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Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, 2008 Report.

Once more the picnic gods gave us a perfect day in an idyllic setting in Laurel park, with truly amazing food (in vast quantities!), fun activities and, of course, wonderful company.

Attendance by about 65 hounds was about the same as last years’. The organizing committee and a group of volunteers set up 8 tables of food and beverages that were collapsing with the weight of delicacies from around the world and the Bay area. Links for photos and descriptions will be provided. We also hope for recipes if possible (some, we are told, are secret family recipes).

At some points we had three or more activities taking place at the same time. Food, beer tasting, chicken salad competitions…yet there was time for people to relax and even take naps in the shade. The smell of the California Laurel trees was wonderful.

The beer tasting consisted of 20 (or more) beers in several categories. We heard explanations for the taste and brewing techniques. It was truly a tasting course!

The Chicken salad throw down pitted two board veterans, Oakjoan and yimster, in an oriental version of chicken salad. The first was a 1960’s recipe that combined oriental ingredients for a remarkable contemporary taste, the second a cornucopia of ingredients such as baboo roots, jellyfish, noodles and preserved duck eggs. And yes, it was a tie!!! 4.8 out of five. Why not 5? Because only my mother’s chicken salad gets a 5!!!

By the time we left at 4:00, most participants were vowing not to eat again for at least a week! (I could barely muster some tamal leftovers and chicken salad for dinner).

I wish to thank my fellow committee members for their support and help in making the picnic possible. Urmi, Cece, Susan, thanks! Also thanks to the “chicken salad iron chefs” oakjoan and Yimster. And of course to thewonderful people who brought us the beer tasting event.

We hope that next year the picnic will be as successful as this year, and that more people are able to attend what is rapidly becoming a great tradition for the Bay area food community.


Links and reports on the http://www.chowingwiththehounds.com website will be forthcoming.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. early photos!

      1. and a few more!

        1. Thanks to Marlon and all the committee members for a great picnic! As someone who has worked on the picnic in the past, I know how much goes into it!

          I got there late and missed most of the appetizers and entrees. Of what I tried, the one that stood out were some meatballs coated in what looked like sushi rice. Unusual and delicious.

          Since it was such a hot day, the highlight turned out to be the serendipitous ice cream/gelato/sorbet tasting. Windy had brought 12 different flavors from a place in the city (La Copa Loca?), Louise brought five flavors of homemade ice cream/sorbet and Nate from ScreamSorbet brought four flavors of sorbet. It's a testament to the creativity of all that there were more than 20 flavors and no exact duplicates -- the closest they came was raspberry, with a raspberry-plum from Louise, a pure raspberry from Scream and a mixed berry from Copa Loca. This amazing array of "eat them before they melt' treats drew 'hounds from every corner of the picnic site for an impromptu ice cream social. It would be hard to choose a favorite from choices that ran the gamut from chocolate to cucumber dill, but the ones that stood out were Louise's raspberry-plum and apricot-pistachio and Scream's lemon-rosemary and Charentais melon.

          Again, thanks to all who came and brought delicious food -- it's always fun to see old faces and learn new ones.

          1. Yes, great picnic, and congrats to the committee for making this seem effortless. Food and weather were wonderful, and I really enjoyed meeting new hounds and catching up with the old ones.

            Being the type that closes restaurants and bar, I'm having picnic challah for breakfast. And I ended up with the lost and found:

            small cooler
            decorative bowl
            cool spoon
            3 glasses from the pumpkin mascarpone dessert (lurkers, are you sorry you missed the picnic yet?)
            spreading knife

            If any of these belong to you, please e-mail itswindy (at) pacbell (dot) net a description to claim them and make arrangements to get them back. Thanks.

            (And thanks again to Nathan for stashing the gelato and sorbet I brought in his wonderful traveling freezer. I was amazed at 4 p.m. that we were still enjoying tiny spoons of raspberry plum sorbet.)

            7 Replies
            1. re: Windy

              I agree that those meatballs with sushi rice were great...and yes, the ice creams/sorbets and gelatos were a highlight. That lemon-rosemary was a standout for me, as was the rasberry plum, but I loved them all! (though sadly, I didn't make it through the Copa Loca selection before they were gone...).

