When I first moved to Chicago during the summers while in college, I heard of this magical place called Ravinia Festival where people spend the day sitting in the park with their picnic tables and tablecloths, drinking wine, and listening to live music. I went to the free concerts in Millennium Park a few times and my friends would point out who there also goes to Ravinia (matching sets of lawn furniture and vases of flowers on top of the table cloth on the low wooden table is a
giveaway). I've always wanted to see Rufus Wainwright perform. When a friend posted about going on Facebook, I jumped at the chance. We would invite a few other people and make a day of it - delicious food included!
Michael got the ball rolling - he was going to make a roasted sweet potato salad. One of his roommates is gluten free so we knew what was off limits and how to safely cook. Thomas picked up some Asian treats (off limits to me) and mango spears (devoured by me). I wanted to do a pasta salad with summer vegetables, but a trip to the Asian grocery store moved me away from an American classic dish towards a rice noodle Asian dish. When stirfrying the noodles with the vegetables, I had an overwhelming sense of dread - rice noodles stick together. With a little ingenuity, I portioned out the noodles into zip lock containers so everyone had their own. I could say I went this route to prevent extra dishes and serving utensils (we were carrying everything on the Metra) and so the food would fit in my small cooler. Not because I momentarily forgot that gf dishes don't always behave like their wheat counterparts. Never!
One of the best parts about the day? It was amazing to be with friends and have great conversation and meet new people, eat a picnic feast during an unusually cool August day, listen to soothing live music, drink blueberry wine and people watch (grapes are a BIG hit at Ravinia). But this was my favorite:
Existing and taking it all in.