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The joys of a summer picnic lie in its simplicity: sitting outdoors and enjoying a good meal. But some see the picnic as a chance to unleash their culinary imaginations, with homemade salads, fried chicken and baked goods enjoyed beachside. We’re breaking out the wicker basket, gingham tablecloth and bug spray to talk about the best food, spots and supplies for eating alfresco.
- Diane Gross Co-owner, Cork Market & Tasting Room
- Jennifer Grizzle Owner and chef, Picnic House
Courtesy of Picnic House Kitchen & Catering
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Food Wednesday. Picnics can be simple, sandwiches from the corner market enjoyed on a bench in a local park or crusty bread and stinky cheese eaten on a grassy patch outside your office. Picnics can also be ornate, decadent spreads of homemade salads, fried chicken and baked goods enjoyed beachside or a themed menu served on a picnic table, spread with a linen table cloth and carefully mismatched China.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWhatever picnic means to you, we're talking about the best food spots and supplies for eating al-fresco. And joining us in studio is Diane Gross, co-owner of Cork Market and Tasting Room and Cork Wine Bar in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Diane Gross, thank you for joining us.
MS. DIANE GROSSThank you, it's a pleasure to be here.
NNAMDIPleasure is ours. Jennifer Grizzle is also with us. She is the owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering based in Kent Island, Md. Jennifer Grizzle, thank you for joining us.
MS. JENNIFER GRIZZLEThank you.
NNAMDIAnd we know a lot of you will have suggestions and memories about picnics so you can start calling now, early and often, at 800-433-8850 or going to our website kojoshow.org, joining the conversation there, sending e-mail to email@example.com or simply sending us a tweet @kojoshow. If you could pack a picnic and hit the road with it right now, what would you pack and where would you go, 800-433-8850?
NNAMDIPicnics are one of those things that seem easy to define until you try. When you start to ask around about them, people tend to talk about everything from barbeques to clam bakes and back again. How do you define a picnic, Diane Gross?
GROSSWhoa, that's a big question. I think that I define a picnic as gathering food that you love and being outside on a beautiful day. And I think that it doesn't have to be somewhere special. It can just be the local green spot in your neighborhood that you love or walk by every day. And I think it really depends on what you're in the mood for, too, on that day.
GROSSYou can do sandwiches, as you said, or great bread and salami and just have it be casual and we all know that we like a bottle of wine thrown in there too, if we can. But just something that's relaxing, you don't have to think about it too hard so that you're really enjoying the moment and the time outside.
NNAMDIJennifer Grizzle, what does picnic mean to you?
GRIZZLEI think of a picnic as being a easy, entertainment venue. It could be as simple as going in your backyard or going out to the local scenic park and bringing some, you know, easy, casual food and just having a fun day of entertainment. It should be easy and refreshing.
NNAMDIWhat does a picnic mean to you? Call us at 800-433-8850. Are there some ground rules to keep in mind for planning picnics?
GRIZZLEI would say, bring bug spray. Bug spray...
GRIZZLE...bug spray and sunscreen and all your utensils, that's the one thing that I think folks forget from time to time and definitely a wine opener or if not a bottle of wine with a screw top or twist off caps for your drinks or what have you so that you can enjoy all parts of your picnic and you're not left there looking at something.
NNAMDIThe corkscrew, please, remember the corkscrew. Jennifer, you're a classically trained chef. You've worked in some pretty high powered kitchen. So what made you decide to call your catering company Picnic House?
GRIZZLEBecause, in my mind, a picnic is an enjoyable, entertaining, relaxed event and I want my events that I do for catering to be seen in the same way with the same nostalgia as a picnic as remembered by most people.
NNAMDIWell, his may be over simplifying but as a caterer, you're sometimes packing, what are essentially, large scale picnics...
NNAMDI...for your customers, depending on the location of their event, right?
GRIZZLEYes. It's very similar. I mean, even if it's more ornate food, it's the same way of having to have everything ready, packing it up and transporting it and being able to get it all out without a hitch, so.
NNAMDIDiane, for a lot of people, fried chicken, which I have to inform our listeners, we have here today, is a picnic staple. Cork has been recognized by Bon Appetit Magazine as having some of the best fried chicken in the U.S. How tough was it to find the winning recipe? Hold on while I lock this door but go ahead, how tough was it to find the winning recipe?
GROSSWell, there was definitely some trial and error and a little bit of staff competition in whether you do a wet-dry-wet, dry-wet, whatever and how many times you coat it and how you should marinate it and we went through a bit of time trying to figure it out and Kristin Hutter, who's our chef at the Tasting Room, the Market and Tasting Room, just really put together this great recipe.
GROSSAnd we had a lot of fun trying all the recipes and eating a lot of fried chicken. But in the end, I think, we had most fun eating this fried chicken because it's just got -- it's very succulent and moist but it's got this great coating that is very, very flavorful and it's not very greasy, so it's a nice combination.
NNAMDIYou marinate overnight and then fry...
NNAMDI...and it's good, either hot or cold because what you have here today is not necessarily hot but in addition to the fact that will be consumed right after the show is also good cold, isn't it?
