end of summer(?) picnic

I am a big fan of a picnic, well, actually of any kind of eating outdoors. I love the juxtaposition of well-prepared food in a raw and rustic setting and the heightened sensory experience of tasting food in the fresh air (in any climate). One Thanksgiving I actually transported the entire hot meal (turkey, stuffing et al.) from home to a nearby picnic site overlooking the SF Bay (we were lucky because it was a beautiful California fall day–cool, clear and crisp). I think it was the most memorable Thanksgiving I’ve ever had.

This past July, Mark Bittman (love that guy) wrote a fantastic article for the NY Times called “101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics.” Of course that was an immediate delicious tag for me. I already have quite a few longstanding picnic favorites (last summer we practically lived on Moroccan-Style Potato and Egg Sandwiches or Vietnamese Noodle Salads for dinners at the beach) but it’s always good to have new additions to the repertoire.

So yesterday when I was making yet another futile attempt at clearing my desk and came across some of my notes about Bittman’s article, it put me in a picnic kind of mood. I called a couple of friends and suggested an early dinner at the beach with all our kids. I wanted to whip up something quick from the article but then remembered the pork tenderloin in the fridge that I needed to use. Argh.

Since I didn’t have much time and wanted to use ingredients on hand, I decided to convert the tenderloin into thin cutlets that I could bread and fry “Milanese” style and then make into transportable sandwiches. I added some fresh arugula from the garden and hard-boiled eggs and the result was a improv version of Crispy Pork Cutlets with Capers, Arugula and Chopped Eggs sandwich-style. Delicious!

It was a little windy but still the perfect way to wrap up a summer filled with outdoor food outings. The only disappointment was that at the last minute one of our friends and his kids had to cancel. We all missed them but I can’t say I’m sorry about having the leftovers! (I’ll have to make it up to them next time with something yummy from the Bittman article.)

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