Picnic Spot: Interlaken ParkPicnic Supplies: Volunteer Park Cafe, 1501 17th Ave. E,

Picnic Spot: Interlaken ParkPicnic Supplies: Volunteer Park Cafe, 1501 17th Ave. E, 328-3155. (Click on “contact us” for a good map.)Picnic for One: Chicken-Apple Salad ($7.25), Strawberry-Mango-Papaya Lemonade ($3.50), Chocolate-Ginger Cookie ($1.75), total $13.63Volunteer Park Cafe (VPC) sits sandwiched between (surprise!) Volunteer Park and Interlaken Park. Though the former offers grander views of Seattle, the latter is more mysterious, with its twisty rainforested paths. And if your picnic day is sabotaged by clouds that form and puke forth in the time it takes you to get to VPC, like mine was twice, Interlaken’s trees also double as cover. On first blush, VPC is a pastrymonger’s dream. (I’ve stocked up on figgy maple scones and raided the cute cookie pails many times before.) But if you can get your tongue off your chest and lift your eyes to the lunch board, you’ll find a long list of salads and sandwiches, all of which are available to go in sturdy boxes. I may have created a few traffic issues, frozen in place with decision anxiety, but I eventually settled on greens topped with chicken-apple salad, and a summer lemonade that encouraged me to ignore the rain.On my first visit, I glanced from my salad to the Armegeddon outside, wondering how much bad weather might ruin what looked like a killer lunch, and the salad won. I plunked my box down indoors and scooped the appled and herbed chicken salad in with huge, greedy forkfuls, pausing occasionally to weave in a bit of tangy lettuce, or some of the toasted walnuts they’d sprinkled on top. I drained my (delicious) lemonade, bought a scone to take home, and vowed to return on a sunny day.Last week, I went back, and again, the picnic gods mocked me. I ordered the same salad. Boring, I know, but I heard chicken salad has been scientifically linked to improved weather patterns, and we need it. Plus, VPC’s chicken salad stuck with me. It achieves the perfect balance between moisture and chickeniness; a healthy punctuation of celery and apple adds intrigue, but the cooks don’t overmayo to bring it all together. It’s a chicken salad that even beats soup on a rainy day.This time, we found a nice little log under a tree at the top entrance to Interlaken Park (above). I don’t normally think of salad as perfect take-out food, but my box proved impermeable to the sogginess of my impromptu table, which I appreciated, and sturdier. I made a mental note to tuck a few plastic bags into my purse the next time I decided to eat outside in the rain.Walk It Off: Afterward, I walked down into the park, just long enough to forget I was in a city and earn the soft, chewy chocolate-ginger cookie I’d parked on the dashboard as a reward for eating outside in the rain. It was supposed to be an afternoon treat, but those big chunks of chocolate wooed me. I finished the cookie before I started the car.