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The 2007 Chowing with the Hounds Picnic report!

Well, I was waiting for our fearless leader Marlon to post the first report, but I am guessing he is sleeping in today....so couldn't wait to start the reporting on the Annual Chowing with the Hounds picnic: when Hounds from the bay area and beyond (way beyond in some instances: our guests included Limster from Boston and Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound.com) gather to eat, drink, share food, recipes, restaurant tips and otherwise enjoy being with other people who love to eat!

The weather gods smiled on us this year, with the type of perfect day people who don't live in the SF Bay Area are rightfully quite jealous of, and the general consensus I heard was that the new site in Tilden Park (Berkeley) was a hit, once folks found it, anyway.....

So let's hear your reports! If you want to post or request a recipe, please do so on the Home Cooking Board, where I have started a thread with my own requests:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448507

...Information about purchased and brought food items (and thus related restaurant and purveyor tips) can go here...Also, look for pictures to be posted soon...

A special thank you to Yimster for the rice roll cooking demonstration and to the picnic organizing committee, but most of all, a big thanks to everyone who came and helped make this a great event!

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  1. Thank you to Susan, Marlon and everyone else who helped organize the picnic - it was really great to meet so many people, and the food was amazing this year. I have lots of recipe requests that I'll post soon on Home Cooking.

    One non-homemade highlight from the picnic was the Navarro Vineyards Gewürztraminer Grape Juice. I had never tried anything like that before - the flavor was very intense - as JasmineG said, it was almost like non-alcoholic honey wine. I think I heard people mention that this is available in the Bay Area (maybe at Chez Panisse?) but mainly up in Mendocino County. Many of us agreed that it was best enjoyed mixed w/ some mineral water. I would love to know if this is sold anywhere closer than Mendocino County. They also make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay juices. http://www.navarrowine.com/shop/produ...

    Again, it was great meeting everyone and seeing familiar faces.

    Chau
    Dave MP

    7 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      yes, this has long been a favorite of mine. Generally, Navarro products aren't sold in stores, only in restaurants and at the winery, and by mail over the internet....but I think I remember someone once saying you can get the grape juice at K and L; does anyone know? (we tend to stock up on the way to and from ab diving...)The grape juice is definitely on the wine list at Chez Panisse, though I can't remember now if it is the Gerwurtz or just the Chardonnay....

      1. re: susancinsf

        K&L doesn't stock it; I asked for it there a few weeks ago.

        1. re: susancinsf

          You can order it directly from the winery. A couple friends of mine and I get together and buy a couple cases every year.

        2. re: Dave MP

          It has been on the list at A Cote and Cesar; it was my cousin's cocktail of choice when she was pregnant. I know that I saw the Pinot Noir somewhere recently, but I can't from the life of me remember where.

          It was great to see everyone, and thanks so much to the organizers!

          1. re: Dave MP

            North Berkeley Wines on MLK often carries the Gewurz and Pinot Noir grape juices. The Chardonnay product is verjus, which is tart and used more like vinegar, for cooking, vinaigrettes, etc. Unfortunately, NBW has had difficulty lately getting the juices from the winery but mentioned that there may be a shipment coming during this post-crush period. I agree it would have been nice to have had something fizzy and minerally with which to mix.

            1. re: dordogne

              Thanks for the update! That also clarifies another question: if the Chardonnay product is verjus, the Gewurz grape juice is definitely on the Chez Panisse list.

              1. re: dordogne

                Verjus is also for drinking. It's quite delightful with soda water - even without sugar. If you add sugar or sugar syrup, it's a very good soft drink. I know because I drink it when I can't have wine due to meds for arthritis

            2. I too enjoyed meeting new hounds and see old hounds who I have not seen in years. Lots and lots of great food. I still am full from yesterday's food.

              I skipped dinner and will skip lunch today.

              There was so much food and drink I sure as I read the reports I will sorry I miss something.

              Thanks to the committee and all those who attended.

              3 Replies
              1. re: yimster

                You're such a lightweight, yimster! Us hardcore hounds went to Lafayette for Singapore food at Kopitiam and then on to Lily's for Shanghai. This morning I got up and made cookies and potato croquettes (with the leftover potato from my picnic dish).