GROSSWell, that's the test of good fried chicken, right? I mean, you can't always be in the environment where you want to -- where you can heat it up and, of course, if you are out at a picnic, you can't just plug in a toaster oven outside. So you need to make sure that every ingredient that you bring is something that can be good warm or cold and I think this fried chicken really fits the bill and that's, you know, that's a great addition.
NNAMDILadies, please, dawn your headphones, we're about to go to the telephones. What memories, fond or disastrous, does the word picnic evoke for you, 800-433-8850? We will start with Chia in Kensington, Md. Chia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHIAYes, thank you very much for taking my call. For us, picnics were very special because we were the immigrant community of Turks and so that gave us the opportunity when we first came for entire families to get together and have a picnic and talk to one another and still feel the sense of community that my parents had left behind. And our foods were prepared on site so while I love fried chicken, we took the roast beef, ground beef to make kabobs with us.
CHIAWe took the tomatoes, peeled it there. We did have hard boiled eggs, we did do that before going. But it was truly a remarkable time for us. And we set up whole cities, practically, with backgammon boards and tables and table clothes, so it was a wonderful experience for us.
NNAMDIHow do the picnics that your family has here compare to the picnics that they had in Turkey?
CHIAWell, that's so funny that you should ask. We went to a picnic recently when we returned to Turkey and what they have over there is literally a house with a kitchen and picnic ground. So you can go there and then you would have servers there, you just give them your food that you had prepared and you had spiced and they will cook the kabob and everything else for you and set up the tables with clothes for you. They have tables set for backgammon, they have that little volleyball nets and then they have places for children. So you literally take your foods to the picnic.
CHIABut picnicking is very big in Turkey. You can find any tree and underneath it you'll find a family sitting underneath with a little, maybe, like a hibachi kind of thing which they will take with you or sandwiches where you would buy from a local vendor and sit underneath. But picnicking in the Middle East is extremely big because people really like being outdoors.
NNAMDIOkay. So it's a kind of not all do-it-yourself picnicking, necessarily?
CHIANot necessarily because...
CHIA...because it's such a vibrant part of eating. And eating is a vibrant part of Turkish communities, they made it so that you can do-it-yourself or you -- if you want to go one step up, you can go to these places where they will cook it up for you. And just you just sit around and they clean it up and serve it and everything and then take it away. I mean, I thought that would be a good thing to have here in the U.S., frankly.
NNAMDIWell, let's have that compared to what exactly Jennifer Grizzle does for people who'd like to do the same thing.
GRIZZLEIt sounds like one of my events and I know that maybe I should go now to recruit in Turkey.
NNAMDIYes, that's what it sounds. Chia, thank you so much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. Diane Gross, you can pick up picnic ready dishes at most good delis and markets. What are some readymade staples you recommend picking up and to take on the go?
GROSSWell, definitely, sandwiches and lots of places, including Cork Market, we have prepared salads, anything from a pasta salad to Ratatouille to egg salad, throw a baguette in and you've got yourself a makings of a on the go sandwich. Charcuterie and cheese, I think, is also a great accompaniment because it's great at room temperature, you don't have to worry too much about the heat and it's delicious together or separate. It satisfies vegetarians, non-vegetarians and it's really something that you can sort of do on the go.
GROSSWe also, at Cork Market, have picnic baskets that you can order and pick up in advance. So you don't have to do any of the work, we'll do it all for you, put it together. Kind of, like, what Jennifer does but on a much smaller scale and, you know, take it to your favorite park.
NNAMDICare to describe some of what you've brought along today for our picnic?
GROSSWell, I brought along some sandwiches, our Soppresatta sandwich which is made on house-made Focaccia and it has an olive tapenade on it which is really nice. It's one of my favorite sandwiches. And then our veggie sandwich has been written about and folks really love, it's meaty and if I can say that about a vegetarian sandwich and its got tons of vegetables on it. And one sandwich is definitely enough for two people. And then I brought our caprese salad, a new sesame sobo noodle salad that we have, the aforementioned friend chicken.
GROSSAnd some cheese and charcutierie and a baguette as, you know, it can be a starter or it can be your main deal. And then we also have some fun drinks. If you can't drink wine when you're out, then it's nice to do something a little different than the regular Coke or Pepsi. So we have a curiosity cola from Fentimans. And this really yummy Lorina lemonade, blood orange lemonade. And then, of course, no picnic is complete without dessert.
GROSSAnd one of the wonderful things, I think, about, you know, your corner store is you can always pick up a bag of cookies or what have you. We have these great cookies from Rustic Bakery that are, like, this deep, dark chocolate, they almost taste like brownies in a bag. And then we do a bunch of home-made desserts at Cork Market. And I brought in a salted pecan caramel bar.
NNAMDIDiane Gross is a co-owner of Cork Market and Tasting Room and Cork Wine Bar in the Logan Circle neighborhood of D.C. with her husband Khalid Pitts. Also joining us in studio is Jennifer Grizzle, owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering, based in Kent Island, Md. Jennifer, for anyone planning a little further up who wants to put together a basket of home-made food, themselves, what would you recommend?
