Friday, May 11, 2012

Picnic in the Park...

Yesterday, my husband surprised me with tickets to an outdoor production of Rocky Horror Picture Show in St. Petersburg. First, let me say it was awesome!  The performers, the participants, the audience and the music were so much fun.  Getting ready for our romantic night out, I had this image of sitting on the waterfront enjoying a romantic meal and watching one of my all-time favorite movies played out live in front of me.  Since we could take a basket, I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport, not take up a lot of room, and taste good. Also, watching countless shows of Ina Gartner and Giada De Laurentiis making gourmet picnics fueled my inspiration for our special dinner. Thank you ladies, you inspired me.

Our dinner and the entire evening were both magical! Roast beef sandwiches, tabbouleh pinwheels, chilled grapes and popcorn on the menu. The roast beef sandwiches, which I thought up in my head, were a-mazing! Slow-roasted beef with shallot and herb boursin cheese, sweet red peppers, spicy cornichons and a dollop of stone ground mustard on a poppy seed hoagie roll. The creamy boursin added a savory smooth layer to the sandwich, and the sweetness of the red pepper brightened up it up. The cornichons were a last minute addition. My husband and I both thought the sandwich that was all right, but it wasn’t quite complete, and the spicy, tartness and heat of the tiny little gourmet pickles took our sandwiches to a new level of taste.  The shallot and herb boursin was good, added that onion element without the bad breath. I think next time I’ll try the garlic and herb version. Maybe the garlic will deepen the flavors even more.

In addition to the savory sandwiches, I made some tabbouleh and cream cheese pinwheels, packed chilled grapes and popped some corn. All we needed was some wine and we were set. The theatre company asked that we not bring our own - something about a city ordinance – they told us that wine and beer were available for purchase.  We complied, although we saw lots of other attendees packing their own.  I figured we’d be buying $8 glasses of cheap no-name wine and pints of beer.  Actually, I was impressed with the selection of wines and craft beers available, and the kicker, they sold bottles of wine at really reasonable prices. We selected a bottle of Dona Paula Estate Malbec. I’ve had the Dona Paula Sauvignon Blanc before, so I knew the winemaker wouldn’t let us down and he didn’t. It complemented our menu completely.  Next time I’ll be prepared maybe even bring our special picnic wine glasses, although, we’ll have to wait until next season, the theater company shuts down their outdoor performances during the hot Florida summers.

All in all our date night was exactly as I had hoped. My husband did good! Seats were perfect, he even got us a little foldable “beach” table so that didn’t have to sit our plastic glasses on the grass, or kick them over as we jumped up to do the “Time Warp”.  

With spring here, and summer around the corner, my recommendation to you would be, pack a picnic basket, grab a bottle of wine, and catch an outdoor performance or concert. It’s an excellent and very inexpensive romantic date night under the stars.

SRQ Foodies Rocky Roast Beef Sandwiches

Per sandwich
1.                            Poppy Seed Hoagie Roll – sliced in half
1 ½ T.                     Boursin Cheese
3 Slices                  Slow Roasted Roast Beef
4 Strips                  Red Bell Pepper sliced
4                            Cornichon sliced in half
½ T.                        Stone Whole Mustard
Slice hoagie roll length-wise, spread Boursin Cheese on bottom half of roll. Top with roast beef slices, red peppers, cornichons and spread mustard on top. 

Hint: For travel, wrap sandwiches in parchment paper before storing in container.

Until next time...  SRQ Foodie  

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