Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Picnic on the Piste

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If there is one thing I learned living here in the Sierras, it is the fact that the weather report is never 100% reliable. Even during a 24-hour period, a forecast of “snow storm” could mean bluebird skies in a matter of hours.  So when I proposed a PICNIC ON THE PISTE on the world famous Heavenly Ski Resort for this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24, I was prepared for sun, rain or snow on the day I prepare a gourmet meal for our skiing friends. (Yes, a gourmet meal. But more on that later.) I figured, if it turns out to be sunny then we get to enjoy a marvelous feast  on top of the mountain at 10,000 feet  while gazing at beautiful Lake Tahoe. If it rains or snows, there’s always the picnic tables at one of the several lodges a little ways down at about 8,000 feet level. As it turned out, we hit the trifecta.

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Going back to the ‘gourmet meal’ comment for a moment. Yes, I did say gourmet. (What was I thinking?? And on the slopes? I must have been experiencing caffeine withdrawal the day I submitted the proposal. ) According to Wikipedia, Gourmet (pronounced /ɡɔrˈmeɪ/)

is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, which is characterised by elaborate preparations and presentations of large meals of small, often quite rich courses.

Uh..oh. Could the mediterranean feast I was planning on serving be considered gourmet? Let’s see. I got the elaborate preparations part since it took a looooong time to prepare the food. Six appetizers, 5 main meals and a dessert.  As for presentation, fuggeddaboudit! It’s a picnic! On the slopes. No Williams-Sonoma dinner plates and Oneida flatware.  We’re talking paper plates, plastic cups and aluminum foil. What about the large meals and rich courses? I have been known to serve large portions of rich courses so I guess 3 out of 4 is not so bad. Then I can officially call this MEDITERRANEAN MEZZE FEAST on the slopes a gourmet meal!

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The sun was still shining when we started with the appetizers of lemon olives, spanakopitas, hummus, flat bread, tatziki and sambusaks. As we happily imbibed on red wine and hot cocoa, the clouds started moving in. I immediately served the rest of the meal: dolmadas, homemade pita bread, lahama mashvi kofta, borek, ground turkey kofta and lamb kebabs. By the time we finished the main course and enjoying dessert portions of semolina halva and assabih bi loz, it started snowing.

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Skiers and snowboarders were zooming down the hill to take cover at the lodge (or perhaps take the bus back to their hotels).  As we watch the snow turn into rain, we decided to pack up and enjoy another round of cookies and coffee at a friend’s house nearby.   After all, no season-pass-carrying, sane local goes skiing (or picnicking for that matter) in these conditions. Gourmet meal or not.

MEDITERRANEAN MEZZE ON THE PISTE

Appetizers

Hummus (olives, garlic and roasted pepper)

Tatziki

Sambusaks (Cheese Pastries)

Spanakopitas

Lemon olives

Homemade flat bread

Main Course

Lahama Mashvi Koftas (Beef and lamb koftas)

Ground Turkey Kofta

Dolmadas (Ground lamb wrapped in grape leaves)

Shish Kabobs (Grilled lamb pieces)

Homemade Pita Bread

Borke

Dessert

Semolina Halva

Almond Wheat Cookies

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Postscipt:

I was prepared to lug a mini-food-store-disguised-as-a-backpack had the gang decided to brave the snow conditions and ride up the top of the mountains for the picnic. When you are staring at the blue jewel that is Lake Tahoe while breathing what Mark Twain calls “the air the angels breathe”, one can almost forget and ignore the capricious nature of the Sierra weather.

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» jenn said: { Feb 28, 2010 - 08:02 }

Nice 24 post. What fun to have a picnic out on the snow. I’d be freezing. hehe… then again when you’re with good friends with good eats, i wouldn’t mind. I have been out to the mountains this season. Hopefully before all the snow melts.

» Carlos said: { Mar 1, 2010 - 12:03 }

Wow, how so very like Martha Stewart / Julia Child of the wilderness you are dear friend. Only someone like you could have pulled it off. It looks really wonderful!

» Emily McDonald said: { Mar 1, 2010 - 04:03 }

Fab story and incredible picnic food ideas. It would be awesome if you feel you could publish maybe part of it on my website with a link back to anywhere you like!
http://www.the-picnic-site.com/picnic-recipe.html

Keep buzzing!

» Alice Slaton said: { Mar 1, 2010 - 09:03 }

loved your med meal! I have had alll above mentioned dishes but not all made by myself as you did.

great ideas even on the snow.

Sounds like you are also enjoying every bit of it with good friends

hugs
Alice

» ANn & Hepke from New Zealand said: { Mar 1, 2010 - 01:03 }

How do you do it all, thought we were outragous but you take the cake!!

» virtual chef said: { Mar 1, 2010 - 05:03 }

Hey ann and hepke! yes…i am just your regular deranged cook! LOL…

Alice: wish you guys were here to share it. we had fun. maybe next time we’ll do it again.

emily: thank, emily. go ahead and publish. that would be great! thanks.

carlos: LOL..Julia Child of the wilderness??? I love it! We’ll do it next time over at nevada beach while there’s still snow…or maybe do something different in la jolla in the summer. hey..don’t we already do it every 4th of july at the pops? :)

jenn: thanks for stopping by. a few bottles of wine helped in warming us up…LOL

» Jon said: { Mar 5, 2010 - 05:03 }

Simply amazing!
Go Sis!

» Shelley (Pink House) said: { Mar 10, 2010 - 08:03 }

Good post! You did a lot of work to pull this one off. I had thought of doing a similar 24 meal in February with a picnic provided in Yellowstone National Park on a cross-country ski trail. There was a picnic table outside a little warming hut five miles from civilization. But the idea became very complicated when I started thinking through the logistics of preparing food ahead, hauling it, etc. Good for you for actually doing it!

» Manang said: { Mar 31, 2010 - 06:03 }

your friends are so lucky!

what a fun event!


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