GRIZZLEI would recommend choosing dishes that can be mostly made in advance and prepared before you leave that don't require a lot of sauces or things to make the staples soggy before you get there and things that can sit out and be served at room temperature. I think that various salads with grains and other vegetables over leafy greens are really good to transport so they don't get soggy and kind of wilted in the heat. I think sandwiches are great. I love doing the compressed sandwich so that when you bite into it, you don't have, like, a big mess of a blowout in the back. And...
NNAMDIYeah. You suggest putting them in the fridge ahead with a plate on top and a heavy can on the plate.
NNAMDIFor your best sandwiches.
GRIZZLEIt presses them very nicely that way. I also think that just doing, like, simply fruit dishes for desserts are great. If you do want to do other desserts, I would stick away or, you know, go away from doing things that have a lot of frosting or super chocolaty that might kind of melt in the heat. I'm always talking from experience.
NNAMDISome of the 100 degree weather we've been having, yes.
GRIZZLEI brought some peach and ginger pound cake today, with me. I think that's a nice -- any kind of little pound cake you can slice off. It doesn't really need any dressing. I think also as far as entrees go you can do some grilled meats that you can bring ahead of time that can set out at room temp. You could do obviously fried chicken. And I do think that just the traditional baguette, cheese and salami is fantastic to bring on a picnic.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this Food Wednesday conversation on picnics. But you can still call us. Do you have a go-to recipe for easy meals to take on the road that you'd like to share with us? You can do that at our website kojoshow.org. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our Food Wednesday conversation on picnics. We're talking with Jennifer Grizzle, owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering based in Kent Island, Md. and Diane Gross, co-owner of Cork Market and Tasting Room and Cork Wine Bar in the local -- Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850. What's your picnic style, simple, store-bought, elaborate or homemade?
NNAMDIJennifer, can you tell our listeners exactly what I am getting ready to chomp on right now?
GRIZZLESure. I made an heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad. It has homemade garlic croutons and a basil pesto, a little bit of virgin olive oil. It's -- the tomatoes were grown in the Picnic House garden and so they've just been picked fresh yesterday.
NNAMDIIf you come around here tonight, I'll still be here feasting on this picnic from both Diane and Jennifer. On to the telephones now. Here is Lena in Rockville, Md. Lena, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LENAHi, Kojo. The food is making me hungry, all this talk of it.
LENAAnd I don't have one to share, but I just have a memory of the ultimate picnic area is Rock Creek Park, of course. We're so lucky in this area to have such a great venue for outdoor cooking, for relaxing, trees, bird watching. So I wanted to share a memory I had of...
LENA...back when I worked for a daycare center in Maryland. Every summer we would take all the kids of the five centers for a day of picnicking at Rock Creek Park. And one of the buses would be packed full of foods and games and toys and the other two buses had the kids. So I was one of the drivers and since I knew Rock Creek Park so well, I would hang back from the group and I would run the kids through the ford that used to be there at -- I can't remember what part of the park. There was a bend in the river, Rock Creek.
LENAAnd the water would fly up past the windows scaring the kids of course and they'd scream and then laugh and say, please, again, again.
NNAMDIHow long ago was this, Lena?
LENAAbout 20, 25 years perhaps. Do you remember the fords? There was one at Candy Cane City.
NNAMDIOh, yeah, I do remember the fords across...
LENAAnd one there near -- into Beach Drive.
NNAMDII seem to spend about half my life in Rock Creek Park, Lena, actually 'cause I live very close to the park. But this sounds like something that you wouldn't mind doing again.
LENAThey've closed them off. They're sealed off so they're no longer accessible. But it was (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIBut you can still picnic in the park.
NNAMDIYou can still picnic in the park.
LENAIt was fabulous. Great places to grill your food and benches and bathrooms occasionally. It was just a dream place to take kids and...
NNAMDILena, thank you so much for sharing that experience with us. You can share yours too at 800-433-8850. Soggy sandwiches, veggies that get mushy could be a recipe for a picnic disaster. Are there any flavors or textures that just don't hold up very well, Diane?
GROSSWell, I think heavy sauces, creamy dressings, things like that that are going to weight down the food, weigh down leafy greens or salads are things that you should stay away from. Cheese that's a little too runny might be another thing you might want to stay away from. I always like to get cheeses that are their own little individual case, you know, like little Camembert or a little goat cheese. And that way, you know, you're not worried about slicing and having everything run off.
GROSSWe have -- one of the things I forgot to mention earlier was our (sounds like) decriette, which is something that we have that's in its own little case. I think that things like that that you can open up, use for the event, close up, throw out or recycle are the best things for picnics because you definitely want to stay away from things that are too saucy or too messy.
GRIZZLEI second everything she said and I agree that you need to stick away from sauces. But also you need to try to make foods that you don't need a knife to do a lot of cutting with. I think that's something that people forget about when you're out and you're on a blanket and you've got a paper plate and all of a sudden you're hacking into the steak. And it's not made for a fantastic picnic.
NNAMDIThank you very much for mentioning that. Here is Emily in Herndon, Va. Emily, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
EMILYHi. Thanks for taking my call.
