Posh Picnicking from LACMA Café

Live Jazz, a cozy spot for two, and a chef-prepared gourmet basket
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In this sprawl of a city, there are few locations better suited for an urban picnic than LACMA, particularly during the museum’s summer Jazz series, which has been running for over 20 years now. Live music permeates the air as dusk settles and gives way to the pillared illumination of “Urban Lights,”(created by the recently deceased artist Chris Burden) setting the the scene for a memorable evening of al fresco Friday night dining all season long.

It’s free, too—you just stake out a patch of turf and picnic away. And if you don’t want the actual hassle of producing a picnic yourself and lugging around a basket packed with all the paraphernalia required (did you remember to bring the corkscrew?), LACMA Café’s Executive Chef Rui Wang is creating a posh outdoor eating experience for guests to dine on while grooving to the cool sounds of the musical lineup.

The premium package for two is dubbed The Louie and goes for $100. You get the entire shebang in this picnic: whole-roasted or fried Jidori chicken and two sides, like classic coleslaw, chickpea farro salad, or farfalle pasta salad. There’s also cheese—a chef’s choice of one domestic, one imported, and a soft-ripened cheese, plus salami, prosciutto, and house-made pâté. Of course, wine is included, too. You get a bottle of Patina label Sindoa Chardonnay or Merlot (with a convenient screw-off cap, so forget about the corkscrew).

Live Jazz at LACMA
Live Jazz at LACMA

Photography by Eddie Lin

To make it as glam as possible, you also get creature comforts, like a couple of pillows, water-proof picnic blanket (gingham, naturally), fold-out table, chinaware, wine glasses, cloth napkins, and all your grub in a fancy wicker basket.

If that’s a bit much for you, you can pare it down with The Duke ($40), which includes the chicken options, two sides, dessert, and wine (for $25 extra), all packaged for take-away. Although none of the extravagant extras come along with it, you can always arrive early and snag some first-come, first-serve seats in front of the band stand.

So what’s chef Wang’s idea of a perfect picnic?

“I spent 6 years of my childhood in France, so my ‘perfect picnic’ is a beautiful crusty baguette with a soft ripened cheese like a Camembert, and beautiful thinly sliced saucisson sec with a crisp chilled glass of white wine on the beach,” she says.

Yogi Bear would approve.

redarrowLACMA Café, Bing Courtyard, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-857-6180 Reserve your picnic 24 hours in advance online. On the night of the show, pick up your goodies at the Jazz Nights booth next to Ray’s & Stark Bar. Drop off is here too, if you got the deluxe furnishings.