The season has begun! My sweetie and I hit the park last week for the first of numerous outdoor concerts we plan on attending this summer around NYC. Prospect park looked serene and green on Wednesday night as we sprawled out for a picnic under the trees, listening to a concert of protest music from the 1950's through the 70s, featuring Roseanne Cash, Toshi Reagan, Lou Reed and Todd Rundgren. How sweet to be serenaded by them on such a gorgeous evening, one that threatened rain, but managed to stay dry and balmy, aha!
And, one of the best parts of the evening, did I mention? FREE! Take advantage of all the amazing performers who will be showcased over the next few months around the city. So many of the shows are free to the public and what a wonderful way to save money on air-conditioning by letting nature produce the breezes.
A picnic is not a picnic without food and earlier that day I found myself with time to spare in the vicinity of Eataly the new fantabulous mecca for all things delicious and Italian. It was busy, but not packed so I finally made my first visit to this temple of all things cool. The verdict: very impressive! The place is styled in a slick modern Italian mode with lots of polished chrome and white marble. The lighting is bright and clean. Touches of the old world could be found in the pristine architectural details like the ornately carved sumptuous marble moldings that cradled the central room. Too divine! The food displays are lush with items sporting sexy European labels. I wanted EVERYTHING.
Eataly's cheese counter had me pressing my nose against the glass weak with desire. They will give you a sample if you ask.
Sticking to a picnic plan I picked up a loaf of crusty bread, a hunk of very intense gorgonzola cheese that made my eyes bulge and my tongue shrivel with happiness and (don't be mad at me, I know it's not yet the season but I could not resist) a glorious heirloom tomato almost bursting its skin.
I cannot wait to go back to Eataly and this time, I will sit at one of those highly polished marble counters to be served some fantastic Italian fare while sipping the wine I saw being poured into huge glasses from seemingly bottomless bottles. This place is great!
A simple sandwich
Assemble the following:
A loaf of crusty bread- slice, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, place face down on a hot pan and toast for 3 minutes, till golden
A hunk of cheese
A thick slice of tomato
A few lettuce leaves
A sprig of basil
A splash of balsamic vinegar
Well, I did the music thing too this weekend, only mine was not so relaxing. I attended, with 2 other adults and 6 children, (plus an infant in a stroller), the 2011 Clearwater Festival. This is an annual music and environmental festival which is held on the banks of the Hudson River in New York. I think everyone in the tristate area must have had the same game plan for the beautiful Saturday afternoon. Insanely crowded! The highlight of my day was a scrumptious spinach quesadilla.
My next musical outing is going to be Tanglewood on July 10th - something peaceful and therapeutic. Already planning out my menu, Deb's simple sandwich might just have to make the list! It makes a beautiful presentation I see. I would sip an off-dry white with this. "Off-dry" means slightly sweet. Wines of this nature make a perfect match for gorgonzola cheese. I'm thinking of one of my favorites - Vouvray. 100% Chenin Blanc, this wine comes from the Loire Valley in France and can be found in all sorts of styles ranging from dry, to off-dry, to sweet. Off-dry Vouvray typically has flavors of peach, honey, fig and apricot. The slightly sweet characteristic is a great contrast to the salty flavors of the cheese, so you have that whole "sweet/salty" thing going on - like chocolate covered pretzels.
Look for a label that says "Demi Sec" (off-dry). If you see the word "Moelleux" or "Doux" on the label, the wine will be more sweet. ("Sec" is the driest level). For fantastic examples of Vouvray, look to Domaine Huet. This are indeed very special wines!