Thursday, 23 June 2011

Picnics and sailboats! Yay it's summer!

Summer to me, is a time for al fresco dining. The more I can be outside during these few months of summer the happier I am. Now dining on a patio is definitely awesome-good times, but a picnic! A picnic is where it's at! Eating on the grass under the trees, everything just seems to taste better.  Now sure, there can be bugs trying to get in your food and it can be a pain in the ass hauling all of that food and drink to a park or beach but once you're there you can't help but want to eat every meal of the summer that way. 
A riverside picnic in Montreal

Bixie Bikes!
Atwater Market
  This past weekend Gideon and I went to Montreal for a quick getaway to celebrate our anniversary. I have to be honest when I tell you that most of our weekend was spent eating and or buying food. It was glorious. Though we did dine in some fantastic restaurants such as Au Pied du Cochon and Cafe Ferreira, one of the highlights for me was definitely the day that we rented some bixie bikes and road by the water's edge to the Atwater Market. At the market we purchased some fantastic Quebec cheeses, some nitrate free coppa and chorizo, some local strawberries and cherry tomatoes, an olive baguettine(a mini baguette), some Lindt chocolate(that surprisingly we were too full to eat!) and a few bottles of beer. One refreshing thing about picnicing in Quebec is that you're not glared at or arrested for having a beer or some wine with your meal.
  Atwater Market is a fantastic indoor and outdoor market offering beautiful fresh produce, flowers, cheese shops, butcher shops, bakeries, a fresh pasta joint and tons more. The specialty food stores had stuff I've read about but have never seen in Toronto. I saw essence of violet, which I'm still regretting not buying. Although I'm not sure what exactly I would have made with it. I bought Fee Brothers Cocktail Bitters there, which you can't get in Ontario. Fee Brothers make all sorts of weird and wonderful flavours of bitters such as rhubarb and even celery! I'm definitely going to be adding a dash of the celery bitters the next time I mix up a pitcher of Bloody Caesars.Visiting there as a tourist might make you wish that you had a kitchen in your hotel room - or maybe that's just me! 

A nice alternative to the creepy-crawly-in-your sandwich dilemma of picnicing (sure - it's a word) was offered to me recently by friends Alize and Robb when they invited a few of us sailing on their boat "Margie's Mink" (they didn't name the thing and apparently it's bad luck to change the name of a boat). I was a little busy leading up to the sailing trip and unfortunately I didn't have time to actually cook. Alize and Robb supplied some refreshing and tasty salads and the rest of us brought various snack foods and stuff to throw together a sandwich with. I love that picnics ( or "yachting adventures") are often potluck affairs and that finger foods are usually the name of the game. Picking at cured meats, interesting cheeses and some fresh fruit is such a lovely way to eat when it's hot out. 
Me eating tasty baguette - notice the peanut butter M&M's in the left hand corner. Ssssooo good! (photo taken by Lauren Williams as my camera battery had died )

Lauren, Gideon,"Margie's Mink", Robb and Alize
Tequila Caesars or Te-kill-ya Sneezers

If you're bringing this cocktail picnicing I suggest bringing it in a giant mason jar or thermos and forgetting about rimming the glasses. Individual mason jars are cute too. If you don't want your drinks to get too warm  or too watery from melted ice ( and you have some time on your hands ) you can replace some of the ice cubes with frozen clamato cubes. Thisrecipe can also be also be used to make Virgin Caesars by omitting the Tequila and upping the hot sauce and Worchestershire a bit.

Makes 1 1 Lt(4cup) Pitcher which makes 4 drinks

6 oz. / 180 ml gold Tequila
1 tsp/ 5ml Valencia Mexican hot sauce or chipotle hot sauce( you can use more or less depending on your taste)
4 big dashes of Worcestershire sauce( 4 dashes of celery bitters if you have it would also be tasty)
Zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch celery salt (or fancy-ass smoked salt could be cool)
A few grindings of fresh black pepper
1 1/2 Tbs./ 22 ml horseradish, grated(preferably fresh)
3 1/4 cups/ 800 ml Clamato
Celery salt (or again maybe a fancy smoked salt might be nice) to rim glasses
4 Lime wedges
Mini pepperettes, celery stalks, skewered olives, skewered baby gherkins, or pickled hot peppers are all great garnishes for this drink

Mix first 8 ingredients in a 4 cup(1 Lt) pitcher. Add Clamato and stir. Rub the rim of 4 - 12 oz.(310 ml) glasses with a cut lime. Dip the rims of the glasses into a shallow dish filled with celery salt. Fill glasses with ice and top with Caesar mix.  Garnish with a lime wedge and any of the other garnishes that you might like!

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