                Thanks for starting the recipe, topic, Susan. You and Marlon should take a well-deserved bow for putting on such a great picnic, and all the hounds who attended should be commended for the huge amounts of delicious food (after last year's rather skimpy offerings). The site was perfect -- I think this was one situation where verbal directions would have been more effective than the map, since it was simply "up Claremont to Grizzly Peak, left on Grizzly Peak, right on South Park." On the way out of the park we stopped at the vista point, where Jackilynn kept saying "wow" at the amazing sweeping view of the Bay. I always say the best views aren't *in* San Francisco, they're *of* San Francisco!

                Great to meet new hounds and visit with "oldbies."

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  You are right I like to be lightweight. Had more to cook for dinner last night. Hope Lily's was good.

              2. Great event! Thanks so much to the organizers. It was wonderful to finally meet the people whose posts I've been enjoying for so many years. Although, apparently I missed a few (JasmineG! Btw, thanks for the heads up on The Return of the Figoun - had one the other day and it was delish).

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    There were some 50 or so different dishes spread out on the buffet tables. Here's the list of what I recall putting in my mouth and things I saw but missed tasting.

                    Just a bite of:
                    Calamari salad
                    Moroccan red pepper spread
                    Corn salad
                    Acme breads with sweet red pepper cream cheese
                    Chicken slaw
                    Tostones and fried plantains
                    Potato chaat
                    Savory semolina pudding with lime pickle
                    Brauschweiger with oatmeal biscuits
                    Fatted Calf rabbit rillettes
                    Mexican carrot pudding
                    Olives, roasted sweet peppers
                    Marcona almonds
                    Bacon potato bites
                    Boucheron tarts
                    Garlic egg noodles with char shu
                    Braised pulled pork and beef with rolls and baked beans
                    Marinated carrots
                    UC Davis wine grapes: Palomino, Tempranillo, Gewurztraminer, Symphony
                    Grilled sausages
                    Ground cherries from the Davis farmers market
                    Salinas Valley roasted zucchini meze
                    Terrine du bouef
                    Spanakopita
                    Napoleon Bakery egg custard buns
                    Butterscotch (?) pudding
                    Chocolate brownie with chocolate chips
                    Almond macaron-like cookie
                    Chocolate sorbet
                    Peanut butter and chocolate bars
                    Chocolate truffles – ginger, pomegranate, etc.
                    Navarro Gewurztraminer juice

                    A sip of these wines:
                    2000 Rosenblum Chateau de Paws
                    1997 Turley “Aida” Napa Valley Zinfandel
                    1995 Greenwood Ridge “Scherrer” Sonoma County Zinfandel (Alexander Valley)
                    1995 Lolonis Mendocino County Zinfandel
                    1995 Bannister “Bradford Mountain” Dry Creek Zinfandel
                    1995 DeLoach “Papera Ranch” Russian River Valley Zinfandel
                    1995 DeLoach “Gambogi” Russian River Valley Zinfandel

                    Missed these:
                    Hot soup described as somewhere between minestrone and gumbo
                    Chicken curry
                    Salad made with wide egg noodles
                    Sticky rice with fuyu persimmons
                    Cheeseboard pizzas
                    Basil chicken
                    Texas trash mix
                    Modern Bakery (Boston) ricotta pie
                    . . . and many, many more

                    Loved the "mad scientists" look of the chocolate sorbet atop the cloud from the dry ice. Now, who can tell us more about those sausages? Were the almond cookies from Phoenix Pastificio? I loved dragging them through the melted sorbet in the bottom of my dessert bowl.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      So, you guys didn't end up short on desserts I hope? After waking up two hours late on Saturday morning after being sick the night before, I didn't have enough time/energy to fry the gulab jam, so I gave up and went back to bed.

                      I've still got 7 cups of cardamom syrup in my fridge that I don't know what to do with, but I guess that's a post for the Home Cooking board.

                      1. re: adrienne156

                        I'm sorry you were ill! Fortunately, we seemed to have plenty of dessert, although another non-chocolate dessert would have been welcome.

                        Can you make baklava with cardamom syrup? I love cardamom-flavored baklava!

