October 6 marked a watershed food day for me - I consumed more food, and more diversity, I think than I have in about 3 months.
The day started out with the annual Chowhound picnic in Tilden Park. For one reason or another, I've missed this picnic every year, and with the location moving from Golden Gate Park to Tilden, I really had no excuse not to go.
The day started out a little frantic when I thought the picnic started later in the afternoon than it actually did. Each person was supposed to bring a dish that fed 20, and I hadn't even started cooking at the time I was supposed to be there. With a frantic dash to Berkeley Bowl, and my intrepid Mom coming to my rescue, I managed to turn out two very presentable dishes, Aloo Chaat, assembled tableside, and a savory semolina pudding perfumed with curry leaves, ginger, and roasted chickpeas.
As was to be expected, the food turnout at the picnic was spectacular. The highlights of the appetizer table were some really good bresaola like dried beef sausage, some amazing pate with homemade oatmeal digestives, and delicious red and white wine grapes (varietals fully explained on labels, of course). Our contributions were a big hit, with much picture taking and comments galore. On the entree table was an amazing savory carrot pudding, spicy Thai Basil Chicken, and a pleasant Posole. Also on the entree table was an elegant little Spanish appetizer dish, with great chorizo, marcona almonds, and roasted peppers. Perfection. EDIT: Another favorite I forgot to mention in the first go-round was an incredible beef terrine with toast. The moist flaps of meat on crouton were picnic sandwiches at their best.
Dessert was the show stopper for me. Someone had made truffles in four flavors, of which ginger was my favorite. Butterscotch pudding was yummy, as was the Ricotta Pie. The two best things at the dessert table were flats of "ground cherries" in their husks, and a haunting chocolate sorbet, made with both slab Valrhona and Droste cocoa powder. The ground cherries really spoke of their relationship to the tomatillo, and had a puckery, sweet, foraged quality that I loved. I could eat those things out of hand any day of the week.
A purchased highlight was a Navarro Gewurtztraminer grape juice. Its honeyed sweetness was cloying until mixed with a touch of mineral water. And then, divine. I didn't miss wine at all.