It’s alfresco season! Ah, my favorite. At least until the next time I’m wrapped around a warm mug of tea by the fire - then that’s my favorite. But for now, especially now, we’re outside. We’re hiking, we’re biking and we’re picnicking. Sometimes it just rolls into place at the end of a long day when it makes sense to grab a few snacks and lounge outside instead of bothering with dishes. In my house however, we like to picnic like pros.
Right now, it’s our responsibility to create the dining atmosphere we desire. The experience of a picnic, for me, is inherently elevated because I’m connected to nature. I’m sitting on the ground more organically than I would in a chair, I can’t slouch with my elbows on the table and I most definitely have permission to eat with my hands.
Once you get yourself set up behind the scenes it’s so easy to get to that max relax place at your favorite picnic spot (I won’t give away my secret). Come equipped with your essentials and bring items from your kitchen that make you feel happy to dine with. Flowers, real cutlery, and ceramic wine glasses always make the cut. Bring a blanket (instagram friendly or not), lawn chairs if you’re inclined to recline, hired models (kidding) or real friends, a bluetooth speaker, and delicious, assemble-on-site food. Check out my grab & go favorites at Cedar & Hyde. Start early so you can stay into those late summer light hours.
Now the real star of the picnic show is the food and drink. Please, if making a big meal is going to make your picnic feel, well, not like a picnic in the park then go to Dry Storage and grab some snacks, stop at Cured for wine and charcuterie on your way back West and just get outside. But if you want to bend time with your loved ones and escape the afternoon heat then Elote Lettuce Wraps are the way to go. Prepare ahead of time, assemble on site. Keep them vegetarian if that’s your vibe or prepare some ground chicken with cumin and paprika to incorporate later on.
We love a recipe that’s not really a recipe:
What you’ll need:
6 Ears of Corn
1 Small Shallot
4 Tbsp EVOO
Yogurt or Sour Cream
1 Bunch Cilantro
Salty, Crumbly Cheese
2 Heads Lettuce
1 Lb Ground Chicken (optional)
The Wraps: Bibb, Butter, or Boston lettuce work best for these wraps. They’re wide and thick enough to be a vehicle for all this goodness.
The Corn: Strip the kernels from six cobs. Charr 1/3 of the kernels in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil and reserve the rest.
The Flavor Layer: Slice a small shallot as thinly as you can, use a mandolin if you have one. Place it in a bowl with a pinch of chili flakes, the juice of three limes and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Let rest for up to an hour.
The Garnish: A salty, crumbly cheese like cotija, parmesean, or feta. Finely chopped cilantro. Optional: nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, or peanuts. Sliced Mango! Ground Chicken!
The Process: Reserve some garnish for photo-friendly plating. In your serving bowl, combine charred and raw kernels, shallot mixture, remainder of garnish, three tablespoons of sour cream or yogurt, and ground chicken (if using). Cover and bring to your location.
To Enjoy: Eat with your hands. Eat until you’re full. Stop for dance parties once in a while. Hydrate. Our drinks of the summer are fairly simple: head to Wonder and grab The Rind. Combine 3oz Rind, 2oz Madre Mezcal, shake in a jar with the ice you brought in a bag to keep things cold. Basil is optional. We’re also loving Lady of the Sunshine Wines and you can see a full lineup over at Cured. And while you’re there - grab a chocolate bar. I love the Soma Dark Milk bar and the Dick Taylor Dark Chocolate with Nibs and Sea Salt.
Now, get out there and do this thing. A picnic is a gift with many faces.
Thank you to:
Recipe and copywriting: Samantha Beech
Wine, cheese and snacks: Cured
Bread: Dry Storage
Styling: Cedar & Hyde
Photography: Michelle Tippmann