The "depachika"-- or basement food hall--at Tokyo's Takashimaya Times Square department store sells elegant picnic provisions(Jun Takagi)
Like Christmas, a successful picnic has two essential parts: the anticipation and the unwrapping. The longer you wait, the better everything tastes--and that's true whether you're in the Jardin du Luxembourg or the coach cabin on United. Likewise, even the most mundane morsels improve by being packaged with flair. This is no reason to skimp on the food, however.
The following gourmet stores have the fixings to make the wait worthwhile and packaging skills to rival those of Santa's elves. (If you're picnicking in coach, go easy on the stinky cheese; it can be worse than Doritos.)
Barcelona: Queviures Múrria, selling fancy provisions since 1898. Calle Roger de Llúria 85, 011-34/93-215-5789.
Berlin: KaDeWe, a department store where the sixth floor stocks 33,000 edibles. 21-24 Tauentzienstrasse, 011-49/30-21210.
London: World-famous Harrods, which has five grand food halls. 87-135 Brompton Rd., Knightsbridge, 011-44/20-7730-1234.
Milan: Peck, a food hall the size of a city block. Via Spadari 9, 011-39/02-802-3161.
New York City: Dean & Deluca, SoHo's original gourmet store. 560 Broadway, 212/226-6800.
Paris: Fauchon, where everything comes packaged ever-so-prettily in pink. 26 place de la Madeleine, 011-33/1-70-39-38-00.
Rome: Franchi, a remarkable high-end deli. Via Cola di Rienzo 200, 011-39/06-687-4651.
San Francisco: Ferry Building Marketplace, an organic arcade. 415/693-0996. Sydney Jones the Grocer, Down Under's finest. 68 Moncur St., 011-61/2-9362-1222.
Tokyo: Takashimaya Times Square, where there's a mind-boggling basement food hall. 5-24-2 Sendagaya, 011-81/3-5361-1111.
Vancouver: Meinhardt Fine Foods, opened 10 years ago by former caterer Linda Meinhardt. 3002 Granville St., 604/732-4405.