"A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king!" said no less an authority than Emily Dickinson. That's license for gourmands with pockets as deep as royalty's to pack an extravagant picnic and head for the beach. We asked Norbert Wabnig, right, owner of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, for a few pointers on how to put together an over-the-top basket of afternoon snacks. His shop, a fixture since 1967, carries 500 to 600 varieties of cheese. Hard-to-find wines and other gourmet treasures also line the shelves of the tiny store. His picks:
Truffle cheese. These varieties -- studded with fungi that typically run about $6,000 a pound -- are among the priciest in the store. Try Boschetto al Tartuffo, made of a blend of cow and sheep's milk from northern Italy. Or Moliterno Sardinia, a sheep's milk cheese with truffles punched directly into the round. $50 to $65 per pound.
A delicate slice of chevre feuille -- fresh goat cheese -- carefully wrapped in chestnut leaves. Flavored with peppercorns, a morsel goes a long way. $20 apiece.
Jamon Iberico, a cured ham from Spain, which until recently was impossible to find in the United States because of federal food guidelines. Produced from acorn-fed wild boar, the meat is aged 36 months, then thinly sliced, so it practically melts in your mouth. $90 to $120 per pound.
The rarest of all caviars, the golden-hued Osetra Imperial, straight from the Caspian Sea. As the story goes, this caviar was hoarded for the shah of Iran and was almost unattainable during his reign. $600 for a four-ounce tin.
Wash it all down with a hard-to-find wine. Wabnig recommends a magnum of the 1981 Petrus Pomerol Grand Vin, what he calls the rarest, most sought-after and most expensive Bordeaux. Considering that a case of Petrus futures can command a whopping $36,000, Wabnig calls the magnum "a steal." $3,500.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times