There have been many picnics this summer.
Some planned, some completely spontaneous. Some pretty, some messy, but all of them with great company. The thing I like about picnics isn’t necessarily the food. Yes, that’s the ultimate incentive and satisfier, but getting together with friends and children on a sunny summer’s day somehow makes summer actually feel like such. It’s not the heat and the sun, but the gatherings.
This past weekend, I hosted a 3-day food styling and photography workshop in Seattle partnering with Angela Ritchie of Ace Camps. For one of the assignments for the styling and photography session, I recruited my friend and stylist Jenn Elliott-Blake to assist me create a summer beach picnic at Discovery Park. It was a hot summer’s day and Jenn created a canopy out of driftwood she found at the beach. She created a quilt with different fabrics she pinned together and draped it over the wood structure. It was the perfect shelter for the smoldering heat. Students witnessed all it takes to create a set and all the production that is involved when shooting lifestyle stories on location.
I found beautiful already-cooked crab at Pike Place Market and brought them to the beach for our picnic. Cheese and charcuterie board, grilled fennel with lemons, roasted carrots and a corn and fennel chowder. All prepared ahead of time by chef Alison Bell and easy to transport to the beach.
I could have a picnic every single day of summer. In fact, I feel like I almost have. Enjoy.
The beach picnic essentials checklist:
Grilled fennel and lemons
Roasted carrots with paprika
Cooked whole crab (you can ask your fishmonger to clean the guts if you wish)
Corn and fennel chowder (recipe follows)
Don’t forget a wide beach blanket, dishes and flatware!
Corn and fennel chowder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Bunch of thyme sprigs
5 ears white corn, kernels removed
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups half and half
Salt and pepper
Dill flowers, optional
Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, fennel, celery, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender but not browned over medium heat, about 10 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and stir. Add the chicken stock and half and half. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with dill flowers, optional.