picnic in the park

two days ago we had a bastille day picnic. ok, well, it wasn't for bastille day, and the food wasn't actually french themed in almost any way, but it was a picnic and it was on bastille day. how about transitive property? eh, ehhh?

our good friend and west philly neighbor, halimah, asked if em and i were interested in dinner and a movie. we were both interested in the dinner part - surprise, surprise - but tuesday's beautiful evening was certainly not conducive to sitting in an air conditioned movie theatre (even though moon does look pretty thrilling). em mentioned wanting to eat outside and quickly, excitedly suggested "why don't we make dinner and eat it in the park?!" sounded good to me, and halimah, wisely, got on board. we agreed to make the food, she would bring the drinkables and we would meet in clark park in promptly one hour.

em had brought home a leftover greek salad from her job and we picked out and washed off the feta. from that wet, sad looking salad sprang forth a much larger, more hooked-up salad and also a kalamata olive tapenade. the salad included romaine, red radish, cucumber, onions, carrot, tofu croutons, microgreens and chopped almonds. emily is really good at tofu croutons. they are so crispy and firm! i think i may have eaten 6 before they even left the pan. oops. the dressing was a pesto-like vinaigrette featuring fresh as can be basil from our backyard garden! someone called it 'green goddess' dressing - if basiliness is next to godliness, sign me up for heaven.

the tapenade was the result of some garlic, kalamatas, lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, white truffle oil and red wine vinegar taking a few spins in the food processor. these once forgotten - left to die in a day old salad - kalamata olives were allowed to live again, a life atop a soft fluffy baguette. if gardeners have a green thumb, emily has a sauce thumb...or something that means she's really good at making sauces/dressings/spreads.

bulgar, lentil and chickpea salad came together pretty quickly and emily (did i do anything?) followed a simple recipe from deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone. this dish was really good served room temperature and had a totally fresh, zippy flavor. also, can you say complete protein?

somehow em still had some moxy left in her, and with minutes to spare (we didn't want to be late!) emily threw some vodka, basil simple syrup, frozen watermelon puree ice cubes and blueberries in a mason jar and immersion blended her way to glory. like a boozy slushy, it fit perfectly with our summer picnic.

our plan was to sit on a sheet and eat picnic style on the ground but to our surprise, THE ONE TABLE in clark park was unoccupied! we tossed our sheet on as a makeshift tablecloth and dinner was served. later, our bellies were full, the sun was setting, the booze long gone, us ladies all chatted out. as we packed up our bowls and utensils, i realized, why stress over finding a [vegan friendly] restaurant with outdoor seating, when great food is created in our kitchen and outdoor seating just a 2 minute walk away? no waiting, no tipping, no travel. i think i speak for all of us when i say, the clark park cafe is my new favorite dining location.

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