EMILYYeah, mine is sort of a memory too. Picnics are like a legacy I got from my parents because they were hippies and green and earth friendly long before it was trendy. And we lived in Charlottesville so they'd pack me and my sister in the car and we'd drive and we'd go on the Blue Ridge and we'd just stop. They have little picnic spaces everywhere. And the only two things that I remember concretely are potato chips and that was the only time I got paper plates.
EMILYSo my husband and I picnic all the time now. We bring our friends and those are the only consistent things. We always use paper plates and we try different potato chips every time. So it's really silly but it's one of those funny things that you grew up with and it's like, oh, doesn't everybody do that? Like, no, most people have potato salad.
NNAMDII was about to say, no. Everybody does not do that. But thank you for sharing that experience with us. We move on now to Danny in Baltimore, Md. Danny, your turn.
DANNYThanks for taking the call. I have a somewhat nontraditional picnic experience to share. I play on the Ultimate Frisbee Team up in Baltimore.
DANNYAnd after our Wednesday night practice, we head over to the local Giant Foods and each buy two items and then picnic out the back of our cars in the parking lot around 10:30 pm.
NNAMDIPresumably you arrange what the items are likely to be before, because I can see nine players on a team showing up with 18 six-packs of beer.
DANNYNo. We tend to let it go as random as possible. We -- so it ranges from basic snacks to something more picnic-y like potato salad and watermelon.
NNAMDIHow does that work out for you? You guys have a good time?
DANNYYeah, it's worked out a lot -- very well. We've even tried to incorporate things like a blender. But it turns out that the power that a car can put out is not enough to power a blender.
NNAMDIThe Ultimate Frisbee Team. How regularly do you do it?
DANNYEvery Wednesday night that it's not raining so we'll be doing it tonight, it looks like.
NNAMDIWell, do you have an address where I could show up to participate in this?
DANNYYeah, it's the Giant right near UNBC.
NNAMDIOh, I know exactly where that is. Thank you very much for your call, Danny. For some people, potato salad and coleslaw made with mayonnaise are picnic staples, but others might get nervous thinking about taking them out in the heat that we talked about earlier. What are some alternatives?
GROSSWell, I think a potato salad made with vinaigrette is a great alternative and coleslaw the same way. You can make any of those favorites, those staples that you love but without a creamy dressing, without a mayonnaise-based dressing. You can still enjoy those wonderful flavors but it's a little safer. It can sit out a little longer and you just don't have to be worried about it.
GRIZZLENo, I agree. I make a really nice -- it's a little crunchy cabbage salad with lemon juice and olive oil and just some fresh herbs and sometimes a little cut up chili. And it's delicious. It transports well and you don't have to worry about the mayo spoiling.
NNAMDIWilling to share your favorite local picnic spot? Tell us what you love about it. Call us at 800-433-8850. We move on now to Spencer in Palisade. Spencer, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SPENCERThanks, Kojo, for taking my call.
SPENCERI am actually in the process of going to a picnic right now and I was just letting you guys know that I'm from Palisade with NBC.
SPENCERAnd the Capital Crescent Trail is probably -- the greatest thing to do is just take a bike ride with any group of your friends, bring bread, sandwich meat, cheeses of some sort and just going out on the Potomac or anywhere basically on this little pass within Maryland.
NNAMDIWhere are you headed right now?
SPENCERRight now, I am on Capital Crescent Trail heading into Maryland .
SPENCERAnd I'll be at the rendezvous place in like five minutes.
SPENCERAnd usually it's just me and my best buddies. We hang out and have great food.
NNAMDIWell, I got to tell you, Spencer, the reception on the trail isn't very good right now. We can't hear you very well, but we certainly would like to wish you a wonderful afternoon picnic. Thank you so much for your call. We move on to Mored (sp?) in Baltimore, Md. Mored, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MOREDHi, Kojo. Thank you for a wonderful program. Just a couple of observations. Number one, I wanted to second everything that Chia had said earlier. But I also wanted to add that a good many of the dishes that she mentioned, kabobs are also good to eat cold as one of your guests has mentioned. I have a question for any and all of your guests. In the old days -- and I'm referring -- '70s, there used to -- place in Washington, D.C. and Columbia called Avignon Fair and they had absolutely the most delightful different picnic baskets. You could call ahead and they would prepare it for your day.
NNAMDIIt was on Columbia Road right off 18th Street right next to Riggs Bank, as I recall.
MOREDYou know it, you know it. Exactly. And then it was nice to eat there but, you know, they had the best picnic baskets. I was wondering -- in your own establishments I was wondering if your guests could point your audience to a number of places that prepare the same kinds of picnic baskets where you just call in and you pick the items and they prepare it. Some -- do but I don't remember any place now after Avignon Fare doing that. So maybe you could cover that. I would appreciate it.
NNAMDIDo you remember Avignon Fair having the best croissants in town also?
NNAMDIThe croissants at Avignon Fair were to die for, but I don't know.
MOREDI used to walk from DuPont Circle (unintelligible) just to go over there for a cup of French coffee and a couple of croissants. And that just made my entire weekend for me.