              Some of my other favorite non-ice cream dishes included the shrimp salad, perfect on a warm day (could this be the year that the maker finally agrees to share the recipe on home cooking? I heard a rumor from her partner that she is shy about sharing it... :-)); David Boyk's kebab, cooked over the charcoal grill; the Serbian meat 'sausages' (which disappeared in a hurry!); Melanie's avocado/roasted corn soup, and both of the 'dueling' gazpachos: two different versions from two competitive sisters! :-)

              I was in such a food coma that I completely forgot that I brought a few Tupperware containers to sneak home some leftovers, but I did manage to score a bit of the leftover cucumber/honeydew melon salad, which was also delicious as a midnight snack: part of the fun of that dish is that the cucumbers and melon look so much alike that you are not sure what you are eating until it is in your mouth: and then the flavors really popped! Can we have that recipe also? I will post a request on Home Cooking and then come back here to add a link to that thread....

              The beer tasting was thanks to the great folks from the terrific B Street Bistro in Hayward: they have a wonderful beer selection, definitely worth checking out. Loved that Pliny the Elder!

              A special thanks also to OakJoan and Yimster for delicious chicken salads (any chance on those recipes too?) and to the rest of the greatest Picnic Planning Team anywhere!

              As always, the food was wonderful, the weather was stellar (at least for those heat seekers who think that the sun should shine at a picnic!), but it was the company that made the day. Thanks to all who attended and we will see you next year!

              La Copa Loca
              3150 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1001 B St, Hayward, CA 94541

              1. re: susancinsf

                Here is the link to the recipes request on Home Cooking:


                I hope more hounds will post their recipes...

                speaking of which, I can't believe I forgot to mention Ruth's bacon baklava: She mentioned that it was an experiment, but really: Baklava and bacon, how can one go wrong? Will you share the recipe, Ruth?

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    The weather was almost prefect, maybe a little too hot for me.

                    My hats off to Oakjoan on her Chicken Salad.

                    I was so full I did not try any of the Chicken Salads.

                    A tie was fine with me.

                    I have only one question, being a West Bay guy why were all four judges from the East Bay?

                    Kind of funny.

                    As for the recipe for my chicken salad there is none. I fly by the seat of my pants.

                    If susanifsf (who started this throwdown then drop out) wants a recipe she should have taken part. By the way that was my retirement cooking demo. Oakjoan and I agree we are too old for this stress.

                    The best part of the day was for Oakjoan's better half for stirring the pot. Where by Oakjoan said with a strong voice "Lester don't get him started".

                    By the way there are no recipes posted.

                  2. re: Windy

                    Windy: The glasses are mine but please keep them or do with them what you will. They were $2.99 a dozen at IKEA and I bought 3 boxes, enough to last several lifetimes!


                    1. re: Windy

                      Is the cool spoon a ladle? Can you give the cooler to Cecelia when you next see her as it is mine (her sister Monica).

                      1. re: 4spain

                        Yes, it's a ladle; I'll put it in the cooler.

                    2. So sorry I was not able to make the picnic, had to work. Maybe next year?

                      1. My faves from the picnic were the Xinjiang rice with lamb (I wish there were a Xinjiang restaurant in the area!) and the two different types of gazpacho. One was garlicy and rich, the other was minty(?) and a little sweet. They were both delicious. The salad of honeydew melon, mint, goat cheese and cucumber already mentioned was also very yummy, and we sneaked some leftovers ourselves.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Martin Strell

                          My faves were the pork and bean fejoada (sp?), the former Yugoslavia meatballs with accompanying yoghurt and red pepper dips and the Mexican-type dish with cornmeal and meat and other good things.

                          I also loved Melanie's tres chic cold avocado soup deal. They were as gorgeously presented as they were tasty. I must say it was really good with my stepson, Jack's BitLay bread!

                          1. re: Martin Strell

                            I also loved that Xinjiang rice with lamb, it was delicious! That and Melanie's incredible soup were my favorites.

                            1. re: JasmineG

                              I forgot, I also really loved that seafood salad. And the raspberry sorbet from Scream was so perfect for the day -- I think that I imagined that I took some home with me, because I swear last night I was looking forward to having more until I realized there was none in my freezer.

                              Thanks so much, planning committee!

                              1. re: JasmineG

                                I got to take some of the sorbet home.....and you drove me to the train, so you were close, but no cigar!

