Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coyote Point Picnic

I've home for a very short weekend visit right now, and I forgot my camera. Last night we made catfish (breaded a fried: mix flour, garlic salt, paprika, and cumin; coat fish fillets in flour mixture; mix up an egg and coat fish in egg; coat again in flour; heat oil in a pan; cook fish on each side) with tartar sauce (Wildwood garlic aioli, minced capers, minced celery, minced red bell pepper, minced chives). Tonight we will have pizza.

The best dinner I've had in the last few days, however, was my picnic with B before the flight. If you ever find yourself flying out of SFO in the early evening, I highly recommend bringing a picnic and heading to Coyote Point Recreation Area, a small park maintained by San Mateo County, only nine miles south of the airport (fifteen minutes if you avoid the freeway). The park is beautiful, and there is a very fun small museum.

I did all the cooking for the dinner the night before, and packed the cooler in the morning. The dinner consisted of separate salad dishes to have together. We have:
  • Lettuce salad with shaved fennel and a light red wine vinaigrette.
  • Beets, cooked the Alice Waters way. Wash but do not peel beets, and keep about 1 inch of stem attached. Place in a covered baking dish with a splash of water. Bake for at least an hour. Move beets to an ice water bath, let cool, and then the skins will slough off easily. Quarter the beets, sprinkle with salt, and douse liberally in vinegar (I used a mix of balsamic, to highlight the sweetness, and some red wine vinegar, for the acidity). Let marinate at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge.
  • A fish salad, which was the highlight of the meal. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a very large pot, with a colander set in as a steamer. Steam a fillet of rockfish until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Break the fish apart into large pieces, and pick out any lingering bones. Meanwhile, coarsely chop fennel and spring red onions. Mix together the fish, the vegetables, and some capers, and maybe just a touch of olive oil, but not too much. Depending on how many capers you include, you probably do not need any salt or vinegar. When the salad marinates overnight in the fridge, the fish ends up picking up a wonderful fennel flavor.
The colors in the salad were wonderful: the fattier parts of the fish and also the red onions pick up the same reds and purples as the beets, and the greens and whites pair nicely, for a very attractive plate. To finish the meal, we had baguette and a brie, and carrots as a pallet cleanser. As with most picnics, serve this one with your favorite red wine.

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