September 20, 2006

Al fresco eating

There's something so distinctly summery and special about eating and even cooking outdoors. The food tastes better and somehow the dining experience is more enjoyable. It's relaxed, it's fun, and it lets you enjoy the sunshine and to a certain degree, to commune with nature. Picnics and outdoor barbecues have a certain charm for me. When I was little, we would go on family picnics with cousins and family friends often, usually at Lake Caliraya or by the beach.

Lake Caliraya in the late '70s.
That's me kneeling on the blanket with the "coconut husk" head of hair.
Be nice with your comments, you've had your bad-hair years too!

My mom burning off what she ate :)

My older siblings at another picnic. We all had that orange shirt for some reason.
I think this is by Lake Caliraya as well.

My sister and her husband are masters of outdoor entertaining. They have a big front lawn where they like experimenting with different settings. Sometimes it's casual with banigs (woven mats) laid out on the floor and throw pillows scattered about, and other times they'll bring out some sofas and low make-shift coffee tables draped in batik fabric and light up the place with torches and candles during evening parties.

Last Sunday, my sister invited us all to a barbecue merienda-sena (afternoon snack/dinner) at her place. She prepared a feast which included appetizers of prosciutto & melon, chicharon (pork cracklings), various chips & dip, caesar salad, & lumpiang ubod a la Marketman (which was excellent!!). She has taken to lurking in foodie blogs and the inspiration they've given her has produced many delightful meals from her kitchen. She has gone to the farmer's market more in the past month than she ever did in her entire life. :)

The grill was fired up and we had hotdogs, hamburgers, Japanese sweet corn, and pepitos (small cheese steak sandwiches). Then as if we weren't already ready to burst, she set up a halo-halo bar and served the cupcakes I brought. Here are some snapshots from last Sunday:

top row l to r: The casual set-up, prosciutto-wrapped melon, lumpiang ubod a la Marketman
bottom row l to r: Japanese corn, the halo-halo bar, the martini bar

Picnics and outdoor barbecues rank right up there with lazy Sunday brunches. With my own future family, I plan to appoint Saturdays as Picnic or Barbecue Day (weather permitting, of course- and if it's rainy outside we can do indoor bakefests instead!) and Sundays as Slow, Lazy Brunch Days where we can play around with themes and take turns planning the menu. It should provide for great family bonding time, don't you think?


rowena said...

What a beautiful picnic spread! (And btw, your coconut husk "do" isn't so bad, my jetblack tresses ALWAYS looked like I just woke up).

I love outdoor food gatherings which is probably one of the things that I miss most about not living in the islands anymore. That halo-halo bar...whoo yeah!

Ginny said...

Last Sunday was really fun, what's our next theme? Lets go the spicy route, so maybe indian, thai or vietnamese sounds good too. I can pick up some yummies from Som's.

You and your hair were so cute!! It was always perfectly shaped like not one hair out of place.

Anonymous said...

Amazing food set ups! Family gatherings are my opportunities to make up with my family members whatever shortcomings I have and touch base with them. They are also my venue for new recipes. I get the right feed back from them. They are always fun and I come home with foods that will last me for a couple of days!

Senor Enrique said...

I used to drive up to Caliraya even for a couple of hours just to enjoy the scenery.

That's a wonderful life you guys have, Christine! Reminds me when we had picnics at Central Park while enjoying a live performance of the NY Philharmonic.

christine said...

Rowena, I'd love to see a picture of that. hehe I can imagine that Italy would have beautiful picnic weather especially in the Spring and Summer, right?

Gins, I hated my hair then. You had the same hairstyle too at that age. :) Let's do Indian! I can get some Bhel Puri from Swagat.

Anon, yes, if anyone would be honest about the taste of your food it would be your family. :)

Hi Eric, yes we had a great time growing up. :) Caliraya is so peaceful, no? I really love going up there. Especially during the the cooler months. Picnics in Central Park with a live Philharmonic performance, it can't get much better than that!

Ellie said...

Fantastic picnic! The halo-halo bar looks tasty (as does the rest of the spread), and after reading the wiki entry, it sounds just like the Korean dish patbingsu :) I think a lot of Asian countries have their own take on the shaved ice treat, how I'd love to try all the variations!

christine said...

Ellie, you're right, it is similar in that it also has beans, fruit, and sweeteners. It's great stuff! Especially on hot summery days, which is practically every day in this country. :)

wysgal said...

Nice photo --- I love old family photos. They are fantastic encapsulations of what you were like in a singular moment in time, many moons ago ... good memories and all. Nice to know picnics are still happening in some quarters of the Philippines. =)

christine said...

I love old photos too. One of the projects I'm working on is to scan all or most of the old photos and make a nice digital photo library then make copies for everyone. I want my children and my children'd children to be able to see all these photos one day too. It's such an enormous task though.

Julie said...

I laughed at your "bad hair years" line. But for the record, you and your hair look adorable in that picture.

christine said...

Aww Julie, you're just beeing nice. Haha, but thanks! :)