One of the greatest iconic Los Angeles summer activities is a night out at the famous Hollywood Bowl.
Built in the 1920's, the Hollywood Bowl is an amphetheater nestled into the Hollywood Hills. Every summer, they offer a series of concerts - classical, jazz, rock, world music, and special events. But it kinda doesn't matter what the music is, the fun is in the event. Everybody brings food and liquor and has a giant picnic. You can either go all hoity-toity and purchase the box seats down near the stage, or go more plebian and grab the nose-bleeds way up top - it's fun either way.
For the past two years I've been going with the Fun Moms from Jude's school to the Grease Sing-A-Long, which is just what it sounds like - they show the movie Grease on a big screen and we all sing along with it. Everyone dresses in silly Grease costumes and is very loud. It's a whole audience of Pink Ladies and Greasers and Beauty School Dropouts. It's amazingly silly and fun.
Yes, we did wear the silly costumes. Yes, we did have the fancy box. Yes, I did dress as Rizzo, though I realized I was a little long in the tooth for that, so decided I was actually Rizzo's slutty mother. No, that's not a real cigarette.
We had lots of fun, and ate lots of food and drank lots of drink. But don't worry, nobody drove. The original plan had been for Jane's teenaged son to be our driver (excellent idea I thought), but he threw us over for a date with a cute girl. Hmmm...hot girl...carload of your mother's drunken middle-aged friends dressed in dorky costumes...can't understand the kid's decision.
Anyway, the picnic portion of the Hollywood Bowl experience is always pretty serious. Nearby restaurants have started businesses just catering for these upscale picnics. And I have to say, this group of ladies delivers the good stuff. This year was particularly innovative and yummy, so I thought I'd share some fab picnic at the Bowl recipes.
We started with Rachel's cocktail, which she dubbed the Pink Panties since we were all the Pink Ladies.
Pink Panties Cocktail
In the morning I chopped the watermelon in large chunks and poured in large ziplock bags with bottle of 100 proof vodka. 8 hours later, took it out of the fridge. Reserving vodka left in bag, I puréed the watermelon then placed purée in large fabric tea strainer and poured 100 proof vodka from bag through the purée in strainer. I gave it time to run through before adding more watermelon purée and vodka. Yield approximately 1 gallon. Then I blended 1 pint sorbet with 1/2 bottle of pink lemonade vodka and stirred into watermelon vodka and refrigerated. Ice kept separately in ready to serve!
And it went beautifully with my appetizer...
Watermelon Goat Cheese Bites
I got this idea from this recipe HERE, but I boogered with it some. I'm fairly sure boogered is a proper culinary term.
One seedless watermelon (you'll have lots of leftover)
One log of goat cheese
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Slice the watermelon into big disks, about one inch thick. Lay flat and use a cookie cutter or the lid to a jar to cut out small (1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) cylinders. Then slice the cylinders into 3 or 4 disks. Arrange little circles on tray.
Slice goat cheese into little disks about the same diameter and thickness of the watermelon disks. Place on top of the watermelon.
Place one piece of fresh basil on top of each goat cheese disk.
Make a balsamic reduction by gently boiling 1 cup of balsamic vinegare until it reduces by half. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the little disks. Serve.
The original recipe called for bacon, but shockingly, I chose not to use it. But here's a picture of how it would look with the bacon (and if you were an extreme perfectionist - mine didn't look like this, but it tasted GOOD).
Super fresh and summery!
For the main course, Amanda made this amazing...
Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa
It was so good that when she dished up huge portions for each of us, we all protested "No, no, that's to much!" then we all promptly gobbled up every bite.
The chicken recipe, which involves an incredible Indian spice and buttermilk marinade, came from Amanda's friend Lisa's blog The Skinny, which you should definitely check out even if you don't make the chicken recipe, which you should. The recipe is HERE.
And her Mango Salsa recipe, which made it truly special is as follows...
2-3 ripe mango (you are looking for about 2-3 lbs. worth)
1 large jalapeno, or 1.5 small
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
a handful of chopped cilantro (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
grated zest of 2 limes
juice of those 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
Chop the mango into a small dice. (my tip: slice the fatty part of the mango - the "cheeks" away from the long center pit, then score it like an avocado - cutting a pretty narrow grid into the flesh without cutting through the skin. Then scoop the flesh into your bowl - instant dice) Put the mango in a medium size bowl.
Carefully seed and finely chop the jalapeno pepper (you should have 1-2 TBSP depending on how hot you want the salsa). Add to the mango, along with the remaining ingredients.
Toss together gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste..
Refrigerate. Serve within 4-6 hours.
Makes enough for 4-6 people
Then for dessert, Jane made these amazing treats, so good you won't believe it...
Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Chunk Blondies
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't overbake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.
It was an excellent feast! And a super fun evening.
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