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Aww.. Thanks. I don't think I could find people to eat the baklava, but if anyone is interested in the syrup they're welcome to it. :o)

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Cardamom ice cream! Seriously, it is really good stuff!

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          Sheesh, I also missed the rice-persimmon dish! Sounds wonderfully exotic.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Does anybody know if the sauerkraut was homemade? Or if it was from that sauerkraut woman at the Berkeley Farmers' Market? It was especially good with those great sausages.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              Tha sauerkraut came from the same place in Sacramento as the sausages. Morant's Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Slightly OT. I have been making kraut and kimchi at home for a few months now, and I think it is at par tastewise and healthwise with the $7/jar of Cultured Kraut from the Berkeley Farmer's Market. It's really easy. If you would like a recipe, let me know and I'll post it on the Home Cooking board.

                                1. re: mielemaiale

                                  >If you would like a recipe, let me know and I'll post it on the Home Cooking board.<

                                  Sounds good to me!

                                  1. re: mielemaiale

                                    Yes, please do post those recipes. Maybe too late for the choucroute I want to make this weekend, but a good winter project, I think.

                                    Also, please add your upma recipe to the picnic thread on Home Cooking.

                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Regarding sausages::
                                  They came from Morant's, a German butcher in Sacramento. The main dishes were weisswurst, thuringer, smoked bratwurst.
                                  one of the appetizers was a dry-cured sausage (landjaeger) on the same plate as the braunschweiger (pate) with the wheat-ish crackers.

                                  And Melanie, thanks for recovering the plates and things I left behind!

                              2. I really wanted to attend the picnic, but couldn't get out of a family commitment. I'm curious how the whole thing worked. I assume the food couldn't be kept hot, so people brought dishes that were good at room temp. (and not likely to kill anyone that way.) Was the food set up on tables? Did people bring blankets or chairs to sit on? Also, did people identify themselves by their real name or chowhound name. (Assuming the two aren't the same.) Most of all, what did you eat? Please, please someone describe!

                                21 Replies
                                1. re: Glencora

                                  Yes to all of the above except that hot foods were served hot by those who stored them in food safes, grilled, or brought camp stoves to heat them. Here's the archive of past picnics, not yet updated, to give you an idea.
                                  http://chowingwiththehounds.com/
                                  And I hope we'll hear from those with reporting and photography duty soon. Please do keep an eye out for the next one's date to mark your calendar and join us!

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Thanks. I particularly wondered if people brought grills, etc.

                                  2. re: Glencora

                                    Yes. :-)

                                    People bring foods suitable for serving at a picnic, i.e. room temp. However, there are always a few enterprising hounds who want to heat food or even cook -- some of them bring portable stoves, some use the BBQ grills on site (a couple of years, someone made paella using the grills). This year we had an enterprising hound who brought homemade chocolate sorbet, served on a bed of dry ice! When the picnic was in Golden Gate park and it was usually foggy, having hot food was a big plus!

                                    The food is labeled and put out on tables by category (appetizers, mains and sides, dessert), and the tables are "opened" sequentially so that everyone can pace themselves and still get a fair crack at everything. This picnic site had ample tables, but some people brought blankets and the more experienced picnic goers (i.e. Melanie and I) brought folding camp chairs (the kinds with the cup holders, of course).

                                    We usually have some kind of demo -- this year yimster made rice noodle rolls

                                    We usually have some kind of food-related brain teaser -- this year is was identifying 24 different fresh herbs (last year we did a dry spice ID, one year we did honey, one year we had a food-related pub quiz). The winner got 21 out of 24 right, which was really impressive (I thought I was doing well to get 14.5)! We've also done comparative tastings (apples, chocolate, olive oils).

                                    People wear name tags and put whatever they want on them: real name, chowhound handle or both.

                                    I can't remember everything I ate! If people will post their recipes on the recipe thread (nag, nag, nag) that will give you a better idea.

                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448507

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      And perhaps the winner will step forward and let us know how she wants to be recognized! (she registered under an email name but I am not sure if it is also her posting handle...)...just for fun, we asked her if she could also name the secret herb we had hidden aside as a 'tiebreaker' and she did! (It was shiso). Very impressive performance (I didn't even try to compete, and pretended I had seen the key to the answers as an excuse...)

