"classy picnic" menu input... can you help me?
I'll be taking the bf on a surprise date to an outdoor concert venue (Hollywood Bowl) next weekend and would like to plan a romantic picnic to enjoy beforehand at the picnic areas. Lots of places in the area make special picnic baskets to sell to ticketholders but I'd like to go the extra mile and put something together myself. As a midwestern gal, the picnics I grew up with were fried chicken, ham biscuit and potato casserole affairs (ALWAYS a casserole... even vegetables are a casserole) but that's not his cup of tea (he gets scared of mayonaisse and velveeta). I'd like to branch out and really impress him with a "classy" european style picnic. I don't mind spending money on really good ingredients as long as I know they're going toward a fairly tried and true recipe. This is what I was thinking of bringing along:
a charcuterie selection of nice cheeses and meats (w/ normal fruit/jam/olives on the side)
a great baguette
mushroom pate (from a recipe posted by a SF Chowhound for their regional picnic)
individual tarts (maybe tomato and cheese or onion and bacon... do you have a recipe suggestion?)
wine (and more wine!)
for dessert i was thinking individual pavlovas, bundts or profiteroles with pastry cream
What do all you CHers think? Am I headed in the right direction? Missing something? I'd appreciate your thoughts and suggestions!
I forgot to report back on my picnic menu... Thanks to everyone who offered up their suggestions; my surprise was a resounding success! I served:
2 nice salamis (a fan favorite) and prosciutto de parma
a manchego, aged goat cheese and a nice triple cream
breads and crackers, marcona almonds and grapes
mushroom pate (recipe courtesy of Ruth Lafler on this board)
fig and walnut tapenade (epicurious)
Nicoise Salad platter with grilled ahi (I assembled on a platter once we arrived and had each item in its separate ziploc)
Dessert: Individual berry tarts (made in my awesome 4" heart shaped tart pans) with balsalmic custard
I also made sure to accompany all with: tablecloth, wine glasses, real cutlery, cloth napkins, etc. It made a huge difference :) Thank you everyone for helping my first HB evening be so lovely and memorable!
We love to do concerts in the park! Never been to the Hollywood Bowl, it sounds fabulous!
We do go to one once a week on Thursday evenings, and we've learned that pretty much you can bring anything to eat. Its just packing it with ingenuity. Containers are crucial, and the little Chinese takeout boxes are the best for individual salads. They have them at Michaels if you want fun colors, or white is available too. I buy and use them from scones to salads. Steak sandwiches are perfect, they hold up well. We're dorks we bring our binoculars too!
Thanks everyone for the very helpful suggestions! I now definitely plan on seeking guidance from the store with my charcuterie selection and planning the details with real wine glasses, etc (thanks for the candle tip!!!) I really love the poached salmon idea and maybe i'll try and incorporate that into the salad that seems to be missing. my dessert ideas are probably too ambitious (i usually get much more excited about this course than the others) for a picnic so i'll look into chocolate or maybe chocolate dipped fruit. thanks again for everyone's input!
If you want to go with a poached salmon dish, I made the recipe linked below (from Gourmet Mag) for Poached Salmon with Tarragon Sauce and Fingerling Potatos one year for the Hollywood Bowl and people from other boxes were looking at our meal with envy in their eyes. It's a pretty easy recipe, travels well and tastes delicious!
I'm copying a post from the other coast, one that I thought hit all the picnic highlights quite well. Just substitute your local LA places for the Boston area rec's, and you'll be in business. This is from a really veteran Boston hound.
"Formaggio in Huron Village would be a great one-stop shop a short drive away where you cold put together a really great picnic basket.
Have the staff help you pick a variety of small portions of cheese. Get some bread, salumi (cold cuts from all over. like a few slices each of ham and salami and sopresata and chorizo), a little jar of some good mustard, some roasted nuts, maybe a bit of pâté and few cornichons, some marinated olives and roasted red peppers, some grapes and an apple and a pear, a few white anchovies, a couple of cookies and petit fours and chocolates, a bottle of wine (rosé Champagne often seems special to me).
Remember to pack a blanket, a wine opener, a sharp knife or two, some plates, a little cutting board, some cloth napkins, sturdy wine tumblers (flat bottoms are easier than stems), a little bag for trash.
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MC Slim JB Apr 30, 2007 03:58PM"
Have a great time!
The menu looks great - you're making me hungry!
One question: do you have seats in a box, or bench seats? I only ask because if you're in a box you may ALSO want to include candles for that extra-romantic touch. The Bowl's policy on candles is posted here:
Basically what you'd want to get are hurricane-style candles, anything nestled into a container so that the flame is a couple inches below the top of the container. I often see these little hurricane-style lamps at the Bowl:
Super-romantic under the stars!
I think the simpler the better. The cheeses & meats sound terrific. Mushroom pate would be great too. Always some great bread.
Indiviudual tarts? Not so much -- hard to to eat at a picnic and the crust probably won't travel well.
Ditto on the dessert choices.
I'd go for more greens and or a veggies salad to offset the more substantial meats & cheese. And simply fresh fruit for dessert -- it is summer and your are in CA...
It looks like you've got the right idea.
What will really make it a treat for him is to have what he likes...beer? bring his fav beer....wine? bring real glasses.
Get some great cheeses some slices of great meats and arrange them on a nice cutting board...I'd suggest sliceing your harder chesses into nice slices beforehard for easy pickings..soft cheeses, have only just enough to nibble on....have some nuts, dried and fresh fruit, berries, granish w/edible flowers, sprigs of mint, and any other pretty and edible goodies.
For desserts, think of things that will travel well.
Contact The Artisian Cheese Gallery..they would be happy to help you arrange something down to the garnishes and fruits and nuts...have in mind your budeget, how many cheeses and meats (2-3 of each) and the types of cheeses you two enjoy...aske for some suggetions and try a few they suggest...call ahead, the place can get croweded near lunch time.