                                The raspberry sorbet tastes just like eating raspberries. My housemate had some Ben and Jerry's cake-batter ice cream, and I tried the two together and it was fantastic - the sorbet is like a frozen-raspberry sauce. But my favorite combinations were the raspberry with the lemon-rosemary sorbet and the caramel pear ice cream at the picnic.

                                I took a ton of food pictures which I will be posting ASAP.....keep an eye out for a link tonight.

                          2. Hi this is Monica, Cecelia's big sister. Glad you liked the green gazpacho. I adapted my recipe from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave Cookbook. I lived in Spain for a month, ate gazpacho daily, it is one of my favorite hot weather dishes. I thought my sister's was fabulous.

                            White Gazpacho

                            1/4 cup of toasted slivered almonds
                            2 large english cucumbers, peeled, sliced, seeds removed, and sliced into chunks
                            3 slices white country bread, crusts removed (no wonder bread plz)
                            1/2 C warm water
                            3 cloves garlic, peeled
                            6 scallions, whites only, sliced
                            Handful of green grapes cut in half
                            3T good quality olive oil
                            2T white balsamic vinegar (use sherry vinegar is you can find it, i couldn't find it in Fresno)
                            1 t fresh lemon juice
                            salt, pepper, cumin to taste

                            Soak break in water until it softens. Throw everything into the blender and blend until consistency of milk. Adjust seasonings as desired. Let sit overnight for flavors to meld

                            Before serving, arranged decoratively on top of soup: 1/2 C green grapes cut in half, 1/4 C chopped cucumber, 1 T scallion whites, 1 t almonds. Enjoy!

                            Thanks for having us to the picnic ....we had a wonderful time. I'll post some comments later. I'd love the recipe for the red beans and olive dish.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: 4spain

                              All -

                              What a great day-- weather, food, drink and most of all, friends and family. Thank you to Urmi, Marlon and Susan for their fantastic work organizing and inspiring the picnic this year.

                              Like my sister, my favorite was the bean and olive dish. Can that recipe be posted, pretty please? With a dash of hot sauce, a very special entree. I also made a bee line for the birria. I loved the thick corn tortillas and the tomatillo salsas that accompanied the dish. Oh, and can we forget, no indeed, the lamb with pinenuts and raisens. And wait a minute, the Serbian meatballs? Did they even make it to a table before they were devoured? Melanie's avocado soup, smooth and creamy with a beautiful presentation.

                              I keep saying that I'm not a beer drinker, but the samples from Vic and Cyn's B Street Bistro just may have converted me. Long live Pliny the Elder! As Cyn likes to say, "liquid heroin." The Bistro is a fun place to hang out just about any day of the week. If you like beer, they've got a great selection from around the world, even though the ones we tasted were local. Live music, too.

                              A special call out to Yimster and Oakjoan for the fantastic Chinese Chicken salad. I was blessed to take some home and my family continues to enjoy it. Thank you both.

                              And the ice cream and sorbets. I don't think I've seen such a wonder of different flavors. My favs were the raspberry plum, thank you Louise, and the cucumber rosemary, I think Nathan and Emily.

                              Windy, the blue and white cooler is Monica's, my sister's and I'll email you to make arrangements for pick up.

                              Again, thank you to all who made this year's picnic so special.


                              1. re: 4spain

                                >white country bread<

                                How about an example of white country bread for the less chef-inclined among us.

                              2. Lovely picnic. Enjoyed the food and the chance to put faces to the aliases. The cevapcici (meatballs) are cut finger length. Sorry I have short fingers.
                                Serbian Cevapcici
                                From allrecipes.com modified by Wolfe
                                A delicious little sausage-like meat. Great served as a sandwich."
                                Apparently also excellent finger fun, no pun intended, for beautiful, well behaved children.

                                2 pound lean ground beef
                                1 pound ground lamb
                                1 egg white
                                4 cloves garlic, minced
                                1 teaspoon salt
                                1 teaspoon baking soda
                                2 teaspoons ground black pepper
                                1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                                1/2 teaspoon paprika (pimenton dulce)
                                In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground lamb and egg white. Add the garlic, salt, baking soda, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. Mix well using your hands, take handful and roll to 3/4 inch thick. Cut finger length pieces Place on oiled foil or silpat and bake in 350 oven until done, about 20-25 minutes, 160 degrees internal temperature. Serve with sour cream, ajvar or tzatziki (cross cultural condiment).