                                      Just a few more of the many great things I ate:

                                      ground cherries (very cool, never had these before); from a farm near Davis
                                      three or four varieties of Acme bread
                                      a Morrocan spicy dip (this one I definitely want the recipe for!)
                                      spicy Thai garlic noodles
                                      a pie that Limster brought all the way from the North End (Can you let us know the bakery?)

                                      much, more, more....

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        The ricotta pie is from Modern Pastry. My favourite was the carrot pudding with the orange and walnut sauce.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          Yeah, the winner also wasn't wearing a name tag that I could see. She didn't seem shy, maybe she just liked being a mystery woman!

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            Could you elaborate on the ground cherries a little bit? Are there other ingredients? I've never had this before either (never heard of it, either!).

                                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                                              I confess, I had never heard of them either, but I really liked them. The hound who brought them just brought a huge bag..

                                              and actually, they aren't a recipe (dont think 'ground meat' )but a type of fruit (as in 'cherries from the ground'.) They have a thin paper-like shell similar to that of a tomatillo; size like a small cherry or large berry.

                                              More info:

                                              http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/ground...

                                              I guess more discussion would need to go on the General Topics Board.

                                              1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                Ground cherries are also known as gooseberries. They're a close relative to the tomatillo.

                                                1. re: Euonymous

                                                  We ate gooseberries all the time in England for "pudding" with Bird's Eye custard, and sometimes whipped cream and cake. Veddy, veddy sweet. I've never seen them in this country. What do people do with them here?

                                                  1. re: Glencora

                                                    Gooseberries are Ribes, ground cherries are Physalis, so I don't think they're the same thing. My friends have ground cherries in their garden and even when yellow are much tarter than this batch from Davis (courtesy of Low End Theory). I liked the ones at the picnic more with the riper, almost tropical flavors.

                                                    Edited to add: there's something called a Cape gooseberry or New England gooseberry that is actually a ground cherry and not like a gooseberry as Glencora would have had in England.

                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                      I've had gooseberries several times dipped in chocolate as a garnish for a number of desserts.

                                                      1. re: Glencora

                                                        My mother used to make gooseberry pie and my grandmother (from New Zealand, with English roots) made jam. I loved that tart/sweet taste.

                                                        One can sometimes find them at Berkeley Bowl. They must have been readily available in L.A. in the 50's because my mom and grandmom got them regularly.

                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                          I love gooseberry tea. It's black tea flavored with gooseberries. Hard to find.

                                                      2. re: Euonymous

                                                        I was going to mention that they are Cape Goosberry - then I read Melanie's post above more closely and see that she has already made that clear....
                                                        See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uchuva

                                                    2. re: susancinsf

                                                      The winner of the blind tasting contest was Sarah "Miele Maiale". Didn't recognize her at first, not having seen her for about 4 years, so good to catch up with Sarah again! One of my favorite moments of the picnic was her late arrival with her mom as guest, watching them put the finishing touches on the potato chaat, and seeing the high level of interest in their savory semolina pudding (someone please tell me the real name for this dish).

                                                      Here's a link to her blog entry for the picnic,
                                                      http://ilikewhatieat.typepad.com/my_w...

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        Wow, I feel silly not recognizing Sarah! I just kept thinking she looked like Padma Lakshi!

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          You and me both! She's grown even more poised and gorgeous, and is not too shabby in the kitchen either. Many thanks, Sarah!

                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            Erp. I'm blushing. Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for welcoming me back! I didn't intend to be a mystery woman. Since we arrived late and had to assemble the chaat, we skipped over nametags, I think. I didn't even register that people had nametags until later in the afternoon.

                                                            The savory semolina pudding is called Upma. It's a popular breakfast and "tiffin" AKA "elevenses" dish in all parts of India. We seasoned it South Indian style, with chickpeas and urad dal used as seasoning, along with curry leaves, chilies, fenugreek, cumin, and a little asafoetida. I will post a recipe on the Picnic thread on the Home Cooking board.

                                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          I took a victory photo of her which is on flikr (link below)

                                                        3. re: susancinsf

                                                          Yeah, she did identify the mystery herb, and it took her all of 1/2 second to do so. Tres impressive.