NNAMDIYou and a bunch of other people. Jennifer Grizzle, care to make any recommendations for Mored or others?
GRIZZLEWell, I think that for accessibility, Whole Foods does a nice job with the prepared foods. He could go in and take to go, or Balducci's -- you can also call me and I can prepare a large picnic basket for you guys and deliver it for a nominal extra charge.
NNAMDIJennifer Grizzle's the owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering. It's based in Kent Island, Md. Diane.
GROSSOr you could call me too if you're in D.C. Cork Market and Tasting Room does picnic baskets to go. And we do all sorts of different things from the fried chicken to grilled chicken, to different sandwiches, different salads. You can really tailor what you'd like. We'll include wine if you want or not. And we'll even deliver it to you if you are in a bind on a weekend -- a week day and want to pick up that picnic basket before you head home for the next day or something of that nature.
GROSSAnd I think there's a lot of smaller specialty stores that are starting to develop in neighborhoods -- really neighborhood focus, which is what I think our market is, that will do that for you. Will put together -- it may not be formal but they'll put together some supplies for you to help you out on your picnic.
NNAMDIYour husband Khalid works in the labor movement. You practiced for 13 years or so as an attorney here in the District of Columbia, not exactly the prototype for who we'd expect to be opening Cork Market and Tasting Room and Cork Wine Bar and doing picnic baskets. What led you both to this experience?
GROSSWell, it's a long story, but I'll make it very short. That we both love food and we grew to really love wine together as a past time. And we're both in politics. And when things sort of didn't go our way one year, we decided that we would do something we always sort of dreamed about doing and thought was a little crazy and opened the wine bar, which was our first step.
GROSSAnd then after that people started asking for all the things that were at the wine bar, all the wines, which we bring in really small boutique wines, so it's harder wines to find. So we opened the market to respond to that demand and then were able to add all these great prepared foods and then packaged foods too as well. And it's super fun because you get to -- with a restaurant, you know, you have a planned menu or you -- things need to be as they are. But with a store you can bring in a case of this great mustard that you love or a case of wine that wouldn't be available to bring into a restaurant. So it's a lot of fun.
NNAMDII could hear all of your patrons saying now, we hope whoever they're backing loses the next election so they can up the ante even more. They'll get even better at their establishment. Here is Christiana in Rockville, Md. Christiana, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISTIANAOh my, thank you, Kojo. I love your food shows. They're so much fun. Right now I'm actually making a picnic. I have homegrown tomatoes from our community garden in Rockville, and the basil too. And breakfast, lunch and dinner we're just on our back porch and having basically a picnic every day, which is great. My fondest memories when my kids were little and we were maybe half a dozen families, all friends with kids that age, we would go apple picking at the end of the season. And then outside the orchard we would have a communal picnic that was great.
CHRISTIANAI think you also shouldn't forget about the things to drink, especially when you're playing outside all day. You really need so much more water or seltzer. And I don't drink soda, but there is one that I find absolutely irresistible, which is (word?) Orangina from -- I think it was from France. Where I grew up in Germany, we had that. And for grownups a bottle of Prosecco bubbly I think is so much fun.
NNAMDIYou're doing this, Christiana, on your back porch today right now?
CHRISTIANAYes, yes, yes. (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIThat's not a picnic. You have to...
CHRISTIANA...a brand new picnic shelter here right outside Randolph Hills. They're building it right now with two barbecue pits from the county...
NNAMDIYou got to go someplace to have a picnic.
CHRISTIANA... (unintelligible) .
NNAMDIYou got to go some place. You got to remember to pack utensils. You got to remember to take a blanket. You got to remember all that other stuff that you don't have to remember right now 'cause you're right out there on your porch.
CHRISTIANAI actually pack cloth napkins and champagne, too, for the grownups.
NNAMDIDetermined to prevail, Christiana. Okay. You are indeed having a picnic so have a great time at your picnic.
NNAMDIBut indeed, remembering to pack the utensils, the blanket and everything else you could possibly need is key when you're taking a meal on the road. You talked a little bit about this earlier, Diane, but I'd like both you and Jennifer to reiterate. What are some of the essential supplies people should have ready for their next picnic?
GROSSWell, Prosecco's a great supply because it opens itself. But, you know, definitely a corkscrew if you're brining wine. And I like -- I have a picnic basket at home that actually has reusable forks and knives and plastic -- heavy plastic plates and what have you. And that way you can, you know, bring it home, wash it, put it back in and then you're never without all the stuff that you need, which is I think a great way to go because not only is it kind to the environment and you're not throwing a lot of stuff away, but it is, you know, a little more messy and a little more work but it also -- it's pre-packed so you never forget anything. And I find that when you have that you're in good shape.
GRIZZLEAs I think I mentioned before, bug spray...
GRIZZLE...and suntan lotion, but also a hand sanitizer is great for -- with some extra little cloths to kind of clean up if you've spilled something on your hands or also just to make sure that you're germfree when you're preparing the food. And also I have found the most wonderful waterproof picnic blankets...
GRIZZLE...that I think are awesome.
GROSSThose are great.
NNAMDIYes. I don't want to be sitting on damp grass.
