Hallelujah, dining al fresco has finally arrived! Everything tastes better outside, in the fresh air, don’t you agree? It’s all about hitting the Sensory Sweet Spot – a perfectly balanced stimulation of the five senses (my definition). A little wine and cheese in your kitchen? Nice. A little wine and cheese on your deck, alongside pots of beautiful, fragrant flowers, perhaps birdsong overhead, perhaps some favorite tunes, on a balmy summer’s eve? Oh yeah, you want to die it’s so perfect.
Simple foods taste best outdoors, otherwise that sensory balance is completely whacked. (Have you ever been full, sweaty, and sleepy at a picnic? We all have, and it sucks.) Grilled meat or fish, crisp salads, fresh fruit desserts – nothing too hot or heavy. The goal is not exactly cozy, but clean and light and of course, delicious.
That said, my family doesn’t dig eating outdoors nearly as much as I do. The kids fret over every bug, John likes to eat as fast as possible and be done with it…but I don’t care. I’m happy to sit there alone and savor the experience, it’s rare (in Minnesota) and entirely lovely. Maybe tonight I can pull off grilling a piece of salmon and recreating the killer couscous with dill vinaigrette I enjoyed (twice) at the Post Ranch in Big Sur (yes, I’m still obsessing about it). If I achieve nailing it down, I’ll post the recipe. Stay tuned…
Moderate it: look for whole-grain couscous; I’ve found it at Whole Foods.