice to ensure it stays cool. Guacamole is another great choice for a spread (package the same way as mayonnaise).

Veggies? YES! Carrots, celery, broccoli, bring it on! They are fresh, easy to serve and always a favorite!

To grill or not to grill? Assuming you have a grill at hand, it’s a good option. If you choose to do burgers, pre-form the ground chuck so you’re ready to throw them on the grill. Hot dogs are always a great option too, very easy! Don’t forget the condiments and again, ICE PACKS, ICE PACKS, and more ICE PACKS!

Chips anyone? Yes, please! Chips will never get old. They’re the perfect snack for a picnic or BBQ. You have many flavors to choose from…and if you’re bringing guacamole, pick up some tortilla chips too!

Drinks? Always pack a few bottled waters, maybe a thermos of sweet tea, and my favorite for a picnic would be peach sangria. YUM!

Dessert is a must! Again…keep it simple! Fruit is ideal. I love whole strawberries sprinkled with sugar — the perfect way to wrap up your date and to show her just how sweet she is.

Picnic Essentials

A blanket…to keep your date warm. Unless you can think of other ways to make that happen. The basket, of course, to carry all your goodies. An ice chest for your cold ingredients or PLENTY of cold packs! Serving utensils, if necessary. Small plates, cups and napkins. A romantic touch…Pack candles along with a small vase filled with flowers. Set up some music to set the mood.

Guacamole Recipe:


4 ripe avocados 1 lime, juiced ½ medium red onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, minced 1 vine-ripe tomato, diced 1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped ¼ tsp. ground cumin ¼ tsp. chili powder Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and fold everything together to gently mix.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

My favorite Peach Sangria recipe:


1 bottle white wine (Spanish table wine) 3 oz. brandy 2 oz. triple sec 1 cup orange juice 1 cup pineapple juice 2 ounces simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil for 2 minutes in a small saucepan and cooled — leftover syrup can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 month) 3 oz. white peach puree (peel peaches, remove pit and puree in a blender with a small amount of water) Fresh peaches, oranges and apples, sliced


Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to mix. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve over ice.

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