GRIZZLEI know, with a wet butt. It's not fun.
NNAMDIIt's my understanding that you are also a huge believer in the Ziploc bag.
NNAMDIWhy is this?
GRIZZLEBecause if anything spills and it's zip locked then it doesn't get all over everything else in your basket, which I think is -- you know, if you -- I reuse them. I'll rinse them out and reuse them so I'm trying to cut down on the amount of plastic. But it's great for transporting for spills.
NNAMDIWhat did we do before Ziploc bags?
GROSSThey're also great for shaking a salad up...
GROSS...adding, you know, the dressing and tossing your salad instantly. You can throw away your trash in one or recycling and they're really good. We wash them out too so I appreciate the...
GROSS...the thriftiness. It's a little messy but, you know, again, it's important.
NNAMDIHere is Chris in Falls Church, Va. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISYeah, Kojo. Thank you. It seems like it was only yesterday because actually yesterday a friend and I met around 1:00, dropped into a nearby (word?) -- it could be any of those others you had mentioned -- browsed the humus and the veggies and the flat breads and made sure there were tomatoes in the veggie mix thing we got and headed out to -- this is a good one, the arboretum, if you're accessible to New York Ave, or anywhere over on that side of town, or if you cut across on 295, the Eisenhower Expressway and then go north. And we found a spot where you parked up high and could just about see the river. And you walk down the trail a little ways and there were nice picnic benches with a nice view of the Anacostia.
NNAMDIArboretum is indeed a great spot, Chris. Here are some of the other places that people have recommended, people who have sent us tweets. "Picnic at Sandy Point Park at the near end of the Bay Bridge, great view, great kite flying." "East Potomac Park, Hains Point, remarkable urban water spot." "I grab a caprese salad and some sparkling lemonade and head off to Dumbarton Oaks," says one person.
NNAMDIA man said he's hearing the show in his car on the way back to the office, and it makes him really wish he had a picnic right now. Keith in Silver Spring said, "When I was a kid, we'd go on our picnics and cookouts during the winter. We always went to a state park. The air was crisp, snow on the ground, and the grill was comfortable to be around. Also, no one else was there, so it was quiet and we could really enjoy the space."
NNAMDIAnd Jim in Brookland said, "Great show. We have had great luck with orzo salads made using fresh seasonal vegetables, a fruity olive oil, herb feta cheese, and maybe a little Thai chili-garlic paste. Don't -- it doesn't get soggy like most pasta salads." Sounds like a good one, doesn't it?
GROSSYeah. That's a great idea. That is a great cheese because it doesn't get -- feta or goat cheese, great to include. In our caprese salad we have little -- the little mozzarella balls that are great because they don't get mushy. They don't melt. Those types of cheeses are great to add to a salad. It gives it a little bit of creaminess, but not overwhelming and it won't sink the salad if it is out for a while.
NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation on picnics. In the meantime, we have a couple of lines open. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Where do you go when you're in the market for picnic supplies, both for food and gear? And here's a good one, what's the one thing you always forget when you pack your picnic? You can send us a tweet @kojoshow, e-mail to email@example.com, or go to our website kojoshow.org and tell us what's that one thing you always forget? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's a Food Wednesday conversation on picnics, and by the way, we heard about kabobs earlier. Next week's Food Wednesday conversation we'll be talking about kabobs. Right now, it's picnics with Jennifer Grizzle, owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering based in Kent Island, Md., and Diane Gross, co-owner of Cork Market and Tasting Room, and Cork Wine Bar in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington D.C.
NNAMDIAnd your calls, 800-433-8850. Your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, your tweets @kojoshow, or your questions or comments at our website, kojoshow.org. Back to the telephones. Here is Angela in Arlington, Va. Angela, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANGELAHi, Kojo. My husband (word?) loved to picnic at Wolf Trap Filene Center...
ANGELA...in the summers, and being southern, I know a lot about fried chicken, and I've found that Thomas Keller's recipe from Ad Hoc is fantastic. Also, red skin potato salad, I add green beans to mine that I blanche, and a mustard vinaigrette with that. Someone mentioned earlier that the vinaigrette works really well when you're in hot weather. Last week, I made a goat cheese country ham tart with herbs, and we had country ham biscuits on the side. That holds really well too.
ANGELAYou can also cut the tart in advance. And since my husband's a burgundy importer, we always have Rose, and a red burgundy, which is pinot noir. And I found that Target has burgundy plastic wine glasses that you really cannot tell are not glass. They look so real. And you can get stakes at Crate & Barrel.
NNAMDII'm so glad you mentioned two things. One is that you're from the south so you know about fried chicken. I've been puzzled riding around Washington recently to see a number of establishment bearing signs saying New York fried chicken. I was not aware that New York was famous for its fried chicken, nor does anyone else in this room seem to be.
NNAMDIThe other issue you mentioned was something that Diane made reference to earlier, but I think we need to revisit, and that is where -- the stuff you take to drink on a picnic, because you mentioned a couple of things that you brought here today, but what would you recommend for people?
