Forgot the bread? Need to pick up a couple of cheeses or some ripe fruit? Here are our favorite spots for filling in the gaps on the way to your wine country picnic. Or maybe you forgot to cook? No worries; many of these shops offer everything you'll need, including sandwiches, drinks -- even picnic baskets. Curiously, none of these spots had much in the way of pastries and sweets. But that's OK. There's nothing better than great fruit to wind up a winery picnic, and Lazy Acres Market has a great selection.
C'est Cheese. This small, dedicated cheese shop in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara offers a large, comprehensive selection. 825 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara; (805) 965-0318; www.cestcheese.com. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Monday.
El Rancho Marketplace. Celebrating its 40-year anniversary this year, El Rancho is right on Highway 246 and most convenient to the wineries of Santa Ynez (and not far from Los Olivos and Ballard Canyon). It's known for its sandwiches, and for good reason: The grilled tri-tip sandwich is fantastic, as are more conventional deli sandwiches. The hand-cut pastrami, made in-house, is surprisingly good with a fruit-bomb of a Syrah (but tell them to hold the cheese -- it doesn't go!). Not the best spot for buying bread or fruit, (basic supermarket quality in both cases). But there's a decent choice of cheeses and cold cuts and lots of local wines. 2886 Old Mission Drive, Solvang; (805) 688-4300; www.elranchomarket.com. Open daily (including holidays), 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lazy Acres Market. A wonderful, full-service gourmet/health food supermarket just a quick drive north of downtown Santa Barbara. You can pick up anything you need here. In addition to a good selection of cheeses, bread, wonderful fruit and local wine, there's Ducktrap smoked trout, Charlie Trotter citrus-cured smoked salmon, speck (smoked prosciutto) from Italy, La Quercia Americano prosciutto, good salami and cornichons. Look for a delicious condiment called "Ikra Island" -- it's a spread of roasted eggplant, red peppers, onion, tomato and garlic; it's great slathered on crusty bread. Even the premade sandwiches here are pretty good. 302 Meigs Road, Santa Barbara; (805) 564-4410; www.lazyacres.com. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Metropulos. Excellent sandwiches, plus a good, small selection of cheeses, including Cowgirl Creamery from California, Neal's Yard from England, Mimolette and Bucherondin from France, a three-milk Langhe Robiola from Italy, Manchego from Spain and lots of well-tended blues. Don't miss the Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a raw cow's-milk cheese from Wisconsin. The sandwiches are excellent. Also on offer: good French saucisson (sausage), bread from D'Angelo's bakery, olives, peppers, Serrano ham, lomo embuchado, (Spanish- style cured pork loin) Fra'Mani salami, Molinari mortadella, and luscious-looking lime bars. Vignette sodas, not too sweet, made with Chardonnay or Pinot juice, are great for non-imbibers. Skip the salads; many are too sweet. Metropulos also sells beautiful picnic baskets. 216 E. Yanonali St., Santa Barbara; (805) 899-2300; www.metrofinefoods.com. Open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Panino. The patio's often packed at lunchtime at this little sandwich shop right in the center of the village of Los Olivos. In addition to a long list of panino sandwiches, some conventional (the Italian combo), some not (the Panino Cobb), there's also a box lunch -- any sandwich, half a harvest salad, a cookie and a bottle of water for $15. 2900 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos; (805) 688-9304. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
-- Leslie BrennerCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times