                                1. I arrived later in the afternoon so missed some of the dishes, but i liked everything that was left actually. The highlights were the kebab meat, avocado soup, the cucumber-honeydew salad, the raspberry sorbet from scream, pistachio gelato, the mochiko, melanie's wines. i was kind of hoping the squid dish from last year would make an appearance, but everything was pretty great. good job everybody! it was a hot day but the conversation was great.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: StephP

                                    I second the mochiko. Yummy! A special shout out too for the cucumber dill sorbet from Nathan, and Melanie's delicious and elegant soup.

                                  2. I arrived a little late, but here are some pictures of the food I enjoyed. I also posted the recipe for the cucumber honeydew salad on the Home Cooking Board site.


                                    It was great meeting everyone!

                                    1. maybe next year! i'm wondering, though, who made the japchae? in lschow's pictures, it look like there's a few foil pans of japchae, or the korean sweet potato glass noodle dish with meat and various veggies. it looks delicious.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: augustiner

                                        Our own Cicely made those, and they were fantastic! I wished that I had taken some of those home too!

                                        1. re: augustiner

                                          I can attest to the deliciousness of the japchae, despite my absence from the picnic this year... I was one of the lucky beneficiaries of the leftovers, and ate an enormous container full for dinner that night. It had chiffonaded sesame leaves in it, which gave it a brighter than usual flavor.

                                          1. re: daveena

                                            I'm so mad that I didn't take leftovers! It was great.

                                        2. Thanks to everyone who helped put together the picnic and the beer tasting! I had so much fun putting faces to (screen)names and getting to talk about food with people as passionate about the subject as me. I enjoyed everything I ate. What comes to mind now are the lemon raspberry sorbet, the birria, the pumpkin/raisin dessert, the beautifully plated avocado soup, and the Mexican casserole. And the wines!

                                          I put up some of my favorite pictures from the event. Here’s the link:

                                          1. I finally got around to uploading my pictures from the picnic. I did my best to label all of them correctly, but let me know if I got any dish descriptions wrong.


                                            I had a great time at the picnic - highlights for me were the SCREAM ice cream (esp. rosemary lemon and raspberry), the two gazpachos (somehow I didn't get pictures of those - I guess I wasn't on duty yet during the appetizer course), the no-knead bread, shrimp salad and the bacon baklava.

                                            Thanks to everyone who organized this, I look forward to next year!

                                            Dave MP

                                            1. OK, I'm obsessing about how to keep food at the appropriate temperature. I'm bringing some precooked ribs that will be oven-finished, wrapped in foil and carted to the picnic from our weekend rental nearby.

                                              How do people keep things like meat and chicken at the right temp? We're coming from way out of town; I will have an ice chest but worry (my specailty) about how to serve.

                                              Other questions:

                                              Are there enough picnic tables for eating, or should we bring a portable? Bring own chairs? Any other tips that previous attendees could pass along for first--timers?

                                              Looking forward to meeting you!


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                Wrapping your hot dish in thick towels to insulate then popping it in an ice chest usually works. There are a couple grills on site, so if you brought charcoal, you could reheat. Some people bring a propane camp stove to reheat/cook their dishes, but you can't count on using someone else's equipment.

                                                There are picnic tables, but about half are used for the buffet. Portable tables are very handy, as are extra chairs. I've noticed that the camp chair & beach chair that I bring are in constant use by others every time I get up . . . I'm going to start charging a rental fee! You might want to bring a blanket to put down on the lawn and anything else (e.g., wine glasses) that you would take to the beach.

                                                While disposable plates and utensils are available because someone inevitably forgets, I hope that everyone will remember to bring their own dinnerware, cloth napkins, etc. and make this a greener picnic with a minimum of disposables.

                                                Glad you're joining us!

                                                There's still time to sign up for the Oct 3 2009 picnic, more details and info here.

                                                1. re: toodie jane

                                                  Not that you want to buy one just for the picnic, but there are insulated chests that you can plug into your car cigarette lighter ... or whatever it is called these days. They are pretty nice just for travel. You can choose a hot or cold setting. I usually use mine as a travel fridge, but i've used the heat setting a few times to keep things warm. They are sold at places like Target or Wal-Mart.