GROSSWell, I think that one of your callers mentioned water, which is really important, because if you're outside you need to hydrate, especially if you're dehydrate with wine. Um, but I think fun lemonades and bottled drinks like that, like Pellegrino makes really nice ones, that are just a little bit sweet, a little bit fun, a little bit different from water are great things to bring. Wine-wise, I always say that, as your caller mentioned before, Prosecco is great because you can open it right there.
GROSSYou don't need to worry about the corkscrew. Also, a lot of really good wine now is coming with twist off Stelvin caps, and they are, you know, no brainer there. You can just open them up. And one of, you know, great wine to bring on a picnic which often comes with that sort of cap is like a Riesling, because it'll go with so much different food.
GROSSYour caller mention pinot noir, excellent for picnics because it has -- it's usually a medium-bodied wine and so it pairs nicely with all sorts of different things, and bubbles are always great for picnics because again, they have such pairing qualities that all the different kinds of foods that you're putting together on a picnic, you really want a wine that can meld nicely with that. And so, picking, you know, pinot noir, gamay, Riesling, sparkling wine, those are all things that'll suit you well.
NNAMDII'm going with the Riesling. Jennifer?
GRIZZLEI like making like homemade lemonades. I'll puree some raspberries up ahead of time and mix that with the lemonade base, and then if I'm bringing it onto a picnic, I might bring some club soda actually to add in to give it a little effervescent fizz, or sparkling water, and it's great. You can always do total variations of that with like watermelon and cucumber and other things like that, and it's just light and refreshing, and anybody at the picnic can drink it.
NNAMDIAnd make sure if you're taking alcohol, be sure to check on any restrictions. A run in...
NNAMDIA run in with the police tends to put a little damper on your picnic from time to time.
NNAMDIAngela, thank you very much for your call. Here is Tom in Washington D.C. Tom, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TOMHi. Somebody mentioned the Filene Center which was my pick for the best place for picnics. That's Wolf Trap Park where you can not only enjoy your picnic, but see a show afterwards. You will have to bring a blanket, but they have a restaurant there that will provide packed picnics for you to just take out and sit on the lawn. So that's my pick for favorite picnic spot.
NNAMDIJennifer, what are yours?
GRIZZLEI like Hains Point, and I also like Great Falls and the National Zoo. But there's a couple special places down closer to me that I think are worth the drive. One being if you go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, there's a nice little spot by the rocks on the lawn that you can set up and be right by the water, and it's really beautiful. Also, if you want to go over the bridge...
NNAMDIBut if you're going to the Naval Academy, people over a certain age have to have ID, correct?
GRIZZLEThis area you can walk right on.
GRIZZLEIt's outside of the buildings. It's where they do the fireworks...
GRIZZLE...on the fourth of July.
NNAMDIOh, but if you want to get on the grounds, you have to...
GRIZZLEIf you want to get into the Academy. This is like the outer part by the water that you can park and walk into.
GRIZZLEAnd then also if you go over the bridge into St. Michaels, there's the Maritime Museum there on the water, and they have a really nice lawn set out by the museum that is just begging for a picnic.
NNAMDII know when my kids were young, Hains Point was the spot to go in those days. Diane?
GROSSThose are all great spots. I think that I love the arboretum. I think it's beautiful there to have a picnic. But I think really best spots are spots that are local to folks, their parks, the place up the street that has a great green patch that you can just hang out in for a little while. So that, you know, picnics are a wonderful time to be outside with your family and friends, and though they are very special, we should not, you know, make it have to be such a special occasion where you have to go somewhere far or somewhere special. You can have great locations right in your neighborhood that you can walk to, you know, even if you just whip up a salad at home and take it outside and enjoy the evening.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Tom. We got an e-mail from Reagan who says, "The one thing I forget is bug spray, so I now keep it in the car." You mentioned earlier you gotta have your bug spray. Here's Steven in Washington D.C. Hi Steven.
STEVENHi. Thank you for having me on the air. Even though I live here now, I'm from Hawaii, and I find that picnics here, as opposed to there, vary so differently. Here the picnics are more formal. I mean, you have your family and your table, and you have your picnic. Back home in Hawaii when you have picnic, get ready, because the entire town will come.
NNAMDII like those kinds of picnics.
STEVENEverybody will come, and it's fun. It's like -- it's an event.
NNAMDISo you have to make sure that you have enough food for the itinerant...
STEVENOh, no, they bring...
NNAMDI...the itinerant picnicker who just decides to show up?
STEVENYeah. I mean, it's amazing. I mean, if you have your tent set up on the beach, yeah, I can guarantee you that within two or three hours, you're gonna have like five or six neighbors coming by and they'll have their trays of food, bread, fruit or poi, you know, and it's like -- it becomes a community thing. It's...
GRIZZLEIt sounds like tailgating.
GROSSThat's wonderful, yeah.
NNAMDISounds like freeloading to me, is what it sounds like. Okay, Steven -- and I guess Steven -- but I guess, Steven, in Hawaii there is that kind of hospitality tradition, correct?
STEVENOh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, the towns are small and everybody knows everybody anyway. So, I mean, it's kind of like a community thing.
STEVENSo, I mean, either you're gonna be having the picnic this weekend, or your neighbor down the street will have it, you know, but either way there's gonna be one. It's just kind of fun.
