Chuck Staton’s Stoneacre Picnics and Newport Polo Experience

A fresh take on an upscale al fresco to-go experience complete with charcuterie and pillows

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It’s not every day you get invited to a luxury picnic experience – or a polo match. Being new to both, and with attempts to look presentable underway, my drive to Newport Polo was filled with questions: Are my socks the right length for my “fanciest” shoes ($14.99 on clearance at TJ Maxx)? And what is polo? Is it…horse-croquet?

Stoneacre Picnics, who hosted this upscale experience, is a concept from the same team who found success with Stoneacre Brasserie, Stoneacre Garden, and Stoneacre Wine & Spirits. This latest project curates picturesque picnics for custom events all over Newport and Aquidneck Island, including local beaches, the Newport Mansions, and many public parks. They even offer a grab-and-go option, so you can bring your fancy al fresco set up wherever you please.

Walking up to Newport Polo already feels a little bit like crossing the living room while my mom is watching Downton Abbey: the British announcer, the flowery dresses, the horses. But today an upscale, scenic picnic set-up is added to the mix, complete with pillow seats, perfectly plated dishes, and an Instagram-chic aesthetic. I truly feel like an impostor on this gorgeous not-too-sunny summer afternoon.

The Stoneacre Picnics arrangements are lavish and striking. We’re seated at one of several beige mini picnic tables, on varied pastel pillows. Transparent blue cloth is draped over each table, with wicker placemats, floral arrangements, bronze cups, and wine buckets galore. Among these elaborate accoutrements is the main event – the food.

The two menus Stoneacre offers paired well with the decor and were perfect for a New England late-summer afternoon outside. The fitting Polo Picnic menu featured La Brujula canned tuna in olive oil, marinated olives, spiced nuts, and a delicious baguette with housemade apricot and blueberry jams. It’s accompanied by cheese and charcuterie selections including Nettle Meadow Farms Kunik (a rich triple crème cheese), Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue, and Olympia Provisions’ Chorizo Rioja and Saucisson Sec salami, all washed down with Fever-Tree sodas and followed by decadent fall-apart brownies.

The second menu was the Parisien Lunch. This came with a crudite; a surprisingly tasty kale salad with miso Caesar dressing, marinated mushrooms, and parmesan cheese; a ham and gruyere baguette
sandwich; and a ratatouille tartine (roasted eggplant avocado toast with grilled squash, tomato confit, and basil aioli) – also served with that killer brownie!

Champagne, beet tahini, a thick and satisfying tzatziki, and 5 Spoke Creamery’s Tumbleweed and Redmond cheeses all made copious appearances throughout the picnic as well.

As much as I enjoy pretending to understand polo, I much prefer eating two meals. On this breezy afternoon, my focus was very much on the food, which is perfect for grazing while hanging: varied, light,
upscale, and impeccably prepared.

Of course I am grateful to Stoneacre Picnics and Newport Polo for hosting this event – but most of all, a huge thanks goes out to the person who was seated next to me and didn’t show up. Your meal was thoroughly enjoyed and I can assure you, your brownie went to a loving home.

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