Not that San Francisco's seasons aren't already kooky by most standards, but the past couple of years have been extraordinary. After surviving a period spanning most of 2010 and 2011, in which winter never seemed to leave us, this past winter was mild, sunny and often even outright warm. Until March, when winter finally unleashed its cold, rainy fury all over the Bay Area, robbing us of a proper spring.
Because warm weather is so sporadic and unpredictable here, we try to make the most of it when it happens. Although our flat doesn't have a back yard to speak of (really more of a slot canyon four stories down), we are fortunate to have a small landing out our back door, just large enough to plant two chairs and a small side table. Best of all, we have an expansive view spanning from the Bay Bridge to the southern slope of Bernal Heights.
Being on the eastern face of the building, it's sheltered from the westerly winds that more or less always blow, creating an artificial pocket of warmth. Consequently, we get to throw an intimate picnic for two even on days when Pacific breezes strip the sun's heat from the skin. So on a day when the winter rains broke, we did exactly that.
DPaul wanted to whip up some classic picnic dishes, but also wanted to push each of them in a new direction beyond his classic Southern roots, incorporating Asian flair:
- Deviled eggs are a must-do starter for any Southern-inflected meal. Starting with a basic deviled egg recipe, he zinged it up with dashes of curry powder, hot Chinese mustard powder, golden pepper ichimi togarashi (a super-spicy ground pepper he brought home from a business trip to Kobe, Japan, last year) and some diced honey-pickled jalapeños given to us by the lovely Hillary Starbright.
- Lip-smacking, finger-licking ribs are de rigueur, but all the lovelier with the spark of Thai spicing. Yes, he even used cilantro.
- Gotta have a little slaw with that, so why not stick to the theme? A little ginger, peanut butter and fresh herbs (again with the cilantro) take the slaw from Birmingham to Bangkok.
- Simple corn on the cob gets a snap of spice with sriracha compound butter. Simply mix a few dashes of the sauce, as much as you like, into softened butter until fully integrated. Slather on the corn, and give 'em a flash under the broiler for a quick char.
- DPaul's favorite iced tea -- equal parts English Breakfast (or any basic black will do) and peppermint. The mint makes the tea more refreshing, offers an implied sweetness without any sugar, and plays very nicely with the fresh herbs and spicy notes of the food.
Just add sunshine.
What's that, no recipe? Nope. The thing is, there are approximately 14,565,071 recipes on the internet, and many of them are actually good. So, unless we feel we can substantially improve or innovate upon them, or develop one utterly from scratch, we will not be including recipes on the site. Instead, we will point to others' recipes, perhaps with annotations on any minor adaptations we may have undertaken. We're serving inspiration, not instruction.