NNAMDIHey, Steven, thank you very much for sharing that with us. We go on to Erika in Sterling, Va. Erika, your turn.
ERIKAHi. Thanks so much for taking my call. I just wanted to call and say I think that so often, you know, picnics are like a big event. You have to remember to pack everything and whatever else. But the best picnic I ever had was with my daughter on a really stormy day. My daughter was about three at the time, and she said, mommy, let's have a picnic. So we gathered our picnic basket and she picked what she wanted from the kitchen. We got some iced tea and some cookies and some yogurt, and we spread out a picnic blanket on the carpet in my office upstairs, and I think that was best picnic I've ever had.
NNAMDIThat was lunch, Erika. But lunch picnic-style, huh?
NNAMDIAnd how is your daughter now?
NNAMDIOh, okay. So she can still have more picnics like that.
ERIKAYes, absolutely. I look forward to them. I hope so. Now she's in her princess days so there are more tea parties, but hopefully we'll get back to regular picnics soon.
NNAMDIHey, sounds like a winner to me, Erika. Thank you very much for you call. On to Ari in Washington D.C. Ari, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ARIHello, Kojo and friends, how you doing?
NNAMDIWe're doing well.
ARIGreat. I, you know, a little while ago someone was asking, as a lot of people are on this show, for suggestions of where to get good stuff for picnics, and -- in D.C., and obviously Cork is a great place, but I have another one which is not too far from there in Adams Morgan. I love to go to this little wine shop called A.M. Wine Shop on 18th and Wyoming, and basically, you know, they have all sort of charcuterie and meats and cheeses, and put together gourmet sandwiches and different kinds of crackers and breads and olives, and lot of value-priced wine.
ARIAnd you can either have them put together a platter, or you can pick what you want and you can bring those cheeses that won't melt, and you can be on your merry way and, you know, they -- plus they have free tastings all the time, so you can go and drink a little bit before you go on your picnic. So yeah, that's just my suggestion, and I think it's a great place to go check out.
NNAMDIOkay, Ari. Thank you very much for your call. My advice is if you're going to drink before you go on your picnic, make sure that your picnic is within walking distance. Here is Vica (sp?) in Shady Side, Md. Vica, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
VICAHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call.
VICAThis is a great show. Can you hear me?
NNAMDIYes, we can. Thank you.
VICAThanks for taking my call, it's a great show. I just wanted to tell you about a little thing we're doing down here. We're 15 miles south of Annapolis on the Weston Road River, so we're 45 minutes from Old Town Alexandria.
VICAAnd I have a 110-passenger certified classic, one of the last wooden vessels built on the Chesapeake Bay.
VICAAnd we do picnics on the boat. So people just buy a ticket. We've got a cruise this Saturday night. This one's sold out, but we'll be continuing these through the fall, and...
NNAMDIHow does the picnic on the boat work?
VICAWell, the passengers buy a ticket for the boat, and we leave two hours before whatever official sunset is, so depending, you know, as we go into the fall we'll be leaving earlier, you know, because the days get shorter.
NNAMDIBut can the passengers bring their own picnic baskets?
VICAThey bring their own picnic basket.
VICAAnd what I have on the boat, is we've got the bar set up because -- because of my Maryland liquor license, I've got to supply the liquor, but we have wine and beer and some mixed drinks if you want them, and a pina colada, whatever it is you might like, and we have a whole assortment of soft drinks and water and bubbly water, and they just buy what they want to drink. We've got restrooms, or heads as you call them, on board, so you don't have to remember to bring your hand sanitizer.
VICAYou just bring your picnic and you sit up on the top deck as we cruise down the river, and have a cocktail, or have your picnic and just enjoy the rivers and the beautiful evening and the sunset.
NNAMDISounds like a lot of fun, Vica. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
VICAAnd it's westrivercruises.com, so if anyone wants...
NNAMDISure, Vica. Thank you very much for your call. We got an e-mail from Jason who says, "I have found memories of going with my family every week during the summer season to Wheaton Regional Park in Glenmont where we sat on mismatched bed sheets, listened to the U.S. Navy band and munched on barbeque, pasta salads, and corn on the cob, all while playing on the massive playgrounds adjacent to the band shell. What great memories."
NNAMDIAnd a lot of great memories were served up during the course of this broadcast. We'd like to thank Diane Gross, co-owner of Cork Market and Tasting Room, and Cork Wine Bar in the Logan Circle neighborhood of D.C., for helping out with our memories and without picnic lunch. Diane, thank you so much for joining us.
GROSSIt was a great pleasure to be here. Thanks for having us.
NNAMDIAnd thanks to you, too, Khalid, if you'd only stop bothering me all the time. Khalid Pitts is her husband and co-owner. Jennifer Grizzle is the owner and chef of Picnic House Kitchen and Catering based in Kent Island, Md. Jennifer Grizzle, thank you so much for joining us.
GRIZZLEIt was a pleasure being here, thank you.
NNAMDI"The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, and Tayla Burney. Our engineer is Andrew Chadwick. A.C. Valdez is on the phones. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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