Picnics, Concerts or Glamping, Make it Memorable this summer!
Summer is the season for meals al fresco.
But for us, it’s not about grabbing whatever’s easy and going. On a grand scale, life is too short to eat things like fried chicken and potato salad over and over again. When you consider how few opportunities there are to picnic during the warmer weather months, it’s almost imperative to make every experience special.
When planning a mobile meal, we think about choosing the highest quality foods and how they can be made convenient. When we go anywhere, we want to experience the best we can find and open our minds. We want the opportunity to eat something different and share that experience with our friends and family.
We hike a lot in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountains or up in Santa Barbara. All of these are pretty intense hikes, so what we pack needs to be healthy, rewarding for us and needs to provide the fuel for the hike down the mountain.
Our favorite thing to pack for a picnic is nori, smoked salmon and avocado and we’ll make a hand roll. It sounds weird, but it’s so good and portable. We always pack whatever fruit is in season. We don’t cut it up, so it has to be hand fruit. We always bring some sort of chocolate and nuts and seeds for snacks. And our Camelbacks do double duty — we fill them with ice so we’re cool when wearing them and then have a nice cool drink when we’re thirsty.
The Evening Picnic
We regularly go to the Hollywood Bowl and pack a picnic to share with our friends. The secret to making these meals special is learning to pack strategically, like a game of Tetris, in one good thermal bag.
Cocktails help with this. Make cocktails like rosé sangria with fresh raspberries and strawberries, mojitos or margaritas the day before and freeze them in ziploc freezer bags. When you’re packing your picnic, use these as your cold packs and by the time you’re ready to drink them, they’re the perfect slushy consistency. This is always a crowd pleaser.
It’s easy, and seems impressive, to do table-side guacamole. Bring a small mixing bowl, avocados and limes, a small ziplock with chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeño, chopped tomato and minced garlic and mix it up. We love to add cotija and pomegranate seeds. It’s easy, fresh, healthy and filling.
We’ll sometimes bring food based thematically on who is performing. For a reggae show, we’ll bring jerk chicken. When we saw Grace Jones, we packed champagne and caviar. Because Ms. Jones requires that. We love to bring shrimp cocktail or crab Louis. It all depends on who we’re going with and what we’re seeing. We always try to keep it fun.
There’s no reason you should eat poorly while camping. We love to make foil packs containing clams, fresh fennel, garlic, white wine and olive oil to roast on the camp fire. Once they’re cooked, we break out a baguette and some butter and it’s a delicious meal. We freeze fruit smoothies for the kids and Margaritas for the grownups flat in gallon ZipLoc Freezer Bags.
We know this may sound a little ridiculous, but once when we were glamping, we did David Chang’s Bo Ssam dinner. The sugar and salt marinade could not be easier. We packed it in a ziplock and let it stay cold for 24 hours and marinate on the frozen Margarita Ice packs. We put the pork butt in an Instant Pot that our friend brought, plugged it in and took off on a daylong hike and beach day. We had every kind of Korean pickle, cilantro and mint, basil, sesame leaves and cooked rice and it took no more effort than shopping and packing smartly. When we returned back to the cabin, our pork was absolutely perfect. Our friends were laughing, but we had a complete gourmet meal, camp side and we brought some great wine with us as well.
Let's not get crazy and forget the proverbial S'more. It will always be a part of our lives. We eat them in our backyard year round and we pack them for camping without fail. There are very few camping desserts that can compare, but we have been known to bring a few more. We have made streusel topping and frozen it (it too will act like an ice pack). We pack stone fruit and simply cut it up, add a few bits of butter and top with streusel in a cast iron pan and place it over the campfire. Its insanely good. You can make cinnamon bun dough and freeze it in logs, slice it and place in a cast-iron pan and let it proof while it thaws wrapped in foil and then bake on the fire and bring the icing already made in a little bag. You will receive high fives.