Tastes of summer

Every season has its flavours but dining al fresco lends an extra-special air to the tastes of summer. The pleasure of dining outdoors is something we regard as slightly decadent in Canada, what with our cold winters and short summers. Here in the Okanagan we are blessed with some of the best weather in the country and so there is a plethora of choices for al fresco dining. Many people enjoy their decks and patios, or those of restaurants in the valley - many of which offer lake and vineyard views. My absolute favourite option however, is a good old-fashioned picnic. Beach picnics can be lovely, as long as you have a blanket big enough to keep the sand off everything!

My mom made the best picnic. She was way ahead of her time, knowing that if you wanted sandwiches it was much nicer to bring ingredients and let people build their own as part of the picnic experience. She would have containers of tomatoes, cucumbers, cold cuts, cheese, perhaps a bit of tuna salad, and always her famous potato salad in a large Tupperware (made of course with chopped celery, radishes, hard-boiled eggs and homemade mayonnaise!) There would be fresh buns, and nice cloth napkins and even a wet face cloth to wipe up afterwards (my mom was ahead on being green too).

As I got older, the world of food expanded and so did my mom's enthusiasm with picnics. By the time I was an adult she was giving Martha Stewart a run for her money. We would meet for the fireworks festival in Kits Beach in Vancouver and she would unveil a homemade quiche, salads with fresh berries, baguettes and pates...and wine with glasses, even! The fireworks were all the more spectacular as a result, I'm sure.

Did you know that the term "al fresco", although it's Italian, is not what the Italians say when they dine out of doors. Al fresco is a North American term, one that we have embraced with European dignity and style. Patio furniture is as stylish now as interior decor and there are all kinds of accessories available for at-home or on-the-road occasions. I'm a classic kind of girl though; I still yearn for those summer picnics on the grass with a blanket and my mom's composed sandwiches.

I'm posting Mom's recipe for mayonnaise on my blog this weekend for you to try if you like. It elevates a cucumber sandwich to new heights and makes potato salad something you'll want another scoop of! But even if you're busy and can't make your own goodies, a box of KFC or some sushi on a blanket tastes mighty fine. Find a partner and a piece of grass or beach, and toast the good things in life. I know my mom is probably on a patio somewhere in Southern Europe as I write this, enjoying herself and marvelling at how many ways one can enjoy dining al fresco.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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