Ready for concert picnics?
With a takeout food scene bursting at the seams in Los Angeles, you will have little trouble finding the right items. Practically every neighborhood boasts a gourmet deli, takeout or ethnic market. Most supermarkets have salad bars and takeout counters as well.
When planning a picnic, avoid heavily sauced or runny foods and keep utensils to a minimum by serving items that can be eaten with a fork or with fingers.
Here are some foods that work well for concert picnics, and where you might find them:
--Roasted half chicken with herbs: Serve with whole tiny roasted potatoes and asparagus tips in a vinaigrette dressing. For dessert, try individual fruit tarts, available at any French pastry shop. Roasted chicken is available at most delis and supermarkets. Stuff with a bouquet of fresh rosemary, oregano or thyme.
--Curried vegetable empanadas: We found these at Le Cafe Market, 14633-37 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 990-6678, but you can get empanadas at most large Latin grocery stores and restaurants, or at takeouts such as Empanada Place, 8566 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 854-3373, which serves Argentine empanadas. Serve the turnovers with cold soup and a green salad plus large, stemmed strawberries for dessert.
-- Tapas: Spanish appetizers are wonderful for picnics. Spanola, 2020 Lomita Blvd., Lomita, (213) 539-0455, sells the makings, such as jamon Serrano, wonderful Spanish prosciutto and longaniza (sausages).
--Tamales: These little appetizer or entree bundles are satisfying and ideally suited to picnic fare. Carry them hot to the picnic site and they'll be the perfect temperature by serving time. In Los Angeles try Lolita's, 6050 Whittier Blvd., (213) 264-8546; El Cholo, 1121 S. Western Ave., (213) 734-2773; Rincon Chileno, 4354 Melrose Ave., (213) 666-6075, and Guatemalan Imports, 2214 W. 7th St., (213) 487-4340. Border Grill, 7407 1/2 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 658-7495, and Kaktus, 400 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (213) 271-1856, do terrific tamales, too. Serve with Bloody Marys to start, then add chicken salad. Dessert can be assorted melons cut into diamond shapes.
--Meaty salads: These can be assembled ahead, dressed with a vinaigrette sauce and carried to the picnic in individual containers. You may want to start with a fruit (melon wedge, fresh fig or oversized strawberry) wrapped in prosciutto or ham, sliced paper-thin. Serve cookies for dessert. Cravings, 8653 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 652-6104, Raffine, 3741 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake Village, (805) 496-2699, and other fine delis carry hot and cold salads to go.
--Fruit and seafood salad: Chop Stix, 7229 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 937-1111, offers a terrific papaya and shrimp salad and others that go well with the restaurant's fabulous barbecued ribs and bao, stuffed steamed buns. Bring along almond cookies and hot or cold green or black tea in a thermos for dessert.
--Croissant sandwiches: You may want to serve this lovely picnic fare with a pasta salad plus cheese and fruit for dessert. The Biltmore's picnics-to-go service will put a picnic basket together for $15 per person. Other packages are priced from $11 to $18. Call the Biltmore, 506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 624-1011, room service.
--All sweets: An ideal menu for people who have already eaten and would enjoy dessert and coffee at the concert site. Among the caterers who specialize in sweet menus--and delivery--are Jean's Sweet Somethings, (213) 475-1555, and Pearly Gates, (213) 254-0593 (telephone orders only).
--Barbecued ribs and chicken: You can get them just about anywhere. But if you want a Southwest touch, try the ribs at Tumbleweed, 130 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (213) 274-5844. They deliver.
--Deli assortments: Yes, they are old-fashioned, but they work. Try a favorite Jewish or other deli, or call Perfect Picnics, 1308 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, (213) 316-2727, for a variety basket of salami, imported peppers, crackers, crusty baguettes, seasonal fruit and sparkling water and dessert, delivered.
-- Panini: These Italian sandwiches are filled with tasty Italian sausages, cheese and marinated vegetables. Pick them up at Italian delis or gourmet takeouts, such as Il Panino at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 617-1844; Il Piccolino, 641 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, (213) 936-2996, or Europa Grocery Co., 263 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213) 628-4873. Or make your own using Italian bread rolls and your favorite Italian fillings. Wrap them in wax paper tied with colorful red, white and green ribbon and serve with a big fruit salad topped with mascarpone (soft fresh cheese). If you can't keep tortoni in paper cups chilled long enough, serve cannoli or other Italian cookies with espresso.
--Dim sum: Stop in Chinatown at Family Bakery, 659 N. Broadway, (213) 622-5255; Hong Kong Low, 425 Gin Ling Way, (213) 628-6217, or Golden Dragon Bakery, 970 N. Broadway, (213) 622-3385, for a good selection. Add lemon or custard tarts and some tea, and you're in business.
--Sushi: You will find a wide assortment packed and ready to go at Yaohan U.S.A. Corp., 333 S. Alameda St. (213) 687-6699; Enbun Co., 124 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, (213) 680-3280, or Modern Food Market, 332 2nd St., (213) 680-9595--all in Little Tokyo. Most Japanese markets and sushi restaurants will also pack a box to go.