Perfect Picks: Bethesda Fountain

BY: IAN O’HARA

Crafted in the 19th century as a wilderness escape for New Yorkers of all social statuses, Central Park has remained a community treasure of iconic public spaces and hidden hideouts. It’s easy to find your fill of ancient bricks and awe-inspiring scenery in the maze of pathways and winding roads. And throughout the medley of boulders and bridges and burrows, there is one feature that travelers and locals alike can’t help but be drawn to: Bethesda Fountain.

For decades, park goers have been magnetised to this bronze “Angel of the Waters” located just off Terrace Drive. Bethesda Fountain serves as more than a place to sit and ponder, though–It serves as a milestone for female artists.

In 1857, sculptor Emma Stebbins was commissioned by the city of New York to craft the eight-foot neoclassical fountain. Classically trained in Rome, Stebbins was granted the opportunity by her brother Henry, who was part of Central Park Board of Commissioners, and who emphatically supported her artistry. When first looking at the statue, her most apparent features are the pronounced wings and the lily perching from her hand. Beneath the stone wings and ethereal pose, water gently flows from her roots and settles the pond down below, as if Heaven is meeting Earth. Four cherubim encircle the column beneath the angel, symbolizing Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace – perhaps as emblematic heirlooms of the city itself.

(Photo Courtesy of Central Park Conservancy)

(Photo Courtesy of Central Park Conservancy)


The name Bethesda has biblical roots. In Jerusalem, Bethesda was the name for the pool outside of the city’s sheep gates that was believed to have healing powers. As described in a verse from the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 5, the Biblical passage depicts a great multitude of people who were sick or blind, waiting for an angel to descend and bring a “troubling of the water”, to comfort them.

And on either side of the terrace’s granite landings and mustard-colored colonnades are soft rises of shaded grass, overlooking the Angel, The Mall, and those who – if only for a photographic moment – take in the tranquility of the healing waters. On one of these summer days, on the grassy knolls, you can find our signature parasols and specialty picnic spreads nestled among the patches of sun. We love Bethesda Fountain not only for its scenic beauty but for the natural community that flows atop the herringbone brick paths. And with a freshly baked baguette and our selection of fruits and cheeses, we’d love to help you find this location as a favorite of yours, too.

Meet our Fearless Founder: Wendy Weston

 

Wendy Weston

Ruby & I are always talking about making the perfect bite. So making the perfect picnic came from our obsession with the perfect bite

BY: ADRIANA GALLINA

Wendy and her daughter at one of their favorite spots in Central Park, Bethesda Fountain.

Wendy and her daughter at one of their favorite spots in Central Park, Bethesda Fountain.

Wendy Weston is the founder and president of Perfect Picnic. For Wendy, the only thing that comes before putting together beautiful picnics, is her amazing daughter, Ruby – an active and inventive eight-year-old with a very sophisticated palette.

Wendy was born and raised in Cape Cod and her former life includes figure skating at the national level and professional welding. W squared is a born entrepreneur and the ultimate DIY gal. Now, she’s a New Yorker through and through and her world is the fast-paced world of luxury picnics — while the picnic experience is relaxing for our guests, our end is organized chaos and adrenaline.

She’s thankful to have her headquarters in her favorite and home neighborhood, the Lower East Side. Many people consider Wendy to be a part of the LES. She’s been here for over the past two decades and even helped to open one of the first art galleries in the neighborhood, first called Metal Stone, later changed to Aiden Savoy. She’s currently a founding member of the new Soho House on Ludlow.

Her love for food, people and her gift for creating memorable experiences led to the creation of Perfect Picnic. On a typical day, you can find Wendy in the kitchen putting the final touches on a picnic, on the phone confirming details with guests, and at a LES street corner catching up with neighbors, all at the same time.

Wendy Weston _

Me: “Wendy, look up so I can grab this photo. ” Wendy: “Wait, let finish this insta post!”

And she’s all about functionality, you’ll often catch her in a comfortable (but cute!) black jumper, chocolate brown curls pulled back into a bun, and purple eyeshadow outlining her piercing green-hazel eyes. “I don’t wear heels, I’m just not a heels gal,” she says. Plus, it’d be hard to set-up picnics in stilettos.

She wants all her picnics to be nothing less than amazing–or ya know, perfect. But she also cultivates a fun work environment where kindness, from the kitchen to the park, always comes first.

Wendy has a knack for people and hard-work which is palpable through her dedication to building the Perfect Picnic brand through memorable customer experiences. Her picnic passion began while she was eating her way down the Amalfi coast with her daughter. She loves the Italian culture, which takes time to indulge in the simpler things, good food and better company.

She always says, “I want people to savor the moment.” Picnics, for Wendy, are about slowing down and enjoy delicious food and family.

Wendy being a perfectionist, as always.

Wendy being a perfectionist, as always.




Favorite picnic spot: On the ottoman with Rue
Favorite drink: Vodka martini, slightly dirty, extra chilled with olives
Favorite spot in the city: LES
How did you come up with Perfect Picnic’s name: I’m not a big meal person, I’m more of a snacker. Ruby and I are always talking about making the perfect bite. So making the perfect picnic, came from our obsession with the perfect bite.
Go to snack: Summer roll from Pho Grand  
What do you love most about the Picnic industry: The people: my customers, my team, I’m very social.


Picnic: A History

By ADRIANA GALLINA

It’s International Picnic Day!

Edouard_Manet_-_Luncheon_on_the_Grass_-_Google_Art_Project

One of the first and most famous portrayals of a picnic is Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) by Édouard Manet featured above.


Picnics are a long-standing tradition. The word picnic, is believed to be derived from the French word, “picque-nique.”  “Picque” meaning ‘pick’ or ‘peck’ in French, while “nique” is believed to be just a rhyming compliment.  
“Picque-nique” was first used in print in Tony Willis’ 1692 edition of Origines de la Langue Française to describe a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine. Picnics became known as a gathering where everyone brought something to share, similar to what’s now known as a potluck.

The American-style picnic as we know it today began around the middle of the 19th century. Although June 18th marks International Picnic  Day, one of the most popular days for picnicking in the U.S. is, with no surprise, the 4th of July.

Boys picnicking at the White House Easter egg roll, 1911.

Boys picnicking at the White House Easter egg roll, 1911.

In France, Bastille Day (a national holiday commemorating the storming of Bastille celebrated on July 14th) is one of the most common days for people to hit the outdoors with blankets, food and baskets in hand. In many European countries, especially Italy (where Perfect Picnic’s inspiration was born), the biggest day for picnics is Easter Monday, known as Pasquetta.

Read an excerpt from the New York Times on good old fashion picnics.

Read an excerpt from the New York Times on good old fashion picnics. Read an excerpt from the New York Times on good old fashion picnics.

 

Here at Perfect Picnic, we want to celebrate Picnic Day with you. Post a photo of your favorite spot to picnic, tag and follow us @perfectpicnicnyc for a chance to win your own Perfect Picnic!